Therapy That Works...

Friday the 13th - Fact or Fiction? - By Chris Gearing

Friday, January 13, 2012

Watch Dr Sylvia Gearing on CBS 11 talk about Friday the 13th and superstitions in general - click here.

Why does Friday the 13th have such power over us?

Life is really uncertain and superstitions give us a way to be sure about something in our lives. The day Friday has been picked on for hundreds of years and has been considered unlucky since the 1400s in Europe, although no one knows why. In addition, the number 13 is also considered unlucky around the world so when you combine the two of them, it is a pretty powerful effect for a lot of us.

The truth is that most of us have our own superstitions even though most people won’t admit to them. Superstitions usually start in family traditions that are passed down generation to generation. Most of these stories are meant to prove a point and they are in every family and in every culture, even dating back to the ancient Mayans!

Are any of us fighting back against being superstitious?

A new trend though is to embrace the superstition and make it your own. You don’t allow the superstition to control you. You control the superstition. As a result, some people go out of their way to do something that involves risk such as finally asking that special girl out or skydiving or even getting married on this date. It makes a lot of people feel empowered to not give into the fear but to push directly against that fear.

Why do we want to believe in superstition so much?

Cause and Effect: Human beings fundamentally like to explain events to ourselves. We insist on making sense of something even if it is random. Sometimes things just happen but we like to wrap events up in theories and that is when superstitions get going. Think of this way, somewhere, sometime, long ago, someone had a really bad day on Friday the 13th. Other people heard about it, everyone abandoned reality, and the superstition was invented.

Self Protection: Superstitions give us all a lot of false security. Nobody likes it when bad things happen to them. We want to think that we have done everything to protect ourselves, even if it involves superstition. As a result, we will do whatever is required if we can avoid bad luck. So, if we are told that we need to avoid walking under ladders and not break any mirrors, most of us view it as a small price to pay for a little more comfort and confidence.

Proximity to Trauma: If you have ever experienced a traumatic situation, you may be more anxious in general and you may turn to superstitions to help mitigate the fear. Knowing that you have a lock on what date or object to avoid gives reassurance that you can avoid more trauma.

When does being superstitious go too far?

For most of us, it’s all fun and games and we like to laugh about our superstitions but some people may take this too seriously. They begin to experience overwhelming anxiety around superstitions. They lock their lives down to avoid the superstitious trigger. You know that things have gone too far when the following things are present:

Vulnerability to Anxiety: Some people's brains are built to generate anxiety. Obsessing and reviewing the trigger becomes rampant and they begin to map out the world according to what is dangerous and what is safe.

Overwhelmed with Stress Hormones: Remember that your brain does not differentiate between real events and fantasized events and will generate the constant warnings to keep you safe. That adrenaline and cortisol for fighting and fleeing will keep your system in a continuous alert state.

Loss of Critical Thinking: Failing to keep the situation in perspective and grounded in reality means that you are losing objectivity and are failing to maintain perspective about what you can do to protect yourself. You may be thinking in an illogical manner or overestimating your control over events.

Here's what you can do if you or someone you know is taking superstitions too seriously?

Get the Facts: Get some distance on your superstition by reading about where the superstition began and why. Most of them have great stories that are absolutely fascinating, but they have nothing to do with reality.

Healthy Habits: Make sure to keep living your life in a healthy way– get consistent sleep, eat healthy meals, and make sure to see friends and family often. Conversations with friends can foster a sense of normalcy and provide great outlets for sharing worries and releasing tension.

Maintain a Hopeful Outlook: Your mental health is one of the keys to staying healthy. Anxiety leads to state of alarm, which can be exhausting. Ironically, by stressing about the superstition, you make yourself more vulnerable to it. Distract yourself and break up the negative thinking.

Teens On Fad Diets Can End Up Gaining Weight! - By Chris Gearing

Friday, January 13, 2012

Dr Sylvia Gearing on CBS 11 describing why fad dieting may actually make American children GAIN weight - click here.

Why do our adolescent girls struggle so much with their weight?

Images of Perfection: Previous generations of girls have always struggled with body image but these issues are at an all time high. Our girls are inundated by images everywhere of physical perfection especially with our celebrity culture. The demands for excellence on girls have gotten worse over the past two decades leading to weight concerns in girls as young as six years old. But channeling energy into appearance and away from normal developmental tasks can disrupt, if not sabotage a young girl’s self esteem and ability to tolerate stress.

Helicopter Parents: The current generation of parents is full of parents who are well meaning but who are micro- managing their children's emotions and lives. Being "ordinary" or just “okay” has lost its allure for too many of today's parents who insist on their child not experiencing the ordinary problems of living. Frustration, rejection and even failure seem to be harder on the parents sometimes than it is on the kids. They project their own anxiety onto kids who just need to figure it out sometimes on their own. Over focusing by the parent makes the girl more anxious and the weight is one more report card she has to face.

Mothers with Eating Issues: Many mothers have struggled for years with their own weight so those issues are easily taught and inherited.

Epidemic Rates of Anxiety and Depression: Girls get depressed at twice the rates of boys when they enter puberty so eating problems flourish when mood disorders hit. Depression hits a full decade sooner than it did a generation ago and it re-occurs 50% of the time.

Why would girls get into this kind of fad dieting so early in life?

Trying To Compete with Other Girls: Many girls are influenced not only by the images in the movies and on TV of women, but also their peers. Many parents are paying for plastic surgery and liposuction for their children these days, and many young women can’t keep up. They instead turn to fad or extreme diets to drop the weight.

