How to improve mental health in 2020 - What’s the difference between a top down and a bottom up approach to wellbeing?

By Richard Fryer

Top down performance psychology

If you’re feeling stressed, anxious or depressed at the moment – you aren’t alone. It’s a difficult time for many of us, but fortunately there are practices we can integrate into our lives to enhance our sense of wellbeing. By learning to use bottom up and top down approaches, and to find the ones that work the best for you, you can maintain and perhaps even improve your mental health into the future.The World Health Organisation describes mental health as a state of well-being that enables a person to realise their full potential. Mental health is a fundamental building block of human performance – not something separate or somehow less important. Yet how many organisations have their wellbeing programs separate from their performance initiatives? In my experience, the answer is ‘most’.

We sometimes neglect the importance of wellbeing while focussing on the day-to-day of “living our lives”. So, how do we nurture more mental health and well-being? There are many different ways proven to help people increase their levels of wellbeing which can be broadly grouped into two types of activity.

The first set are ‘top down’ approaches – thinking and talking techniques. These might include talking with a psychologist, socialising with friends, learning new skills and some types of mindfulness meditation. Talk about your experiences with the people you’re close with, immerse yourself in learning new skills, spend time non-judgementally noticing what thoughts and feelings arise for you. You could spend a moment writing down all the feelings that arise for you. Often our inner thoughts are very tumultuous, and it can be surprising how much we’re feeling at any given moment. By taking a moment to name those thoughts and feelings we can make some space for them. Naming difficult thoughts and feelings won’t make them go away, but it can help us to carry them lightly.

The second set can be called ‘bottom up’ approaches as they work through the body to improve the mind. The body and the mind work together to shape our experiences, by using a bottom up approach we can improve our sense of wellbeing through physical experiences. Bottom up approaches to wellbeing include exercise, yoga, diaphragmatic breathing, music and other forms of play. Schedule some time to do things that make your body feel at peace.

You may notice that some activities are a combination of top down and bottom up – for example mindfulness practise that uses breathing as a way to connect with the present moment non-judgmentally.So which mix of approaches is best for me? The answer is likely to be ‘the one that you enjoy doing the most’ – which you’ll discover with expert psychologist help and encouragement! The most important point is that investing time in our mental health is an essential foundation for flourishing in our lives – not something that we should put off because of seemingly more “urgent” work or life priorities.

This is why expert ACT therapist help in building your psychological flexibility can really enhance your life performance outcomes – they have the skills and training to integrate mental health and wellbeing work with valued living improvement work, recognising that everyone needs a bit of everything from time to time.

Richard Fryer is a general and sport and performance psychologist at Brisbane ACT Centre. He works with a broad range of clients, whatever their struggle to help people realise their life performance potential – and live more rich, full and meaningful lives – during the Covid-19 crisis and beyond!

Turning Shame into Sunsets: How ACT can Help you Commit to your OCD Treatment

By Richard Bunker

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a highly debilitating psychological disorder which affects approximately 3% of the population. Yet despite its prevalence, many people with OCD will often delay seeking treatment because of shame, embarrassment or fear of being judged. So powerful is this shame that sadly the delay can be months, years or even decades. Unfortunately, OCD does not get better on its own and requires evidence-based treatment delivered by a therapist trained in Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). However, ERP can be a tough treatment and some people discontinue treatment prematurely before they experience an improvement of their OCD symptoms. This is where Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) can help.

At the heart of ACT is a real connection between two human beings. This relationship is built from a place of warmth, respect, compassion and from an understanding that you are not broken, damaged, nor a bad person. An ACT therapist will sit with you during your deepest moments of shame, doubt and embarrassment without judgment or evaluation. It is from within this context of a healing relationship where we turn shame into sunsets and create meaningful life change.

You are not a bad person and you are not alone. Having unwanted and intrusive thoughts even about the most distressing content, for example molesting children, incest, rape, bestiality or harming others does not mean you are a bad person. You are a perfectly normal human being. Most of us; roughly 85% experience having unwanted intrusive thoughts. It’s normal and so are you.

ACT will help you open up to living and to see a bigger perspective than just what the OCD says. You will learn powerful tools to create distance from the painful intrusive experiences, connect more with the world around you and discover the important things in life that matter to you. ACT is a powerful approach that will help you commit to your OCD treatment journey.

