Monday, November 19, 2018

5 Ways to Digitally Detox 

Consider taking time off from your devices to boost mental and physical health. 

Fotolia//Farknot Architect
The average American spends more than 10 hours each day glued to their screens. It’s no wonder: A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that eight in 10 Americans have a Facebook profile, 32 percent have an Instagram account and 24 percent are on Twitter. By 2020, it’s predicted that worldwide social media users will reach 2.95 billion people.
Because of our connectivity, we spend an average of two hours every day sharing, liking, tweeting and updating on these platforms. Unsurprisingly, spending hours looking at our screens increases our risk for depression, anxiety and loneliness. Plus, we rob ourselves of time that could be used for personal and emotional development.
This season, kick the habit and try a digital detox.  
  1. Catch up in person. Cultivating emotional intimacy is necessary for close relationships. It’s important to feel and see emotion face-to-face, not just through a digital filter. Although texting and messaging is useful, try finding a balance between in person and digital interactions.
  2. Do something creative. Paint, draw, write or knit—just engage in creative activities. Doing so improves our mood and decreases anxiety. When you do these activities, you establish a flow, in which sense of time and space recedes and our concentration, enjoyment, energy and focus kicks into high gear. 
  3. Connect with nature. Go for a walk, hike or run. Sitting in front of a screen for hours is not only bad for our health, it’s also bad for our emotional well-being. Studies show that just looking at flowers, trees and bodies of water dramatically improves mood, lowers anxiety and cultivates feelings of connection.
  4. Be present. Living in the digital age means multi-tasking. Recent studies indicate a strong connection between multi-tasking, diminished concentration and higher levels of anxiety. Commit to practicing mindfulness meditation at least once a day while on a digital detox.
  5. Set daily goals. Ask yourself what you’d like to achieve each day. In the digital age, we’re so focused on getting as much done as possible, that we forget to concentrate on the quality of each individual task we are undertaking and the way we feel while completing them.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Are You In a Relationship with a Narcissist?

Four tips for dealing with those with NPD. 


Fotolia//Worldley Calvo Stock
Does this scenario sound familiar:
“My dad is so self-centered. He only talks about himself; he’s never interested in what’s going on in my life or in my kids’ lives. He gets angry over the littlest misunderstandings.”
Or perhaps this scenario sounds like someone you know:
“Lately, when I’m with my girlfriend, I feel so alone. All she does is take selfies, posts them on social media, and then stares at her phone for hours to see how many likes or comments she gets.”
If either of those scenarios sound familiar, chances are you’re in a relationship with a narcissist. Being in a relationship with someone who has narcissist traits or been diagnosed by a mental health professional with narcissist personality disorder (NPD) can be difficult.
At the core of NPD is an inability to receive or give love. To be officially diagnosed with NPD, a person must demonstrate certain behaviors and attitudes, like a grandiose sense of self-importance, exaggerations of achievements and talents, and expectations of recognition and admiration.
Those with NPD often react with rage, hostility and aggression to criticism, whether real or imagined. They also struggle with empathy and are unable to recognize or identify others’ emotional needs.
Studies show that most people with NPD or those that have narcissistic characteristics rarely seek treatment. So how can you handle someone with these characteristics? Here are four tips to help navigate these relationships.
  1. Don’t blame yourself. It’s not uncommon for those in a relationship with someone who has NPD to blame themselves for their loved one’s hurtful actions. Remember that he or she is internally struggling with feelings of shame and a fear of rejection.
  2. Learn the signs, causes and symptoms of NPD. Knowing and understanding the signs, symptoms and causes of NPD can help prepare you for when your loved one is more challenging. It can also help you avoid unnecessary conflicts.
  3. Have someone to talk to. Loving someone with NPD or features of the disorder is challenging. Having someone to talk is a form of self care. Consider joining a support group, talking with a mental health professional, or making time to talk to a close friend or family member.
  4. Have a sense of humor. When appropriate, use humor when dealing with egocentric behaviors. Making a harmless joke, breaking into benign laughter or cracking a genuine smile can diffuse anger and hostility. 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Why We Hold Grudges and What to Do When Someone Has a Grudge Against You

Leah comes from of long line of grudge holders. She came into treatment because she was determined to learn how to talk about anger and work through conflicts.
“My house growing up was ALL drama. My older sister, younger brother and mother would constantly bicker and then not speak to one another for weeks if not months! They’d make up eventually, but a few weeks later it would happen all over again!”
When someone close to you has a grudge against you, it can make life miserable. And on the flip side, if you’re a person who is the grudge-holder, life can be even more miserable. Numerous studies and reports have shown that holding on to anger is bad for our emotional and physical health. Toxic anger contributes to cardiac illness, high blood pressure, substance abuse disorders, an inability to form and maintain relationships, loneliness, depression and anxiety just to name a few.

The All Good/All Bad Conundrum and Grudges

Why someone is more likely to be a grudge-holder than others is a complicated matter. But generally speaking, this behavior is based on multiple factors such as innate personality characteristics, childhood experiences with conflicts, hurts and anger, family dynamics and a tendency to see situations and people in an “all good” or “all bad” manner, all of which influences our behaviors, emotions and reactions. 
All good/all bad thinking doesn’t recognize the complexities and nuances of people and situations. So a person with a tendency for holding grudges is likely to draw the broad conclusion that whoever made them feel hurt or anger is responsible for the conflict, making that person completely wrong and totally “bad” from the grudge-holder’s perspective. Once the grudge-holder sees himself or herself as the victim, it creates deep feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness leading to a vicious cycle of hurt and resentment.

The Power of Acceptance

Is someone holding a grudge against you? It’s important to remember that the grudge-holder’s degree of anger and hurt can often be disproportionate to the actual event. The anger and hurt they feel about a present conflict is usually compounded with deep-seated hurts from the past. A simple apology usually isn’t enough smooth things out.
Here are some tips to help if someone is holding a grudge against you:
  • Accept that you can’t change a grudge-holder’s perspective no matter how much you state your case and attempt to defend or explain yourself. Avoid going over and over again and in-depth discussing the situation that created the conflict in the first place with the grudge-holder. The less engagement around conflict with a grudge holder the better.
  • Apologize. Although you may not agree with the grudge-holder’s beliefs, he or she is holding a grudge because of hurt feelings the person cannot articulate and work through. Ultimately, the emotionally mature and right thing to do when we hurt someone’s feelings is to apologize.
  • Forgive. It’s important to forgive a grudge-holder for your own benefit. Holding on to toxic anger is not only emotionally unhealthy, but toxic anger also contributes to physical illnesses including high blood pressure, cardiac disease, and substance abuse.
  • Move On. Letting go of the grudge-holder’s grasp and moving on with your life is imperative. This can be achieved by fully accepting the reality that what will be will be. The serenity prayer stated at the end of 12-step meetings perfectly sums up this point. This prayer emphasizes “accepting the things/people we cannot change and the wisdom to know the difference.” We can’t change other people, but we can change our reactions and the way we live our lives.