Skills Articles

11 Signs You Need to Change How You Communicate

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Strained relationships create stress and can have a negative impact on your mood and your ability to function throughout the day.  When you’re in conflict with someone else, you’re more likely to be worried, distracted or highly emotional.

We cannot make other people act as we’d wish, but we can become aware of when we act in ways that lead to problems in relationships.  As we identify our own communication problems, we can choose to make changes in how we interact. If you do, you might just find that you’re able to solve intractable problems and that habitual conflicts no longer occur.

Making even small changes to how you communicate can improve the quality of your relationships.


The Power of Breathing to Reduce Stress

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

With each breath we nourish our bodies, bring necessary oxygen to our organs and muscles and make life itself possible.  Generally, we are unconscious of the ongoing rhythm of our breathing and often it is only when we have difficulty breathing that we pay it any attention.

But this fundamental act of breathing is not only necessary to life, it is also a powerful tool in connecting to our sense of calm and centeredness.  Through breathing we can connect to our bodies, our own internal rhythms and the experience of being alive.


The Truth About Anger

Monday, June 18th, 2012

  • Anger is a normal and natural feeling
  • Anger can serve an important purpose: It can help us to overcome difficult obstacles, right wrongs and stand up for ourselves. It can communicate to others—for example, an angry expression can say “don’t take advantage of me,” or “I won’t back down.”  It alerts us to those things that are important to us
  • Anger can stick around, long after it is useful
  • You may have had good reason to feel angry, but angry feelings can continue and be destructive, rather than helpful in your life.
  • Tuning into your body can alert you to anger: Clenched teeth, a hot face and tensed muscles are all signs of anger.
  • It is possible to be angry and stay in control of how you behave.
  • Retribution or making threats rarely results in feeling good about yourself.
  • Thinking about a situation and really putting yourself in the other person’s shoes can cool your temper.
  • Sometimes acting gently and expressing understanding (even if you don’t feel that way) can lead to productive discussion and resolving differences.
  • Leaving a situation to cool down can prevent you from saying or doing things that you’ll later regret.

When left unattended, strong emotions can lead to destructive behaviors.  Attending to times that you feel hurt, belittled, let down, disrespected, insulted or threatened is key to dealing with the anger that often comes from those experiences.

You can find more strategies to improve how you feel in my new book, The Stress Response and by clicking here to sign up for more of my tips and and here for podcasts using DBT strategies to improve how you feel.

Angry man photo available from Shutterstock.


A Simple Strategy to Let Go of Painful Thoughts and Feelings

Friday, June 15th, 2012

No one wants to experience pain.  Whether it’s physical, emotional or mental, once we’ve encountered pain, it’s natural to want it to end.

But, if you pay attention, you will likely find that there are certain emotionally or mentally painful circumstances that you get caught in.  Maybe it’s the angry thoughts about someone who has hurt you or pessimistic thinking about troubles you have faced.

Each of us has a tendency to get caught in certain types of thinking that prolongs painful emotions.  Instead of enjoying a relaxing evening, we might find ourselves ruminating on something hurtful someone said, or rather than solving a difficult problem and moving on, you may find you are again and again drawn to thoughts about how unfair your circumstances are.

Sometimes it seems as if the mind just wants to hold on to these painful thoughts and circumstances.  Even as we try to get rid of unpleasant thoughts, we may find ourselves rethinking and reliving painful situations.


Unclutter Your Mind by Acting Like a Child

Friday, June 8th, 2012

`Do you remember being a child, when so much was new?  As a child, faced with new experiences throughout your day, you were much more likely to notice detail and richness in ordinary experiences.

A child can spend hours splashing in the water in a sink.  This is because the child approaches the water coming from the faucet as a beginner.  The water is interesting and miraculous.  In this case, the child doesn’t approach the water as if it already knows everything interesting about it.  It approaches the water as a beginner, as if there is so much to discover.


Your Decision Making Style and Work Stress

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Do you exhaustively search for information and systematically evaluate alternatives when faced with decisions?  Or are you more likely to avoid decisions, come to conclusions based on a gut feeling or look to others for advice?

People approach decisions differently, but each person’s own individual style of making decisions tends to be the same over time.  Some people make choices and decisions with a logical and analytical thought process, while others are more intuitive and still others avoid making decisions at all.


5 Strategies to Survive Memorial Day Stress

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Does Memorial Day weekend mean summer, carefree days, barbeques and gatherings of family and friends for you? Or is your weekend tense, lonely or filled with holiday stressors such as traffic, crowds, bad weather, food gone bad, high expectations and conflict?

Or are you someone who hears about everyone else’s Memorial Day plans, knowing that you are one of the many who will be working?

These are are few strategies that you can use to deal with Memorial Day stressors:


Tough Love Therapy

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Is there a place for tough love in therapy?  Or should therapy be about unconditional acceptance?

There are many schools of thought on how to conduct therapy.  A new dichotomy seems to be growing between those who favor tough love and those who focus on acceptance.

In a recent Wall Street Journal Article, clients and therapists discuss how with “tough love” therapists try to eliminate their client’s whining.  These therapists might limit what topics a client can discuss or confront a client who is “whining” about their life again.  One client says she needs this sort of therapy.  That she simply won’t change if she receives unconditional acceptance.


Give Back to Mom on Mother’s Day

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

Wondering what to give mom for mother’s day?  How about a little gratitude?

Motherhood can be rewarding, but often it’s hard.  It can mean sleepless nights, worry, letting go of your own desires to prioritize those of others, making difficult choices, making mistakes, going unrecognized and at times, feeling powerless.

We each have a unique relationship with our mothers and the mothers in our lives (for example, wives, aunts, grandmothers or sisters who are mothers). Whether our relationship with her is conflicted or smooth, warm or cool, a mother is a mother and one day a year is set aside to recognize her for what she does.

If you’re someone who has a warm and open relationship with your mom or the moms in your life, expressing gratitude may come naturally. For those with complicated feelings, it can be a bit more difficult. 


Practical Strategies to Boost Your Willpower: Part II

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

In part I, which was posted on May 3rd, I discussed how people often engage in problematic behaviors, such as over or under eating, drinking and smoking in response to stress.  In an American Psychological Association survey on stress, people reported lack of willpower as preventing them from making the lifestyle and behavior changes recommended by a health care provider.

In order to improve their willpower, women said they needed to decrease fatigue, increase energy and improve confidence.

Men were more likely to say they need more money, while women were more likely to say they need more time.  Women identified household chores, in particular, as interfering with their willpower to cope with stress in healthy ways.

This post will focus on improving confidence and finding time.


 
 

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Recent Comments
  • kathygram: She didn’t say how old her daughter is. If she is an adult, unless you have a release from your...
  • eugene: Well done! Good articulations and suggestions how to observe thoughts. Very encouraging, too.
  • emotionally&devotionally yours: hi there Chris: I get that you are trying to establish links between stress and...
  • CHIJAY: I think extreme emotion is not good to our health, we need to control it no matter how hard it is
  • CHIJAY: I think negative emotion is not good to our health, we need to control our self.
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