Flying of Flying: There’s An App for That?

I was recently interviewed by the online publication, Mic. The writer let me know she had some questions about flying anxieties. I answered her questions, felt a little anxiety of my own (flying is NOT my fav), and then forgot about it. I recently read her completed article, and it kind of blew me away.

In the article, the writer describes using a new app aimed at helping folks manage their flying phobias and fears – in REAL time. As in, in the air. I was intrigued for several reasons:

  • I have some flying fears of my own
  • She used the app instead of the usual medications she needs to manage her anxieties
  • I think we are glimpsing the future of technology and health care

Here’s a bit about the app:

For the most part it seemed like the app was pretty cool, and actually helpful. Other than this:

Hmmm, that part didn’t sound so great. So, I had this to say:

So, not a perfect fix for flying fear, but a start anyway. Happy flying!

Standardized Tests – How to Help Kids Cope With the Pressure

Are standardized tests in the news in your community?  It seems to be what everyone is talking about around here.  Federal and state-mandated standardized tests are given to almost all students in grades K-12 in the spring, as far as I can understand.  I am not an expert in primary education, standardized testing or curriculum development so I can’t speak about the tests from that angle.  But, I am an expert in anxiety and parenting and have a few thoughts about how testing affects those sorts of things.

I have watched standardized testing season come and go (as a psychologist and mom) for over a decade now.  And here’s the thing: they cause A LOT of anxiety, worry and nervous feelings all the way around.  In parents, in students, in teachers in administrators – probably bus drivers and custodians too – everyone’s feeling the tension.  It’s almost impossible to escape.

Here are some ideas for managing the testing season in your home:

  • Keep your routine normal.  Kids thrive on routine.  Chances are their school days will look a little different during testing season (different class schedules, dismissal times, etc) so it becomes even more important that routines remain the same at home.  Try to keep normal bedtimes, mealtimes and activities going on as usual.
  • Resist the urge to talk about testing.  Your kids – whether in 1st or 11th grade – have likely been hearing about their standardized tests for weeks as teachers prepare them for what to expect.  When they get home they might need a break from all the hype.  A simple: “How did the test go today?” is likely all you need to ask about it.  Grilling our kids, ranting about the philosophical flaws of their school system or putting extra pressure on them to perform academically is rarely helpful.  Keep it light and give them a break.
  • Teach stress management skills.  Life is full of stressors.  Mastering a couple stress management strategies in childhood can be a wonderful thing.  If your child is a little stressed on test days, consider using the opportunity to teach him some basic stress management strategies: Take deep breaths; visual a soothing, restful place; Go on a bike ride or walk.

The vast majority of kids (and parents!) make it through testing season just fine and chances are you (and I!) will, too.  If you are concerned that your child’s worry seems more intense than normal, or it doesn’t resolve after the tests are over, you might consider meeting with a psychologist.  Read more about whether therapy is needed here.

*This post first published March 2015*

More Thoughts About Stress

Photo credit: Daily Burn

For all the information out there about stress management (and on this site alone!), you would think we would all be experts at it by now. But sadly all of us (yes, even psychologists) struggle to manage stress effectively at times. Or most of the time. Or everyday.

Anyway, I recently spoke to the folks over the Daily Burn about stress, how it affects our bodies and how to manage it effectively (and not so effectively).

Here are a couple of tips:

and

To read the entire article, including how small amounts of stress affect our bodies, check out the entire article:

Tax Time Stress

Only about a week and a half remains until Tax Day.  A time of universal stress.

Will I have to pay?

Do I have all the documents I need?

Will I get enough of a refund to pay off my debts?

Will I be able to get my return filed before the deadline?

These are some of the more immediate stressors around this time of year.  But tax season can also bring up larger financial worries that plague a huge percentage of Americans.

Do I have enough saved for retirement?

Am I spending too much each year?

Are my partner and I on the same page in terms of financial goals?

A few years ago I spoke with Live Science about how to manage some of the stressors of tax time – and financial stress in general. Here’s a bit of the article:

Here’s the full article:

Do You Have News Fatigue?

Are you overwhelmed with the news?

Do you dread the constant news alerts popping up on your phone?

Are you sick of hearing about, talking about and thinking about what’s going on in Washington, DC and beyond?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you might be suffering from new fatigue. I know I am!  I recently got a chance to talk about why news fatigue happens – and more importantly – what to do about it! This segment aired on ScrippsTV channels across the country yesterday – including on our very own Denver Channel 7.

How Psychologists Deal With Stress

Back in the fall I spoke with the Huffington Post about anxiety surrounding the election.  Here’s a quote:

Like everyone else I thought that by now – a full three months after election day – politics would once again be in the background of our lives.  Obviously that hasn’t happened.  Instead, it seems like the stress and dissent has only increased.

Once again I spoke with the Huffington Post this week about how psychologists (no matter their personal politics) are managing with all the stress in the air.  Here’s my my tip:

I really like this..maybe I’ll give it a try this weekend:

 

How to Fight Stress By Learning to Skydive

Skydiving helps decrease stress? What?!

