About Psych Wit

Don't worry, be happy!

A Love Story

A Love Story.


Perception of Stress

I raised both my hands, knoding my head in agreement that i have always felt stress does negatively affects my life in some ways. In positive psychology, we know the science of how stress can leads to anxiety that has this fight or flight response in which your body reacts. By using Cognitive behavioral technique in understanding your automatic thoughts (why do i have to bear with this) and knowing the belief (I am stupid, useless, worthless) for stress will lead to very negative consequences (my body is failing me and i think my heart is very stress) which will directly impact on how your body reacts in negativity. Changing on how you should think in a positive way helps to make friend with stress. As McGonical, a health psychologist, explained in Ted talk on the science of stress, the possible antidote to negative effects of stress: giving to others and the association between stress and mortality”, it may prolong and leads a life of longevity in just a paradigm shift in your cognition. Why not?

Is stress really bad for you?.

Happiness on viral PERMA

PermaThe aim of this article is to promote the goodness of positive psychology that brings wellness in order to live in a more rewarding life and authentic happiness. The objective to promote “flourishing” consists of “Perma” (positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment). How can we bring and promote these objectives awareness to negative and unhappy people and how we can leverage the positivity and happiness scale and influence the people in the society by being mindful and aware of our environmental issue, looking for more good things around us and sharing with friends in the network, do kind things and say kind words to others and being grateful. When you starts doing and act on it with the genuine focus of helping others, you experience similar affect of innate happiness when you see people flourishing.

Learning Positive Psychology is already a footstep towards self flourishing. The conceptual applications are well equipped with various model and techniques to balance one’s mind, attitude and behavioral. Every mankind will definitely face with difficult situations in their life especially when we are dealing with our emotion, behavior and cognitive. When one becomes negative and pessimistic toward unfulfilling life, these emotions will affect human motivation that result in anxiety associating with their moods and temperamental, social withdrawal and interest in learning and growth.


The very first step to start off applying the application of concepts and models will be our own self as a role model after the completion of the Application in Positive Psychology course. I have fully experienced the goodness of this course in which I took away with sustainable well-balanced positivity and a strong set of perspective which can help influencing people on cognitive thoughts. I truly believed that by making the effort setting a goal in helping the community to flourish will be a dual traffic positive self-improvement process. Hence when we act on something positive and do something good to people, other party will assess it positively in cue with the emotion. As Chaiken, S., Liberman, A. & Eagly, A. H. (1989) cited, it has also been suggested that emotions (affect heuristics, feelings and gut-feeling reactions) are often used as shortcuts to process information and influence behavior. The affect infusion model (AIM) is a theoretical model developed by Joseph Forgas in the early 1990s that attempts to explain how emotion and mood interact with one’s ability to process information. Forgas, J.P. (1995) defined the term affect infusion as “the process whereby affectively loaded information exerts an influence on and becomes incorporated into the judgmental process, entering into the judge’s deliberations and eventually coloring the judgmental outcome”. In other words, a process that determines the degree to which mood can affect our judgment. Positive emotions ignite innovation and inspire people in creativity of thoughts and act positively. This act in a cycle and revolves around the universe.

I have been working in couple of multi-national companies where I met many individuals of all nations, races and cultures with different behavioral and cognitive pattern. I constantly see the common problematic behaviors in workforce that are causing damage or limiting trust with one another. Co-workers’ refusal to share information creates a superficial barrier in relationship and used sarcasm often disguised as humor to hurt others and hence create bad negativity working environment. I believe that people has to communicate effectively and connect with one another in a real authentic and deeper personal way. By taking the step to connect with peers and co-workers in getting to know them better helps me to understand their work and also able to identify their strength which will enhance working relationship. As I am in the administrative supporting role, understanding our co-workers area of work is critical in the supporting function for the team and also these help to minimize work conflicts and negative judgmental perspectives. Applying gratitude and kindness in workplace will leverage one’s positivity, well-being and happiness and in turn will help increase the success rate in the company; working faster speed with creativity. One example of a simple test which I have applied daily is to give a smile to colleagues and even to strangers especially in the morning. The positive result is so reflective that it affects the person’s and brings lightness for the start of the day. Godoy, R.; et al. (2005) cited that research continually proves that smiling really does increase attractiveness and likability between humans.
Happy cat 1 In fact, smiling correlates with greater trust, greater financial earnings, and increased interpersonal cooperation. Offering a random act of kindness to my colleagues by assisting them in some of their administrative work or even making an effort to notice troubled colleagues by cheering them up when they are facing a difficult situation. Even offering them with snacks and crackers to break away their stress focus is an act of kindness and bring bondage to relationship.

