4 thoughts on “Making the Most of Your Emotions

  1. Dear Tracy,

    I listened to your talk and one of the first ideas that really stuck out to me was about the stigma associated with mental health which isn’t talked about in most communities and is far more taboo than sex or drugs or some kind of a physiological setback due to pathogens. It does seem there is a sociological stress associated with even talking about clinical issues in mental health.

    Talking about stress in the context of entrepreneurship was also very interesting.

    I liked the pointers you gave, I already use them and have seen their effectiveness in my life, I got them from various sources and perhaps your talk reminded me that I had forgotten about the “talk about any three good things that happened today”. My current, most effective stress buster is learning to swim. Mild and unambiguous stress of synchronizing my breathing with movements under water makes me forget about all other stressors and the regular physical exercise seems to enforce regular sleeping and many more useful habits. Perhaps the most harmful form of stress for me has been “inexplicable anxiety” where I know I am anxious about something but can’t figure out the source of the anxiety which turns into a cyclic form of stress of not being able to know why I am stressed. Having simple stress from swimming is so much better.

    I do not have an iPhone and therefore couldn’t try your app. Please look into PhoneGap or something like it for making cross platform apps. You can also try PyGames for building the app and PyInstaller to compile the app for different platforms. The comments about Personal Zen are worth looking into from a usability stand point. It looks like the app needs “call outs” which guide the player. Descriptions about the in-game rewards like the stars in a “help” section may be necessary. I got these ideas even though I haven’t played the game and by merely reading user comments so they might not be accurate nor relevant. And I do understand that the app is in beta mode. All the best for your research and entrepreneurial endeavors. Thank you.


    1. Thanks, Sam, these are such great comments! I think physical exercise is one of the most powerful treatments we have at our disposal. All these specialized treatments we develop in the lab and clinic might be best thought of as “boutique” treatments that we turn to to address remaining concerns after we’ve used exercise and other tools that are readily available.

      PhoneGap is a great idea and I agree with all the issues and ideas you (kindly) raise about PZ – which as you note is in beta mode. We have been prepping for a reboot of PZ and we hope to collate all this information, as well as some good analytics on current users, to drive some development and improvement on the app very soon.


  2. Tracy,

    Just came across your blog, and am very glad I did because my own research interests are remarkably close to yours and the study of negative affect and anxiety through the lens of psychophysiology and treatment methods like mindfulness are all something I intend to explore further in grad school. Anyway I wanted to get your thoughts on some things from this talk, which was great by the way.

    I’m curious, you talk alot about how people who suffer with chronic anxiety or are simply stressed have very rigid biases in their attention, focusing on the negative. Are you aware of how these biases initially form or what conditions in development may encourage them? What is the rough timeframe for the plasticity of these biases given the work in your lab? I had an idea about actually reversing the process of changing people’s attentional habits that I’m sure you’ve considered but I thought I’d throw out. These habits may in part be modulated by state-dependent cognition or affect driven attention. What about using effective methods to induce positive moods in depressed individuals so patients are in a better position to shift these biases which are often so rigid in negative states?

    My other question is on your conception of anxiety and where you think it fits within the picture of a HEALTHY human life. I think we both know it shouldn’t be removed from the emotional repertoire, but in what contexts or thinking styles is anxiety helpful for performing? Thanks again, sorry for all the questions, enjoyed this.

    1. A much-belated response to your comment. I’m not sure I have answers to all your questions but they are good ones! The experimental and therapeutic implications you mention are right on target. People are doing this work. In terms of healthy anxiety, the concept of Eu-stress has become more popular, with the basic idea being that stress, anxiety, depression, all these negative experiences in the right dosage can actually facilitate healthy functioning. We’ve certainly evolved to deal with their existence.

      Thanks for reading!

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