Archives for posts with tag: stress

Often times, when we hear “home” for the holidays, we assume that we’re supposed to go back to our place of origin in order to celebrate the joy of the season. However, I see in my practice a frightening number of people experiencing emotional setbacks, anxiety, and increased feelings of depression surrounding the holidays- and much of these feelings have to do with implicit expectations of them around this time of year.

 

More and more people are starting to ask themselves what it is that they want. When I think about the moments I cherish most every holiday season- its not the rushing around from home to home, sitting in airport terminals, and listening to my 3rd cousin talk about her porcelain doll collection. It is spending time with those I value most, watching old black and white movies, and sipping something hot and minty.

 

This holiday season, ask yourself what it is that you want. Ask yourself who it is you want to be around, and what you want to be doing. What activities or events signal to your deepest self, your heart, your soul- that this is a special time of year?

 

When you take the time to ask yourself what it is you truly want and manifest that in your life- there is true peace on earth, and THAT is the greatest gift of all. Happy Holidays to you and yours.

 

 

 

 

Dr. Colleen Long (PSY23911) is the author of “Happiness in B.A.L.A.N.C.E,” and “Meditation Medication.” Dr. Colleen maintains a private practice in Hermosa Beach and works mainly from a positive psychology framework as it applies to addiction, depression, relationships, body image and weight loss. Her website can be found at www.DrColleenLong.com. For a free consultation please contact her at 1-800-593-2560

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“You can look at the world as mostly friendly, or mostly hostile – either way you’ll find evidence to support both.” – Albert Einstein

 

I love this quote. It encapsulates the power of perception. Shakespeare also seemed to agree in that he once said “life is neither heaven nor hell, but as one thinks it. ”  The flavor of our world depends so much on how we choose to view it.

 

One of the first assignments I give to my clients is the “what went well” exercise. This has been proven through research to boost one’s mood by focusing on three things that went well each day. However, many clients don’t see results soon enough and stop early, or just get too busy with life to take a few moments to smell the roses.

 

So here is another idea to stop and take notice of the things that have gone and are going really well in your life- pictures. Many of you have a personal computer by now. Most of you have your pictures on your computer. By going in to the settings tab and changing your screen saver to “slideshow,” and using the directory that holds your pictures- whenever you get a couple of free moments, your computer will start to remind you of all the things that are going really well in your life.

 

For those of you who have the iphone or ipad, FotoFrame Hub is an excellent application that imports all of your facebook photos, and turns your device into a digital photo frame.

 

To take it one step further, play some happy and meaningful music while viewing your slideshow of life. Some recommendations to get you started:

1) Israel Kamakawi’wole (spelling?) – Somewhere Over the Rainbow

2) Louis Armstrong – What a Wonderful World

3) Chris Botti/Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah

 

If you can find 10 minutes today, I think it’s worth your time, to bring a little gratitude and happiness back into perspective. Life’s too short to feel anything else.

 

Dr. Colleen Long (PSY23911) is the author of “Happiness in B.A.L.A.N.C.E,” and “Meditation Medication.”  Dr. Colleen maintains a private practice in Hermosa Beach and works mainly from a positive psychology framework as it applies to addiction, depression, relationships,  body image and weight loss. Her website can be found at www.DrColleenLong.com. For a free consultation please contact her at 1-800-593-2560

 

 

 

 

 

Yes it has been some time since I last posted on the Happiness Rx. The Happiness Doc just got licensed and is happier than ever! However I realized this morning, I’ve been focusing so much on building my practice that I’ve ironically neglected the whole reason I got into this field- helping YOU!

So back to the drawing board we go. The topic that seems to be most salient on my mind at the moment is toxicity- the arch- nemesis of one’s happiness. I got to thinking about how toxicity plays out in some of my clients’ lives. Sometimes it is through anger, gossip, judgement, resentment, or an unwillingness to forgive.

I recently heard someone say- “not forgiving someone for something they’ve done is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” I love that quote, and it is the basis of today’s blog.

When we engage in behaviors aimed at righting another’s wrong, controlling someone else, or getting “even,” – we actually do more harm to ourselves than anyone else. Have you ever stepped back and observed how you feel after a juicy gossip session, or after having the last word? Usually, it isn’t a good feeling, or if it is- it is mostly temporary, leaving us feeling worse than we did before.