In making an effort to connect with colleagues and loves one in simple act of kindness and gratitude exercises, will draw one another closer. Hence better communication and personal information can be share openly and comfortably with trust to enhance inter-personal relationship and it will be easier to connect as well as ability to identify their signature strength (top strengths). In doing so, I will have them log in to Authentic Happiness website to complete the VIA Signature Strength online questionnaires so that they can use their top strengths regularly in their lives which they have identified out of the twenty-four strengths. According to authors Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman (2004) stated that research on character strengths is a fascinating part of positive psychology. Character strengths are “the psychological ingredients—processes or mechanisms—that define the virtues.” via-character-strengthsCloninger, C. Robert (2005) cited that practical applications of positive psychology include helping individuals and organizations correctly identify their strengths and use them to increase and sustain their respective levels of well-being. Each trait “provides one of many alternative paths to virtue and well-being.”

Human’s heart is just like a love bank and the more love you deposited in it, the more positive emotion you will received for your well-being. Same goes for the relationship with our family and loves one. When we quarrel, bear grudges, criticize or blame one another and show disrespect; these are the common traits of negative emotion that create bad impact to the heart and withdraw from the love bank account. Constant withdrawal (negative emotion) will bleed off your saving in the love bank (depleting your emotional balance) and impair your soul. imagesCAYZS390Typically mankind often remembers negative things in details more than the positive side. “The brain handles positive and negative information in different hemispheres,” said Professor Nass, who co-authored “The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What Machines Teach Us About Human Relationships” (Penguin 2010). Negative emotions generally involve more thinking, and the information is processed more thoroughly than positive ones, he said. Thus, we tend to ruminate more about unpleasant events — and use stronger words to describe them — than happy ones. Roy F. Baumeister, a professor of social psychology at Florida State University, captured the idea in the title of a journal article he co-authored in 2001, “Bad Is Stronger Than Good,” which appeared in The Review of General Psychology. “Research over and over again shows this is a basic and wide-ranging principle of psychology,” he said. “It’s in human nature, and there are even signs of it in animals,” in experiments with rats.

Lately, I have started to share more positive happy pictures and quotes in my Facebook page and have brought awareness to my circle of friends. Some of them are more inspire and feeling happier when they view my page. And at times I will circulate funny articles to friends just to brighten their days and sharing positive information. Just imagine if you are staying around with a negative and angry person, you will feel distress and your energy level will be sapped away as well as dampening your spirit. Sometime it will deflate even the most optimistic outlook. We have to make use of the technology to help in delivering positive message across to miserable people when you are avoiding them physically. In this way, you are refraining from being drag into their emotional baggage and sadness. However, I would also suggest on posting personal happy photos discreetly in particular to different segment of friends in your Facebook page. In a study survey by Sociologist Hui-Tzu Grace Chou and Nicholas Edge (2012) stated that Facebook is making us sad on the kinds of pictures people post on their page. Strangely people feel much sadder when they view their friends leading a much better life than them and in which they will tend to compare that life is so much unfair when they are comparing. It takes a little bit of work to group your categories of friends whom you will like to share more personal pictures or newsfeed and those who you feel is just acquaintances but will like to share more positive outlook of information to them. imagesCAC60D3YI always like to share good photos that can express the story of happiness with friends will be a memorable and savouring process. It can be a picture of you and your mum having a good tea-time at a local street food stall enjoying the aroma of a traditional coffee, street pictures of the less fortunate one on the street when you visit the third world country can heightened the elevation of emotion. Or even upload some happy moment of videos on Facebook to share with friends. We can start educating your circle of friends of being mindful that we can bring into our day-to-day activities. As a whole, Facebook can be a good social platform to help connect with one another over the globe in real-time and give social support and advise.

imagesCA5TL97GWith support network group with the like-minded individual in Positive Psychology community, we can empower one another when we stumble on any difficult situations or problems and sharing on information to their friends to build a bigger network around the globe with our common vision “I’m Contagious”. Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence (Aristotle).


