Your Brain on Stress

By: Stephanie Osuba

Our brain has an automatic response to stress located in the amygdala, an almond sized structure in our brain that regulates emotion. Once a threat is perceived, the amygdala releases a number of hormones – adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine – to prepare for the “fight or flight” response. This is all well and good for physical threats, but what about interpersonal threats? Threats that are far more complex that need an actual solution rather than simply running away. That’s when your prefrontal cortex comes into play as it handles all of the executive function in your brain and allows you to think critically about situations. This way you can learn how to deliberately take a step back and think about how you are going to handle the stressor. So instead of letting your emotions dictate when you are angry with your significant other, dealing with rude customers, or have one too many, here are some ways you can learn to manage your stress in a constructive way:

  • Take a Breath: Calm things down and take deep breaths. This clears your head long enough for you to regain control of your emotions and let your prefrontal cortex get onboard. Once you do that, you can start critically thinking about what to do with your stressor.
  • Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness is the act of being in the present and being aware of your surroundings and the social context you are in. By asking yourself, “why am I feeling angry?” or “is saying this mean thing the best thing to do right now?” you can stop yourself from acting out in a way that you might regret.
  • Focus on What You Can Control: Some situations allow room for you to intervene, and others do not. Focus your energy on aspects you can anticipate, while at the same time mindfully accepting the aspects that you cannot.
  • Broaden Your View: When the amygdala gives off negative emotions due to the stressor, the anxiety usually narrows your point of view and drives you to find the quickest solution to the problem. As we know, the fastest solution isn’t always the best and it prevents you from using the stressful opportunity to grow and learn from the situation and finding a creative solution.

As much as we would rather not have to deal with it, stress is part of our daily lives and learning how to manage it can give us the life skills to handle, relatively, any situation thrown at us.

Source: Greenberg, M., Ph.D. (2017, September 7). Five Secrets to a Stress-Proof Brain. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201702/five-secrets-stress-proof-brain

If you or someone you know is experiencing psychological distress due to stress, please contact our psychotherapy/psychiatry offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Advertisements

Workaholic = Burnout

By: Estephani Diaz

Do you find yourself always working? Are you working longer than you’re supposed to? Are you working outside of the office? Do you consistently think about work? Do you take your work everywhere you go? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, you may be a workaholic. A workaholic is defined to be a person who compulsively works hard and long hours. They are unable to detach from work to the point that they bring their work home and even on vacation. Here are seven signs indicating that you may be a workaholic:

  • Planning on how to free up more time to work
  • Spending much more time working than intended
  • Work to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness, and/or depression
  • Being told by others to cut down on work
  • Becoming stressed if you are prohibited from working
  • Deprioritizing hobbies, fun, exercise, leisure activities for work
  • Working so much that it has a negative influence on your health

Being a workaholic may lead to a major burnout. A burnout is a physical and/or mental collapse caused by overwork/stress. It includes insomnia, impaired concentration, loss of appetite, etc. Other symptoms consist of chronic fatigue, chest pains, migraines, anxiety, detachment from family and friends.

In order to prevent having a burnout and/or becoming a workaholic, one must create a healthy balance between work and life. Also, one must know when to stop working by developing self-awareness. Taking regular vacations, engaging with family and friends, participating in activities are just some ways to prevent a work addiction.

Workaholics anonymous and therapy can help those who have an addiction to work or are experiencing a burnout.

If you or someone you know is a workaholic or experiencing a burnout, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 

 

College Stress

By: Charleene Polanco

Change is a natural part of life. Some people gladly welcome change and growth, while others tend to panic when the stability of what they are used to is gone. College is one of the biggest transitions a person can experience, because it is a time for independence. Leaving the safety of your house, parents, and friends is necessary to have new experiences and make connections. College introduces a change in lifestyle, greater workload, different responsibilities, and new relationships. With all of these changes, many students experience college stress because they are unable to effectively handle the different aspects of their lives. College stress is more common than we think, with six out of ten students experiencing stress to the point of it becoming detrimental to their college lives. The symptoms of college stress include headaches, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and an inability to cope.  The more serious symptoms of college stress are suicidal thoughts, drug/alcohol abuse, social withdrawal, physically violent outbursts, and uncontrollable crying.

