About Laurel Hughes, Psy.D.

Laurel Hughes is a retired disaster mental health manager. She has worked in disaster for both government and nonprofit organizations, and has developed numerous materials for her field.

Compassion? for Politicians?

Say, what? Politician behaviors fuel more cogjam than anyone else’s. Why should we spare compassion for them?

Because it’s a key ingredient for our own escape from cogjam.

Be sure to visit my latest post at http://www.thecogjameffect.com.

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Setting the Cogjam Trap: Rationalization

How we process information is different during stress and trauma. Our focus becomes narrower, so we can better zero in on whatever has caused us to go into “fight or flight” mode. We think less, and react more.

One outcome of this neurochemical state is rationalization. It can result in our life experience making us increasingly more foolish, rather than wiser. And when left untethered, it fuels cogjam–the socio-political stress causing us so many problems these days.

For more on this, see my new post at http://www.thecogjameffect.com.

 

ENDING SOCIAL MEDIA’S WMD REIGN

You can’t make this stuff up. Currently trauma peeks in the door in ways we never imagined possible. Yet that’s what today’s socio-political atmosphere keeps bringing us: Stress. Frustration. Confusion. Interpersonal conflict. Social disruption. And yes, perhaps even trauma.

One source of it all, thankfully, seems to have lightened up a bit over the last year. Social media still regularly post unsocialized hostilities. But there are also plenty of users who have found paths away from promoting the negativity that has dragged so many of us down.

What if all of us worked to weaken social media’s role as weapon of mass destruction?

Let’s Take Our Social Media Back!

Suggestions appear on my new website, www.thecogjameffect.com. They are an excerpt from my upcoming book, “The Cogjam Effect — and the Path to Healing Divisive Community and Fractured Science.” Follow me there for the latest on how understanding and promoting use of the body-mind connection can help resolve consequences of today’s socio-political turmoil.

The Sweet Scent of Change

It’s here! A recovery website that focuses on our progress toward the “new normal,” and how we might go about it even better.pink wildflowers at pond

Check out http://www.thecogjameffect.com for “Cogjam Solutions.” It features material that will appear in my upcoming book, The Cogjam Effect — and the Path to Healing Divisive Community and Fractured Science.

There is indeed a way out of socio-political turmoil. We carve it by way of greater personal understanding and thinking outside the box. As always during disaster and adversity, resilience trumps all.

Harvey and the Rest of Us

In spite of mayhem already wreaked by Hurricane Harvey, we do not yet know what its total impact will be. Right now, those in the path of rising waters are still focused on seeking safety and self-protection – as they well should be. That’s fight or flight chemistry at work.

Eventually the waters will recede. Recovery efforts will begin. And as occurred after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, we can expect many devastated survivors to take to the four winds as they seek temporary refuge or a new life elsewhere. We will likely meet them locally.

What can we do to make a difference? Yes, we can volunteer services that will help them get back on their feet. But what about the emotional consequences of their experiences, ones that social connections play a such a huge role in alleviating? Is there any way we can help?

The answer is right there, at our fingertips. We can share what we’ve learned in our fight with “cogjam,” those cognitive logjams we sometimes fall victim to with ongoing socio-political stress.

No, cogjam is nowhere near as devastating as what those in Texas are going through. But emotional coping is the same, regardless of the disaster: compassion, self-awareness, perspective taking, prayer, mindfulness, conscious effort to move forward, or whatever else helps you find inner peace.

What have you learned from your experiences with cogjam? How has it affected you? What are your solutions for coping, or defeating it overall?

We can share what we’ve learned. Likewise, they may be willing to share what they’ve learned. They will find personal strengths they never knew they had in their process of escaping catastrophe and moving forward.

It’s a win-win for everybody.

For information about providing psychological first aid for disaster survivors, see handouts listed at http://www.who.int/mental_health/world-mental-health-day/2016/en/.

Cogjam Alert: Your Chance to Be Part of the Solution

It’s safe to say most everyone wouldn’t mind if all the political posturing and divisiveness took a sudden nosedive into the sunset. As mentioned in an earlier post, healing for this mental health disaster is a work in progress. Thanks to resilience, many of us have already found ways to step back, or do whatever else might tone down knee-jerk reactions from our overextended fight-or-flight chemistry.

One popular collection of strategies involves limiting input from sources that tend to pump up this type of stress:

  • Following only enough media reports to be informed
  • Being especially selective about which social media contacts’ newsfeeds to follow
  • While among others, simply not bringing up anything related to the socio-political situation

. . . and plenty more. My current draft of The Cogjam Effect includes suggestions similar to those above. Many people are discovering new ways to apply strengths, and doing it well. With this in mind, perhaps you have suggestions to add:

  • What have you noticed about your own coping?
  • What helps you calm the primitive brain’s surges of angst when toxic input crosses your path?
  • What new strengths have you discovered in yourself as you travel this journey?
  • Or, what do you see others do that seems to make things less tense?

This is your chance to share the wealth with those who are searching. Assessing your existing or newly emerging¬† strengths is also an important step for laying to rest your own symptoms of cogjam. Please leave suggestions or observations in the box below–a great way to be part of the cogjam solution.