Avoiding Affairs: Tips for Keeping Your Pants On

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The other day I read this OUTSTANDING article on how to avoid affairs by a super couples and family psychologist, Dr. David Palmiter.  I have never seen an article like it! I love his candor and forthright advice on avoiding affairs.  Seriously, it is worth checking out.

Among his 10 tips, I especially liked the following:

Tip #2: “Throw water on the spark. If you start feeling titillation towards another person do something to kill that. Putting some distance between you is always a good idea (e.g., stop having contact, make sure you are never alone together, don’t complain about your spouse to this person or encourage the same from him or her, avoid mixing contact with substance use).” 

I love this! So simple to say, hard to do in some cases, but right on the money in terms of affair avoidance advice.  Sometimes the most simple actions are the more effective.

Tip #8: “Reflect on what the pain from divorce is like.  Engaging an affair significantly increases the likelihood of a divorce and few human experiences are more stressful or painful than that.”

Divorce is unavoidable at times, avoidable at others – but the subsequent pain is always there.  Particularly when children are involved.  Best to think twice, three times, then over and over again before starting an affair.

And my favorite, Tip #1: “Be humble. Realize that an affair can happen to anybody.”

Nobody gets married thinking they will have affairs and get divorced, yet it happens everyday.  Not taking our partners and our relationships for granted is something for all of us to keep in mind.

To read the rest of Dr. Palmiter’s tips for avoiding affairs, check out his Blog for Hectic Parents.


Why Your Best Friend Can’t Be Your Psychologist

I think I might be inadvertently starting the Dr. Deb fan club.  After reviewing her superb book and interviewing her for a post earlier in the week, I came across this article.  She wrote What to Expect in Psychotherapy for Psychology Today’s blog.  It is seriously THE BEST article I have seen about psychotherapy in a long time – maybe ever.

In her article she writes about the differences between a psychotherapist and a friend (hint: it’s not just the money).  She also highlights the often-forgotten point that participating in therapy can often make you feel worse, not better – at least in the short term.  She also writes about the HARD WORK it takes to be a successful psychotherapy patient, meaning one who is able to achieve the change they seek in their lives.

Sometimes folks seek therapy thinking that their therapist will give them answers, tell them what to do, and be the best friend they may or may not already have.  Dr. Deb reminds us that this isn’t true. Psychologists are well-trained health care providers – “Olympic medal listeners” she calls us.  Therapy can be a long, arduous process.  In fact, we may not always want to go to our psychotherapy appointments (much like we don’t always want to go to the gym, or visit the dentist), but in the end – if we are committed to the process – our health improves as a result.

New York Times: What Brand Is Your Therapist?

This article came out in yesterday’s New York Times.  In it the author, Lori Gottlieb writes about some changes and innovations in the field of psychotherapy.  I was lucky enough to be interviewed for the article and have a quote in the middle of the article.  Check it out here.  I am still working on writing up my thoughts about the ideas presented in the article.  Hint: I’m not sure I agree with Ms. Gottlieb’s conclusions.  Stay tuned!

New York Times: 11/25/2012

Pre-Election Stress Disorder: Tips for Coping

The other day, I wrote an article about Pre-Election Stress Disorder, in which I described the symptoms and signs of the diagnosis*.   While not a real psychiatric disorder, stress, worry, and anxiety around election day are very real.   The constant ads, news, and other messages may be exciting for some, but for others it can all become too much.  If you have symptoms of PESD, don’t worry – there are things you can do to cope over the next two weeks of political bombardment – and they don’t include moving to another country!  Some tips:

Turn it off.  Remember the good old days when the news was only on TV a couple of times a day and the newspapers were read just once in the morning? While our constant access to “breaking news” – via TV, internet, Facebook, etc – can be interesting, it certainly doesn’t do much for one’s level of anxiety.  News outlets would have us believe that in order to be an informed citizen, we need to check in several times per day, however, this is rarely the case.  Even in our fast-paced world, news doesn’t typically happen at break-neck speed.  With that in mind, it can be beneficial to have a set time to get the election (and other) updates once or twice per day.  Other than that, keep the TV, websites, newspapers turned off.

Remember what’s important.  Not to say that national politics are not important, but keep in mind that they do not transcend all of the other things in your life and/or community.  Maintaining your health, relationships, professional life and hobbies are all important – don’t abandon them or forget about the real, day-to-day influence they have on your life.  Keeping in mind all the things that make your life your own, can help in remembering that the presidential election – no matter the outcome – is just one small piece of the puzzle that makes up your life.

Do what you can, leave behind what you can’t.  Here are some things we can do to affect change in our political system:

  • vote
  • work with a political campaign by knocking on doors, putting up yard signs, raising money
  • donate money
  • attend caucuses, rallies, etc
  • write to elected officials, visit their offices, etc
  • run for political office ourselves

Here are some things that do not affect change in our political system:

  • watch and read election/political coverage for hours each day
  • agonize over the fate of the election
  • threaten to move to another country if the election doesn’t go our way
  • give more weight to the election than it is due
  • fight and argue over who is right and who is wrong

Good luck managing over the next couple of weeks!