Since stress is so prevalent among college students, there are many tips available to help reduce and cope with stress. It is recommended that college students seek out stress management resources. On college campuses, there are many resources available to students, which can help them manage their lives. Counseling services are one of the many resources designed to hear student’s problems and provide them with solutions. If a person is uncomfortable with contacting counseling services, they can start out by talking to a trusted friend, advisor, or family. However, if you are experiencing the more serious symptoms of college stress, it is highly encouraged that you seek out counseling services or other professional resources.

If you or someone you know is suffering from college stress, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Sources:

NYU. “Stress.” Stress, NYU, www.nyu.edu/life/safety-health-wellness/live-well-nyu/priority-areas/stress.html

“Student Guide to Balancing Stress.” Best Colleges, Best Colleges , 28 June 2018, www.bestcolleges.com/resources/balancing-stress/.

 

Anxiety: Test Anxiety

By: Charleene Polanco

Have you ever had a moment of extreme panic, right before the beginning of a test? How about feeling like you are about to faint, or excessive sweat during an exam? If these symptoms describe your test-taking experience, then you might be suffering from test anxiety.

Test anxiety is defined as a psychological condition where people experience severe distress and anxiety during exams. Some causes of test anxiety are fear of failure and lack of preparation. A fear of failure can result from wanting to perform well. One who associates their self-worth with a test’s outcome, can feel devastated when the grade is not what he or she expected. This creates a vicious cycle, where because the person is afraid of feeling worthless, when they fail, they become anxious while taking the exam.  As a result, their performance level on tests drops. Lack of preparation is another cause of test anxiety, which occurs when students do not study properly for an exam. For those who like to wait until the night before an exam, to cram five chapters worth of information into their brain, tests are a constant source of anxiety and stress.

Symptoms of test anxiety can be split up into three categories; physical, emotional, and behavioral/cognitive symptoms. Some physical symptoms include headaches, nausea, excessive sweating, and rapid heartbeat. Emotional symptoms can be expressed as feelings of anger, fear, helplessness, and disappointment.  Behavioral/cognitive symptoms are difficulty concentrating and negative thinking.

To help manage test anxiety, here are some tips;

  • Properly prepare for exams
  • Develop good test-taking skills
  • Engage in relaxation techniques, like taking deep slow breaths
  • Keep a positive mindset

If you or someone you know is suffering from test anxiety, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Source:

“Test Anxiety.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA, Anxiety and Depression Association of America , 2018, adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/children/test-anxiety

Stress: The Detrimental Effects of Stress on the Body

By: Charleene Polanco

Stress is something that everyone experiences at some point in their lives. Stress is defined as a physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension, and whether it is about taking a final exam for class, going off to college for the first time, or work-related, stress can affect the way we perform. If gone unchecked, stress can lead to a variety of negative consequences on the body, which will be discussed. Stress has been linked to a number of physical and emotional disorders, like depression, anxiety, heart attacks and stroke. A constant high level of stress, can lead to immune system disturbances, which can cause an increase in your body’s susceptibility to infections. Stress can also have direct effects on the skin leading to rashes and hives.

Unlike rashes and hives, which are visible, stress can affect various systems, organs, and tissues within the body, signs that are not seen, and are, therefore, much harder to notice. Some parts of the body affected by stress are the nervous and cardiovascular systems. When stressed, the nervous system signals the body’s adrenal glands to secrete adrenalin and cortisol. Since both of these hormones cause high blood pressure, a person who is under constant stress, also has elevated blood pressure which can lead to heart problems in the future. Even if a stress episode is considered to be minor, repeated minor stress episodes can negatively impact a person’s cardiovascular system by causing inflammations in the coronary arteries. This can eventually cause heart attacks. In order to prevent the negative consequences of untreated high levels of stress, it is important to recognize the symptoms. There are multiple symptoms of stress, some of which include, frequent headaches, cold hands/feet, dry mouth, heartburn, depression, forgetfulness, and rapid or mumbled speech.

If you or someone you know is suffering from stress, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Source:

“Stress Effects.” Common Signs and Symptoms of Stress, The American Institute of Stress, 4 Jan. 2017.

Mindfulness: Why We Should All Practice It

By: Sanjita Ekhelikar

We live in a time when everyone is either living in the past or future. Being in the moment, or living in the present, seems to be a concept foreign to so many of us. By not living in the current moment, we are simply ensuring a life filled of stresses and regrets. How can we better learn to focus on the present?

