Ways to Block Unwanted Thoughts

Many children and adults deal with unwanted thoughts on a continual basis. These unpleasant thoughts can often detract from school, work and personal relationships. Fortunately, there are some effective strategies that can free the mind from these negative thoughts.

One of the most effective ways to keep unwanted thoughts from plaguing the mind is to not think about blocking them. A concept known as the ironic monitoring theory explains how the mind is more likely to think about the unpleasant thoughts when trying to block them out of the mind. Many negative thoughts are automatically blocked after a while when the mind is not trying to think of ways to stay distracted from them.

Writing unpleasant thoughts on paper is another method to combatting this problem. Putting these ideas on paper can be cathartic for the mind, and seeing them in written form might make them easier to analyze. It is also a good idea to eventually cross off the thoughts on the list that no longer seem overwhelming.

Certain mental disorders also cause people to think of things that are negative. Anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder, in particular, often cause the mind to focus on unpleasant thoughts and feelings. Having these disorders treated through therapy can put the mind into a better state and help control thought processes.

Some people have even benefited from scheduling a time during the day to think about unpleasant thoughts. This helps establish a better sense of control over the thoughts, and thinking about them at designated times will likely cause less feelings of anxiety or grief.

Taking proactive steps to keep the mind distracted from unwanted thoughts can be further beneficial. Exercise has been scientifically proven to reduce stress levels, and focusing on working out can force the mind to concentrate on the tasks at hand. Other distractions that may be helpful include focusing on work, spending more time with friends and taking up new hobbies.

Blocking out unpleasant thoughts is possible, and some of the best ways to adopt a more positive mindset do not take a lot of extra effort. Gaining control over these thoughts can help anyone live a happier, more fulfilling life.

Exercise is an Important Part of Childhood Development

children playing football

Odds are if you’re feeling down, you probably won’t want to get out of bed, let alone put on your exercise clothes, take a run around the block. Succumbing to the feeling of wanting to do nothing will not help your case, however. Whether you’re feeling unwell already, or, say, if you feel normal but your days are packed with endless activities and no downtime, staying put will not contribute to your feeling of wellbeing. Engaging in any kind of physical exercise, however, can lift you out of those moods and allow you to look beyond it, or simply help you ensure that those moments are less likely to come on.

So, will taking your dog for a walk or jogging to your local market solve depression for you? Odds are, no… but engaging in a regular exercise routine can certainly help you work through difficult feelings. Studies show that people who engage in regular exercise enjoy a boost in mood and higher self esteem, versus those who do not.

The same holds true for children and young adults. Self Esteem is an essential element in the healthy development of children and adolescents. Self Esteem allows children to grow and gives them the confidence to try, and to continue trying, unbeaten, when they fail. Trial “and error” is an essential part of growing. Without the confidence or self esteem to try, children won’t give themselves the same opportunities to grow.

Along those same lines, playing sports is one of the perfect opportunities for children and adolescents to learn these values, and to learn to try and learn to fail in a certain safe environment. On the one hand, children will get the benefits of exercise: self esteem, a feeling of motivation… one of the main benefits of exercise is that it produces endorphins in the brain, which lead to a feeling of wellbeing which can help self confidence and self esteem, and generally, just contribute to a healthy lifestyle which can promote positive childhood development.

A balance of sports and exercise in a child or adolescent’s life can help them handle the changes coming on at those times. Endorphins have a stress relieving effect and help stave away feelings of depression or anxiety. Being able to constantly try, fail, and learn to work with a team will be a defining factor in any childhood development.


For more information about the importance of exercise and childhood development, look to the following resources: here and here

Individuals with Autism May Experience Difficulties When Transitioning out of Adolescence

There has been an increase in prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder in children psychiatry in recent years. However, the attention that the issue is paid decreases significantly as these children begin to age and transtition into teenage years and ultimately, adulthood. Anne Roux, M.P.H. a research scientist states that the current research, while worthy of praise, is leaving the entire population of aging people with Autism Spectrum Disorder “underserved”.


Autism is usually highlighted and focused on in early, developmental years, but the condition is life long. The heavy focus on children with autism leaves adults with autism in a world full of misconceptions about the disorder in adult years. The misconceptions within the medical industry specifically leaves a scaricty of resources for adults with autism as they age and continue to try to navigate through life.


It has been shown that while secondary schools are often equipped to provide counseling services and developmental programs, less that sixty percent of students with ASD are actually receiving the proper assistance from schools when it comes to transition planning.


The report “National Autism Indicators Report: Transition Into Young Adulthood” was created to track how young adults with ASD are actually living as they transition out of school, and the reality is unfortunately on the bleak side. When children with ASD leave high school, only thirty six percent of them actually make it through a post secondary education program and only fifty eight percent of them were able to acquire gainful employment. Even more astonishing is that individuals with ASD are only able to live independently nineteen percent of the time.


The findings of the report are able to clearly conclude that adults with ASD begin to suffer and lose direction immediately after completeling high school. People with Autism Spectrum Disorder are not developing function skills as quickly as their brain develops, which leads to difficulty with communication, speech, and social development. This directly effects their ability to adapt to their societal surroundings and to become self sufficient. Roux has outlined that there is a huge need for more study and data on adult-age individuals with ASD, to create a better measurement of progress, and ultimately more resources for adults with ASD.

To see the full article, click here.


Robot Therapists Enter the Realm of Child Psychiatry

The field of psychiatry is historically associated entirely with human interaction and empathy; it is a science and field that seems unlikely to be associated with the ever-increasing encroachment of technology and robots in the medical field. However, that is exactly what is happening. Robot therapy is becoming an increasingly growing area of study; it’s most prominent sector being the realm children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).


The use of robot therapy with children with ASD is a thriving area of research; studies have shown that children with autism prefer to interact with technology over interacting with humans. The medical and psychiatric realm is now working to determine how to optimize this preference for everyone’s benefit. Zachary Warren, Ph.D. poses the question, “How do we use this preference to boost early social skills, as opposed to having technology exacerbate the deficits in social behavior?” It’s a delicate line balance. Warren has been working on a creating an environment that tests a “robot therapist’s” ability to teach joint attention to children with autism. This inability to share the focus of on a common item is an early, telltale sign of autism spectrum disorder in children.


Warren and a team of engineers have created a system of cameras that track where a child’s focus is held. While the cameras are rolling, a robot provides prompts to the child to guide their gaze/focus. The robots are equipped to provide positive reinforcement to the children when prompts are received successfully. The use of robots in this scenario provide a very unique benefit: the physical presence of the robot allows it to be more than just a tool; children react with this technology creature more readily (and differently) than they would with simple 2D images on a screen.


This is not to say that the robots will be able to replace human interaction (at this point in time), but the robots do offer a unique, complementary addition to the care and treatment that a child can get from humans.


There is a huge potential for growth within the field of robotic therapy. Autism spectrum disorder is not the only disorder that can be addressed with the correct robot technology. There is the potential for robot therapists to work with children who are survivors of trauma or abuse, who may feel more comfortable being open with something that is not a person. There is also the potential to move away from children, and to work with older adults who suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia.


To see the article that inspired this post, click here.