Get Slim Quick! Many young women find fad and extreme diets alluring. They just have to suffer for a short amount of time to be beautiful – they can tough it out for that kind of reward. But many girls don’t realize what kind of serious physical effects these diets can have on them and how on-again-off-again dieting is actually very unhealthy.

Why don’t fad diets work well?

Short Term Weight Loss: Many fad diets may actually work, but what girls fail to realize is that once they are off the diet – they will usually gain back the weight with a vengeance.

Lifestyle Change: Without a change of lifestyle and most importantly, without a fundamental change in attitude, any diet that works will only work while you are on it. The only way to truly lose weight and never find it again is to adopt a completely different, healthy lifestyle that combines food, rest, and exercise.

What can parents do to help their children?

Positive Example: Model what you want them to see and be. Mothers especially are incredibly influential for their daughters so be careful what behaviors you are modeling. What you say and how you handle yourself emotionally and with food will set the gold standard for your daughter.

Educate Your Daughters: Most kids don’t truly understand nutrition and positive eating habits. Make sure that they have all the information and understand how what they eat truly affects their bodies and their lives. Introduce healthy foods that are lower in calories but filling, and encourage him to drink a ton of water! Teach your children what is good to eat and how to stay away from foods that will pack on the weight.

Positive Eating Messages: Encourage positive attitudes toward your child's new self-image. Do not shame or embarrass him, but focus on the new body you can build together.

New Self-Soothing Techniques: For many kids, food is an escape from anxiety and stress. Emotionally coach your child to deal with his negative emotions by talking them out. Remind him that setbacks are temporary and that he can cope with whatever he is facing. Overeating no longer has to be a coping mechanism when you are more emotionally resilient.

Distract From Hunger: Begin to spend time with your child to develop new coping skills that will distract him from his hunger. For example, before dinner, go out for a brisk 20- to 30-minute walk. It is a great appetite suppressant and will increase his endorphins.

Source:

The work of Dr Martin Seligman

"Generation Me" by Jean Twenge

Your Stomach Says Relax! - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing on YouTube explain why your stomach wants you to relax before you eat - click here.

In our daily hustle, most of us grab meals on the go – usually from fast food restaurants or from the freezer aisle at the supermarket. However, eating when you’re in a hurry can cause you to overeat and accidentally choose higher calorie foods instead of making healthy choices.

Before you leave your house or office to go catch a meal, take five minutes and relax. Try relaxation techniques like remembering a wonderful vacation, watching a few minutes of television, or even some deep breathing exercises. Taking a few moments to calm down can restore your self-control and hopefully, you’ll eat slower and you’ll make better decisions when ordering!

Make sure to check back tomorrow for three of my best weight loss tips!

Source:

MensHealth.com

How To Set Effective Weight Loss Goals - By Chris Gearing

Monday, January 09, 2012

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing teach you how to set effective weight loss goals on YouTube - click here.

Did you know that on average, Americans gain around 5 to 10 pounds around the holidays?

With stats like that, weight loss is regularly the number one resolution on New Year’s Eve, but most people don’t follow through. In fact, a condition called “Helplessness” can make them feel like there is no hope for change, so they never even try. But here’s a quick tip to help you stay on track with your weight loss goals and avoid feeling hopeless along the way.

Instead of setting a goal to lose a large amount of weight, make smaller goals that can easily be accomplished in small amounts of time. For instance, I recommend to my clients that they set a goal of losing one pound every week or every other week. It’s a small and easily attainable goal that can be accomplished with just a few small changes in their lifestyle. All you would need to do is skip dessert or make a couple trips to the gym. Instead of constantly worrying about the larger goal or feeling like they will never get there, they can focus on making a small change - right here, right now.

Check back tomorrow to find out which piece of electronics is causing you to overeat!

Source:

WeightWatchers.com

The Musical Cure For Depression - By Chris Gearing

Friday, December 23, 2011

Watch Dr Sylvia on YouTube explain the musical cure for depression - click here.

Feeling worn down? Tired of the same old boring Christmas songs on the radio? Well, a new research study has found that you can break out of your funk by listening to funk… or blue, or rock, or whatever kind of music you like.

Along with distracting you and giving you a beat to dance to, music was shown to increase levels of dopamine – the pleasure hormone. So, take a break and crank the volume on your favorite music whether it’s Bach or the new Black Keys album.

Source:

MensHealth.com

The New Trend of "Comfort Sex" - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Have you ever just had one of those days? Maybe your presentation at work didn’t go according to plan or your mother-in-law got on your case about how unclean your house is. Whatever the case may be, you need something to pick you up.

Many people are now engaging in what is informally called “Comfort Sex” where they are intimate with their spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend to get a much needed shot of endorphins and dopamine to help take the edge off the day.

I recommend it to my patients because its benefits are numerous:

1.) You can enhance your relationship with the other person just by having sex regularly

2.) This is a much healthier and natural way to make yourself feel better without drinking or eating anything

3.) Sex can be a great work out, and has been shown to burn somewhere around 500 calories per hour

So if you’re having a particularly tough day, consider calling up your partner and trying comfort sex instead of going out to the bar or indulging in “retail therapy.”

Sources:

"Comfort Sex: Is It A Bad Thing?" by Jill Di Donato, HuffingtonPost.com

"I Love Female Orgasms" by Dorian Solot and Marshall Miller, Illustrated by Shirley Chiang

What Is Complex Trauma Syndrome? - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Dangerous Side of Cyberstalking - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Trauma of Cyberstalking - By Chris Gearing

Monday, November 28, 2011

How To Talk To Your Child About 9/11 - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Watch Dr. Milton Gearing discuss how to talk to your children about 9/11 on CBS 11 - click here.


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