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psychology

There are many things we’d like to forget about our teenage years; the emo phase, the streaky tan, the concealer covered lips, the cringey duck face poses and most of all- your first crush.

Whether it was the boy who lived down the street or Disney’s ‘It Boy’ of the time Zac Efron, we all had our fair share of playground and popstar crushes.

There are many we’d like to forget, especially ones whose names will forever be scribbled in the back of our geography copies.

We develop crushes from quite a young age, the average being aged 12, but we can’t help but wonder why we feel this way.

What causes the butterflies in our stomachs, the glint in our eye when we spot them in town, the feeling of frustration when we don’t hear from them and that elation when we do?

We spoke to psychologist Rachel Tomlinson about catching feels, feeling smitten and the impact it all has on our mind.

First things first, why on earth do we fall for people? We all understand just how complicated and stressful dating and relationships can be, so why does our mind crave affection like there’s no tomorrow?

“We have these feelings because humans are social creatures and we are driven to try and form relationships with other people.

“We want relationships and crave them. These relationships keep us safe, both mentally and physically and having reciprocal and positive relationships is good for our health and stress levels,” Rachel explained.

We all want to find the Harry to our Meghan, the Miley to our Liam and the Beyoncé to our Jay-Z, but it isn’t as straightforward as we wish it was.

We fret about what to wear for that first date, we panic about coming across as too eager or whether we are making a good impression.

We beat ourselves up when they don’t respond to us, we worry about winning them over or if they’re ‘the one’.

The impact it has on our mind is pretty intense at times. 

“Having strong, mutually beneficial relationships (including romantic ones) make us feel good and give us a sense of social connection which is healthy. However, issues can arise when relationships end or crushes aren’t reciprocated.

“If people have recently become single or are experiencing overwhelming feelings of love and lust that aren’t returned it can result in stress, lowered immunity, poor physical and potentially exacerbate mental health issues,” she stressed.

We all want a significant other, crush or lover to feel the same as we do. We crave that attention, love and desire like a cup of coffee at 6 am on a Monday morning.

“Your brain responds to this attraction by signalling the release of chemicals: dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin. These are feel-good chemicals and people can experience excitement, excess physical energy (including heart racing, sweaty palms etc) and giddy/joyful feelings,” Rachel continued.

Testosterone and oestrogen are also released and we feel lust.

This combination of chemicals gives us a rush like no other, but they can become addictive. “People often find that they crave the presence of their crush to get more of those feelings, resulting in (sometimes) quite obsessive thought patterns. Having a crush can feel as though your brain and body have been hijacked by this new love (or lust).”

It’s a natural feeling that has been built into our minds for generations and generations. Your 85-year-old granny once got butterflies at a dance in the 1950s. Your mam definitely swooned over Rob Lowe during the 1980s. Your big brother definitely shed secret tears when his childhood crush went to the debs with his best friend. Your co-worker certainly worries about what to wear on that all too important first date. The guy sitting next to you on the bus no doubt gets butterflies when bumping into his college love after years apart.

It’s a feeling we’re all going to have to get used to because as Emily Dickinson once said ‘the heart want what it wants or else it does not care.'

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Can you really learn how to be happy? Well, Ivy-League University Yale certainly thinks so.

The world-famous American college created a course called 'Psychology and the Good Life' which became the most popular class in the course's history last year, according to Stylist.

The happiness class is now open to everyone online, and we're more than a little bit tempted to get in on this magic. The age-old question of the secret to happiness has been circulating for centuries.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Sparking joy can happen through a variety of different mindsets and methods. For some of us, all we need is a kickass Spotify playlist or a trip to the dancefloor with our friends, while others need to be outdoors and delete all of their social media accounts. To each their own.

The art of happiness is an art form that we can only pursue by switching up our daily routines, and getting in on those feel-good vibes. Yale is here to help us get closer to the sacred state of mind.

Yale has been around for 317 years, and still the happiness class is by far it's most popular course to ever be taught. Last year, the class debuted to global attention when 1,200 students (nearly a quarter of Yale's undergrad student body) enrolled in the course, led by psychology Professor Laurie Santos.

'Psychology and the Good Life' was created in direct response to skyrocketing levels of student stress, anxiety and depression at Yale and teaches practical advice about finding the fight career path, satisfying pursuits and how to cultivate happiness in our everyday lives.

Santos has since created an extended version of the course; The Science Of Well-Being, filmed in her own house, which can be taken online for free.

Absolutely anyone can enroll, so why not try it? It's got a varied curriculum that explores topics including misconceptions about happiness, why our expectations around joy are so low, how to overcome our inner biases, activities that have been proven to boost satisfaction, and how to put strategies into practice.

The course description states; “The purpose of the course is to not only learn what psychological research says about what makes us happy but also to put those strategies into practice,” the course description reads.

Don't stress if academia isn't your background and there are no compulsory texts. If you're feeling overwhelmed at the thought of studying, don't be; these deadlines are flexible and there are no comebacks if you miss one. Go at your own pace.