You are so much more than the content of your OCD. You are so much more than the horrific and painful intrusive thoughts that repeatedly bombard you. You are so much more than your compulsions and rituals that consume large portions of your day. You are so much more than your OCD suffering. Your OCD does not define who you are, and you no longer need to sit alone in silence with shame.

With ACT you turn crippling fear into courage, transform self-doubt into self-compassion, and turn embarrassment into connection. Together with your therapist, you will be taking small steps toward your OCD treatment goals and turning shame into sunsets as you build a life that is directed by you and not your OCD.

About the Author

Richard Bunker is a clinical psychologist and ACT therapist interested in helping folks suffering with OCD. He has extensive experience in delivering Exposure and Response Prevention therapy (ERP) and has helped many people overcome their OCD using ERP and ACT.

If you would like to know more about Richard, please view his profile here:

If you would like to make an appointment with Richard, please phone the Brisbane ACT Centre on 07 3193 1072.

How to cultivate inner calm in a context of chaos – getting flexible and connecting with values!

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By Ali Flint

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Hi – I am Ali, a psychologist, human being, and lifelong explorer in science, humanity and spirituality. As part of my ongoing journey of personal growth I recently attended a 5 day Tibetan Buddhism retreat connecting psychology with spirituality. On the way home, in a busy, noisy airport lounge, I wrote some reflections upon my experience, that I'd like to share.

I have been at the airport for a while now.. back to bright, noisy, stimulating and complex civilisation. After 5 challenging nights in a rural spiritual setting - I sit in a path-intersecting pub, having a wine while both a UFC match & background music are surrounding (distracting?) me. What a contrast! Inner calm must be cultivated in a context of chaos or not at all. It seems at this moment like nothing & everything matters - in equal measure.

Despite the misleading word “retreat”, our schedule was demanding: 6:15am- 8:30pm. The dharma lessons were rich and at times my brain drowned in the depths. The deep meditation sessions, chanting of ancient mantras (that reverberated the heart) and group karma was intense. Despite barely sleeping in my modest bed, keeping to strict schedules reinforced by a bell and being devoured by mosquitoes most nights, I truly know I have basked in the teachings that have been in existence since beginningless time, I am privileged to receive the loving kindness of wise Buddhist nuns who are further along the spiritual path, and I am truly lucky (blessed?) to have been part of a group of therapists who are making a concerted effort towards creating a better world we will one day leave behind... 

The heavy rain has fallen day and night throughout the week. A chorus of happy frogs sung loudly & the battle-scarred thirsty Earth soaked up each nourishing drop. Back in Sydney, flights are cancelled, delayed & thankfully rescheduled. Life goes on... no matter what tiny crevice we find ourselves in at any given moment. Our lives are both important and heart-breakingly impermanent & insignificant.

Yet, we all want the same things - true happiness & freedom from suffering. There are always layers. Let’s see each other for who we truly are, and where we are at. We are all doing the best we can, with what we know & have. We have met before. Hello, I am back (for now) – Ali.

Indeed, I was privileged to be able to take this five days away from the rush and pressures of everyday life – but how can I and my clients find such skills DURING the day-to-day chaos? This is where the present moment, values and, yes, even secular spirituality-focused elements of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy can make a real difference.

I am so excited to work in a space that honours the ancient wisdom of such traditions AND builds on and contextualises this from a Western science framework - to allow connection, vitality, mindfulness and more effective ways of dealing with anxiety, depression, trauma, and stress – just some of the conditions we humans might struggle with in our complex, 21st century lives.

Check out my page on the Brisbane ACT Centre site, and get in touch if you'd like to see if I can help you on your own journey of personal growth.

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About the Author

Ali is a compassionate, highly intuitive psychologist with over 15 years of clinical experience. Friendly, down-to-earth and practical in her approach, Ali seeks to truly connect with her clients and support them to tap into their own inner wisdom and strength.

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Book an Appointment with One of Our Expert Brisbane Psychologists or Therapists.

