Category: Uncategorized

Stress and Your Heart: You Don’t Want This For Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Hope you’ve said that to those you love and care about and they’ve said it back to you. It’s really good to know you have social support to surround, love, nurture, and have your back when stressors come your way.  Just knowing you have that social support, whether it’s close or far away, is one of the many ways you can keep the negative stress wolves from your door.

And even though Wear Red Day was February 7, to help your get even more benefit from having a strong support system, it’s time to think about how negative stress can affect your heart.

Think about it, when you’re at work and your boss imposes a new deadline or your 17 year-old again tells you, “you just don’t understand”, or someone cuts you off in traffic and barely misses hitting you, your stress response is probably gonna kick in.

What’s happening to your heart then?

As soon as you add your own meaning to any of the situations above, your breath quickens, epinephrine helps dilate your bronchial tubes in your lungs, cortisol ramps up, your blood gets thicker because the epinephrine releases fibrinogen to help clotting, and your blood pressure rises. Some blood vessels open up, but hey, the ones returning to your heart-they constrict. Yes, that means your blood is crashing back into your heart like water hitting the levees in New Awlins during Katrina-and look what happened to them.

And since the culture in which we live encourages a chronically activated stress response, the wear and tear on the heart can contribute to developing devastating consequences, like hypertension, heart attack, arrhythmias, damaging artery walls, and plaque buildup to name a few.

So today, if you haven’t already, reach out, spread the love and allow it to return back to you. Your heart and your health in general, and yes, this includes your emotional and spiritual health, will thank you for it.

As always, I love helping women live happier lives. Whether you call it depression, anxiety, stress, or nerves, I’d like to help. I invite you to call me at 512.680.2874 for your free 15-minute phone consultation. Let’s discuss how I may be able to help.

And remember, TBC is completely online now, offering video therapy and coaching, which frees up your time so you can enjoy your life more!

Looking forward to hearing your story and helping you feel better,

Dr. B.

 

 

2020-The Year of Intentions and Choices

To start the year off, let’s choose one thing, yes, only one thing, to focus on. By choosing only one thing, you’re less likely to feel overwhelmed by January’s end and give up.

So, what could it be?

Choose one thing and it can be as simple as:

-Drink more water everyday day

-Smile at 5 or more people each day

-Save $20 each week

-Volunteer

-Read one book or more a month

-Park further and walk longer to get more steps in per day

You get the idea.

So choose only one thing and choose wisely,

As always, I love helping women lead happier, healthier, more resilient lives. Whether through individual therapy, coaching, customized programming, or free community presentations, I’m here to serve. When you’re ready, or even just a bit curious, give me a call-512.680.2874-let’s explore how I may be able to help. And since TBC now offers sessions online, connecting and working with me just got a whole lot easier.

Talk with you soon,

Dr. B.

 

What Are You Grateful For?

What a year! As we wind it down, all I can think of is gratitude-so many blessings in my life. I keep a gratitude journal that I try to update daily and will be starting a new one on January 1st.  This year, I’ve had a lot to be grateful for.

What about you?

Do you keep a gratitude journal? It might not seem important to do this, but being grateful and keeping a gratitude journal has many benefits. Here are 5 of them:

1. You may experience more empathy towards others, so you’re more likely to give someone the benefit of the doubt and not jump to conclusions about their behavior(s)

2. You’re more likely to feel happy. If you’re feeling depressed or a just a little down, gratitude can reduce some of your symptoms, which in turns allows you to feel a little (or a lot) happier

3. You may sleep better and longer and who doesn’t want or need that

4. You may feel more optimistic and have a lot more hope for your life (and the lives of those you care about)

5. You may experience a decrease in an elevated stress response. With this, you can begin to develop resilience-the belief and knowledge that you can effect positive change, that you are POWER-FULL, and you have or at least know where to go, to get the resources you need

So as we say good-bye to 2019, try acknowledging the good you have in your life instead of focusing on things you think you need and want, but don’t have.