Baumeister, R.F., Bratslavsky, E., Finkenauer, C., & Vohs, K.D. (2001). Bad is stronger than good. Review of General Psychology, 5, 323-370.

Chaiken, S., Liberman, A. & Eagly, A. H. (1989). Heuristic and systematic information processing within and beyond the persuasion context. In Uleman, J. S. & Bargh, J. A. (Eds.), Unintended thought, 212-252. New York: Guilford Press

Cloninger, C. Robert (2005). “Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification”. American Journal of Psychiatry (American Psychiatric Association) 162 (162): 820–821. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.162.4.820-a. http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/article.aspx?articleid=177494. Retrieved 2007-04-05.

Clifford Nass & Corina Yen (2010). “The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What Machines Teach Us About Human Relationships”. ISBN: 1617230014.

Forgas, J.P. (1995). “Mood and judgment: The Affect Infusion Model (AIM)”. Psychological Bulletin 117 (1): 39–66. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.117.1.39.PMID 7870863.

Godoy, R.; et al. (2005). “Do smiles have a face value? Panel evidence from Amazonian Indians”. Journal of Economic Psychology 26 (4): 469–490. doi:10.1016/j.joep.2004.10.004.

Hui-Tzu Grace Chou and Nicholas Edge. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. February 2012, 15(2): 117-121. doi:10.1089/cyber.2011.0324.

Peterson, Christopher; Seligman, Martin E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification.. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-516701-5.

Schwarz, N.; Clore, G. L. (1983). “Mood, misattribution, and judgments of well-being: Informative and directive functions of affective states”. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 45 (3): 513–523. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.45.3.513.

Mabel Ang from The School of Positive Psychology

Motivational Interview technique and Intervention for Smoking Cessation


            Many companies in the 1930’s to 1990’s created slogans for their specific cigarettes and used celebrities to gain popularity on their advertisement. They make smoking appear modern and fashionable, influencing audience with coolness and suaveness when lighting a cigarette. Companies back then have little knowledge on the health risk issue on tobacco and doctors were unable to prove the negative health effects of smoking. Often the advertisements used children or even doctors to brand their product and drew more new customers. Singapore has banned tobacco advertisement on television, newspapers and magazines on 1 March 1971 and ceased advertisements on radio and neon signs on 31 December 1970. Yet we still have a high numbers of smokers in the population today. Adult smokers find it cool and suave when they smoke as it make themselves look much more confident and in control. Advertising is a powerful tool, one that plays a large role in whether people decide to start smoking or not. A study by the George Institute of Global Health in 2010 revealed that 80 percent of all smokers live in low and middle-income countries of the Asia Pacific region but actual estimates of the burden of disease due to smoking in the region have yet to be quantified which was obtained by the World Health Organization (WHO). The national prevalence of smoking in the Asia Pacific region ranged from 18-65% in men and from 0-50% in women. The fraction of lung cancer deaths attributable to smoking ranged from 0-40% in Asian women and from 21-49% in Asian men (Alexandra Martiniuk, Crystal MY Lee, Mark Woodward, Rachel Huxley, 2010). In the Straits Times where the health minister shares country’s experience at summit, Singapore is trying to become a smoke-free city, managed to keep the smoking percentage down over past decades. However it jumped up to 14.3 percent in younger smokers aged ranging from 18-29 with significant increase (MFA, 2012).


            Why does anyone ever pick up a cigarette in the first place knowing the health risks and cost incurred with smoking? There can be hundreds of reasons why one smokes. Picking up a cigarette habit usually falls in the group of younger teens as they are in their curiosity stage, having peer pressure and influence from their social group. Smoking makes them look cool and mature. Some takes after from their parents and family members. Often teens in their adolescent stage; also adolescent rebellion seeks to get attention. Many teens experiment by smoking a few cigarettes out of curiosity in their peer group and then stop. Unfortunately, many others go on to become regular smokers due to nicotine addiction and social influence. American Cancer Society (2013) mentioned that nicotine (drug found naturally in tobacco) causes pleasant feelings and distracts the smoker from unpleasant feelings. It is as addictive as heroin or cocaine which a person becomes physically dependent on and emotionally addicted to nicotine. About half of these regular smokers will become addicted. Most teenage smokers believe they will quit in the near future and some believes that they will become lifetime smokers. Hence, youth will be most likely to be interested in quitting than adults and if they do make a serious attempt to quit, most are surprised at how hard it is due to the physical dependency which causes unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.


