Connecting Again

As we go about our lives, it is easy to get sidetracked by our daily routines and increasing responsibilities. If we are not careful, it will slowly break down excitement and joy in our relationships. As a result, we may sense a profound disconnect with our loved ones. Thankfully, there are many ways to get us back on track and reconnect again!  Here are a few of them.

  1. Try to do more things together! Think back to when the relationship started, chances are you both tried to get to know each other by spending time together; This has been the experience of many couples. When you do things together there are more opportunities to communicate, to touch each other, to hug, to kiss, to laugh, to say thank you, to share your likes, dislikes, and fears. Go everywhere together!
  2. Create a vision board! Most of us are familiar with this type of project at a personal level. But how about creating one for the relationship? Together! This is a great activity to do with your partner to foster a sense of unity and direction. As a couple, talk about the things you would like to do together, things you would love to accomplish together, and see if you can find pictures that represent your goals for the relationship, cut them, and pin them to the board and begin to work toward achieving your goals. For example, if you both would like to reconnect again, find a picture of a couple hugging or kissing and place the picture on the board and start hugging each other more and kissing each other more. Make sure to check your board often to not get sidetracked.
  3. Surprise each other! This becomes easier to accomplish as you get to know your partner more, but it works at any stage of the relationship. The element of surprise is one that gives the bond a touch of excitement and love. It does not have to be an extravagant surprise for your partner to feel your connection, something simple will do. For example, take him or her to an unexpected lunch, prepare his or her favorite breakfast, or take on a house shore for the day, or write a nice text or a sensual text. These are just some simple examples. Be creative!
  4. Get out of your comfort zone! Step out of your comfortable routine; This could kill the relationship. I am not saying that a routine is bad for the relationship, after all, it does provide a structure and security. What I propose is to spice it up! Do things together that are different, things that otherwise you would have not thought of doing together, if it is safe. Doing things out of your comfort zone will place you both in a place where you rely on each other, which creates an opportunity to grow and bond. For example, if you both tend to do more indoor activities, try to go hiking, or zip lining, or go on a road trip. Just be safe and have fun!
  5. Use romantic language! Language is not just verbal; it is also nonverbal. The words we use, are just as important as how we say them and what we do because when used in harmony, it conveys a genuine message. Choose positive words when talking to your partner. Pick words that lift them up and makes them feel better about themselves. Watch your tone as you say them, you may even whisper them. For example, tell your partner how wonderful you feel for having him or her in your life and tell them secretly, by whispering it to him or her.

 Maintaining the connection in a relationship or reconnecting again is only possible if we commit to it. It does not happen by itself. It requires attention and care for it to flourish. Enjoy the journey!

This article is meant to be educational; it is not a substitute for professional help. If you and your partner would like to reconnect again, I am here to help. Please call me at 1-888-876-9784 to schedule an appointment or visit www.thought-wise.org.

Dr. Penate.

How to Manage Stress and Anxiety

Is stress the same as anxiety? They are related but not the same. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, stress is the response to perceived danger in a situation, and our reaction to the stress is anxiety.

Sources of Stress and Anxiety: For many of us, stress is part of our daily lives. Most of us fulfill more than one role which could lead to significant stress. For example, you are a schoolteacher, a mom or dad, husband or wife, caregiver, or even a student, all at the same time. Other sources of stress include public speaking, test performance, interaction with strangers, the death of a loved one, divorce, getting married, increased financial responsibilities, loss of a job, and or emotional problems such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, poor impulse control, obsessive thinking, beliefs, fears, etc. There could be multiple sources of stress in our lives, and therefore knowing why you feel stressed might be difficult at times, leaving you overwhelmed, where in some instances could lead to anxiety and or a state of panic.

Why pay attention to stress? The continuous exposure to stress is detrimental for your overall health.  The Anxiety and Depression Association of America lists several symptoms of chronic stress which include lack of sleep, headaches, chest pain, high blood pressure, and skin irritations to name a few.

