Friday, March 24, 2017

Overcoming Test Taking Anxiety

Test or performance anxiety can make you feel like this......with worry and overthinking,  you lose your natural ability to do what you have already mastered. 

If you preform well on practice tests when there is no pressure but lock up, get overwhelmed and begin to spin out of control with worry, anxiety performance coaching may be just the right thing for you. When there is a lot at stake like getting into business, law school, med school, then stress mounts impairing per your ability to focus, concentrate, remember and this results in poor scores, decreased confidence and a feeling of helplessness to overcome it. Like any pressured situation whether it be a test, musical performance, athletic endeavor, learning to manage or eliminate anxiety is the key to achievement.

How does test or performance anxiety happen? (just to name a few). This cycle illustrates how anxiety becomes the culprit in impairing performance.

  1.  It is learned behavior
  2.  The association of scores, grades become linked to personal self-worth
  3.  Feeling out of control or overwhelmed by the impact of the scores 
  4.  Fear of alienation or criticism from friends, family or self on inability to live up to expectations
  5. Timed tests intensify fear
  6.  Pressures of an audition for dance, music, sports by obtaining a particular score to be a viable candidate for a graduate program or scholarship
  7.  Low self-confidence and self-esteem
  8.  Pressure from perfectionism
  9.  Negative self-talk
With the right guidance and help, this is a very fixable problem! Techniques for performance or test anxiety before and during the test (whatever that test might be) include:

  • Cognitive strategies including thought stopping, reframing and affirmations.
  • Physical and mental relaxation
  • Mental rehearsal
  • Stress management
  • Meditation and/or mindfulness
  • Self-soothing strategies
  • Biofeedback
The practice of proper thinking techniques for positivity, muscle relaxation, mental calm, proper breathing techniques, mental rehearsal, mind clearing tools are standard approaches to help you get yourself feeling and taking control of your mind and body. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


Anxiety, worry, panic and phobias are quite common in society today. In fact, about 6.3 million people have diagnosed phobias. This is a chart of the most common phobias with percentages. The blue link below will be helpful background information about the etiology or origin of phobias, prevalence,  and issues that need to be addressed when confronting a fear.

Click on this link for a detailed overview of more data about Phobia Statistics

There is help. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can provide you with the tools you need to manage your anxiety, fear or phobia. Desensitization, mental rehearsal, relaxation, biofeedback and proper breathing and exposure techniques can help you put these worries, fears and anticipatory anxiety behind you. 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): A Pain Problem with Remedies

IBS is a group of symptoms—including abdominal pain and changes in the pattern of bowel movements without any evidence of underlying damage. You may feel like your intestines are in knots.

What does Medscape say about treating IBS?

Well, here it goes... "Approach Considerations: Management of irritable bowel syndrome consists primarily of providing psychological support and recommending dietary measures. Pharmacologic treatment is adjunctive and should be directed at symptoms. Successful management relies on a strong patient-provider relationship. Reassure the patient that the absence of an organic pathology indicates a normal life expectancy. Emphasize the expected chronicity of symptoms with periodic exacerbations. Teach the patient to identify stressors and to use avoidance techniques."

Treatment Options include: Learning to reduce stress can help improve IBS. With less stress, you may find you have less cramping and pain. Symptoms may include: Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome include: Changes in bowel movement patterns. Bloating, diarrhea, constipation and excess gas. Pain the lower belly. You may also find some of these non-medical oriented remedies helpful in managing your symptoms. 

Some options for managing stress includes:

  • taking part in stress reduction and relaxation therapies such as meditation
  • getting counseling and support
  • taking part in regular exercise such as walking or yoga
  • reducing stressful life situations as much as possible
  • getting enough sleep
  • talk therapy
  • hypnotherapy
  • mindfulness
  • biofeedback
  • dietary changes
  • exercise
  • meditation
  • relaxation therapies
  • massage

Of course, medical evaluations and treatments are a necessity. There are medicines: probiotics, antibiotics, antidepressants,  antispasmodics, laxatives and other abdominal pain medications can help. I believe the mind and body work together to heal, so let's work on getting the proper alignment. Pain is a signal to pay attention to distress that your body is experiencing. Don't delay in getting checked out. Once you get proper care, you can get relief. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Newest Addiction... Social Media

Here's a little quiz to get things started. Do you:

  • Check your email or social media before you get out of bed?
  • Check your email or social media immediately before you go to bed? Or while in bed?
  • Check email or social media while driving or at a stoplight?
  • Check your phone immediately when someone goes to the bathroom? And try to finish by the time they get back without them seeing?
  • Better yet... do you check your phone while YOU are using the bathroom?
  • Feel more anxious, feel like your life could be better, or that you are missing out?
  • Regret the time you just spent on social media?
If you answered yes to at least a few of these, it is quite possible that you are addicted to your phone (and social media). The good news is that you aren't alone. Quite far from it, in fact. Social media addiction is now pervasive. A recent survey among parents and their children revealed some numbers with large implications.

  • 69% of parents and 78% of teens check their devices at least hourly
  • 72% of teens feel the need to immediately respond to texts, social networking messages, and other notifications
  • 66% of parents feel their teens spend too much time on their mobile devices
  • 54% of children feel that their parents checked their devices too often
  • 36% of parents feel thet argue with their child on a daily basis about device use
  • 50% of teens feel they are addicted to their mobile devices
  • 27% of parents feel they are addicted to their mobile devices

One could safely assume from the above statistics that mobile devices are impacting the parent/child relationship. But the impact is also notable for any one considered a 'constant checker'. Bloomberg just released an article describing the significant increase in stress due to social media. In fact, the stress levels of those who are constantly on their phones are much higher (about 20% higher) than those who check their phones moderately. And by the way, those who expressed the highest levels of stress were likely to reference the political landscape on social media. 42% specifically referenced political and cultural considerations as a source of their stress.

These are charged times, where it almost seems like social media is deliberately trying to stress us out. So what do we do? Well... first thing is first.... PUT THE PHONE DOWN! Then, stay tuned for my next blog post on specific techniques to deal with phone addiction.

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