Contrary to what you probably believe, psychology is not only for college students and daytime TV. Psychology is one of those fascinating things that we use almost every day without even realizing it. While many aspects of psychology are intricate and involve a great amount of study to understand, there are some things that everybody can (and should) understand. Since the majority of people are already using psychology unknowingly, isn’t it time to find out how you can make that psychology work for you?
Psychology for Health
Health psychology is a field that is not very well known, but offers a number of strategies that can help improve your overall health. Some of the basic things that you can work towards now are:
• Spending more time in the sunlight. Studies have shown that Seasonal Affective Disorder (called SAD) can be avoided or reduced by spending time in the bright sunlight. SAD is often treated through light therapy, so take your treatment into your own hands by spending an extra few minutes outdoors.
• Did you know that exercise has amazing psychological effects along with physical ones? By exercising regularly, your body produces large amounts of mood-enhancing endorphins. Help battle depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders by getting yourself moving on a regular basis.
• Unhealthy behaviors are often the result of a psychological issue. Disorders such as anorexia and binge eating are much more involved than simply an unhealthy relationship with food. The disorder is caused by a psychological need to feel in control of something. Understanding what you are really going through will help you to know how to find the help that you need.
Psychology for Decisions
Obviously making decisions involves significant mental processing. By understanding the psychological process behind decision making, you can learn to make wiser decisions in all aspects of your life. There are several strategies that you can implement when making a decision to help ensure that it doesn’t soon become a regret.
• Always weigh the pros and cons of a decision before jumping in head first. Even if you are almost positive as to which decision is right, take the time to really look at the entire situation. Also make sure to look into the future repercussions of that decision; remember that each decision you make will have lasting effects.
• By looking at the situation from every possible point of view, you help to ensure that you don’t overlook anything and that the decision you are making is right in the most possible ways.
• One of the biggest psychological methods of decision making that you can implement is the “Six Thinking Hats” approach. Look at the decision from all six points of view:
Psychology for Finances
As with all decision making, your financial decisions have a major impact on your life as a whole. The decisions you make today will determine what you are or are not able to do tomorrow. When making a financial decision, you can implement the strategies above as well as keep a few other things in mind:
• Change your mindset; tell yourself that there is a difference between “wants” and “needs.” Spending money can become a psychological addiction, so you’ve got to learn to only spend when necessary.
• Don’t put off savings. The longer you wait to start saving, the longer it will take for that money to add up. Be disciplined and put regular amounts in each week or month, then leave it there and watch it add up!
• Always use credit cards as a back-up plan. If you don’t have the cash to buy something, don’t use credit cards either. Psychologically we think that if we have money on our credit cards, then we have money to spend. This kind of thinking leads to debt more than anything else.
Psychology for Motivation
Setting goals, making plans, and changing your life are all things that must first happen in your mind. The psychological processing of the fact that you need to do something is the first step to changing, accomplishing, and succeeding. Motivating yourself is also extremely psychological. You may physically do the thing, but you first have to decide in your mind that you are going to do it. Keeping yourself motivated is the only way to succeed, and it’s also a major way to avoid self-esteem issues and depression.
When trying to motivate yourself or set goals, keep the following in mind (these are proven by researchers in cognitive and educational fields of psychology):
• Keep adding new elements to your goal to keep yourself both interested and motivated.
• Reward yourself! Make sure that you celebrate even the smallest of accomplishments.
• Set clear goals. If you aren’t absolutely clear on what you want to achieve, you will only be disappointed. Be very specific when outlining your plans and goals and set small milestones to reach along the way.
• Change up the way you are doing things every now and then so that you don’t get bored. The number one reason people give up on goals such as weight loss is because they try and stick to a strict routine and wind up getting bored. Your goal should be exciting, as should every step along the way. Do whatever it takes to maintain that excited and optimistic outlook.