Manage Stress and Anxiety: Fortunately, we can reduce the effects of stress by adopting new approaches as we navigate through the different sources of stress and learn how to handle them.

  1. Identify your source or sources of stress. Knowing how to manage stress requires first acknowledging that there is a problem and second pinpointing where is the problem coming from. What triggers your stress response? Is it a specific situation or challenge at home, work, or school? Is it a believe? Fear? Or all of these? Just make a list of all your triggers and examine the list.
  2. Look for patterns in sources of stress. As explained above, there could be multiple sources of stress and if we look closer, we can usually identify a pattern. Some stress could stem from external factors or from within ourselves.

    For example, we can all relate to the current unprecedented situation slowing the world down, COVID-19, an example of an environmental stressor (unprecedented event) that is out of our control (in some sense). Consider how you react to the incoming information, people talking to you about the virus vs. news and the media, etc.  Is it a manageable stressor or not? Also consider any fears associated with COVID-19 or associated with other events such as public speaking or taking a test, how do you react to these sources of stress? Some sources are produced by external events such as unprecedented events or workplace, and others stem from within such as thoughts, fears or believes.
  3. Management of external sources of stress could involve making changes to your routine and or habits. For example, exercise, healthy diet, and adequate sleep could improve your energy and focus which can help you manage sources of stress. Take steps to learn and or sharpen specific skills such as problem-solving training, a public speaking course, or social skills training. You can also learn to prioritize by writing down a list of important things in a hierarchy. Being grounded on what is important today, can ease your reaction to different sources of stress.
  4. Management of internal sources of stress could involve taking a closer look at your thinking pattern. Negative thoughts or negative self-talk can be altered to a more positive pattern. Meditation techniques could help ease the reaction to stress, whether is chronic anxiety or a state of panic. Some helpful meditation strategies include deep breathing, mindful observation, mindful walking, mindful eating, body scanning to name a few. Having a positive perspective of life as sources of stress are encountered can widen your outlook of specific stressors.
  5. Management of sudden unpleasant reaction to stress or anxiety: All of a sudden you are worried, feel restless, cannot concentrate, have not been having enough sleep, and feel overwhelmed. What can you do in the moment?
    1. Take a deep slow breath, hold it for a couple of seconds and exhale even slower.
    2. Concentrate on your breathing and the sensations and sound of your breath.
    3. If thoughts come into your mind, let them go, do not engage on them, come back to the breathing.
    4. Do this for about two to three minutes or as much as you can.
    5. Say to yourself, “I feel calm, I can do this, it is a good day.”

Sources of stress are always going to be around us or within us, and this is ok. However, it is how we deal with the stress what is important to know. We can learn to manage it successfully if we persevere and remain consistent. If you feel that you need help easing your reaction to stress and anxiety, seek the help of a mental health professional.

This article is meant to be educational; it is not a substitute for professional help. If you need additional help lowering your stress and anxiety, I am here to help. Please call me at 1-888-876-9784 to schedule an appointment or visit www.thought-wise.org.

Dr. Penate.

Reference

Stress. Retrieved on May 28, 2020 from https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/stress

Self-Talk Reprogramming

Self-talk occurs when we engage in an inner dialogue with ourselves. It is what we say to ourselves about ourselves or the world.  It is extremely important to have constructive self-talk to improve your self-esteem, confidence, and mood. I want to talk about a few approaches that could help you reprogram your self-talk. Yes, in case you are wondering, our self-talk can be reprogrammed thanks to neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the ability of our neurons to adjust as they adapt to changes in their environment.  

Although we might not realize it, the truth is, that we have been engaging in self-talk from an incredibly young age.  Our experiences, from positive or negative interactions and feedback with the world around us, has been influencing our self-talk from childhood.  The encouragement we received as children, failures we experienced as adolescents, and losses we had to deal with as adults, all of them, make their way through our brain and unconsciously programs our self-view and the view of the world we live in.  This concept is crucial to understand because Self-Talk can set us in a path of well-being, or in a path to self-destruction.  