*Disclaimer: I made up Pre-Election Stress Disorder – it is not a real psychiatric diagnosis.  However, the stress, worry, and anxiety that folks feel around this time every 4 years is very real.  If worry and anxiety about this (or other) issues are negatively affecting you, please contact your health care provider.

Stressed? Take a Hike!

Last spring I was interviewed for this article in the Yuma Sun. I have to be honest, I never would have thought of starting a nature club with my family had the reporter, Chris McDaniel, given me the idea.  After reading the article and the ideas provided, I think it sounds like a lot of fun!  Here’s a quote:

“Sometimes we as parents think that we need to spend lots of money or drive long distances to find things our kids will think are fun. This is rarely the case. Most kids just like to spend time with their parents doing something together. This can be a simple walk around the block, or an exploration trip at the nearest park.”

I gave this quote in the spring, but it seems particularly pertinent this time of year with the holidays – and all the craziness that accompanies them – right around the corner.  Just last night I started to feel a little hint of holiday stress when I caught a glimpse of a kids clothing catalog and started summing up the cash for three coordinating outfits for my kids.  I think I might be taking my own advice today and ditch the expensive things we don’t really need, and head out for a walk in the fall leaves instead.

Yuma Sun April 2012

Psychotherapy: It Works

Full-disclosure: I work closely with the American Psychological Association (APA) as the Public Education Coordinator for Colorado, and in other capacities.  I think they are generally a great organization which does important work for psychologists AND the public.  APA works for mental health treatment, and stands up for the rights of psychologists in the US (and Canada, actually).  As awesome as I think the organization is, it rarely has a sense of humor.  So imagine my delight when I watched this new video.  Funny, a bit irreverent, and right on the money in terms of psychotherapy vs. meds – it is worth a minute of your time.

Do Your Friends Add Up?

Photo by NBC

A friend of mine was recently telling me about a tough time she had been having for the last several months. She told me about her stressors with some health issues, some financial concerns she and her partner were having, and the annoyance she was feeling about her poorly-behaved dog.  After she explained all these ailments, she noted that as bad as those were, her “friends” were even worse.

“You wouldn’t believe how they drain me!” she said.  “I realized that far too many of my friends take and take from me, and I never get anything back!”  She explained that on her journey back towards mental health, she forced herself to take stock of her relationships, assigning each person a point value. Negative values were assigned to those who made her feel bad, unhappy, or poorly about herself.  Positive values were assigned to those who helped her feel more like the person she wanted to be (kind, strong, loving, intelligent).

Now, it may sound a little harsh, scoring your friends on what they add or subtract from your life, but I love her idea.  Too often we hang onto relationships we wish would be better, hope would be closer, or feel desperate to change.  And I’m not just talking about romantic relationships – more often these are friendships with old high school friends, a neighbor, or a parent of a child’s friend.

No relationship is perfect, but one that drains for a long period of time can be downright damaging.  Maybe it’s time to take stock of the people in your life and see how they add up?

Mental Health’s Little Known Secrets

Mental Health Blog Party
In honor of Mental Health Month and the American Psychological Association’s Blog Party, I thought I would share some little-known areas of life affected by mental health.  These are also areas and topics in which psychologists often help their clients.  Perhaps you, or someone you know might benefit from seeking the services of a psychologist for one of the following:

  • Bullying.  Bullying happens for lots of reasons: anger, sadness, or feeling out of place.  Mental health concerns are not always the reasons a child (or adult) bullies, but they certainly can be.  And mental health can be negatively affected when one is bullied.  Psychologists can help kids, families, school, and communities prevent and cope with bullying.
  • Managing chronic disease. Managing chronic diseases like diabetes, and coping with chronic pain is tough no matter who you are.  If you are suffering from depression, anxiety, or another mental illness, it can make the process even more difficult.  Psychologists can help these folks learn to manage their mood and anxiety, as well as adjust to their medical condition.
  • Financial stability. Sometimes overspending is just overspending.  Sometimes, however, it can be the result of a larger issue with setting limits, delaying gratification, and even overall unhappiness with life.  If you’ve tried sticking to a budget and it just isn’t working, a psychologist may be able to help you understand why adopting new financial behaviors is so difficult – and then assist you in making changes that work.
  • Improving your tennis game. Concentration, focus, physical performance, motivation – anxiety can wreak havoc on our performance.  Thanks to the publicity given to sports psychologists by athletes like Ron Artest, more and more people are understanding the positive impact psychologists can have on performance (whether it be athletic, musical, etc).
  • Coping with divorce. We all know divorce is hard, even in the best circumstances.  But did you know that psychologists (together with other professionals) can help couples divorce with dignity through a process called collaborative divorce?  Something to look into.


CREATE Mental Health Week – Edible Sugar Flowers

This is a guest post in the series CREATE Mental Health. All week we will be exploring how different people use creativity to create and maintain mental health. Today’s post is by Rachael Teufel. Rachael is the owner of Intricate Icings, a cake design studio in Erie, CO.  Perhaps you’ve seen Rachael’s work on the Food Network’s Cake Challenge. Welcome, Rachael (and thanks for letting me eat the samples shown here – DELICIOUS!!)