They also give you the chance to communicate with your classmates, and carry out video lectures, quizzes and 'rewirement' activities for building healthier habits.

The Science Of Well-Being is available for free on Coursera, audited for free or carried out with certification for €44.20. The pursuit of happiness doesn't seem so impossible now, does it?

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We've all been there; giving yourself lactose intolerance from the sheer volume of Ben & Jerry's eaten, tear-stained pillow cases and drowning our sorrows in tequila.

Nope, that's not just our weekend plans…we're referring to the age old reality of break-ups.

You can rant about your ex for weeks, chant self-love quotes from Queer Eye to yourself for the rest of your days and get involved in the rebound game- but it's hard to deny how hard it is to go through heartbreak.

Psychologist Guy Winch, who wrote How to Fix a Broken Heart, helps us out by debunking some common myths surrounding heartbreak

He explains how the pain of heartbreak lingers only as long as you allow it to. Sounds absurd? Let's take a look at his tips for handling break-ups. We need 'em.

“Functional MRI Brain scan studies have shown that the withdrawal of romantic love activates the same mechanisms in the brain as get activated when addicts go through withdrawal from substances like cocaine or opioids,” the TED speaker told The Independent.

"In other words, love is addictive and heartbreak causes us to go through powerful withdrawal," he continues. Love is a drug? This explains why we can obsess over our former loves almost like a deprived craving.

Winch emphasises that this is why it can be so difficult to move on to someone else. We tend to idealise our exes, and our rose-tinted glasses distort out memories of them. This convinces us that our romanticised vision of them is the reality.

“You have to make sure that any thoughts you have about an ex are realistic and balanced,” Winch insists.

“If your mind conjures up images of your happiest weekend together, you need to add in the images from the weekend that drove you crazy and upset you tremendously," he advises. He's like a mind ninja.

“If you find yourself longing for their sweet embrace, you should remember the nights they rejected our advances and slept on the far edge of the bed," Winch elaborates.

Another suggestion of his is to write down a list of reasons why the relationship failed, to keep you grounded. Acceptance of the notion of "being dumped" can also be tough, and usually leads to self-pity.

It seems like your ex is out there living their best single life, but actually they've been emotionally disengaged from the relationship for a long time. “By the time the break-up happens, they are essentially over the relationship,” Winch said.

“However, the person who got dumped is just finding out and is in the most initial stages of grief and loss." It's an imbalance, essentially.

Winch has some stellar advice for avoiding the common traps that people fall into, the main one being; NEVER check their social media. Your ex will only become more present in your mind, and this means it's even harder to quit fantasising about them.

He also advises to avoid creating mysteries about why the break-ups occurred, as this makes your ex even more prominent in your thoughts. Downgrade them, basically. Stick with the facts at all times, and try to uphold your self-esteem.

They were possibly unwilling to commit, they drifted emotionally or else they just weren't the person you thought they were; in any case, it's over and you need to move on. List out all the compromises you had to make in that relationship that you wouldn't do again.

Keep doing the fun things that made you feel like you. Don't lapse on your own enjoyment of activities, and your daily life. Going through the motions signals to yourself that life goes on and time heals all wounds.

Reach out to your pals and embrace their support. Heartbreak is ubiquitous and you can use all the advice you can get. You'll learn a lot from other people's experiences.

Take the reminders of the relationship out of your routine, such as texts or old photos from your phone. Delete their number, any kind of reminder will most likely cause you distress and pain.

We have to say; Winch is one wise man. Psychology can teach us a lot about love and break-ups; our mind is just as important as our hearts when it comes to moving on.

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If you're fascinated by serial killers and feel there's a criminologist in you only dying to get out, then chances are you're constantly on the hunt for documentaries and TV shows which delve into the darkest recesses of the human mind.

And that's where this new series comes in.

Ladies, David Fincher has returned to Netflix with MINDHUNTER, a rigorous study of the damaged psyches of serial killers and the innovative FBI Agents who attempt to understand and catch them.

So, what can you expect from the man who brought us Seven, Gone Girl and House of Cards?

MINDHUNTER follows ambitious FBI agent Holden Ford, played by Jonathan Groff, as he struggles to comprehend incarcerated killers, so that he might use this knowledge to catch others.

He’s teamed with experienced agent Bill Tench, played by Holt McCallany, in the Behavioural Science Unit and will work with his sometimes reluctant partner to find new methods of investigation.

Together they will meet some of America’s gravest killers – and face the cynicism and scorn of the tradition-bound hierarchy of the 1970s’ Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Ford will risk empathizing with ‘evil’ in order to save lives. But, as Tench says, when arguing the case for their work: “How do we get ahead of crazy if we don’t know how crazy thinks?”

All 10 episodes of MINDHUNTER became available to Netflix members worldwide as of yesterday, so if you didn't spend last night with your eyes glued to it, you know what to do tonight.

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Earlier this month High School Musical heart-throb Zac Efron admitted he was left feeling down in the dumps after no one swiped right on his Tinder profile

And while that news is nothing short of concerning – like how on earth will we ever find love if a Hollywood star can't even get a swipe? – Zac's negative experience of the popular dating app is more common than you'd think.

