Friday, June 28, 2013

Test Anxiety: Improving Performance & Scores

Anxiety has a cycle that becomes self-reinforcing generating more anxiety, stress, panic and poor performance. The graph at the left illustrates this concept. A test is viewed or felt as a threat, this threat releases stress hormones, reduces concentration, focus and retention, then hard work is compromised by anxiety and fear. It may be time for you to take control of anxiety regarding taking a test. There are basics that can make a tremendous difference in your score once you master the mental/emotional components of anxiety. Some of the best methods are as follows:
1) reduction of negative thoughts and feelings
2) improved emotional control
3) muscle relaxation techniques
4) mental relaxation
5) mental rehearsal techniques
6) reframing or positive self-talk
7) diaphragmatic breathing
These are all very reliable tools or techniques that can be used in conjunction with proper study habits, test taking strategies and practice. The goals are to teach a set of easy to use tools and techniques that enable anyone to reduce stress, and test anxiety while self-generating an optimal psychological state for improved learning, academic performance and better test scores. Whether it be the SAT, LCSW, LSAT, MCAT, GMAT or Real Estate exam, these techniques work to reduce and/or control anxiety. Anxiety does not have to control you, you can control it.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Six Essential Principles Necessary for Recovery to Take Hold

A book published in 2012 by Hazelden with the authors Shumway and Kimball provide some key elements for lasting recovery. I have highlighted some of their main premises about lasting recovery from addiction. Take a few moments to consider addiction in your life and see what might apply. They state, “First, we recognize the problems we have as adults that were caused by growing up in a dysfunctional family. Second, we learn how to recover from the unresolved pain that was caused by growing up in a dysfunctional family. Finally, we learn how to solve current problems in spite of the obstacles caused by how we were raised.”
The disease of addiction touches everyone in profound and personal ways. The individual, familial, and societal costs are staggering and are clearly understood by those who have been touched by this disease. The following three categories describe how addiction is represented in your life:
1. You are an alcoholic/addict--or think you might be.
2. You love an addict in your role as a family member, significant other, or close friend.
3. You are a professional in the addiction/recovery field.
No matter which category you identify with, you have been affected by addiction and the far-reaching pain and consequences that result. In an effort to help yourself and others, these authors have identified six principles to aid in the ongoing appraisal of what they describe as a "recovery walk." These principles include:
1. Hope
: The reawakening after despair; to expect with greater confidence.
2. Healthy Coping Skills
: The development of effective skills to manage the pain and stress of life. 
3. Achievement and Accomplishment: 
The movement beyond the limitations of addiction toward personal achievement. 

4. Capacity for Meaningful Relationships
. The positive support and connection with family and peers. 

5. Unique Identity Development
: The emergence of a unique and positive identity.
6. Reclamation of Agency: 
The internal feeling that you have choices in your behavior—including the choice not to use.
We can help. Call for an assessment to determine if you or a loved one can benefit from treatment. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Why Can't I Sleep? What to do about insomnia.

These are some staggering facts about insomnia. Take a moment to review the data. In this blog, we will take a run at creating good sleep hygiene habits to get you to sleep and help keep you asleep. The brain works better with consistency when it comes to sleep. Providing a static bed time, good warm down rituals all help prepare you for quieting your mind to relax.

How do you stop the mental engine from running through your day or the next day? Self-soothing techniques are the way to go. Do you know how to do diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, thought stopping and mind relaxing tools? Biofeedback, yoga, stress management, exercise, proper nutrition, hypnosis, acupuncture, medication, and mindfulness meditation are all avenues to explore. Lastly, this graphic gives you point by point ideas to consider.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Why Do People Divorce?

Ask yourself how people get themselves in a position to drift apart. Emotional bonds begin to slip away subtly over time, which makes detection difficult with busy lives, careers, kids, and a host of obligations. Before this happens, it is useful to take stock of your "emotional bank account."  John Gottman, Ph.D. a marriage psychologist has done a great deal of research on what makes marriage work. Couple headed for divorce have four features in common. The warning signs of a breakdown in the marriage according to Gottman are "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse of Doom."

  1. Criticism
  2. Defensiveness
  3. Stonewalling
  4. Contempt
If these elements are present in your  marriage, divorce is most likely in your future unless you work on the antidotes and begin to make deposits into your partner's emotional bank account of love, nurturance, acceptance, and positive sentiment. Sharing fondness & admiration, being positive, managing conflict, turning toward your partner in communication, making life dreams come true and creating shared meaning are essential elements of a sound marital house.
Antidotes for the Four Horsemen are:

  1. Complain without blame.
  2. Take responsibility.
  3. Do psychological soothing.
  4. Build a culture of appreciation.
If you want to improve your marriage and prevent divorce, there are tools and help to keep emotional bonds strong.

Change is necessary, but very scary.

What do you do to make yourself shine? A peacock has a very impressive way of showing itself. Do you show your true self? How are you holding yourself back? What are your intentions for your life, career, marriage, and balance?Achieving manageable and meaningful change requires intention. Benjamin Franklin said, "without continual growth & progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning." Richard Boyatzis, a professor at Case Western Reserve University developed ICT, or Intentional Change Theory and published his theory in 2006 in the Journal of Management Development. Five common sense steps to follow for lasting change are:
  1. Discover your ideal self.
  2. Discover your real self.
  3. Create your learning agenda.
  4. Experiment with and practice new habits.
  5. Get support.
You must explore your dreams, hopes and aspirations. What kind of person would you like to be? Visualize, rehearse and practice ways to actualize your dreams. Coaching, psychotherapy, workshops, seminars and guidance from mentors is a great place to start. Once you take responsibility for your successes and failures, your are on the road to finding your best assets and liabilities holding you back. The journey is an inner one which requires nurturance of those dreams, some risks to move out of your comfort zone and a great deal of practice. What are your intentions today for happiness and life balance?

Why Worry? Recently, a reprint of the book  Why Worry  by friend and prolific author, Eric A. Kimmel was recently released. Gayle and ...