Category Archives: Anxiety

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

 

 

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!

Uncoupled on Valentine’s Day

friends_having_pizzaTomorrow is Valentine’s Day, a day that may have some feeling sad and anxious. There is a lot of hype surrounding this day. The media tells us we should be madly in love and strive towards having the “perfect” relationship like we see on TV commercials and in movies. They show us that perfect mate, with a beautiful face and body, who says the most profound, loving  things. And if that’s not enough, they want us to long for the perfect gift!

Relationships come in all shapes and sizes. For those who are single, remember that your friends and family are also important relationships. They can be the perfect company for a Friday that just happens to also be Valentine’s Day.

Here are some things you can do to make your Valentine’s Day special:

1-  Call some friends of family members and make dinner plans. Celebrate the fact that it’s Friday.

2-  Watch a movie you’ve been dying to see. If you’d rather not be alone, invite someone to watch it with you.

3-  Buy yourself that “perfect” piece of jewelry, flowers, or chocolates. You’ll be sure to get exactly what you want if you buy it yourself.

4-  Buy a single friend flowers or chocolates, you’ll make their day.

5-  Set up a “secret cupid” gift sharing with friends so you all get something special and unexpected on Valentine’s Day.

6-  Volunteer to work with those less fortunate or with animals.

7-  Tell people what you need so they can be there for you.

8-  Pamper yourself or make a plan to pamper yourself so you have something to look forward to.

I invite you to read a fuller version of this article which can be found at http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/life-without-anxiety/201402/single-valentines-day

 

Rapid Resolution Therapy Described

Rapid Resolution Therapy DescribedI invite you to view the following video, given at a TED talk by a woman who beautifully describes how her life was totally changed by Rapid Resolution Therapy.

The life of the presenter, Kristin Rivas, was virtually saved when she met with Dr. Jon Connolly, Ph.D.,  the founder of this technique.  And I know why.  For the past few years I have had extensive training under the tutelage of Dr. Connolly and have been using Rapid Resolution Therapy to help transform the lives of my clients since.

The Holidays are Over, Why am I so Blue?

woman_with_tissue_holding_headIt’s almost the end of January and many people are telling me they’re feeling blue, even depressed.   Unfortunately, this is not uncommon.  Post-holiday blues are a common occurrence.  Here are some of the reasons why:

1-      Our schedules change, often going from being filled with social events in Dec. to being nearly empty in Jan.
2-      Scheduling changes mean we go from being with people to being alone more often.
3-      Fatigue can set in because of travel, lack of sleep, and busy schedules during the holidays.
4-      Some of us may feel disappointment because the holidays weren’t what we had hoped they would be.
5-       If you took time off during the holidays returning to work may have meant having to make up for time off.

The good news is that post-holiday blues are often temporary and short-lived.  Please read my full article on this subject on the Psychology Today website to find out what you can do to help yourself out of the blues.  The article can be found at:  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/life-without-anxiety/201401/the-holidays-are-over-why-am-i-so-blue

Will I ever fall asleep?

insomniaWhy is sleep so elusive to many of us? Very often sleep difficulties arise when we’re worrying about something, when not feeling well, going through menopause, pregnant, or when worrying about not being about to sleep.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, try the following:

1-      Use your bedroom and bed for sleeping only. Don’t read, watch TV, and/or eat in bed.

2-      Don’t nap during the day.

3-      Plan for 8 hours of sleep and go to sleep at a time which would allow for that.  Going to sleep too early will make it that much for difficult to fall asleep.

4-      Tell yourself that you’re going to bed to rest, don’t make sleep the goal.

5-      If you become anxious because you want to sleep and can’t, get out of bed and do something that will keep you busy and distracted. Go back to bed to rest after an hour.

6-      Place your clock out of sight so you can’t stare at the time.

7-      Limit caffeine, including chocolate to before 3 pm.

8-      Limit alcohol intake.

Doing the above consistently for a week to 10 days should take care of the issue.

Pleasant dreams!

 

Do Upcoming Holiday Gatherings Have You Scared?

Family serving Christmas dinnerWhile commercials, cards, and TV shows all show happy family gatherings, the reality is, many family get-togethers cause tremendous difficulties for a lot of us.  Why is that?

There is a great expectation that holidays will be fun, warm, loving. That family reunions will bring joy to all. But that isn’t always the case. Family gatherings can remind us of who’s no longer present, either due to death, divorce, or distance. This can cause sadness and a feeling of loss and longing.

We tend to act out old family roles when the whole family gets together.  So if you were the “acting out” adolescent, you may find yourself in the acting out role again as an adult. If you had competition with your sibling when a child, you may find that the old competitive spirit is alive and well. Old jealousies may rear their ugly head again. Competiton for parental attention for yourself or your children may cause some difficulty.

Here’s what you can do. Remember, holidays don’t have to bring up all or some of the above. Keep focused on the purpose of the gathering: to eat a meal, exchange gifts, or reunite with family members you haven’t seen in a long time. And focus your attention on those that support you, that have your back. This could be your spouse, children, cousins, etc.  Just because others may try to drag you into old dysfunctional patterns and behaviors, it doesn’t mean you have to follow.

Have a peaceful holiday season.

 

Do you Feel Stuck or Trapped?

Your life is not where you’d like or had hoped it to be. You feel trapped and unable to make changes in either your personal or professional life, or even in both. It’s very frustrating to feel stuck in something when you’d really like to be doing something else or would really like to be with someone else. But are you really stuck or trapped?

Do you feel trapped because change seems too difficult? Maybe you stay in your job because looking for a job in this economy seems too hard or because finding a new job seems impossible. So you spend your energy feeling sad, bored, unfulfilled instead of looking to make a change. Ask yourself what you have to lose by looking? You may be surprised at the answer.

Do you Feel Stuck or Trapped?Sometimes we stay in one place even when we think we’d like to be someplace else as a way of avoiding the problem. For instance, does your marriage feel stale, unfulfilling? Perhaps you daydream about leaving the marriage and finding someone more exciting. Is it possible that your daydreams are keeping you rooted in the problems rather than using the energy to work on the marriage? Maybe you and your spouse need to begin to talk about the problems or see a marriage counselor.

Some people feel trapped because they feel locked into something due to commitments they have made. For instance, staying in a job because the income is one you’ve become dependent on due to a high mortgage or children about to go to college. In this case staying put may actually help you to feel better in the long run.

So look at why you feel trapped and ask yourself what you may be avoiding, afraid of, or waiting for. This may help you get unstuck or help you to feel better about the decision to stay put.