            There are many different types of intervention to help smokers in quitting smoking or cut down in their consumption. In today topic, I would like to talk about Motivational Interviewing (MI) technique used as an intervention for smoking cessation. MI is a technique used to promote change in addictive behavior, initially used to treat alcoholism. It is designed to help people to explore and resolve ambivalence about behavior change which incorporated with counseling technique in a non-aggressive and non-confrontational approach. MI concept was developed by Miller in 1983 when he experienced in treating his alcohol abuse clients. Miller (1983) cited that MI approach is defined as a directive, client-centered counseling style for eliciting behavior change by helping clients to explore and resolve ambivalence. Miller and Rollnick (1995) also suggested that adopting an aggressive and/or confrontational style (as in traditional approaches) is likely to produce negative responses from people (like arguing), which then may interpreted by the practitioner as denial or resistance. Miller (1994) cited that motivation may fluctuate over time or from one situation to another, and can be influenced to change in a particular direction.

            Motivational Interview does have a success rate for smoking cessation. A study from The British Journal of General Practice cited by (R Soria, A Legido, C Escolano, et al., 2005) measure the effectiveness of smoking cessation treatment at both 6 and 12 months post intervention showed that the action based on MI was 5.28 times more successful than anti-smoking advice. With the guide from counselor using motivational interviewing techniques can help client to move from the pre-contemplation stage through to the contemplation stage and preparation stage. In order for MI to be effective to help client, intensive MI with more sessions with longer duration is more effective than single or shorter sessions. Counselor needs to know if client is ready to change. Not knowing client’s dilemma or difficulties and offering solution with inadequate rapport establishment in pre-contemplation stage is likely to be unsuccessful. In doing so, counselor is directing the client from pre-contemplation stage to action. Counselor should go through the thinking process with the client. Continued MI techniques and support are needed in the action stage (when the patient stops smoking). MI techniques break down into 5 stages (pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance). For most persons, behavioral changes gradually occurs, with the client being unconcerned, ignorance of health risk issues or unwillingness to make a change in pre-contemplation stage moving to considering a positive change (contemplation) and slowly moving to decide and prepare to make a change (preparation). Client’s determination and authentic decision to action on the change requires help to carry out and comply with the change strategies.


            In the pre-contemplation stage, client does not even consider changing. Smokers who are “in denial” may think that smoking is not a major problem or issue in their life. Mandated clients may show angst with defensive and resistance behavioral during the counseling process. When dealing with mandated client, counselor has to show empathy and reflect on their response by paraphrasing their statement siding with negative to turn the spot light (resistance) to other area (to shine on client’s agenda). Counselor reflects current view of client’s addiction using reframing strategies technique. Questions and paraphrasing statement such as “Part of you… and yet I wonder…” will makes clients feel validated and understood.  When counselor reflects the views back to client, they felt their problems have finally been listened to instead of lecturing them what they need to change. And of course counselor has to take into consideration and be aware not to use reflective responses too early until they have already established rapport with clients.

            Counselor has to educate the client about the negative effects of smoking after enquiring with client their concern and decision in smoking while influencing them slowly but surely to increase their motivation. When counselor expresses concern to the client, it naturally creates better rapport and establishes a better relationship with them. (Rollnick et al., 1992) stated that client will be better motivated to moderate their substance use or to abstain (either solely through their own efforts or with the help of a treatment program), if these key persons offer relevant information in a supportive and empathic manner, rather than being judgmental, dismissive, or confrontational. Substance users often respond to overt persuasion with some form of resistance. Counselor should ask question through the eyes of someone else when resistance occurs during this stage as it take away the ownership of their issue when they don’t feel like sharing or elaborate on details. Counselor must never assume that all clients are at preparation/action stage as the tendency to lose this client will be much greater especially when they use over powering words.  

