Author Archives: Linda Walter, LCSW

About Linda Walter, LCSW

I am a Psychotherapist with a Masters Degree in Social Work specializing in Clinical Practice. My offices are located in New York City and Westchester, NY. Licensed and certified in the State of NY, have been practicing for 25+ years and supervising other therapists in clinical practice for 15 years.

Getting Through Family Holiday Gatherings with Poise

The holidays are just about upon us and that may mean spending more time with family than usual. Perhaps that produces anxiety and stress, especially if you are about to see relatives with whom you do not get along. Preparing yourself for these encounters will go a long way to relieve your anxiety and increase the chances of a successful meeting with family.

Here are some strategies to get you through those events.

    1.  Be aware. When with family, we all have a tendency to revert back to the family role we played as a child. And family members have the tendency to treat us as they did when we were younger.

  • Your first step is to not beat yourself up for feeling like a child again.
  • Remind yourself that you are no longer that 11-year-old and do not have to respond as one.
  • If someone says something hurtful, embarrassing or simply uncomfortable to you, try not to confront them. Instead ignore their comment or respond with something humorous.
  • Walk away when things get tough.

   2.  Practice Mindfulness. What that means is that you focus on you, your breath, your surroundings, not on the hurtful or embarrassing comment your relative just said. Their comment reflects on them, not at all on you.

  3.  Leave early if that’s what’s best for you.

  4.  Don’t overindulge in food and/or drink.

  5.  Prepare your responses in advance. You’ve been with family long enough to be able to anticipate who’s going to be the troublesome ones. Visualize yourself having very calm responses to their comments and non-emotional reactions to them. They will look foolish and you will look like a winner!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

 

 

 

 

Do the Power Pose, It’s all the Rage

We know that our minds affect our bodies, for example, anxiety causes us to shiver, embarrassment to blush, and anger to feel warm. But is the inverse true? Can our bodies affect our minds?

According to Dana R. Carney , Amy J.C. Cuddy , and Andy J. Yap of Harvard and Columbia Universities, “Humans and other animals express power through open, expansive postures, and they express powerlessness through closed, contractive postures.” Chimpanzees hold their breath to puff out their chests to show power. While hiking in Montana, a park ranger suggested, if we met up with a brown bear, to stand tall, straight, shoulders back, and chests wide to show our strength.

The researchers found that  “… posing in high-power nonverbal displays (as opposed to low-power nonverbal displays) … cause neuroendocrine and behavioral changes for both male and female participants”. People who were high-power posers experienced elevations in testosterone, the dominance hormone, and decreases in cortisol, the stress hormone. The high-power posers described increased feelings of power and tolerance for risk while the low-power posers described feelings associated with powerlessness. And this occurred after only 2 minutes of posing.

Just 2 minutes of changing our posture can change our hormones, our mood and boost our confidence.

Power pose equals expansive body, low-power pose equals hunched body with crossed arms and/or legs.

What is a standing power pose?

Reference:

Carney D.R., Cuddy A.J.C. & Yap A.J. (2010). Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance, Psychological Science, 21 (10) 1363-1368. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0956797610383437

10 Tips for Calming Pre-Wedding Jitters

pexels-photo-371312Spring is here which means wedding season has begun. Are you getting married, planning a wedding and filled with dread and anxiety? Are you wondering what you’ve gotten yourself in to? If you’re having trouble sleeping, eating too much or too little, have difficulty concentrating, are short-tempered and on edge most of the time, you’re probably suffering from pre-wedding jitters. Although this is to be expected, there are steps you can take to calm yourself down.

Calming your pre-wedding nerves:

  1. Spend fun, relaxing, romantic time with your fiancé without talking about the wedding.
  2. Consult with friends and family who have already experienced this.
  3. Designate one night a week where discussion of the wedding is off limits.
  4. Look at photos of happy times with your fiancé.
  5. Talk to your fiancé about specific concerns you might have regarding the marriage.
  6. Let others, especially your fiancé, support and nurture you.
  7. Exercise.
  8. Practice relaxation techniques.
  9. Talk about your feelings.
  10. See an individual or couple’s therapist if you feel you need additional support.

Some of the best and most memorable weddings are ones that didn’t go exactly as planned. It isn’t a sign that the marriage will fail, it’s just life. Laugh about it, brush it off and enjoy your day!

To read the complete article, please visit my blog at Psychology Today which can be found at:  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/life-without-anxiety/201803/calming-pre-wedding-jitters

 

 

Start Today

pexels-photoWe’ve all heard the saying: “Today is the first day of the rest of your life”. How can you make that phrase meaningful to you?