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3 More of Our Favourite Self Help Psychology Books

How to Learn to Accept Tough Thoughts and Feelings, and be the Person you Want to be

Our last post on 3 of our favourite self help books focused on books that explored popular myths, how those myths can hold us back and where to go from there. This week we’re recommending three books about managing difficult thoughts and feelings.

An important part of the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or Psychological Flexibility model is learning to recognize that no amount of positive thinking makes difficult thoughts go away, and that often the harder we push against those thoughts the more troublesome they can become. You might notice that ACT therapists rarely even refer to thoughts as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and instead, we talk about ‘difficult’ thoughts. That kind of language attempts to loosen us up from the unhelpful idea that we shouldn’t have “bad thoughts”.

These three books are about learning to get better at skillfully handling difficult thoughts and feelings so that we can get on with being our most authentic selves, living in line with our values, noticing when we’re hooked away, forgiving ourselves and gently returning.

1. Anxiety Happens, John P. Forsyth PhDGeorg H. Eifert PhD

A portable small guide to “cultivate calm and radically transform your life”, from the book’s description. Anxiety Happens presents 52 simple strategies to enhance calm and soothe feelings of anxiety. Anxiety Happens explores the underlying causes of anxiety, why pushing anxiety away and avoiding things that make you anxious just doesn’t work, and how to move past anxious thoughts and feelings to live a full, meaningful life.

If you read only one of these three books, Anxiety Happens would be our pick. It’s practical, engaging and results focused. The authors are well known in the ACT community for their clinical and academic work, workshops and trainings. Anxiety Happens can help you to develop willingness, self-compassion, and wisdom.

Available on Amazon, Book Depository and others.

2. Users Guide to the Human Mind, Shawn T. Smith, PsyD.

Users Guide to the Human Mind is a charming and super helpful look into the challenging thoughts and feelings that we all feel, quite a lot of the time!  Shawn’s book is funny, sweet and thought provoking. Coming from an ACT perspective, Users Guide to the Human Mind teaches us simple strategies to consciously observe our thoughts, and learn also to notice by gentle practice that we don’t need to be so governed by them.

From the synopsis:

“The inner workings of the human brain may be a great mystery, but the mind’s true purpose has been verified time and time again: your brain is secretly conspiring against you to make you crazy. How else can we account for the needless fears, dramas, tizzies, and rages that affect us on a minute-by-minute basis?”

The Users Guide to the Human Mind explores these questions with stories, exercises and relevant academic studies to teach cognitive strategies to help us unlearn some of the bad habits our mind has picked up over time.

Available for purchase from Amazon, Book depository and also on Audible!. Also available digitally from Brisbane City Council Library via Borrow box or Overdrive smartphone apps.

3. Stuff That Sucks: Accepting what You Can’t Change and Committing to what You Can, Ben Sedley.

Book Trailer:

Written with young people in mind, Stuff That Sucks is a validating, normalising and compassionate book that encourages readers to accept difficult emotions rather than struggling against them.  Ben has written a terrific book that superbly adapts the ACT model for young people, or those working & living with young people. This is a very special book that helps young people move past difficult thoughts and hone in on their values, and be more of the kind of person that they choose to be, discovering themselves along the way.

An important part of Stuff That Sucks is its strong focus on validating feelings. No one wants to have their feelings minimised, be told that they’ll grow out of them or that it’s just a phase. The author, Ben, has a wealth of background working with children, adolescents and families, and has adapted that experience into this beautiful book.

Stuff That Sucks is fast paced, practical and fun, drawing upon solid scientific evidence to help us all deal more effectively with the kind of thoughts and feelings that often simply suck!

Amazon, Kindle version, FB page

So those are three more of our favourite self books that we regularly recommend to clients. We love good, actionable and evidence based psychology books and all of our therapists read tons of them to stay sharp. Working with a trained professional can be a terrific complement to a good self help book to get the best possible results for you. Get in touch with our friendly team and we can match you up with the therapist that is best suited to help you be your best self. Get in touch Today!

Three of Our Favourite Science-Based Self-Help Books

Live a More Meaningful Life – Right Here, Right Now

The right book at the right time can completely change your life. A science based self-help book can be a fantastic aide to therapy with a skilled professional psychologist, and can help grow the skills learned in sessions of ACT therapy. Research shows specific ACT self-help actually helps, and even more so with the aid of a skilled coach.