We are biologically programmed to engage in most of our toxic thinking. For example, let’s look at the concept of judgement. If we weren’t able to judge, we’d never be able to learn that lions like eating us and exactly how far away they are from us across the plains thousands of years ago. However, our evolutionary pre-programming is no longer working for us. We are not facing the same challenges we faced thousands of years ago. Yet we are still riddled with the angst and negativity our judgmental minds result in.

Our minds give us the sense that judging someone else, becoming self-righteous, cheating someone else, having the upper hand, or getting angry is somehow going to feel good. Yet if we can become the observer of the mind, increase our emotional intelligence, and realize how toxic these actions are to our happiness- we can slowly, over time, plant the seeds of true peace and contentment.

I truly do believe that there is a karmic reaction in our universe. If we put out bad things (even if no one is looking) we will get bad things. Conversely, if we do good- we get good. I have seen this spiritual principle work in my life, as well as my clients.

Today, try to be mindful of all the openings for toxicity to come into your life, and practice doing opposite action. If you are pulled into an office gossip pool, resist the temptation to lazily-bond and remove yourself from the room. If you see a deliciously evil quip on facebook, hide it and post something kind and inspirational to your followers. If your significant other pushes a button, resist trying to get in that witty comeback, and do something nice for them. You will be awestruck at how your mood starts to elevate and your life begins to transform.

Dr. Colleen Long (PSY23911) is the author of “Happiness in B.A.L.A.N.C.E,” and “Meditation Medication.”  Dr. Long works mainly from a positive psychology framework as it applies to addiction, depression, relationships,  body image and weight loss. Her website can be found at www.DrColleenLong.com. For a free consultation please contact her at 1-800-593-2560

It’s been a while since posting on the Happiness Rx. In the past few months, I successfully took the licensure exam, got licensed as a psychologist and signed a full time contract with oBand- the surgery center I did my internship with for the last year!

 

Yet, I am still maintaining a small private practice one day a week and think about those of you who I no longer see…especially around this time of year.

 

If you have been out of the loop (like me) for a while, this blog’s for you 🙂

 

It seems, as we get older, the holidays bring a mixed bag of feelings for all of us. I see an influx of new clients coming into therapy, realizing for maybe the first time, that they don’t want the holidays next year, to be like the one currently. I also, unfortunately, start seeing less of some of my long-time clients. The holidays tend to strain many financially. They also require us to travel for miles and miles, catching up with loved ones, and just generally catching up on all of the normal to-do’s along with our holiday shopping.

So even if you can’t get back into therapy for a while- use this moment to evaluate if you are truly having a “Happy Holiday.” Here are some things to think about:

– Are you making travel plans to appease everyone else, or are you pleasing yourself?

– Are you spending quality time with your loved ones, or spending too much money trying to make sure you get everyone the perfect gift?

– Often this time of year brings up old family dynamics, what are you better able to notice as a result of your own personal work? How do you respond vs. react?

– During this time of year, its quite normal to yearn to recapture that sense of innocence and hopefulness we once possessed as children. What obstacles are getting in your way from being happy today? Are there old scripts and stories you are allowing in?

– They say “tis better to give than to receive,” …Are you spending some extra time this holiday season thinking about how you might make someone else’s holiday a bit brighter. This is one of the most effective ways to lifting stress and anxiety. Here’s a link to start –> Volunteer in Los Angeles

I hope every single one of you have a moment of utter and complete bliss this holiday season, where you feel loved, loving, and warm. You make my work (and my entire life) blessed and full every time I feel I am able to provide you with help, and that is what I am truly grateful for this holiday season.

 

Thank you, Colleen

 

 

 

 

Dr. Colleen Long (PSY23911) is a licensed clinical psychologist and the author of “Happiness in B.A.L.A.N.C.E.” She practices in Beverly Hills . Dr. Long works mainly from a positive psychology framework as it applies to addiction, depression, relationships,  body image and weight loss. Her website can be found at www.DrColleenLong.com. All public speaking/media event requests handled through FreudTV (info@FreudTV.com).

I find it ironic that I am writing about how to do less work on the week of Labor Day, yet this week- something had to give. Finally, in the age of accessibility- I became too accessible, and the noise level got too high. I found myself rescheduling with a client via phone, texting my supervisor my weekly report, all while responding to a request from a new client via email. This was on a Saturday.