OK, so the title of this post is sort of misleading.  Skydiving by itself probably doesn’t lead to decreased stress (it certainly wouldn’t for me).  BUT, learning a new skill (like skydiving, for example) can be a great way to manage the everyday stressors of life.

I recently came across this article about learning new things:

A piece outlining how the author took up Irish dancing and gained all sorts of wonderful new insights about herself (she was better than she thought she might be, and she became more confident when it came to learning other new skills too).  And low and behold, look what else was in the article:

A quote from an article I wrote 6 years ago about trying new things and the benefits to mental health.

Even though it’s old news on this blog, I still do believe in the importance of learning new things; and putting ourselves in awkward,uncomfortable situations so that we can experience the success of coming out the other side.  As this time of year is gray, cold and generally nasty in most parts of the country this time of year – it can be the perfect opportunity to take skydiving Irish dancing crocheting lessons.

Managing Holiday Stress

We’re in the home stretch! The kids are out of school and the holidays are almost here. While this is an exciting, magical time for some; for others it can be quite stressful.  I recently had a chance to talk to my dear friend (who also happens to be a psychologist), Dr. Debbie Sorensen, about how to handle the busy-ness and  expense of the holidays.

Check it out:

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And I love the little cheat-sheet Dr. Sorensen made for the podcast episode:

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Interested in listening to more podcasts? Check it out here:

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Families and the Ties That Bind (Hint: None of them are political)

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There is a lot of tension in the country right now.  And we knew it was going to be this way, right? No matter the outcome of the election, there were always going to be many, many millions of folks who’d supported the losing side.  And after a full of year of debate, nastiness and name-calling in the political arena, more rancor post-November 8th was exactly what NONE of us needed.

And now here come the holidays.  A time that’s supposed to be shiny, bright and Pinterest-worthy – but is actually often stressful, disappointing and overwhelming.

I’ve been talking to quite a few folks in the media this week about tips for how to manage holiday gatherings with family members who are on different sides of the political debate.  A few things have come to my mind in these conversations, not the least of which is:

We don’t love our families (and our families don’t love us) because of our political views

The love shared between families is made up of many (in my mind, more interesting) reasons:

  • We share the same history – the history we can remember and the history that happened generations before we arrived
  • We have lots of shared memories – of things good, bad and in between
  • We root for the same football team, laugh at the same dumb movies, like the same weird food, etc
  • We have forgiven each other for mistakes and hurts big and small – and will continue to do so many more times in the years to come
  • We accept each other for what we really are: Not what we post on our Facebook page or send in our holiday cards
  • We sit with each other when we are sick, hold each other’s hands when we grieve and celebrate together when a milestone is reached

Feelings about the election and the coming administration are intense, but let’s all try to keep it in perspective.  Shared political beliefs rarely occur in families anyway, and this year is no different.  To expect agreement this holiday season will likely only result in frustration.  Instead try focusing on all the many things we do have in common and love about each other.  Pumpkin pie, anyone?

Coping With Election Stress

We’re getting close, folks. Just a month left until the election – and I think all of us are feeling the uptick of anxiety.  Sure, every election year carries its own stress and worries, but for many of us, this year’s presidential election feels particularly contentious/nasty/overwhelming.  Even those of us who try to stay out of the political fray are feeling it.

So what can we do to manage over the next few weeks? How do we stop ourselves from succumbing to political hype, leaving ulcers, tears and panic attacks in their wake?

Keep it in perspective.  Remember when people threatened to leave the country if Bush, Jr won? Remember the “No-Bama” stickers? The anti-Catholic/Kennedy sentiments? Presidential elections are often nasty, doom-and-gloom affairs.  There are ALWAYS people predicting the end of our country if so-and-so wins.  Thankfully, the U.S. has withstood all those prophesies.  No matter which side of the divide you’re on, chances are very high that we will survive no matter who our next president is.

Keep it local.  Many political and government experts tell us that it is our local elections that actually have the most impact on our day-to-day lives.  School bonds, town councils and other super-local issues can shape our lives in very tangible ways.  Keeping this in mind can help keep the importance (and non-stop coverage) of the national elections in perspective.  I.e., “My favorite presidential candidate may not win, but I feel great about the direction my city is taking.”

Keep in contained.  Mud-slinging and name-calling may have always been a part of presidential politics, but 24 hour coverage on TV, radio, print media and social media is new.  When I go online, sometimes I just want to hear about the most recent celebrity gossip.  Unfortunately for my mental health, I am often confronted with the newest, nastiest election news as well.  In other words: It’s hard to escape the coverage! In our hyper-connected world, keeping election news to a minimum may just mean turning off all media. Gulp.

Check out my other article about election stress”

Pre-Election Stress Disorder: Do You Have It?

Pre-Election Stress Disorder: Tips For Coping

…and because this too shall pass:

Post-Election Stress Disorder