Our psychologists, being passionate about helping others, have examined dozens of psychology and self-help books so as to give the best possible care to their clients. We present three of the best which explore popular myths, and examine these myths can constrain and limit us. Here’s three of our favourite ACT oriented self-help books.

Top self help and psychology book recommendations Brisbane1. The Happiness Trap by Russ Harriss

The simplest, bestselling and most practical ACT self-help book from Australia’s foremost ACT trainer Dr Russ Harris. A famous book in the ACT community, the Happiness Trap debunks popular myths around happiness and coaches you in useful skills based on sound scientific evidence. If you read only one book on this list, it should be this one!

Russ has created an 8 week online program based on the Happiness Trap.

From the book’s website “The Happiness Trap is a unique and empowering self-help book – now published in 30 countries and 22 languages – that will enrich your life and fundamentally transform the way you handle difficult thoughts and painful feelings. The title reflects a key theme in the book: popular ideas about happiness are misleading or inaccurate, and will make you miserable in the long term, if you believe them.”

As the founder of ACT Steve Hayes says: “The Happiness Trap carefully and creatively presents techniques that anyone can use to undermine struggle, avoidance, and loss of the moment. Russ systematically explores how we get into the ‘Happiness Trap’ and then shines a powerful beacon showing us another way forward.”

2Self Help Psychology Book Recommendation Brisbane Things Might go Terribly, Horribly Wrong, by Kelly G. Wilson & Troy DuFrene

A superb, touching book exploring anxiety. Using ACT theory and practical exercises, Things Might go Terribly, Horribly Wrong approaches anxiety very differently to traditional self-help. Instead of pushing away our difficult thoughts and feelings, Things Might go Terribly, Horribly Wrong suggests we learn to gently, kindly touch (and learn from) our difficult thoughts and feelings, to make space for them and maybe even in doing so find ourselves within them!

Awarded the “Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies Self-Help Seal of Merit”, this book is one of our favourites to share with our friends, clients & colleagues.

3. Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown

Daring Greatly - Self Help psychology book recommendation BrisbaneA charming, inspiring book by research professor, Brene Brown, Daring Greatly is an exceptionally well-reviewed book on the importance and power of vulnerability. There’s a common myth that showing vulnerability is a weakness, while in contrast should project a perfect exterior at all times. Taking normal risks in life naturally make us feel vulnerable, and we equally naturally push back those feelings. In this book Brene challenges this tendency and shows us that being able to embrace and show our vulnerability can prove to be a great strength.

Brene Brown’s 2010 TEDx talk “The Power of Vulnerability” is a charming and funny introduction to her work.

Please check out these 3 wonderful books, the links above and let us know what you think! In comments, on FB, or with your Brisbane ACT Centre skills coach.

Fear of Heights – Taking the Leap

By Jeremy Villanueva

Having a fear of heights (or anything!) can be terrifying. Regardless of your particular fear or anxiety, we all have similar experiences to some extent. In my life it has been heights in particular.

For example, if I were standing on a tall and narrow walk-bridge, or even just standing inside a tall building, my heart would start to pound, I would breathe faster, my stomach would sink into itself, my fingers would tingle, my body would freeze, and my mind would race and tell me to get the heck out of here. Do any of these experiences sound familiar?

At first I thought my experience was typical, but I realised that not everyone shared the same responses as me! I was told that my feelings would eventually disappear, but they simply didn’t go away. While I still froze with a pounding heart, other people seemed to be just fine standing on balconies, leaning over edges, or just being anywhere on high ground.

To be honest, I didn’t worry about it too much because I was happy to keep clear from heights if it meant that I wouldn’t experience those unwanted feelings in my body.

However, by avoiding heights, I started to miss out on things that I thought would be fun. For example, I enjoy being active and outdoors, but I avoided things like hiking, rock climbing or other high-exposed activities. Even more so, it meant that I missed out on spending fun times with friends or family.

I don’t remember the exact moment, but one day I decided to try to expose myself to heights, if it meant that my feelings would go away. It was a slow process, but eventually I started to go on a few hikes and climbs, but I still had those unwanted feelings. Good grief!

