That’s the spirit: Buddhist monks during a retreat led by Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese monk who said ‘you need to smile to your sorrow because you are more than your sorrow’. Photograph: Valerie O’Sullivan

Padraig O’Morain: Our human spirit can help us cope with events like Covid and war

Though the days are brighter and longer, summer can be a dark time for many people. Photograph: iStock

Padraig O’Morain: Image of summer as season of happiness and bliss doesn’t hold true

In the process of being turned into tolerable human beings, we often learn the lesson that our feelings are not acceptable

Padraig O’Morain: Healing depends on people knowing their feelings accepted as genuine

Eventually, some sort of new normal will develop. Meanwhile, we live between one upheaval and another. Illustration: iStock

The prospect of a return to ‘normality’ is growing dimmer by the day

‘If you take a newish stressor like fears about climate change, it seems to me that this can only lead to increases in mental illness.’ Photograph: iStock

In about half of people, mental illnesses arise before age 18 - add climate change fears and the outlook is grim

A front-page report from October 1978 about a protest at violence against women at which the creation of the Rape Crisis Centre was announced.

Willingness of women to speak out about their fears is a crucial step toward change

Our aversion to loss is stronger than our desire to gain. The losing punter who keeps on gambling might be desperately trying to avoid accepting the losses. Photograph: iStock

Goal of not losing the fitness you have might be more achievable than becoming superfit

An atmosphere of disapproval can, if internalised, lead people to turn against themselves. Photograph: iStock

We celebrate weight loss, and our basic attitude towards being overweight is disapproval

 One person can be told repeatedly that they are “a thick” and shrug it off. Another takes it to heart

It’s what you say to yourself about yourself that counts most in building up that idea of who you are

Flowers  and candles are left at Leinster House during a vigil for Ashling Murphy. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/ Collins

Opinion: Get angry and feel sad at Ashling Murphy’s murder but, above all, change

Remember what to do if you fall off the wagon – stop the horses, climb back up and hit the road again. Photograph: iStock

Euphoric recall tricks us, we also have plenty of good times without alcohol

Anxiety is a part of everyday life in the age of Covid but it shouldn’t rule our lives. Photograph: iStock

Being alert to real dangers is wise. But that doesn’t mean catastrophic thinking

It’s very important  to keep hammering home to yourself the distinction between failing and being a failure.

So many of us fail to draw a distinction between making a mistake and being a mistake

If being bundled up and brought from home to home is going to make the children’s day worse rather than better, perhaps you might consider seeing them on St Stephen’s Day. Photograph: iStock

If handled sensitively, seeing your family virtually could be a warm moment

We all know of instances in which children were repeatedly shamed for bed-wetting and that experience of shame stayed with them into adulthood. Photograph: iStock

Padraig O’Morain: Why we condemn in others faults we are ashamed of in ourselves

Lockdown has led people to look on work as usual with a jaundiced eye. Photograph: iStock

Economic realities may push refuseniks back to the office but attitudes are changing

Being labelled an alcoholic might prevent you from recognising that you have a problem in the first place. Image: iStock

Slapping the ‘alcoholic’ label on someone can do more harm than good

Going away to college can prove a daunting experience for young people as they struggle to adjust without the former normal  supports of school and family.

Current generation have already suffered enormous disruption during a very formative period in their lives

We tend to romanticise what we long for, like  the emigrant in The Old Bog Road who invests Ireland with a romantic tinge though he has no intention of returning to it

Living while longing: for a loved one, a job, a home, the life you had before Covid

Hope needs nurturing; the morale-boosting social side of college life cannot be replicated on Zoom. Photograph: iStock

The pandemic world poked holes in the confidence and positivity of our students

Shy people would like to be with others but find it brings up anxiety. Photograph: iStock

Quiet people rest assured, brilliant conversationalists are a pain in the neck

Getting suited and booted for the morning commute feels like you’re getting ready to play a part in front of the world because that’s what it is. Illustration: iStock

It’s natural to wonder how you will re-establish yourself when back in the office

Estimates of the percentage of people who go on to suffer long Covid range from 10 per cent to figures far higher. Photograph: iStock

It disrupts your body and your life and nobody understands this better than other sufferers