I realized, I can’t ask you to be in the present moment if I can’t even be present on the weekends. So in keeping with my own integrity as a therapist (and person), I thought today’s post might be a helpful prompt to those struggling with their own personal “noise,” inspired by my own cacophony of electronic clatter…

Not too long ago, in the days of hypercolor and geometrically shaped accessories- we used to have to wait to get in to work before actually working. We did not have the “luxury” of checking our voicemail or emails until we were actually sitting at our desk in front of our commodore 64’s (as an aside, I was not doing much outside of helping Barbie find a date and playing Ducks Ahoy when I had a Commodore 64).

Nowadays, we don’t even have to go to work. We can send emails, texts, video chat, hold global conference calls- all from the comfort of our pj’s and papasans. We can send important documents, reschedule with a client, follow up on a voicemail- during the time it takes to switch sides of the volleyball court and start a new game. But are we still having fun?

Sometimes, we fool ourselves into thinking that we are getting more work done and having more fun, when we actually end up being more reactive, doing more work than we need to, and drowning out our fun in a flurried flood of electronic chatter. We become addicted to being accessible.

In a 200 person studyin Britain, Renaud and Ramsay found that people who are excessively reactive to email, are actually less productive then their less compulsive cohorts. They also found that more than a third checked their inbox every 15 minutes, while some were caught checking up to 40 times in one hour.

Maybe you have experienced this yourself. When someone asks to set up an important meeting, you immediately respond with dates and times…when maybe that meeting is unnecessary in the first place and the person was just reacting out of their own personal addiction to all things electronic. What if you waited a day to answer? Would the extremely important meeting soon become not so urgent?

What if you chose to only check your email once or twice a day? The same with voicemail? What if you separated your work from personal email addressses, so that your work emails weren’t immediately forwarded to you while you’re watching Letterman?

Some of us (myself once included) think the world would completely stop spinning on its axis if we somehow became less accessible. If we left work for 9-5, and home for home. You might get a taste of this if you have ever misplaced, or GASP– lost your phone.

Yet, how much better would you be if you let go? What would it be like to listen to that audio book you’ve been wanting to get to, notice your surroundings, or simply be  in the moment while driving home. What would it be like to actually be present with your family or loved ones when you’re with your family or loved ones? Would the quality of your life change for the better if you were able to truly shut off during your evenings and weekends?

So here’s what I am pledging to do, and maybe this can give you a few ideas of your own:

1) Creating a separate office line (this can be easily done on the cheap through services like RingCentral), and reserving my personal phone for exactly that- personal use.

2) Stopping my work email from forwarding to my home email

3) Adding a message to both email and voicemail, that they are checked once daily, so the person understands their message will be returned within one business day

4) Sending out a message to work contacts, clients, colleagues, etc about the new change (this is similar to letting those around you know you’re going on a diet, so you’re actually accountable 😉

What can you do today to begin trimming the fat in your own life?

Dr. Colleen Long is the author of “Happiness in B.A.L.A.N.C.E,” and practices in the Los Angeles area under the supervision of Dr. Richard Oelberger (PSY22186) . Dr. Long works mainly from a positive psychology framework as it applies to addiction, depression, relationships,  body image and weight loss. Her website can be found at www.DrColleenLong.com. All public speaking/media event requests handled through FreudTV (info@FreudTV.com).

The Italians have a concept for piddling around known as “La Dolce Far Niente,” which means- the sweetness of doing nothing. I learned about this concept while watching Elizabeth Gilbert’s masterpiece- Eat, Pray, Love, the other day. The scene is set in a barbershop in Rome. Julia and her new found friend are scarfing down napoleon’s while the men of Italy are educating them on the ways of the Italian.

As one of the male characters begins his diatribe about how Americans’ ideas of “relaxing,” are working themselves to the bone all week just so they can lay around in their pajamas on weekends, drink six packs of miller light, and watch other people live their lives on TV- he presents to the audience the concept of la dolce far niente, or the sweetness of doing nothing.

The character goes on to explain that Italians may wonder home after a few hours of working to take a little nap, they may be inspired by a nearby cafe and sit down to have a glass of wine, or they may just go home and make love to their wife. Although it may be a bit unrealistic for some of us to just cut out of our jobs in the middle of the day to go take a nap, the scene was still compelling.

The idea that “doing nothing,” is actually an event in and of itself. The idea that we no longer run on a treadmill of activity from getting the kids ready for school, to brushing our teeth, to conference calls, to picking up kids, fixing dinner, and bed- only to start over again. The idea that our actions day to day become influenced by our instincts and no longer by routines, shoulds, and musts.