After 10 years of actively trying to get rid of my fear of heights, I realised that perhaps I can’t necessarily get rid of my fear, but just maybe I could learn to be at ease with it. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) skills to help us do just that.

What I started to do is learn to make more room for these unwanted feelings (even though they’re still there), and still do the things that are important to me. ACT skills have taught me how to manage my fear more effectively, so I’m nowhere near as restricted as I once was a short few years ago.

In fact, just last year, I was able to do something on my bucket list that’s caused me anxiety for a while – bungee jumping!

Remember those feelings that I mentioned earlier?

They were still there from the day I booked my bungee jump to the moment I was standing on the edge of that bridge. My heart pounded, I breathed faster, my stomach sunk into itself, my fingers tingled, my body would freeze, and my mind raced and tried to convince me not to jump…

But I still took the leap, and it was amazing! I’ve always wanted to tick bungee jumping off my list, and I didn’t let my fear take that away.

If you have a fear of heights (or anything!) or you want to learn more about ACT, and quickly learn effective ACT skills please feel free to call us on 07 3193 1072.

If you want to take the leap, I’ll be more than happy to help you on your journey.

Jeremy Villanueva

ACT skills for peak performance – for our Paralympians, and my own!

By Tomas Tapper

Representing my country and being part of a world stage was always a dream of mine, so it was a huge accomplishment when I was selected to be the Performance Psychologist for the Australian Paralympic Swim Team competing in Rio, 2016. Usually when realise our dreams, there is much more to it than we had imagined. More generally with any great accomplishment, we can experience pride, happiness – and also a range of difficult emotional experiences.

Despite being in the mental health and performance field, surprisingly few of my friends or colleagues EVER asked me about MY personal wellbeing, or how I was coping. The most common questions I got after arriving home after the Rio Paralympic Games were ‘How was Rio?!’ and ‘What was it like?!’ with the anticipation of excited responses as vibrant as a Brazilian samba.

This adventure though, had required 31 consecutive days of work, generally 15 hours each day, with minimal breaks. I had to be there with my own performance at peak level in order to optimally support the management team, support staff, coaches, and of course, the athletes who were quite naturally under a lot of pressure. Along with being a unique and amazing work experience, it had also meant hardship – being away from my home and with minimal family contact, namely with my beloved wife and then 9 month-old son.

I am expert in training people in the modern and effective psychological flexibility skills. I coach the skills of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (or Training, either way = ACT) to maximize positive team dynamics and individual performance goals in my professional work with sporting teams and individuals. At the same time I practice what I preach – using these very same ACT skills to optimally manage my own self-care. Being away in Rio on my exciting and psychologically demanding adventure sure gave me ample opportunity to step into the “ACT skills training shoes” of my individual and team clients!

As an ACT therapist and coach, I work collaboratively with clients (and while in Rio, even more than usually with myself) to improve the ability to pay attention in the moment, clarify and focus on what matters most, and use the most effective means in the process of reaching our goals, including:

  • Developing openness and acceptance to all experiences (positive and negative) with self-compassion – and self-compassion is a whole process in itself!
  • Being present and are in the moment more often,
  • Learning how to get ‘unstuck’ from ‘sticky’ thoughts and feelings that can hook us away from what we are trying to do,
  • Stepping back and noticing the bigger picture and how thoughts and behaviours can help or hurt us in achieving our goals,
  • Being aware of what matters most and how to live life guided by these personal values from moment to moment,
  • Managing the motivation to commit to taking action, again and again!

Of course, self-care, like professional experience, is forever a work in progress. When something works at one point, we raise the stakes, take on more, and so we need to work harder to achieve more. At the same time, self-care becomes more important to prevent burnout, to keep connected to the bigger picture of why we are doing this, and make space for the discomfort that comes with growth.

Personally, I noticed while in Rio that I would start to ‘beat myself up’ and telling myself I’m not good enough, not doing enough, etc., which could potentially really have an impact on my confidence and sense of self-worth. This was especially tough without having any real time to talk with those closest to me, or take space away from work. I am sure most, if not all of you, have experienced this struggle in your lives at some point personally and/or professionally.