Mindfulness means being aware of our surroundings, our body, our feelings, and thoughts in the moment. It involves recognizing and accepting our thoughts or sensations for what they are in a given moment without any judgment or negative perceptions. The practice of mindfulness gives our minds the chance to tune into the present.

It is critical for all of us to learn to practice mindfulness and how to be in the present. This will help us to avoid living a stressful life. This technique helps us learn to relax, be calm, and appreciate the present. Learning to practice mindfulness does not involve any major changes we need to make to our lives – simply setting aside a few minutes to be aware of ourselves and surroundings can have long term benefits. Here are some examples of mindful exercises we can all strive to implement in our daily lives:

  1. Mindful Breathing: Stand or sit down in a comfortable position and focus your thoughts and energy on your breath. Breathe in through your nose and out of your mouth. Be aware of only your breathing, and let go of your thoughts, letting them come and go as they pass.
  2. Mindful Observing: Look at any object in your surroundings/environment and focus solely on the object for a few minutes. Take a moment to notice every possible aspect of the object, including its color, shape, movement, features, and how it changes. Your mind will be focused on this object and will enable you to relax.
  3. Mindful Listening: Close your eyes and take a moment to listen to all of the sounds in your surroundings. Try to identify as many sounds as you can possibly hear and describe them. This allows your mind to again focus on something in the current moment instead of the thoughts in your mind.

If you or someone you know is suffering from stress or anxiety and wants to learn how mindfulness can help you, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Perfectionism: How Striving to be the Best can Leave us at our Worst

By: Sanjita Ekhelikar

We are commonly told that no one in the world is “perfect”, and that there is no such thing as “perfection”. Or so they say. Then why do so many people around the world still try to aim for this standard of “perfect” in what they do in life?

Perfectionists are individuals who strive for flawlessness. They set very high standards and expectations for themselves, have a set way of wanting to do things, and take time to be truly satisfied with their work. Aiming for perfectionism definitely has benefits. We all know that one person from school or work who would be the “perfectionist”: they would be the most successful, put out high quality work, and constantly keep pushing boundaries so that their final products are amazing.

However, being a perfectionist has its disadvantages and dangers. Individuals who seek to be “perfect” set extremely high standards for themselves, which results in their being very critical of themselves. Perfectionists tend to notice and fixate on all of their flaws, as they wish to not only produce “perfect” work but also to be “perfect” people. Whenever a perfectionist make mistakes, as does everyone in the world, he or she is unable to look past the “failure” and thus feel extreme guilt, shame, and sadness.

Perfectionistic thinking underlies several mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, OCD, and eating disorders. It can even lead to suicidal thoughts. Perfectionists’ inability to accept failure, constant self-criticism, and desire to act, be, and look perfect, drives them towards unhealthy behaviors and thinking. They are constantly hard on themselves for not achieving “perfect,” which is inevitable because there is no such thing as perfect! These patterns of thinking and negative behaviors need to be monitored for the risks they present in causing mental illness.

Instead of striving for “perfection,” we should be encouraging others and ourselves to be the best versions of who we are. Remind people that there is in fact a beauty in accepting yourself and your positive attributes, and in being kind to yourself. Encourage people to accept themselves, make mistakes, and to strive to not look perfect. We should truly appreciate ourselves and accept BOTH the good and the imperfect. By addressing and changing the perfectionist way of thinking, we can better prevent, understand, and heal many mental illnesses.

If you or someone you know is suffering from any of the aforementioned symptoms, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Exercise-Keeping your Body and Mind Healthy- Bergen County, Nj

By: Laine Podell

Keep your Body and Mind Healthy!

Keep your Body and Mind Healthy!

Everyone knows that exercise is a great way to maintain physical health and keep your body fit. But the benefits of exercise go beyond increasing endurance, or gaining muscle. A variety of recent studies have exemplified the many ways that consistent exercise can keep our mind healthy in addition to our bodies.

Regularly make an effort to exercise for the following beneficial purposes.