           When client at pre-contemplation stage agrees that smoking is a problem and considering quitting, he/she has move to the contemplation stage. Discussion will be provided in educating client about the effects of smoking and consider the positive aspects of not smoking on their next return visit. During the contemplation stage, the client understands that smoking is a problem and wants to stop. Counselor at this stage will resolve client’s ambivalence and access positive and negative thinking about smoking by eliciting self-motivational statement to the client that their health will be improve when they quit smoking, allowing a smoke free environment in their house. The family members especially if they have young ones will enjoy quality air at home. When clients show ambivalence on their changes response, counselor should use double-sided reflection technique at this stage by eliciting to client’s response statement: “On one hand you are…, on the other hand you want to quit”. Counselor should ask brain storming questions to elicit clients to say statement on reasons to change. Asking open-ended questions on the “what” and “how”, allow client to express their emotion easily. Getting client to evaluate their life in the present on issues that hinders him/her and asking looking forward to the future question: “What do you like your life to be in 5 years’ time?” bring them hope and motivation. Freedman (1996) stated that effective processes for positive change focus on goals that are small, important to the client, specific, realistic, and oriented in the present and/or future.

             Once client agrees with counselor on the benefits of not smoking and has decided to quit, he/she has entered into the preparation stage. Counselor should help client in developing a clear plan for smoking cessation. During the preparation stage, the client will want to quit smoking and makes specific plans and strategies for smoking cessation. That will include setting a quit date and identifying the withdrawal symptoms with client which they may encounter during the smoking cessation process. Client necessarily needs their family and social’s support at this stage for quitting becoming effective. Counselor will also encourage the client to take part in a support group or community or agency program that focuses on smoking cessation.


            In the action stage, the clients will stop smoking. Counselor requires maintaining frequent contact with client to follow up and provide support and help as needed when they experience with specific triggers. As the saying by Lao Tzu goes, “Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” Finally, the maintenance stage is marked by the client’s continued abstinence from smoking. Relapse to smoking behavior is common. Clients often cycle through the stages of change several times before reaching stable abstinence. Albert Einstein quoted; we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.


Alexandra Martiniuk, Crystal MY Lee, Mark Woodward, Rachel Huxley (2010). Burden of lung cancer deaths due to smoking for men and women in the WHO Western Pacific and South East Asian regions. In Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, Vol 11, 67-72. ISBN 1513-7368 (Print)1513-7368 (Linking) American Cancer Society (2013). “Guide to Quitting Smoking“. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/002971- pdf.pdf

Freedman, J; Combs, G. (1996). “Narrative Therapy: The Social Construction of   Preferred Realities”. New York:Norton.

Hughes JR, Stead LF, Lancaster T (2007). “Antidepressants for smoking cessation”. In Hughes, John R. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (1): CD000031. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD000031.pub3. PMID 17253443.

Markel, Howard (2007-03-20). “Tracing the Cigarette’s Path From Sexy to Deadly”. The New York Times.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2012). Straits Times: S’pore aims to make smoke-free the norm. Retrieved from          http://www.mfa.gov.sg/content/mfa/media_centre/singapore_headlines/2012/201203/new_20120321.html

Miller WR (1983). Motivational interviewing with problem drinkers. Behavioural    Psychotherapy 1983;11:147–172.

Miller WR (1994). Motivational interviewing.III.On the ethics of motivational interviewing. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy 1994;22(2):111–23.

Rollnick SR, Miller WR (1995). What is motivational interviewing?.Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy 1995;23(4):325–34.

Rollnick, S.; Heather, N.; Gold, R.; and Hall, W.(1992) Development of a short “readiness to change” questionnaire for use in brief, opportunistic interventions among excessive drinkers. British Journal of Addiction. 1992;87:743-754 [PubMed: 1591525]

R Soria, A Legido, C Escolano, et al., (2005) British Journal of General Practice, 2006. Received from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1920717/

Mabel Ang from The School of Positive Psychology

Meaning of Life ~ Seeking Happiness

Are you happyHere we are on the internet, often we came across in positive psychology site on how you can stay positive, living life meaningful, finding your happiness with fulfilment in your life and self-help on how to overcome your problems; is easier said than done! When i first came across to know this word “resilience” from a mentor, it sounds so strange and unknown to me . So simply, it means “the ability to recover quickly from illness, change, or misfortune; buoyancy.”