According to a new study from the University of North Texas, Tinder could be lowering peoples' self-esteem and messing with their sense of body image all at the same time.

In one of the first psychological studies to focus primarily on the Tinder platform, researchers found that both male and female users reported less satisfaction with their bodies and looks when compared with non-users but, interestingly, only male Tinder users reported lower levels of self-esteem.

Jessica Strübel – who co-authored the study – said: "Tinder users reported having lower levels of satisfaction with their faces and bodies and having lower levels of self-worth than the men and women who did not use Tinder."

The Assistant Professor explained that Tinder usage was associated with "body dissatisfaction, body shame, body monitoring, internalization of societal expectations of beauty, comparing oneself physically to others and [a] reliance on media for information on appearance and attractiveness".

While Jessica did suggest that Tinder may make people feel like their social interactions are disposable and increase their awareness of perceived bodily flaws, the researchers did stress that the results could also be caused by people who already have self-esteem issues being drawn to the app to begin with.

Always remember no matter how many matches you get, you are flawless!

Feat image: Facebook

Gifs: giphy.com

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Ever get the itch to bitch but think it’s better to hold that frustration inside?

Well, according to the experts, from now on it might be better for your health and your friendships to share those not so nice thoughts with others.

According to Marie Claire, social psychologists have discovered that having a good rant can be therapeutic and is essential when it comes to bonding with friends.

Dr Jenny Cole told the mag: “When we talk about someone behind their back, an emotional bond develops with the person we’re speaking to.”

“And that bond is stronger when the information is negative…Because it’s riskier to share a negative view, so the trust between you and that person becomes greater.”

As it turns out, bitching is not a new social phenomenon by any means and actually goes way back to when we first evolved from primates and learned to speak.

Dr Cole believes gossiping replaced grooming (a means by which apes bond) as a key form of social interaction – so the next time you catch yourself having a little rant, you could say it's a natural thing?

But before anyone takes the news to the extreme and goes on a total bitching spree altogether, it might be worth noting that, like anything, when taken too far gossiping can be damaging.  

Oxford Professor Robin Dunbar warns: “Carried to extremes, [bitching] can of course be harmful.”

“But I think its primary function is to maintain the stability of the little community you belong to by establishing a collective view.”

“If so-and-so is behaving in a way you think is wrong, you hope eventually they’ll get to hear of it through the group.”

Sounds like it's time to get the girls over for a little chat!

 

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Psychologists are always trying to figure out how to optimise happiness, which is why in 2004, Nobel-Prize winner Daniel Kahneman and his colleagues examined a single day in the life of 909 women employed in Texas.

Ten years later, two economists returned to the information they’d gathered to figure out the best way to create the perfect day – i.e one that optimises our 16 waking hours for the greatest well-being.

Here is what they found to be the best way of dividing up your time:

  • Intimate relations: 106 minutes
  • Socialising: 82 minutes
  • Relaxing: 78 minutes
  • Eating: 75 minutes
  • Pray/meditation: 73 minutes
  • Exercising: 68 minutes
  • On the phone: 57 minutes
  • Shopping: 56 minutes
  • Watching TV: 55 minutes
  • Preparing food: 50 minutes
  • Computer: 48 minutes
  • Housework: 47 minutes
  • Childcare: 46 minutes
  • Napping: 46 minutes
  • Working: 46 minutes
  • Commuting: 33 minutes

Well would you look of that! A hell of a lot of ‘intimate relations’ contribute to a very good day, who could have guessed? Socialising, relaxing, eating, exercising, shopping, chatting and watching TV are also up there. Work, on the other hand, should only last for 36 minutes if you want to have a really good day. That’s fine by us!

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Did you know that there’s always a psychology behind why you chose the colours of your outfit?

They can indicate aspects of your personality, such as shyness, confidence or flamboyance and can also make an impression on other people too. This can actually be quite important when it comes to things like dating.

If it’s the first time you are meeting this person, perhaps you want to convey something specific or let the person know your personality type.

So have a look at the following colours and have a think about the impression you want to make on your next date! Even better, use the list to work out what type of person your date might be.

Pink
Pink is a calming and non-threatening colour. It is affectionate but be careful because it is also a young colour so can portray immaturity also.

Blue
The colour blue is calm and serene; like the ocean. A person who dresses in blue is often honest and sincere.

Purple
People who like to wear purple are often creative in personality; perhaps with an arty job. Purple also coveys intelligence and is a warm colour. Purple is known as the colour of royalty because of its richness and depth.

Black
Black is a no-nonsense colour, hence why it’s so popular for interviews. It is formal, classic and sophisticated and people who wear black may also be serious types. Or they’re just people who know you can’t go wrong with a LBD.

Red
Ooh red. Red is the colour of passion and love. It makes your heart race and gets the blood pumping. It is also the colour of danger. Chris deBurgh didn’t write Lady in Red for nothing! Though we do wish we had a better example.

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