  1. Stress: Exercise is a great healthy way to rid of the excess energy your body has bottled up causing you to feel stressed out.
  2. Work-Play Balance: A study showed people who incorporate exercise in their life feel more capable of juggling the balance of work and other family and social obligations.
  3. Happiness: Exercising causes the body to release endorphins creating feelings of happiness and relaxation.
  4. Alzheimer’s disease: According to Dr. Smith at the University of Maryland, “being physically active may offer protection from the nuerodegeneration associated with genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease”.
  5. Self-Esteem: Working out can lead to weight loss and muscle toning. Confidence in one’s appearance can be a great self-esteem boost.
  6. Cognitive Abilities: Physical activity, specifically aerobic exercise, keeps your brain healthy and able to work efficiently and effectively with cognitive skills.

If you are experiencing anxiety, self esteem issues or problems just balancing everyday stress and need help coping, feel free to contact the Manhattan or Bergen County, New Jersey offices of Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy to speak with a therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist.  Call (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 for an evaluation.  Visit www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

Source:

psychcentral.com/news/2014/04/24/exercise-to-keep-alzheimers-disease-away/68923.html

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy-How to Transform Negative Thoughts into Positive Thoughts!- Bergen County, NJ

By: Michelle Dierna

“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind.”

-William James

 Life can consists of day to day challenges that most people can’t control. However, one thing we can control is how to adjust and alter our mind. While reading this one might think; well how am I supposed to adjust my mind to think positively, when I can’t control the negative feelings that come first? Some might say well, I don’t have this issue I wake up and I feel grateful and look forward to the day and tasks ahead. The people who positivethoughtswake up with negative thoughts tend to try and justify them, from observation. For example; “It’s raining today so it’s going to be horrible day at work” or “my mom said I was not allowed to use the internet all day today because I am being punished, so today is going to be the worst day ever at school!”. When negative thoughts control someone’s mind to this extent the individual automatically unconsciously starts their day with a negative attitude. They already have pre-conceived notions on of how their day is going to play out. This negative attitude may be caused by anxiety, depression, family issues, stress, and external factors.

A significant, thought to keep in mind is; not everything in life is black and white. Thus, “all or nothing” approaches are detrimental to our mental health. “Well if lose my job I will lose everything, it will be so hard to find another job and it’s not fair” – this correlates with negative thinking. Hypothetically inserting the “grey” in this context; is almost like a silver lining when it comes to positive thoughts. This could lead to potentially giving anyone a new outlook on the options they actually have and can control. Thus, change negative thinking into positive thinking. Life is ever changing; therefore, to lead an emotionally healthy life we need to have balanced emotions, even when life takes us on emotional roller coaster rides when we least expect it.

There are a few tips on how to switch negative thinking to positive thinking; No one is alone! When you change negative thoughts to positive thoughts it can lead to a more fulfilling life and a more positive perspective on your lifestyle, which hopefully leads to lifestyle changes. Here are some words of advice to change the” black and white” mentality and dive into the grey areas! It will help you have a more positive way of facing issues on a daily basis; which reduces the negative thoughts and produces positive thoughts.

Some tips:

* Try not to use words such as always, never, impossible, flawless and dreadful because all these words leave no room for flexibility. Words that have more room for explanation lead to balance.

 Some examples of negative thinking turned around:

• “I can be an intelligent person and still do something stupid.”

• “There are parts of my life I enjoy and there are parts of my life that create stress.”

• “My children bring me joy and they sometimes drive me crazy.”

• “I can love my wife, and still be angry with her sometimes.”

*“The most important word in each sentence is and. The word and suggests a balance, it paints a shade of gray in our lives.”

It is important to realize when negative/toxic thoughts come into your mind and have the ability to be aware and dive into those grey areas and change the thought patterns; before they ruin your day, week and months! Stay open- minded and explore the other options your mind can dwell on, this is what will enhance your overall mental health. Always look for the positive, sometimes it will be hard to find but the silver lining but it is there. Mind over matter!

If negative thoughts are controlling your life, therapy may help.  Feel free to contact the Bergen County, New Jersey or Manhattan offices of Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy at (201) 368-3700or (212) 722-1920.  Visit www.acentertherapy.com for more information.

Sources:

1. Blackwill, Alex. “10 Steps for Transforming Negative Thoughts into Positive Beliefs.” The BridgeMaker 10 Steps for Transforming Negative Thoughts into Positive Beliefs Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2008.thebridgemaker.com/10-steps-for-transforming-negative-thoughts-into-positive-beliefs/

2. Bundrant, M. (2014). How I Turned My Miserable Life Around. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 16, 2014. blogs.psychcentral.com/nlp/2014/05/how-i-turned-my-miserable-life-around/