There’s always a cause for thing to happen for a reason. The mantra of life is continuous of self reflection and learning. As Lao Tzu quoted “Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is Enlightenment”.

Instead of lamenting on others or yourself what has gone wrong, seek the otherwise and find the answers of your own.
“The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny”~Albert Ellis

Happiness balloon

Check out on how others bounce back quickly through resilience, staying positive and finding happiness On The Red Dot: Episode 50!


Progressive Relaxation Techniques – Intervention for anxiety


              Your heart starts pounding faster as your breath quickens. Your senses become sharper and you are aware an uneasiness creeping up onto you. Your thoughts run wild and in a moment, you feel breathless as if someone is choking your neck and a big rock weighing in your heart. Your body starts to feel cold or you may experience sweaty hands and /or feet. The more you think, the more you feel insecure. Your mouth starts to become dry and tingling of numbness sensation in your hand and feet coming to you. Perhaps you may start feeling dizzy or even nausea. And the last you may realize is your muscle tightness in your whole body.

              Anxiety is a normal human emotion that most experiences at time especially for those who lives in this stimulating and complex city. It can cause numerous stress symptoms which vary from person to person. The most common symptoms are often stiffness and soreness on the body. When you sense danger (whether is real or imagined) the body defenses in a way which is known as an automatic process called the “fight or flight” reaction or rather the generic stress response. This response is the body’s way of protecting you. Often when we feel anxious, we avoid doing things of what we intend to do and worry about the outcome. Anxiety can habitually follow us and subconsciously you may not be even aware although it may be part and parcel of daily life stressors.

              The therapist will need to understand and find out from the client where and how is this anxiety being formed, where is it located at and what words will be best to describe it. These notions are important during the progressive relaxation therapy as it helps the therapist to choose their words and imagery accordingly during hypnosis. As therapist slowly guides client into relaxation mode with their eyes close, control breathing technique will be apply and client will learn to identify and recognize the intense sensation when they scan through their body from head to toe. Direct suggestions will be apply for generalized relaxation in client when they achieve a light to medium trance. Some clients’ response well in a structural method for progressive relaxation by bringing awareness to each individual part of their body and bringing attention to each individual muscle groups focusing from the head to leg or vice versa until all muscle groups are relaxed.


              Your eyes are closed and you begin by getting into a comfortable position. Now breathe in slowly and exhale gently to empty your lung as much as possible. Keep breathing and as slowly as you can. It may be very difficult at first but that is okay. As you breathe in and out gently, notice and feel where the tensions are located at. Inhale slowly, letting the rhythm of your breathing to slow down. Feel the relaxation beginning at the bottom of your feet. It may have a tingling sensation as if you are stepping on the warm floor or simply loose and limp. Let the tension seep through your feet to the toes and allow the relaxation to spread all over your feet and up to your ankles. Allow this relaxation to spread to your tight calf and feel the tension slowly disappearing. Let your calf relax… limp and slack. Let this flow of relaxation continue to spread to your knees and up to the thighs. Feel the sensation of tightness disappearing and let your thigh muscles relax. Let it be loose… limp and slack. Allow this relaxation to continue to spread throughout your body. And now this relaxation is rising up to your hips and slowly to your upper body, to your stomach and lower back. Now to your chest and upper back. Gently breathe in and breathe out slowly. Feel the muscles on your lower body are totally relaxed, limp and slack. And this relaxation continues to spread to your arms, elbows and wrists. Now when you see your hands, hold it tight and clench your hands into fists. Feel the stiffness and tension on both your hands and squeeze it tight when you breathe in. Now open your hands slowly when you exhale and relax. Notice how your hands and arms are feeling now. Feel the relaxation in your hands and arms… loose and relaxed. Feel your body relaxing further and allow your shoulders to ease back slightly. Feel yourself sinking deeper and deeper into the chair. While you breathe in gently, you see the tension emitting out from your shoulder when you breathe out slowly. Allow your upper back to relax even further, let your shoulder fully relax, and your neck, let it sink deeper and deeper into the chair. Feel this sensation of relaxation continue to spread to your chin, to your mouth, your cheeks, and nose and to your eyes. Your eyelids are heavy and relaxed. Your forehead is light and cool, let this relaxation spread further to the back of your head and slowly moves to the top of your head. Your entire body is fully relaxed and calm. You can even relax further as you let your spine to relax completely. Feel the relaxation flowing throughout your body now. Breathe in slowly and hold your breath now, gently exhale out from your nose and relax your muscles totally. Let all the tension in your body leaving with each breath out. Continue to breathe slowly and smoothly as you scan your body looking for any possible remaining tension.