A key element of human psychology at play in our response to the twists and turns of the pandemic  is the basic human need for freedom. Photograph: iStock

Psychology can help us develop better responses to pandemic twists and turns

In the mornings I like to use what are called ‘sentence stems’ to nudge my mood upwards. File photograph: iStock

If you never felt down you would be completely out of touch with reality

Acceptance is about lifting your head, looking around you and wondering, “Where do I go from here?” Photograph: iStock

Acceptance can allow you to enjoy fulfilling activities or good relationships once again

I get a sense that people believe they were not productive or sharp enough during the lockdowns. Photograph: iStock

Mega-productive people usually have teams running around for them

Forgiveness can bring release and a way out of the trap of resentment. Photograph: iStock

Emotional forgiveness can help leave upsetting events behind and enable understanding

Women’s accounts of being stalked have been in the media again as have calls for this activity to be a criminal offence in its own right and not part of overall harassment legislation.

Longer prison sentences and adequately financed treatment services needed

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen was left without a chair as male counterparts sat down at a meeting with Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan. Photograph: AFP via Getty

Getting cut from the herd never feels good and spells danger, it’s how bullying works

The Covid-19 pandemic has stopped the carousel with its illusion of magic and fun and romance. Photograph: iStock

I used to forget about reality in the illusory distractions of streets, theatres, cinemas

Exercise is on my shortlist of things to do every day to keep my spirits up in this prolonged downtime

Pandemic inertia doesn’t feel like rest of any pleasurable or restorative type

Let us be aware of the danger as businesses shut their doors leaving individuals, with their own private, maybe invisible, vulnerabilities, out in the cold.

Padraig O’Morain: Let’s look at wider society and identify what we need to change about it

Hugs, holding hands and kisses   are simple romantic gestures that can be done every day. Photograph: iStock

Little romantic actions can go a long way as couples remain cooped up during lockdown

As humans, we need connection to social groups. Photograph: iStock

The formation of groups is a core human tendency – and it happens very quickly

Small acts of kindness towards other people tends to boost the sense of well-being of the people doing the kind acts. Photograph: Getty Images

Padraig O’Morain: Some people are born cheerful, but lots of us need to work at it

It takes time to retain the brain - especially if it’s used to ‘wine o’clock’ at home. Photograph: iStock

A private no-booze mantra can be helpful: ‘If it’s no good without alcohol, then it’s no good’

Reading a book with the big, eff-off headphones on – whether anything is coming through them or not – will give people a clear signal that you want to be left alone. Photograph: iStock

For many of us, Christmas adds a whole new element of crowding to our lives

Will you see the children on Christmas Day or can you organise a call via Zoom or WhatsApp? Photograph: iStock/Getty Images

Negotiations can be more difficult and emotional the closer it gets to the big day

A fairly common characteristic of perpetrators is that they are narcissistic or antisocial

Cluster of recent suicides among young women was due in part to domestic violence

It’s  vital to recognise your partner was not put on the planet to live up to your expectations and you were not put on the planet to live up to theirs. Photograph: iStock

Getting over rows quickly has always been key to a good relationship. That’s even more important now

Photograph: iStock

Mindless rule-flouting behaviour is the real problem in the pandemic

A pleasant time, but it has the potential to spread Covid far and wide. Photograph: iStock

Covidiots are not bad people; they’re just people who believe ‘it won’t happen to me’

What can you do to get through this whole pandemic experience, and other out-of-control events in better emotional shape? Illustration: iStock

Start with acceptance. This may not get rid of anxiety but it will lower it straight away

Padraig O’Morain: Forced sex-trafficking is an evil trade

Padraig O’Morain: It is our duty to prioritise the destruction of sex-trafficking

The Molly Malone statue in Dublin sporting a face mask. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Avoidance of rejection and seeking approval are very strong motivators

It’s normal to harbour doubts and fears – even without  the added pressure of the disruption caused by a worldwide pandemic.

It’s important to develop coping mechanisms when afflicted by unwelcome thoughts

Blocking out uncertainty with unconsidered optimism will not help you cope with anxieties

The desire for normality can push us towards forgetfulness. Photograph: iStock

Some people will require support and professional help long after crisis is over

The cat is looking at his funny reflection in the mirror at home. It sees a tiger there.

