Monday, December 26, 2016

4 Ways Your Thinking Can REDUCE Your Anxiety

We all have an internal dialogue. There's the good guy on one shoulder that says you're great, and the bad guy on the other that says you're an idiot. When the bad guy drowns out the good guy, anxiety results. The bad guy offers a lot of self-criticism, like, people will think I'm stupid, awkward, selfish, or, you fill in the blank.

Instead of allowing the negativity to drown out positive self-statements, cognitive strategies for anxiety reduction help us reframe, dispute or otherwise convert self-criticism into positive or neutral self-statements. It works like this:

1.  Notice what you're thinking. This is always the first step. Sometimes you realize you're feeling anxious and you haven't even been aware that your thinking is triggering that anxiety with self-doubt. Just noticing that you're thinking something (for example, When the boss said I looked tired I said I had a late night instead of telling him I was just deep in thought, now he's going to think I'm..) may help you realize that it's no big deal.

2. Consider the alternative. Let's say you notice the thought and it still seems problematic. Maybe the boss is going to think you're blowing off your work by staying out too late, but what's another possibility? Perhaps everyone comes in tired some days and she was just expressing concern. Given your strong work record, why would she doubt you?

3.  Problem-solve. Sometimes anxiety really does have a purpose. That purpose is not to ruin your day but to alert you to something you need to change, address or otherwise deal with. So let's say you fear your boss might think you're blowing off work because you often stay out late, come in tired and aren't as productive as you could be. That's a problem that can be solved. You know what you need to do and worrying about what the boss thinks isn't it. You need to get more rest, come in energized and get it done.

4. Let go of worry. Most worries are about things that could actually happen. Your kid might get into a car accident, you might have cancer or you might become destitute. These things could conceivably happen. But are they likely? Probably not so much. This type of worry, the "what if" kind, doesn't lead to problem-solving. These are the worries you need to learn to let go. It's helpful to name the thought as a worry, note that it's not likely and remind yourself that thinking further about it is not useful. Distracting yourself from the thought by moving on to an activity that will mentally engage you is one way to let go. Acknowledging that a thought is not a fact, it's just a thought, is another step toward letting go.

These are steps to take to start working with your negative thinking, and flipping it, so your good guy drowns out your bad guy. Coupling this strategy with reducing your physical anxiety by practicing relaxation or meditation and exercise, in any combination, getting enough sleep and eating a healthy diet is a great start to living anxiety-free.

To learn more about cognitive behavioral approaches to anxiety and depression:
Read: Mind Over Mood, by Dennis Greenberger and Christine Padesky

Judith Tutin, PhD, ACC, is a licensed psychologist and certified life coach. Connect with her at to arrange psychotherapy to reduce the anxiety in your life (Georgia Residents only please).

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Why Your Emotional Support Animal Is Not Treatment For Your Anxiety

I was on a recent teletherapy call with an anxious young college student. Let's call him Robbie. Half-way in he told me he thought he needed an ESA. ESA, I thought…is that one of those texting anagrams I should know, like FOMO or YOLO? Before I had a chance to ask, Robbie said that having his long-time companion, his adored tabby, in his dorm room would make his anxiety manageable.

It came to me in a flash: Emotional Support Animal. I'd read about these. A quick Google search after the call revealed that people are contacting teletherapy services, like the one I took Robbie's call on, to obtain virtually (pun intended) immediate certification to have their ERAs in dorms, pet-unfriendly apartments and on airplanes. 


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Do Powerful Women Really Need Killer Smiles and Heels?

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend recently chided folks for how powerful women are treated. From her experience we can only infer that a powerful woman must wear rouge, stockings, heels and not too many bracelets. Ridiculous, you say; no one calls it rouge any more. It's dated, right? But I think not.

Witness the recent clamor over Hillary Clinton's smile, or more appropriately, her lack thereof. Then there was the grumbling about Harriet Tubman's facial expression in preparation for the 20. A NY Times article about the resting bitch face, or RBF, noted that some see Botox, and even surgery, as viable solutions to "the problem." These things made me angry.

I'm not gonna lie; it's personal. When I was a girl, people would often look at me, widen their eyes in an exaggerated way, as if beholding a rare bird or maybe a unicorn, and throw me a slightly confused look. It mystified me because I was not an unusual looking child. Read more here...

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Top 3 Relationship Killers

62 experts weigh in with their views of the top 3 relationship killers. After all, whose relationship couldn't use some improvement?

You'll have to scroll down a little to see mine.

Read it here...

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Why Finding Your Soul Mate Is Not Just About Getting Lucky

One of my pet peeves is peopling telling me they're just "unlucky," as an explanation for why they don't have a great job, don't live in an exciting city or aren't in a fulfilling relationship. Really?

Even in poker, while there's luck involved, there's also skill and the work of honing that skill. When it comes to being discovered as an actor, or getting that coveted job at an amazing law firm, there's always the luck of being in the right place at the right time, but you're not getting the job without skill and hard work as well. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Click here to see my Spring, 2016 Newsletter, with my recent posts and others I've enjoyed on health and wellness, relationships, dating and post-divorce adjustment. And there's news about my new office. Read it here…

For the next 5 days my book, The Post-Divorce Survival Guide. Tools for Your Journey, is available FREE.

Monday, March 28, 2016

4 Steps To Becoming Your Authentic Self

One of my top recommendations for clients and friends who are dating is to be yourself. Although you may not list authenticity as a top quality for a partner or friend, recent research suggests it is one of the qualities that we seek in others. Authentic people are generally really fun to be around and easy to read. They tend to be less stressed and more satisfied. They do not trigger red flags like the inauthentic.

Authenticity is basically the opposite of being a liar, a fake or a fraud. It's being yourself, being honest, being who you truly are. According to psychologist Robert Biswas-Diener, you can increase your authenticity quotient.

So let's look at how you know if you are being authentic and how to work on being more authentic, while avoiding the trap of overplaying your authenticity. 

1. Talk the talk. Say what you really think. Honor your values, beliefs and ideals above people pleasing and despite possibly making a few waves. If you believe it's important to reduce your carbon footprint, say so.  Read more here...

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

4 Qualities To Say "Yes" To In A Partner

As Daniel Gilbert described in his aptly named book, Stumbling on Happiness, we don't always know what will make us happy. The same can be said about finding partners likely to make us happy.
My clients and friends tend to have a laundry list of things they seek in their next mate, who absolutely, positively has to be attractive and intelligent, love the beach (especially for watching a sunrise or sunset), speak a few languages, enjoy travel, desire many children, etc.  You may want to reconsider that list.

While we say we want a handsome mate, if we also want an understanding one (as most of us do), recent research shows that the handsome partner who is not understanding will be a terrible disappointment. And it follows that the not-so-handsome mate who is very understanding will bring us more happiness.

The traits that reflect our deepest, intrinsic desires are most important in guaranteeing satisfaction with our partner. 

What we really need are: 

1. Warmth. This person desires intimacy with you. Read more here...