              Edmund Jacobson (1934a, 1934b, 1938, 1964, 1967, 1970) who originated and developed the method of progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) stated that muscle relaxation has been an important therapeutic technique in the modern treatment of anxiety disorders. When the client has already achieved significant tension reduction, appropriate deepening procedures are used such as fractionalization technique. Client is asked to open their eyes for a moment, and then close their eyes. These steps will be repeated consecutively up to five times when therapist gently swift their hands down from the client’s face or with a snap of their fingers to bring client right back to an even more satisfying level of deeper relaxation and concentration.

              Anxious people also hold on to many negative cognitive thoughts on why they are behaving that way and don’t necessarily always link to negativity. You can face anxiety even when you are experiencing positivity with high demand when you just received a promotion, buying a house or getting married, relocation or going to college. This stress response helps you to meet and face your challenges and also leads you to tension on your body muscle. A study researcher, Jens C. Pruessner, PhD (2011), director of the Douglas Mental Health Institute at McGill University in Montreal stated that living in big cities with many, many people surrounding you sensitizes you to respond more strongly to stress. It’s a stronger response of those areas that typically regulate fear and emotion. Pruessner (2011) reported that city dwellers’ mental health is negatively affected: mood and anxiety disorders are more prevalent in city dwellers and the incidence of schizophrenia is strongly increased in people born and raised in cities. In their finding, they use functional magnetic resonance imaging in three independent experiments, that urban upbringing and city living have dissociable impacts on social evaluative stress processing in humans. Current city living was associated with increased amygdala activity, whereas urban upbringing affected the perigenual anterior cingulate cortex, a key region for regulation of amygdala activity, negative affect and stress.

              Long term stress can rewire the brain and leads you to anxiety and depression vulnerability. The challenge since young when we are culturally mold to be more cautious and fear of losing out; often we, in Singapore context are being labeled as “kiasu” which literally means “fears of losing”. Since young, these memes have been passed down through the generations which resonate very well with my family and own values. Our humane brain functions very reactively and stored many hidden treasures in it that causes anxiety which distort the breathing patterns and subconscious fear. The conceptual style of creating a safe place with reality of perception and going through the progressive muscle relaxation with the anxious client do prove a certain success rate in controlling anxiety for a long period of time. Jacobson (1938) cited that progressive muscle relaxation originated from the theory that a psychobiological state called neuromuscular hypertension is the basis for a variety of negative emotional states and psychosomatic diseases. Jacobson asserted that relaxation of muscles would lead to relaxation of the mind, “because an emotional state fails to exist in the presence of complete relaxation of the peripheral parts involved”. Client will learn how to recognize and identify the contraction and relaxation of muscle in various parts of their body in a certain order. Grawe, Donati, and Bernauer (2001) found 66 studies in which progressive muscle relaxation or one of its successors was applied as a therapeutic intervention.

              Epictetus, a Greek Stoic philosopher quoted: “Man is not worried by real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems”.


Grawe, K., Donati, R., & Bernauer, F. (2001). Psychotherapie im Wandel: Von der Konfession zur Profession (5th ed.). Go¨ttingen: Hogrefe.

Jacobson, E. (1938). Progressive relaxation (2nd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Jacobson, E. (1934a). Electrical measurements concerning muscular contraction (tonus) and the cultivation of relaxation in man: relaxation times of individuals. American Journal of Physiology, 108, 573–580.

Jacobson, E. (1934b). Electrical measurements concerning muscular contraction (tonus) and the cultivation of relaxation in man: studies on arm flexors. American Journal of Physiology, 107, 230–248.

Jacobson, E. (1938). Progressive relaxation (2nd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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Mabel Ang from The School of Positive Psychology