Everyday offers us the opportunity to look to the future differently, to take stock of where we are, and to resolve to make the changes we want to make.

Many of us get mired in looking at the past, wondering how we got to this place, wishing we had done things differently, regretting what has been done and said. Perhaps we even feel stuck in our present situation because of past decisions.

It is important to know that decisions you made in the past were made based on the knowledge and information you had at the time of the decision. They could not have been made based on what you know today and it is unfair to judge your younger self based on what you know now. Could you possibly make a decision today based on who you will be and information you will have in 10 years?

Know that you did the best you could do at the time. And know that you will do the best you can do today. The past is over and no longer exists. The future is unknown. But today, you can celebrate you and know that you have the best of intentions for yourself.

Tips to Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Stick

scrabble-resolutionsDid you know that January 17th is Ditch New Year’s Resolution Day? Do you know that, according to some studies, almost 80% of people who make New Year’s resolutions abandon them at some point during the year and only about 12% succeed with their resolutions?  Don’t let that be you.

Making a New Year’s Resolution is another way of saying you’d like to make a behavioral change.  You want to do something different this year to attain a certain goal and to continue with this change.

Here are my top 10 tips to turn your resolutions into reality:

  1. Limit the number of resolutions. Work on changing one or two things at a time.
  2. Make your goals attainable, measurable and realistic. Instead of going from never working out to planning on working out 7 days a week, begin by setting the goal at 2 days a week.
  3. Make a plan to reach that 1st, small, attainable goal. What’s your plan to get to the gym 2 days a week?
  4. Visualize yourself having reached your goal.
  5. Believe in yourself
  6. Do one thing each day that will help you reach your goal.
  7. Track your progress.
  8. Consider enlisting the support of others.
  9. Make your goal specific.
  10. Focus on the small achievements and reward yourself for them.

To read the complete article, please visit:  https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/life-without-anxiety/201801/tips-make-your-new-year-s-resolutions-stick

Happy New Year! Enjoy your new habits!

 

Hypnotherapy and Autoimmune Disease

HypnotherapyDid you know that Autoimmune Disorders occur almost exclusively in developed countries?  That’s right, people in underdeveloped countries, without clean running water, flushing toilets, cars, large supermarkets don’t really experience these diseases.

Major differences in life styles is the reason why.  In developed countries we sit more and walk less, work more and socialize less, work from a desk using mostly our minds instead of outside using mostly our bodies, and because of ease of getting medications, pay little attention to the mind/body connection.

Our thoughts and emotions have a large impact on how we feel. As an example, did you ever go into a movie with a pain in your arm and get so engrossed in the movie that you forgot your arm hurt? Or, did you ever think so much about your arm pain that the pain began to feel excruciating?  That is a prime example of how our thoughts control how our body feels.

Hypnosis is a state of deep relaxation which helps the mind focus, and in that state of focused attention, you can easily learn suggestions and tools to help your body feel more comfortable and less pain.

Our thoughts have a major impact on how our body feels, in fact, they can regulate how our bodies feel.  And since we are in control of our thoughts, why not use them to our benefit? With hypnotherapy we can modify our thought patterns to help our bodies.

This is an excerpt from a longer article.  For the complete article, please read it at  https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/life-without-anxiety/201706/hypnotherapy-and-its-benefits-autoimmune-disease.

The Divorce Decision

couple back to backDivorce can be a painful process and is certainly life changing.  One should carefully and fully consider it and other options before steps are taken.

Why Couples Divorce

Why do couples that once married out of love divorce?  The most commonly cited reasons are: finances, frequent arguments, differences in sexual needs, in-laws, differences in child rearing beliefs, and growing apart.

Other reasons for divorce might include:

Communication difficulties:  Different communication styles are very often at the root of marital discord.

Power Struggles: Who’s in charge of what?

Arguing: Learning how to argue “productively” is crucial.

Differing Expectations: Couples must discuss their expectations for marriage beforehand.

Change: Never marry someone with the expectation that you will change them.

Lack of Options: Unhappy couples who feel they have run out of options may turn to divorce believing it to be the only way to become happy again.

Benefits of Marriage Counseling:

Resolve:  The therapist can teach better communication skills to enable resolution of issues.

Clarify:  Clarifying goals can assist in learning to respect your spouses’ ideas.

Your participation: It’s important to learn what role you have in the marital difficulties as we only have control over ourselves, not out partner.

Alternatives: Explore alternatives to divorce such as negotiation and compromise in the marriage.

Whatever you and your spouse decide to do, think carefully, go slowly, and examine all options before moving on.