Sugar has always been my stress reliever. Well making art with sugar that is, although I have been known to eat sugar in times of stress as well (not quite as healthy for you though). So I thought I’d share an easy way to make your cupcakes super cute in a quick and easy fashion, while hopefully releasing a little stress.

First bake some cupcakes and ice them with your favorite buttercream. If you’re not so much into the baking thing, it’s okay just buy some premade cupcakes and top them with your own edible flowers.

Here are the things you will need:

  • Flower shaped cookie cutters and a small round cutter or piping tip
  • A rolling pin
  • 2 colors of Fondant or modeling chocolate (Fondant can be found at your local craft store)
  • Paint brush
  • Water (in very small amounts!)

First start by rolling out one color of fondant on a smooth work surface lightly dusted with powdered sugar. You’ll want to roll the fondant as thin as you can, about 1/8 inch thick. Using your cookie cutters, cut out a large and a small blossom. Apply a small dab of water to the center of the blossom and using the tip of your finger; securely attach the small blossom to the center. Repeat this process until you have the desired number of flowers. You can cut multiple flowers at one time, just be sure to work quickly as fondant does dry out fairly fast.

Roll out your second color of fondant and using your piping tip or small round cutter, cut out the centers of your flowers. Apply a small dab of water to the center of the blossom and using the tip of your finger or the end of a paint brush; securely attach the center to the blossom. Then transfer your beautiful flower to the top of the iced cupcake and serve.

This most certainly is a very basic flower, but be creative and you can find other fun ways to embellish them. For instance… use a textured mat to imprint a design on the fondant before cutting out the blossoms. You can use a paint brush and gel food color to paint designs on the petals. Or you can form a lady bug, bumble bee or butterfly out of fondant and place them on the flower. The options are endless. Whatever you choose, just remember to have fun!

CREATE Mental Health Week – Healthy Garden, Healthy Food, Healthy People

This is a guest post in the series CREATE Mental Health.  All week we will be exploring how different people use creativity to create and maintain mental health.  Today’s post is by Dr. Kaycie Rosen.  Dr. Rosen is a Naturopathic Doctor and also the owner of Golden Naturopathic Clinic in Golden, CO.  Welcome Dr. Rosen!

Dr. Kaycie Rosen with a bowl full of delicious tomatoes. Good for the body and the soul!

It’s springtime again and my yearly obsession is in full swing: tomatoes!  Every year for the past 10 years sometime in the middle of February I notice a warm breeze in the air and start dreaming. I dream of ripe, warm, luscious, juicy tomatoes picked right off the vine, sliced, drizzled with some good olive oil and a touch of sea salt.  My alternate dream is of fresh, toasted sourdough bread, crunchy thick-cut bacon, a light smear of mayo, a fresh lettuce leaf, and thick juicy slices of a giant tomato from my backyard.

The sprouts emerge!

This year the process is particularly special.  We just rebuilt our backyard and put in several new garden beds; we have been watching workmen transform a bit of the open mountain behind our house into a home for all our delicious dreams.  We’re putting in fruits, vegetables and herbs, hopefully enough to substitute for the farm share we used to get weekly.  Right now our garden is all anticipation, and for me is the fruition of many years of “halfway” gardening in various combinations of limited space, poor soil, pots only, unfavorable climates, or limited time.  This year, we are fully committed.

Gardening for me is an invaluable asset to my mental health for several reasons.  First and foremost, I love good food.  Fresh, flavorful produce is one of my greatest passions in life, and the best way to get it is to grow it myself.  I love to cook and to feed healthy, delicious meals to my family, and gardening helps me do just that.  Secondly, I love plants.  As a Naturopathic doctor and herbalist, I use plants as medicine, but even more than that, there is something amazing about getting to know the intricacies of how mother nature works.  Each plant has its own ideal soil conditions, watering needs, and interactions with other living beings from soil microbes to the animals who consume it.  For me to learn about and understand plants helps me feel more connected to the planet and to my spirit because it helps me understand how interconnected every living being on the planet is.  Finally, gardening gets me outside, breathing fresh air, moving my body and getting my mind off of things.  Somehow, fiddling around with the vegetables helps me lose track of time and lets the stress melt away.

Getting ready to be transplanted!

But back to February.  One of the most satisfying parts of gardening is that if you follow the process, you reap great rewards at the end.  In February, I buy my seeds and starting medium, resurrect the seedling trays from the garage, and start counting down the days to planting.  Mid-March, seeds go in, trays go under the grow light, and the watering and watching begins.  5 or 6 days later, we have sprouts, a couple weeks after that I transplant sprouts, a few weeks later transplant again, and a couple weeks after that we start hardening off so our baby tomatoes get used to living in the outdoors. Mid-May my tomatoes finally get to go to their home in the ground, and from there it’s just pruning, watering, and finally in August my BLT dreams come true!  I’m excited about all the food we’re growing, but there’s just something about tomatoes that feeds the soul.