Positive illusions about our own strengths can help in difficult personal situations

A walk around the block, an evening with friends, a coffee in a cafe, can make a big difference.

Padraig O’Morain: People get cranky when their freedoms are restricted

In the northern hemisphere May tends to be a peak month for suicide

Padraig O'Morain: If you want to feel better, do something nice for someone else

When will Dublin streets be bustling with crowds of many nationalities again? Photograph: Alan Betson

After the lockdown, we need to mourn our losses – deaths, jobs and society, as we know it

‘The act of writing it, though, does a good job of turning bad moods into good moods or at least into neutral ones.’ Photograph: iStock

‘I can see that my experience of life depends on how I look on things’

Rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic generally refers to futile activities that take up unwarranted time and effort. Failing to notice that an iceberg is about to sink the ship is a major mistake

This kind of thinking is like quicksand – the more you struggle the deeper you sink

‘Many people are getting more belonging than, maybe, they ever wanted at the moment.’ Photograph: iStock

Beware mind reading – you really don’t know what anyone is thinking until you ask them

Higher stress brings higher blood pressure as the body’s fight or flight response kicks in – and that response can be triggered by scary thoughts.

Planning for the future combined with present moment awareness can get through this strange time in good shape

Because you’ve nothing else to occupy your attention an annoyance such as a buzzing fly can become more upsetting than it’s worth. Photograph: Getty Images

Focusing on things that need to be done can help you to get through shapeless and dissatisfying days

Acceptance or rejection? Acceptance opens the door to action and sometimes that action is life changing. Image: iStock

It’s not long since we were making jokes about coronavirus, trusting it would all blow over

L’Arche community founder Jean Vanier abused women who came to him for spiritual direction.  File photograph:  Tiziana Fabi/AFP via Getty Images

‘Sometimes good, sometimes bad’ is the most rational lens through which to view the world

We wonder what our colleagues, boss, subordinates, children think about us. Photograph: iStock

We place an extraordinary importance on what even random strangers think of us

While complainants can refuse to go along with this, you have to wonder whether a refusal would affect their credibility. Photograph: iStock

Allowing cross-examination of a complainant by the accused could deter complaints

Eco-anxiety: the concern about what’s happening to the planet is a very real in the bodies of young and older people. File photograph: Roman Didkivskyi/iStock/Getty Images

Eco-anxiety among young people is a serious problem with physical and emotional effects

It is generally asserted, especially in the self-help field, that gratitude cultivates positive feelings. Photograph: iStock

Studies show that people who practise gratitude are happier, more positive and less likely to feel negative emotions or show sympt(...)

Suppose the man who owns the building files for bankruptcy because of an investment too far? Will he be a loser? Photograph: iStock

The circumstances of people’s lives influence whether they thrive or fail

Our dryer, being intelligent, had opinions on how to do its work.

Padraig O'Morain: The need to control our environments might upset the applecart

Fire your internal drill sergeant: the way forward is to take a kinder attitude towards yourself. Photograph: iStock

So you’ve broken your resolutions, what matters now is getting past your lapse

He had outed my impostor syndrome. This is the belief that people are mistaken in thinking well of you.

Impostor syndrome is remarkably common, and I suspect nobody has a cure for it

If you’re ‘dying for a drink’ don’t assume that you’re going to feel that way for the whole day, evening or month. Cravings come and go.

People do lots of other things besides drinking and non-drinkers get plenty of enjoyment out of them

Very optimistic older people live longer than their very pessimistic peers. Photograph: iStock

Stressful and pessimistic thoughts can have an adverse effect on health

If you’re going to do your talking at home, which is probably easier than doing it in public, you might have to arrange a time when the kids are out of the house or asleep. Photograph: iStock

Talking about what needs to change can easily go wrong if it isn’t properly planned

Levels of anxiety and depression among adolescents are higher now than they were during the recession. Photograph: iStock

With levels of anxiety and depression increasing among adolescents, we should be as exercised about mental-health services for the(...)

Dopamine fasting means cutting out anything that gets you motivated or excited.

The Silicon Valley trend seeks to control the effects of the powerful neurotransmitter

Because family patterns can be so strong  it’s well worth working out in advance how to respond if certain things are said or done.