As a result of negative self-talk, many of us feel unworthy, or lack confidence, and we fail to experience all the beauty this life has to offer.  But there is hope.  We can reprogram our positive self-talk to undo or reverse years of negative, destructive programming.  It all depends on how we start using this knowledge going forward.  Positive self-talk could lead to improved self-esteem because we say things to ourselves that enhance our ability to believe in ourselves. Those who are aware of how self-talk affects their lives are more likely to use it to their advantage and have high self-esteem, self-confidence, and improved mood.

Here are a few ideas to reprogram our self-talk and create positive changes:

First, we must learn to recognize our thoughts or inner dialogue patterns.  

_Take some time during your day to write down some of your thoughts as they come.

_At the end of the day, count how many negative and positive thoughts you had.

_Also, pay attention to your feelings whenever you catch yourself doing some self-talk.

For example: Ask yourself some of these questions and write down your answers.

Do I feel bugged down, scared, or do I feel motivated, or happy?

From your answers, determine whether you tend to be pessimistic? If so, you probably engage in more negative thinking.

There are different ways and patterns of negative thinking or negative self-talk. To help you identify and detect negative self-talk, here is quick guide.

The following are a few common forms of negative self-talk.

  1. Personalizing:  when you blame yourself for everything that has gone wrong
  2. Overgeneralizing:  you may take an instance of failure or undesired outcome and generalize it. For example, if someone rejected you on one occasion, you may now tell yourself that you are a total failure and not liked by anyone.
  3. negative filter: this is when you only pay attention to the information that is negative and discount any positive ones. For example, if you received several positive compliments for you work, but one of them was negative, then you choose to think about the negative one only. This type of filtering can lead to pessimistic self-talk.
  4. Catastrophizing: when you always expect the worse without regard for alternate explanations.
  5. Polarizing: usually known as All-or-Nothing thinking or Black-and-White thinking,which is expressed in our inability to categorize things within a continuum. For example, we might see things as good or bad, there is not in between.

Once you become aware of your inner dialogue patterns, you must adopt a positive thought pattern to reprogram your self-talk:

Once you are aware of your negative self-talk tendencies, it is easier to rewire to a more positive self-talk. However, this might be quite challenging for some and it might be necessary to get help from a professional.  Remember, we are all experiencing unique circumstances and in some severe cases, it may be extremely hard to break this negative cycle.

Let us look at one example on how we can switch our negative self-talk into a positive one:

          Negative Self Talk: I have never tried this before, with my luck, I will probably disappoint everyone and do a horrible job. (example of catastrophizing as I expect the worse is going to happen)

          Switched Positive Thinking: This is an opportunity to try something different. If I don’t do a good job, I will learn, grow, and get something new out of it. It is a win win situation for me.

In adopting positive self-talk, we need to learn to challenge our negative thoughts and look for proof that support positive ones. Engage in the practice of gratitude. Notice the little things that make you whole and be grateful for the simple things that we take for granted most of the time. Be around positive people. Learn from positive people, it can give you a fresh different perspective on life.

Practice positive affirmations. Write down positive, encouraging things about yourself and place them in visible places around your home or office. Stand in front of the mirror and appreciate that reflection on the mirror. Believe in yourself!

Rewiring your brain to increase positive self-talk involves consistency and a commitment to loving yourself. You will begin to see a much different perspective in everything revolving around you. This new perspective will help you get to your destination and will help you in achieving your goals. 

 Start reprogramming your negative self-talk today!

This article is meant to be educational; it is not a substitute for professional help. If you find that you need additional help on successfully engaging in positive self-talk, you can call me at 888-876-9784 or visit www.thought-wise.org to make an appointment.

Dr. Penate