Anxiety

Stress-Busting Tips for Election Day (and Thereafter)

Given the volatile and angry nature of this current national election, how do we manage our anxiety? Regardless of our political affiliations, this particular election cycle has involved unprecedented negativity and sensationalism, driven in part by people’s dissatisfaction with governmental gridlock, concerns about our economy, health care, foreign affairs, and racial issues, to name only a few.

We also live in a digital age where 24-hour access to late-breaking news (some being erroneous) is...
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General

Essential Life Lessons, Part 2

As Labor Day approaches, some students have returned to school, while others are enjoying their last days of freedom before classes begin. For those of us who have graduated from formal education, the school of life remains in session, and some ground rules still apply. Put in the time. Continuing to stick with an assignment even if you’d rather check Facebook or play a video game will strengthen your self-discipline and impulse control. Persevere. “A year from now you may wish you had started today.” (Karen Lamb) Choose challenging but encouraging teachers. The best teachers are inspiring, supportive, interesting, and will push you a bit. They see what you’re capable of and remind you of your potential. They will also require a lot of you in terms of effort, time, and energy, and at times this may feel intimidating. However, excellent teachers won’t belittle, insult, or embarrass you, alone or in front of your classmates. Find good study partners. Surround yourself with people, or least have a few people, who have similar interests, goals, and study techniques. You can encourage each other, celebrate one another’s achievements, and brainstorm. When one of you is having a bad day, the others can offer moral and practical support. “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” (Jim Rohn)
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Anxiety

How to Prevent an Emotional Meltdown

"F-E-A-R has two meanings: 'Forget Everything and Run' or 'Face Everything And Rise'. The choice is yours. - Zig Ziglar

The alarm clock goes off. You roll over and slowly rise from your bed. Make your way to the kitchen. Grab a cup of coffee. Open your laptop. And read an accusatory email, perhaps from your boss, best friend, or significant other. Or open an unexpected and exorbitant bill. And you immediately launch into panic...
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Addiction

Nine Ways to Heal Your Relationship With Food

Why is it often difficult to have a healthy relationship with food, our bodies, and our weight? Why do we eat past the point of satiety, relentlessly criticize our thighs, belly, or other body parts, or base our self-worth on a number on the scale? Or why do we obsess about that ideal diet that will magically restore us to perfect health and also somehow heal our relationships, finances, and career woes? The answers are multifold, but let’s begin with the inconvenient truth that life is inherently difficult, and when faced with worries about the economy, our families, our health, the current political landscape, gridlock on the freeway, and/or that annoying leaf blower at 7:00 a.m., it’s tempting to consume foods that can quickly change our mood. There are a wide range of reactions among people to substances such as sugar, fat, caffeine, and flour, with some people being able to eat or drink these items without negative repercussions. However, for many of us, the subsequent dopamine surge (and consequent plunge) can be dramatic and perhaps over time become a frequent go-to when we’re facing uncomfortable feelings.
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Communication

The 4 Steps to an Effective Apology

 It takes courage to apologize. Saying we're sorry puts us in a position of vulnerability. We aren't in control of other people's responses. They might reject us. They might yell at us. They might not accept our apology. However, these are all risks we can choose to take, in the spirit of wanting to make things right in terms of our behavior. Whether the apology is for a major or minor offense, saying that we're sorry can rebuild bridges that, left unmended, can irreversibly harm our relationships. "Why can't we talk it over? Always seems to me that sorry seems to be the hardest word." Elton John Why apologize? We're human, and we make mistakes from time to time. We initiate a conversation between us and the offended party, which allows both of us to express our feelings. We can experience relief from the weight of accumulated shame and guilt, and the other person's burden of resentment may be lifted. Goodwill can be restored, given time. Apologizing gives us the chance to rebuild trust.
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Anxiety

10 Ways to Thrive if You’re Highly Sensitive

Do people tell you that you’re too “thin-skinned” or overly reactive? Do you tend to pick up on other people’s energy to the point where you “catch” their moods? Does being around a large group of people drain you? Do you need a lot of time alone to regroup and regain your energy? Are you frazzled by noise, odors, or chattering, more so than the next person? Do you compulsively overeat to try and manage uncomfortable feelings? Are you scared that you might “lose” yourself if you become involved in an intimate relationship? If you answer yes to most of these questions, you may be an “empath”, according to psychiatrist Judith Orloff, an intuitive psychiatrist who authored the book Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life. Being highly sensitive and possessing an exceptionally “permeable” system, empaths are generally: very passionate gifted at connecting to and helping others intuitive spiritual, and in tune with their physical sensations and emotions.
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Addiction

Proven Help for Compulsive Eating

There’s no getting around it – food is an essential and often extremely pleasurable part of life. (That is, unless you’re a breatharian, a concept I personally cannot understand.) Not only is food necessary for our physical sustenance, but it also figures prominently in many social and religious events. Thanksgiving and turkey (or tofurky). The Super Bowl, chips, and dip. Easter, chocolate eggs, and Peeps. Passover, matzoh, and gefilte fish. Enjoying a leisurely meal with friends or family can also help us bond with others while nourishing our bodies. However, in too many cases food and eating can morph into a source of discomfort and potentially threaten one’s physical health and well-being. Downing a one-pound bag of M & M’s can become the response to be jilted romantically or losing one’s job. Grazing on bags of potato chips throughout the day can become a way to procrastinate about schoolwork. Ordering an extra-large pizza and eating it alone at home with the blinds closed, and then falling into a food-fueled comatose state, can be a way to block out feelings of low self-worth. This is serious business. What to do? How to regain a healthy relationship with food again? Or develop such a relationship for the first time?
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General

How Religion and Spirituality Can Help (or Harm) You

"Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car." (Billy Sunday) Is it better for your happiness and health to belong to an organized religion or to be “spiritual”? Does it matter? Being religious refers to believing in a specific deity (or group of deities) and following the regulations of a particular religion. In addition, organized religion (as implied by its title) generally takes place in a relatively formal, organized context. In contrast, being spiritual may or may not involve belief in a particular god but does imply that the person is trying to follow a specific moral code, such as being loving and kind, and is seeking a meaning in life that’s bigger than him or herself. In other words, a person can be both religious and spiritual. In contrast, someone can be religious but not spiritual, as in the case of adhering to religious dogma such as tithing 10% of one’s income but being consistently cruel or unjust. Or, an individual can be spiritual but not religious.
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Addiction

Can You Love Someone Too Much?

Do any of the following statements ring true for you? My feelings of self-worth are dependent on what you and other people think of me. I focus on solving your problems, protecting you from the consequences of your actions, or “fixing” you, to the point of neglecting my own needs.  My self-esteem is based on my ability to “fix” you. I abandon my personal values and interests and conform with your values and interests. I know how you feel and what you want, but I’m not clear on how I feel and what I want. My words and actions are chosen in attempts to avoid your anger or rejection. If so, you may be struggling with codependency, defined as becoming so preoccupied with someone else that you cease to take adequate care of yourself. This is not love – this is looking to an outside source to grant you happiness and a sense of purpose, much in the way that alcoholics or chemically dependent people use substances to numb their feelings and escape life. Although codependents may appear to be kind, gentle, and giving, these qualities can mask a wish to manipulate and control others in order to feel better about themselves. So in a sense codependency is a form of addiction.
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