Best way to cope with upsets is to step back

September 24th, 2008 - 2:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 24 (IANS) The best way to cope with upsets or depression is to analyse your feelings from the perspective of distance, suggests the latest research.Processing emotions is supposed to help with coping, but such attempts often backfire and perpetuate or intensify negative moods and emotions, said University of Michigan psychologist Ethan Kross.

He along with colleague Ozlem Ayduk from University of California, Berkeley, conducted a series of studies that provide the first experimental evidence of the benefits of analysing depression from a psychologically distanced perspective.

“We aren’t very good at trying to analyse our feelings to make ourselves feel better,” said Kross, assistant professor of psychology. “It’s an invaluable human ability to think about what we do, but reviewing our mistakes over and over, re-experiencing the same negative emotions we felt the first time around, tends to keep us stuck in negativity.

“It can be very helpful to take a sort of mental time-out, to sit back and try to review the situation from a distance,” Kross said.

This approach is widely associated with eastern philosophies like Buddhism and Taoism, and with practices like Transcendental Meditation. But according to Kross, anyone can do it with a little practice, reports Eurekalert.

“Using a thermostat metaphor is helpful to many people. When negative emotions become overwhelming, simply dial the emotional temperature down a bit in order to think about the problem rationally and clearly,” he said.

In a related study, published earlier this year in Psychological Science, Ayduk and Kross showed that participants who adopted a distanced perspective while analysing such feelings showed smaller increases in blood pressure than others.

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