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Art & Soul: The Art Of Well Being - U Of M Psychologist's Approach To Cope With 'Mental Events'

Michigan Medicine

This week, "Art and Soul" is about the art of well being.  Lisa Barry talks with Dr. Tony King, an Ann Arbor psychologist, University of Michigan assistant professor of psychiatry, and researcher into several different mindfulness approaches and practices, about dealing with stress and anxiety, which has increased due to the last year in the pandemic.

Dr. Tony King says the stress of the pandemic has really expressed itself in so many different ways.  As a staff psychologist at the University of Michigan Anxiety Disorder program clinic, they've seen a large increase in people seeking help due to the pandemic. 

He says self-care is really important right now, taking time to exercise and find ways to de-stress.  He also says there are certain things we can do to recognize when the stress is starting to impact us. 

As a proponent of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, orMBCT, Dr. King suggests making an effort to notice what is happening in your mind at the present moment.  He says our minds can sometimes "time travel" from remembering things in the past or projecting ourselves into the future.  He says sometimes that causes us to spend too much time in our heads, which can turn thinking about the future into worry or anxiety opposed to something helpful, or looking at the past with self-criticism or regret that can be quite distressing.

Dr. King says what can be helpful is focusing on the present moment, and his research has shown that can be very helpful.  He says mindfulness approaches to what is bothering us brings in the idea of metacognition, the ability to be aware of your thoughts and feelings and being able to recognize them as "mental events" and not necessarily the truth.  He says the goal of mindfulness is to notice our patterns whether it's self-criticism, anxiety, or anxious misery, and then bring ourselves back to the present moment, again recognizing those thoughts may feel real but recognize them as mental events and ask yourself, "What is actually happening right now?"

Dr. Tony King is also an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan, director of the Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy program for anxiety and depression at U-M, and a researcher into several different mindfulness approaches and practices.  He will be holding an online workshop on Saturday, April 17, entitled, "Neuroscience and Psychology in Meditation: Mindfulness & Negative Emotions Working with Anxiety, Depression, & Trauma."  For information and registration, click here.


**Special thanks to Paul Keller for providing the Art & Soul theme music.**

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu

Lisa Barry was a reporter, and host of All Things Considered on 89.1 WEMU.
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