Through my training and ongoing practice with ACT processes (as above), I was better able to notice these thoughts and respond to them gently and compassionately, remembering that I too am human, I make mistakes, and I can always improve.  This self-kindness in-turn energized me through my time in Rio to continue to develop personally and professionally, explore and discover what’s most important to me, as well as practice optimal self-care through both the challenging and fulfilling experiences during the Rio Paralympic Games.

The best part, it doesn’t stop there! Being active with ACT processes helped in Rio, and benefits me in daily life, at work, at home, and in dreaming big. I will certainly continue developing these skills as I look towards the next big event – the Para Swimming World Championships in Mexico 2017!

Groups at Brisbane ACT Centre: Bouncing Back from Adversity and Succeeding

By Nik Kotlarov

From Saturday, May 6, 2017 Nik Kotlarov will be running a group course at the Brisbane ACT Centre, get in touch with our helpful staff to register your interest today.

Would you like to use the latest research in Psychology and Human Behavioural Science to reduce your suffering?  Want to learn to let go of the past and face the future with the skills to enrich your life?

Easier said than done, right?

Shame, stress, sadness, anxiety, frustration, guilt, grief, insecurity, panic, anger, rejection, judgments about the past, dreading or doubting the future.  All very normal experiences that we all have from time to time.  Yet when asked, we call most of our experiences “negative”, or “unwanted”, or “unpleasant”.

We try to get rid of them by watching shows or going to the movies, listening to music or going to a concert, watching sports, pornography, buying clothes or gadgets, drinking alcohol or taking a drug, playing computer games, facebook, fast food.  Notice how well these industries are doing.  How much do we pay our actors, rock-stars, athletes?  As a community, we are quite keen to get away from feeling unpleasant things.

Does it work?  Are we healthier?  Are we handling stress better?  Are we better connected with each other?

What if there was another way?  What if you could take a course here, in Brisbane?  From an accredited Psychologist who was trained by world leaders of thought like Professor Steven Hayes and best-selling ACT self-help and text authors like Dr Russ Harris?  What if this course could teach you another way of Bouncing Back from Adversity and Succeeding in creating a rich, meaningful life?

Interested?  Contact the Brisbane ACT Centre to register your interest today. Talk to our friendly reception staff about referral via Medicare Better Access and how your existing referral or private health fund may be appropriate. The cost of the course is $20 per session, plus Medicare rebate, or $40 per session without Medicare referral. Primary Health Networks (PHN) Brisbane MIND Clients are welcome

Can You Improve Your IQ?

By Nik Kotlarov

We are often interested in assessing how good or bad we are at different things.  Intelligence is one of those that runs deep with people. Doing a basic internet search brings up a list of sites offering free testing.  Saying someone is ‘smart’ immediately jolts positive associations with that person.  Calling someone ‘stupid’… well, you get the point.  This makes us curious about ‘brain training’ and we might try to hide our intelligence, or at the very least try to look intelligent.

But what is intelligence?  Is it a stable part of who the person is, or can it be improved? And what does this mysterious ‘brain training’ entail?

For a long time, researchers worked on developing an agreed upon concept of ‘intelligence quotient’ (IQ), trying to decide what should and shouldn’t be included and how to measure it most accurately.  Today, the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) is the most popular measure used with adults.  Its origin dates back to WW-I and it is currently in its fourth edition to keep up with the changes in the understanding of how intelligence works.  Many will consider that somebody’s IQ is stable and unlikely to change in their lifetime… ‘brain training’ or not!

More recently… well, in the last couple of decades… a newer account of how humans think has been developed. Relational Frame Theory (RFT) is a “psychological account of human language and cognition… useful analysis of complex human behaviour…” (thank you, Eric Fox). This new understanding of human cognition has been applied to many areas of our lives, from dating to humour, and others.  Bryan Roche PhD from National University of Ireland Maynooth, together with his team used RFT to develop a tool they called SMART (Strengthening Mental Abilities with Relational Training).

Brian and his colleagues have been getting some very positive results.  If you are keen to get a sense of the kind of outcomes they are looking at, feel free to visit Psychology Today. And if you are like me and are not keen on reading loads of text, there’s a video and a bunch of pictures to make things fun. If this was fun, a simple internet search will reveal much, much more.  These guys are very generous with their research and you can even subscribe to their YouTube Channel called RYIQ.  It seems this is not only ‘brain training’ – it’s ‘highly precise brain training’ as the research shows.