For the complete article, please go to my page on Psychology Today at https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/life-without-anxiety/201704/the-divorce-decision

Tips to Maintaining Weight during the Holidays

dessert-4Holiday season is upon us and since I work with many people wanting to lose weight, I am often asked for strategies to maintaining present weight or even to continue weight loss during the holidays. No doubt your willpower will be tested during this season.  Invitations await, cookies and fancy cocktails beckon, and it seems like everyone is begging you to taste their fattening masterpieces. Don’t panic, make a plan and be kind to yourself!

Here are some tips to help you stick to your goals during the holidays:

  1. Avoid hunger. Make sure you eat regularly during the day and always include healthy proteins, which you help you feel satisfied for longer periods of time.  Before going to a party, eat some vegetables and protein so you are not ravenous when the party begins.  Going to a party with a somewhat full stomach will help you avoid some of the temptations.
  2. Do some party planning. Don’t plan to abstain from all the goodies, that’s probably unrealistic and may cause you to overeat in the end. It’s often difficult to turn a blind eye to the scrumptious foods placed before you, so decide in advance what you’re going to splurge on.  If dessert is your favorite, decide to take a bite or two of one to three desserts. Or maybe you’ll skip desserts in favor of a starch at the meal.  Perhaps the hors d’oeuvres are what calls you so you’ll forgo desserts and starches in favor of tasting a few of them.  Planning ahead will encourage you not to sample everything and will help prevent you giving yourself a hard time.
  3. Keep your body moving. Plan to do a little exercise every day.  Take a walk with a friend, take the stairs instead of the elevator, do yoga or dance.  Just moving and exercising with friends will give you that boost of support you may need.
  4. Say NO thank you. When hosts encourage you to eat or drink, learn to say “thank you but I’ve had enough”.  It’s lovely to want to protect other’s feelings but not at the expense of your own health.
  5. Be kind to yourself. You are not what you eat and what you eat doesn’t translate into your value as a person.  Eating well during the holidays is very challenging.  If you slip up, show yourself some kindness and recognize that you can stick to your plan going forward.  Talk to yourself the way you’d talk to a friend you love and admire.
  6. Stay on track while at home. Make sure to eat healthy while at home, loading up on your vegetables and healthy proteins.
  7. Visualize the way you’d like to look in the outfit you’d like to wear. Ask yourself how each choice of food will impact your weight goal.
  8. Celebrate yourself when you stick to your plans and follow your goals.  Make sure to notice your successes and even reward yourself with a massage, facial or something else of meaning to you.
  9. Minimize stress. Holidays can be a stressful time.  Minimize stress by exercising, stretching, meditating and spending time with friends.

I wish you all a very happy and healthy holiday season!

 

 

Sending your Teen off to College Successfully

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High School graduation is behind us and college is about to start.  For those of us launching our teens off to college for the first time, we have about two months to review skills, discuss expectations, spend family time together, shop and pack.  Doing this with thought and planning will help make the transition a smooth one.

You may have plans to spend every waking moment with your soon to depart student only to discover they want to spend all of his/her time with friends.  Support their time with friends while planning some meaningful time with family.  Try to also spend alone time with your teen, perhaps giving them the option of picking the activity.

Some teens are better able to separate if they’re angry.  They may battle with you and/or siblings more often, feeling it’s easier to leave family with whom you’re angry.  Others may have meltdowns, be cranky or even clingy.  Try not to engage in arguing but to give them some space while understanding that change is stressful and going off to college is scary. Reassure them they are ready.

There are some skills your student will need to have at college that may not have been emphasized while living at home.  They will need to do laundry, iron, make a bed, clean, and manage money and time. Make sure they feel comfortable doing these things by giving them guidance and supportive instruction.

Discuss financial expectations with your student.  Where will their spending money come from and how will they access it? Who will pay for books, food outside of the meal plan, entertainment? It’s best to develop a budget with them and make sure they know how to use a credit card, ATM card, and write a check.

Talk to them about how and how often you will be in contact.  Some parents and students prearrange a day and time for weekly phone calls, some text as needed, others FaceTime or Skype.  Some parents tell their students they will leave the frequency of contact up to the student but will let them know if it’s not often enough for the parent.

Help your teen decide what to take with them to school.  Let them pick their bedding and decorations for the dorm room and be there as a guide instead of running the show.  Be supportive of their choices.  Go shopping with them as that’s a great way to spend time together.

Try to control your emotions. Certainly let your child know that you’re going to miss them but not to the point that they will worry about you when they’re gone.  Let them know you trust them and the decisions they will make.

Remember, all your years of hard work have led up to this point.  You’ve taught, they’ve learned. Show your love and trust.

Best of luck to all of you!