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The Do’s and Don’ts of New Year Resolutions

New year resolutionNew Year Resolutions are commonly considered and rarely followed through. While New Year resolutions are driven by positive qualities of hope and optimism, they can also be related to a belief that the year brings a “fresh slate” to work from. Common resolutions include saving money and budgeting more effectively, losing weight and/or getting fitter, stopping smoking and attending more to meaningful relationships.

In saying this, resolutions and goals are a worthwhile concept- if considered realistically and with good levels of insight and motivation for change. Cloud Clinic provide the following recommendations for identifying New Year Resolutions that increase the likelihood of change.

  1. Start with reflection and insight: Before planning for the future, reflect on the past year in each important part of your life. For example, taking a “helicopter” perspective, consider your year in the key areas of physical and mental well-being, relationships with important others, work, financial stability, education, etc. Note some positives in your achievements in each of these areas and then list 1-2 areas that require attention or haven’t gone so well.
  2. List possible goals for the New Year: on a separate piece of paper write a list of possible New Year resolutions/goals to be considered from each area of your life.
  3. Consider your motivation for each goal and barriers to change: For each possible goal make notes of the advantages and disadvantages of change in these areas and also make a note about your motivation to change. There is a difference between thinking that it is important to work on this and being ready to commit yourself to action. In fact, research demonstrates that motivation to change happens in different stages that include precontemplation ( limited insight and thought about changing), contemplation (considering the importance of this), preparation (making plans for change), action (implementing the plan) and maintenance (continuing to implement behaviours post the change occurring to make it a routine and way of life). Most people reach the contemplation and preparation stage at New Years without moving it into action and then maintenance. In this section, also consider things that may get in the way (barriers) to changing. These may include finances, a long history of problematic behaviour, dependence on others for support, addiction.
  4. New Behaviours and Routines take months to make: It takes consistency over a period of approximately 3 months to form new routines. For those who do reach ‘action’ stage, most do not continue to implement these changes for long enough for the efforts to pay off. If you are motivated for change, ensure that you are motivated for change over a period of months, rather than thinking that you can take it one day at a time.
  5. Choose 2 goals from your list that a) have good benefits, b) that you are motivated to change, c) that have few barriers and that d) you believe are realistic for you to expect of yourself. Also ensure that these goals are ones that you are willing to follow through on over a period of months.
  6. It is ok to not make resolutions: if the resolution activity is too overwhelming and leaves you feeling anxious, make a more general commitment to a short-term task such as reading a self-help/happiness book, to setting up reminders in your phone to remind you to reflect and do the best that you can do in each area of your life, to calling a friend or contributing to the community for one day, to starting your year off with a clean bedroom, to telling the people that you love that you love them.
  7. Maximise each day for what it brings: the best approach to happiness and well-being is to do the best you can do on each day. Face the challenges that the day brings and approach it with curiosity and willingness to ride any negativity that comes with it. Knowing what is important to you and doing the best that you can will bring about success and well-being.
  8. Remember it doesn’t have to be New Years to set goals for yourself: successful and happy people remain insightful throughout the year and consistently work on the areas that are important to them. Reflect throughout the year and be willing to set goals for yourself as they come up if they are realistic and achievable for where you are at that time in your life.

Cloud Clinic wish you a Happy and Fulfilling New Year!

 

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Older Veterans Benefit from CBT Intervention for Depression

war veteran

The US Department of Veteran Affairs have published a study this month (Nov, 2013) that demonstrates the comparable efficacy for older veterans in the management of depression through CBT as the younger veteran population aged 18-65 years.

This study included 100 older veterans and 764 younger veterans and there were similar outcomes for both populations suggesting an approximate 40% reduction in depression symptoms and scores.

Depression in the older population is associated with reduced quality of life, increased mortality, increased risk and difficulties associated with medical illness and social and environmental difficulties.

Adults from 18 years to well above 65 years benefit from CBT therapy for the management of depressed mood, including in the Veteran population. Motivating the older adult population to seek psychological treatment of depressed mood is a worthwhile goal both for the veteran and general community.

Karlin, B.E., Trockel, M., Brown, G.K., Gordienko, M., Yesavage, J., & Taylor, C.B. (2013). Comparison of the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy for depression among older versus younger veterans: Results of a national evaluation. Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences

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THE BLUE BRAIN PROJECT

 

Dr Keith Roberts recently attended the ENCP ( European College of Neuropsychopharmacology) Congress in Barcelona.

 

Researchers and clinicians from around the world gathered to hear the results of some of the most advanced research in neuroscience.

 

The keynote speech was given by Prof Henry Markram from the Blue Brain Project of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Switzerland.

Henrymarkram
This project aims to reconstruct the brain using supercomputers.

The project started in 2005 and as the first step the project succeeded in simulating a rat cortical column. These neuronal networks consist of approximately 10,000 neurons. They are around the size of a pin head. They occur repeatedly throughout the brain. A rat brain has around 100,000 columns. The human brain has many many more.

 

Each cortical column appears to be allotted a single simple role. For example in the rat brain one specific column is devoted to each whisker.

 

It takes 20,000 experiments to map a neural circuit. The human brain consists of around 86 billion neurons with 100 trillion synaptic connections. It would be impossible to map these out using routine experiments.

 

What the Blue Project intends to do is to understand the building blocks of the brain, the neuronal columns, and using statistical simulations predict the way the neurons combine and function, and compare these simulations against real data from biology.

 

Many in the field doubted whether this was possible or realistic but recently the Blue Brain project was funded by the European Union to the tune of 100 million Euros.

 

The aim of the research is further understanding of the brain.

This, it is hoped, will lead to better medications and treatments for brain illnesses including addictions, depression and schizophrenia.

 

There is also another thread of research that hopes to point in another direction. That is to change the architecture of computers to be more like a brain, with the aim of producing a computer which works much quicker than a brain but uses far less energy than today’s supercomputers.

 

 

The Blue Brain Project can be compared to the Human Genome Project, which mapped 3.3 billion base pairs making the 20,000 to 25,000 genes within our chromosomes. This too was initially thought to be overly ambitious. However the task was completed 5 years ahead of target and costs involved dropped significantly. Much basic science has been discovered about our genes but the hope for personalised medicine held out by many is still some way off in the future. Probably the benefits of the Blue Brain Project will be profound but distant.

 

 

There was recently  a very informative newspaper article in “The Guardian” about Prof. Markram and the Blue Brain Project.

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/oct/15/human-brain-project-henry-markram

The Blue Brian project made an introductory video to explain their work.

 

HBP-videoverview from Human Brain Project on Vimeo.

There is also a 10 year project to make a series of documentary films on the project.

Currently the latest film is “Year Three”

http://bluebrainfilm.com

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