Doing SMART training is easy (I’ve done it, so have my kids).  Anyone can sign up via a computer by visiting  At the beginning, your IQ is evaluated, so that when you finish, you can see your progress.  Unlike other training, RaiseYourIQ is developed by the experts in the field and in multiple scientific studies showed to raise intelligence (IQ).  The researchers looked at people with normal, high, or low IQs to see whether they could improve.  It seems like, regardless of your current abilities, you are likely to improve.  Interestingly, Brian and his team noticed that even a year after finishing their training, people continued to increase their IQ.  The researchers refer to it as “learning how to learn”.

How to Become an Emotional Resilience Superhero

Life is full of challenges, some more difficult than others, it’s how we respond to those challenges that matters most. Everyone has the experience of facing a challenge that was just out of their realm of control. Facing tough times like that can make us stronger, but how can you prepare for a crisis in the easier times?

“Emotional resilience” is how readily you can cope with stresses both small and large, and how well you can adapt to difficult circumstances in our life. Resilient people tend to be happier and teaching resilience to children can prevent depression, anxiety and increase grades in school.

Developing resilience helps you keep going when challenges, sudden or expected, make the going get tough. Research shows that natural aptitude is only a part of resilience, and it’s largely a learned skill which you can cultivate to turn yourself into a stress busting super hero.

  1. Get Clear About Your Purpose.

Developing resilience is a personal journey of learning your strengths and working on weaknesses. Everyone’s journey is going to be different but one of the most useful things you can do on that journey is get clear about your motive and your purpose. Without a strong purpose driving you through adversity you’ll quit or crumble. A strong awareness of purpose works like a lighthouse guiding you through the heaviest of storms.

How do you get clear about purpose? Think about who and what you care about day to day, and how you’d like life to be in the future. Ask yourself how you’d like to behave through whatever challenges you face. What’s motivating you? What are the values you want to express right now?

2. Everyday is an Opportunity to Improve.

Practicing awareness deliberately with low to moderate daily stressors will build resilience. Developing skills of being present, emotional flexibility and keeping focus on your values and goals in relatively safe environments helps when the stress level gets dialled up.

View small conflicts and daily trials as opportunities to develop your skills as they come. Be like a scientist running an experiment, and be curious about the results. Pay full respect to the successes – and focus also on the areas that have room for improvement next time – learning opportunities!

3. Thing Big Picture.

Get in the habit of paying attention to the things are going well in your life. Remind yourself of things you’ve enjoyed, that have been worth your while, and take time to be grateful for things you’re fortunate to have, friendship, food, and shelter. Getting in this habit before you’re under a time of stress will help you to maintain a broader awareness within a crisis.

People who view their crises as insurmountable problems are less likely to thrive, whereas framing something as a challenge makes it easier to work through.

5. Let Yourself Feel Things Flexibly.

We’re all capable of feeling a dizzying array of emotions simultaneously, even feelings that are seemingly contradictory. An Acceptance and Commitment Therapy skill is learning to ‘defuse’ from thoughts and feelings and notice other feelings in your rich emotional landscape. Research by Barbara Fredrickson, PhD shows that in a crisis resilient people are able to feel both traditionally positive and negative emotions simultaneously. They allow themselves to feel upset while also being able to celebrate the good things. Contrasting to that less resilient people are in crisis all of their emotions turn negative. When challenges strike let yourself feel a broad range of emotions, not just the negative ones.

For more here’s a great post by the terrific blog Barking up the Wrong Tree that summaries research evidence about life skills which we can use in everyday life. Here’s an article on building resilience by the American Psychology Association that we used in our research for this post.

Bonus! 6: Enlist the Aid of a Professional.

The psychologists at Brisbane ACT Centre can help you develop these skills and many more – so that you’re ready to face the challenges that crop up in life. If you wanted to run a marathon you’d train before the race so that you could perform at your best, and a good psychologist can help you just the same way. Working with an emotional resilience professional in the good times to help you work on your psychological flexibility skills can make the difficult times ahead a whole lot easier.