’Tis the season to be jolly but for some it’s also the season to walk on eggshells

More people sought first-time treatment for cocaine abuse than for heroin abuse in Ireland last year

For your own sake,work out where and how you want to party

Every parent I’ve personally come across who lives with the children but not with the father of the child is anxious for the father to see them at Christmas. Photograph: iStock

Make plans now and avoid rows over where you, and your children, will spend the day

Stress is not just unpleasant – it raises your blood pressure and can also end up with the gift of ulcers. Photograph: Getty

When stress is built in to your day, concentrate on recovery rather than avoidance

Cases involving sexual abuse of children have a strong impact, and this impact can become stronger if the staff member is, or becomes, a parent. Photograph: iStock

Those at risk of trauma from their work include staff who deal with victims of crime

“Every person, even if they regard themselves as submissive, also has drive to power – but experiences can teach you to deny your power.”

Seeing power and submission at work in your life can give you a better balance

Most parents find that children bring a sense of meaning to their lives and a deeper joy that well compensates for the fall in happiness. Photograph: iStock

Improvements in unpaid parental leave could help share the duties of caregiving

If your family demand you  consistently come top of your class, you might be wise not to take that demand seriously. But are you sure they are even demanding this?

World Mental Health Day: Meeting other people’s demands – or indeed your own – can be bad for your mental health

For old people, bitterness is a one-way street and we know where it ends.

Henry Miller’s warning against becoming sullen, cynical and bitter is as important as ever

‘Sometimes, though, we hear of baffling cases of suicide in which the person who died seemed to have everything going for them.’ File photograph: Getty

Edwin Shneidman’s book is the culmination of a life’s work in pursuit of preventing suicide

You can make the choice to call off the search for the best in favour of a search for the good enough. Photograph: iStock

Putting impossible demands on ourselves to excel only causes stress and unhappiness

“The number of evening and weekend courses available from September is uncountable but choose courses or events on the basis of interaction between people.”

A strategy for connecting with other people is vital to tackling loneliness

 A woman checks her phone  on the opening day of the annual Appleby Horse Fair, in   north-west England. For today’s children and young teenagers, the smartphone is just something that has been around for as long as they have. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty

Smart phones can darken childhood and childhood is a world you can never revisit

Researchers at Yale University found that when a husband cares for his wife, her distress levels can increase. Photograph: Getty

As family caring becomes more common, we must pay attention to the emotional side

We spend a lot of time figuring out who other people are. Then we spend a lot of time confirming that they are who we think they are

We really should be careful about judging people on the basis of what we see

I know today that walking in a ‘green’ area   can lift your mood. Photograph:  iStock

When I find myself in a low mood I accept that it’s there and it will pass

As we saw with the recession in Ireland, a bad economic jolt can lead to huge emotional distress and increased risk of cardiovascu(...)

Maura Higgins in Love Island

TV star is far removed from De Valera’s vision of suppressed women

Almost any woman you would meet by chance, she asserts, would make a better husband than almost any man ever born, according to English actor Ellen Terry. Photograph: iStock

The great English actor Ellen Terry's harshest thoughts were directed at husbands

When thinking about a problem, it’s helpful to ask what was the exception – in other words when did you not have the problem? Photograph: iStock

An approach called ‘solution-focused therapy’ can be very beneficial to people who get bogged down by their problems

Opportunity knocks:  the concept that opportunity breeds regret can be seen even in small things

What we seem to regret more than anything else are missed opportunities

Reduction in stress produces a mental and emotional space to identify choices that could improve working life. File photograph: Getty

Estimates suggest up to 50% of stress is attributable to external factors: work, for example

Productivity isn’t always good for the planet. Photograph: iStock

They harm the planet, clog up the roads, work crazy hours and make the rest of us feel guilty

Many who grew up in close-knit communities found it quite a relief to escape to the anonymity of a city bedsit

Gossip functions not only as entertainment but of condemning those who fail to conform

Tourists taking selfies while on holiday in Dublin. It seems that if the camera is less than five feet away you begin to get distortions in your image

Selfies distort one’s face. What we are looking at is not necessarily reality

It was as the boys had a need to do things, to express their personal power, but hadn’t a clue how to go about it or how to control it. Photograph: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Therapist David Jurasek’s message on power and love is hugely important both as a global issue and for the two boys on the bus

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