UM Sports Psychologist Josie Nicholson stands in front of her office in the FedEx Center on Tuesday. Photo by Alexis T. Rhoden

Classes, relationships and identity struggles fill the everyday lives of college students across the country. The American College Health Association found in 2013 that 57 percent of female college students and 40 percent of male college students reported feeling “overwhelming anxiety” within the previous year. That same study indicated that roughly 30 percent of college students reported symptoms of depression.

But there are students – those with all the aforementioned responsibilities – who also wake up early each morning for training and stay up late at night watching film. There are students who spend every weekend on the road or flying to their next match.

Student-athletes make up less than 2 percent of the roughly more than 20,000-person Ole Miss student body, but they have their own full-time sports psychology staff. It’s no surprise why. Continue reading

There are few who have given more to the Irish cause in recent seasons than Ciara Cooney. Despite suffering ankle ligament damage in the opening game of the Six Nations in Toulouse, Cooney fought her way back into contention and was introduced from the bench against the English in Coventry.

Despite taking an obvious knock within moments of entering the fray, Cooney had put too much work to give in to what ultimately proved to be an injury to her other ankle. Once again, she limped away at the final whistle.

“I’m not the kind of player who can sail through a match,” Cooney states. “It’s all or nothing with me and unfortunately it has resulted in an injury or two during my career. It’s just the way I play my game and I’m not going to change that. It’s like anything that I do. It has to be fully committed, or else, why bother?” Continue reading

I’m sitting at the Jetblue gate in LAX reading The Times as I wait for my plane to board. The cover article addresses a recent climate change study that specifically points to carbon emissions as a most likely catalyst for more intense drought conditions in California and other climate related problems around the world. Maybe it’s time for political candidates to stop denying climate change and band together before life on this planet gets even harder? After all, isn’t living happy, successful, and healthy lives challenging enough without having to deal with drought, giant storms, and dying fish?

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I was speaking with a client this am about connecting for the sake of connecting and he replied: “Its hard to find people who want to spend the time, put down their cell phones, and really get immersed in the moment.” This man’s life has become richer and more fulfilling the more he took me up on my consistent and persistent offer to generate more “Being” in his life, a life that was filled with constant doing. Being a doer is wonderful and can lead to material success but without “Being” it is often empty and unfulfilling. So take a few moments each day and learn to connect with yourself and others just for the sake of the experience and watch the positive changes that occur slowly over time!

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DR. BRETT’S THOUGHTS:

In February, my girlfriend and I attended the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club here in Los Angeles. We followed Sergio Garcia’s group for most of the final round. I kept whispering in my girlfriend’s ear that Sergio, a top ten golfer in the world, was going to find a way to lose; which he did. I wasn’t being pessimistic or picking on Sergio. I was merely observing his attitude throughout the round and knew he wasn’t going to get it done. Instead of staying positive and upbeat he seemed constantly irritated and tense long before he choked on the seventeenth hole by snap hooking the ball off the tee and then three putting on the green.


Sergio’s attitude has been suspect on and off for years. Having the right attitude – staying positive and spirited no matter what – goes along way in sports, business, and life. The good news is that our attitude is something we can constantly work on and improve. Staying positive, as we all know, isn’t always easy and yet the more we exercise, meditate, and practice mindfulness (nonjudgmental focus of attention on our thoughts, feelings, and behavior) the better it gets. So improve your attitude and watch your life (game) improve.

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DR. BRETT’S THOUGHTS:

I was talking to a client the other day about intimacy and the necessity of slowing down to allow yourself real time to experience yourself and your partner more meaningfully. In 2015 many of us live rushed, hurried lives that might be full in some respects but often don’t leave us with enough quality time to connect deeply with ourselves and those we love. I was in a cabin in the mountains in Los Padres National Forest over the July 4th weekend and had a great time reading, writing and connecting with Veronica and our two dogs. The television didn’t work and I had no cell phone coverage. It was a cool experience from a slowing down and ‘being here now’ perspective. I highly recommend unplugging every so often, getting in touch with nature, those we love and especially ourselves! 

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Dr. Brett’s Thoughts:

I was watching the Irish Open last weekend and took a quick pic when I realized that the golf course was Royal County Down, a famous links style course in Northern Ireland cut along the windswept Irish Sea, that my twin brother and I played back in 2007. At the time, I was experiencing my first bout of severe insomnia related to an esoteric form of energy work that later damaged my central nervous system. In addition to not sleeping I was dealing with the shock and shame of massive investment losses related to a stock fraud. Needless to say, no matter what I tried, I could not enjoy myself that week. 

Sometimes in life we go through rough times. When we do it’s easy to loose perspective especially when faced with anxiety and depression. One of the many lessons I learned the hard way from that prolonged experience with insomnia and the anxiety and depression that soon followed was to do what feels right and to honor myself. As gorgeous as that course and the others in Ireland were, I had no business being there. I had agreed to go months before my difficulties began and followed thru anyway against my better judgment. Listening to your intuition, changing  your mind or just saying no can be invaluable at times, save you a lot of grief, and sometimes even more!

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Dr. Brett’s Thoughts:

A former neighbor in Westport, CT sent me this pic yesterday. It shows a cute little house on a great property with every tree but one recently cut down. I sold the house in April and it will soon be demolished. Having outgrown my experience there I finally let the house go, a huge challenge after nearly eighteen years of home ownership.

Most people resist change. 2500 years ago the Buddha talked a lot about impermanence – the essential nature of life on this planet. All things change and yet most of us spend so much time resisting this truth. What if we could learn to embrace change and to live knowing that to cling onto things is folly and only invites suffering? What if we could let go more and thus suffer less? I truly believe living this way is possible but we need to practice with little things; learn to accept little things more and notice how that gradually changes your perspective on the larger things in life! 

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