Thoreau spoke of this in Walden when he said, “When I go out of the house for a walk, uncertain as yet whither I will bend my steps, and submit myself to my instinct to decide for me, I find, strange and whimsical as it may seem, that I finally and inevitably settle south-west, toward some particular wood or meadow or deserted pasture or hill in that direction.”

How different would your quality of life be if you made time throughout the day to experience la dolce far niente? Instead of using your free moments to catch up on what housewife bought what SUV on HULU, instead of checking your email one last time to see if anyone else is needing you to do something, instead of using your free time to check your bank accounts or pay that cell phone bill- What if you just did nothing?

Fighting that urge to just do, that puritan work ethic instilled in all of us at an early age, is just as much effort as going to the gym and doing the stair climber. Yet the results of our restraint are well worth the hassle.

The kind of relaxation we are looking for, we all yearn for- does not exist on the side of a volcano, in a rare flower, or on a desolate island far away. That kind of relaxation exists within each of us and is ours for the taking if we’re willing to put in the effort.

That kind of relaxation. The la dolce far niente. The sweetness of doing nothing and enjoying where we are in the present moment- is the greatest thanks we can give for the lives and blessing we have.

All the noise- the facebook, the reality TV, the latest and greatest no-one-can-get-in-there-without-calling-a-month-ahead restaurant…it all fades away when we can just do nothing. What surfaces is life- our feelings at the moment (whether it be grace or despair), our ego vanishes and our true self emerges.

What if instead of facebook, emailing, TiVo catching up, video gaming tonight- you just did nothing? What if instead of saving up 7 vacation days out of 365 to finally enjoy life, you spread those out in hours among each day? What if you didn’t look at Saturday/Sunday as your only day to cut loose and chill out?

Maybe you sit and read a book. Maybe you stare out the window or balcony and listen to your favorite musician. Maybe you learn how to whistle…meditate…stretch…lounge…or (gasp!) nap. What can you do today to begin doing nothing?

Dr. Colleen Long is the author of “Happiness in B.A.L.A.N.C.E,” and maintains a private practice in Hermosa Beach. Dr. Long works mainly from a positive psychology framework as it applies to addiction, depression, relationships,  body image, and weight loss. Her website can be found at www.DrColleenLong.com. To schedule an initial consultation, please call 1-800-593-2560, or for video sessions- sign up at www.breakthrough.com

 

I’ve had a stressful week. Let me rephrase- I’ve had an enormously stressful week. If there was something that could go wrong, it seemed like it did. As a result, my whole energy was transformed. I noticed my jaw being clenched for most of the day, waking up intermittently in the middle of the night, as well as just generally being irritable with anyone that crossed my path.

I began to reflect on you. If you’re reading this, you are probably my client, or a former client of mine. It’s likely that you came in to session during an extremely stressful week and heard me give you an assignment. You probably thought, “oh brilliant, just another stressor to add to my life!”

However, these tools that I give you each work are tools I truly believe in. The purpose in today’s writing is to let you know that I practice what I preach. I sat down and meditated on my happiness card. Although, I felt rushed, stretched, and exhausted- I took about 20 minutes out of my day, one morning, to really think about the things I am grateful for in my life. You know what? It worked. How about that?

Many of us have heard the research-supported benefits of developing and maintaining a gratuity journal, or what I call “a happiness card.” Yet, how often do we actually take the time to do this? It never ceases to amaze me how much time most of us spend on things that contribute to our own stress and anxiety and how little time we actually spend on the things we know lead to fulfillment.

Could you take 20 minutes out of the day to create your own unique happiness card? Happier.com has actually created an app for that, as well. What things are you truly grateful for? Palm trees? Your best friend? Your relationship with your partner? Your new walking shoes? Start today by focusing on what’s right in your life and observe how differently you begin to feel.

And if you don’t feel good after that- just watch this clip: This girl may just run me out of business…

Dr. Colleen Long is the author of “Happiness in B.A.L.A.N.C.E,” and practices in the Los Angeles area under the supervision of Dr. Richard Oelberger (PSY22186) . Dr. Long works mainly from a positive psychology framework as it applies to addiction, depression, relationships,  body image and weight loss. Her website can be found at www.DrColleenLong.com. All public speaking/media event requests handled through FreudTV (info@FreudTV.com).