As always, I love helping women lead happier, healthier, more resilient lives. Whether through individual therapy, coaching, customized programming, or free community presentations, I’m here to serve. When you’re ready or even just a little curious, give me a call-512.680.2874-let’s explore how I may be able to help. And since TBC now offers sessions online, connecting and working with me just got a whole lot easier.

Until next year,

Blessings to you and yours,

Dr. B.

Warning! Your Negative Thoughts Could Be Controlling Your Life.

I won the lottery last week!

Well, my winnings were $3.00.

At first I was happy, excited when I saw those numbers match-I hadn’t won anything literally in years. About 2 seconds later, I went headfirst into disappointment, sadness, anger, then grieving (yes, actual grief over this).

But then, because I’m me, I quickly became aware that I was starting to go down the pity potty road and so decided to take a major detour- I began to feel gratitude.

Why?

I was $3.00 richer than I was about 5 seconds ago.

The mind is like that with emotions to quickly follow. If you’re able to monitor, notice, and quickly transform the thoughts that don’t lead you to feel good about yourself and your life, depression, anxiety, imposter syndrome, and a host of other “ailments” can assault you.

For example, 2 of my thoughts were: D#&n, it’s only $3.00”, (a negative automatic thought) but I quickly countered that with a more truthful, reality bound thought, “Yippee, I won something”.

Which one do you think helped me feel better?

This month, as we begin to wind down the year with a lot of festivities, get-togethers, and good cheer, monitor your thoughts and where they’re taking you. Every day, ask yourself, how do you want to feel:

-Emotionally?

-Physically?

-Spiritually?

Decide this and it’ll tell you how to counter or transform any negative automatic thoughts you may have.

Last, depending on whom you read, we have about 50,000 (yikes!!!) thoughts a day and about 98% of those are the same ones we had yesterday. Monitor your thoughts and focus on those that propel you forward, instead of those that hold you back.

As always I love helping women lead healthier, happier lives. If you’d some support in doing this, call me at 512.680.2874 for your free consultation to see how I may be able to help. Remember, TBC is completely online now, which can free up some of your time to continue enjoying all the great things in life.

Talk with you soon,

Dr. B.

Ideas To Help You Stop Stress Eating At Work

(I was asked to reprise this article)

Does this sound familiar:

“I hate coming to work everyday. My boss is clueless and some of my co-workers are, well, they think they own the place. I don’t know what to do.  But I’m staring at this candy bar calling my name and I know I shouldn’t eat it. I don’t want to, but here it goes into my mouth. By the way, I’ve got 2 more in my desk drawer. Why is it always like this”?

This month let’s help you stress less at work so you don’t end up eating candy bars at your desk.

To get you started, what was going on before you pulled out the candy bar? Was it a situation where you weren’t the one in control, with someone else directing all the action? Or did someone say something to humiliate or chastise you?

Two, in either situation, did you take back control, stand up for yourself, or back down? I’m gonna bet you didn’t take back control and that you backed down. Am I right?

When you don’t stand your ground with firm boundaries, you can leave the office with footprints all over your back. You might feel unappreciated, disrespected, ignored, or manipulated. Add this to not having a sense of control, like too many time pressures or not being able to participate in any decision-making, and you’ve got a recipe for some serious work stress.

Both of these situations can set up, what Dr. Pamela Peeke calls, the “stew and chew” response.  Your stress response goes into overdrive, increasing your cortisol and adrenaline levels. The cortisol can lead to cravings for sweet, starchy, high fat foods. Research shows that about two-thirds of stressed out people will reach for food like that. Combining the cortisol with adrenaline gives you the fuel to help you run away from this source of stress.

But you don’t run away, you don’t do anything physical at all. You sit there, rehearse over and over in your mind what happened, swear it won’t happen again, and then, you down the candy bar, inhaling it so fast, you have no idea what it tastes like and you may not even really remember eating it. Plus you still don’t feel any better.

Then the same stress eating cycle repeats later in your day.

You need something to turn off and keep off this chronic response.

Next time, before that candy bar touches your lips, ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. What just happened? Identify the 5 W’s of the situation (who, what, when, where, why). You can even do this if you are ruminating about something in the past. Get very clear and specific on this.
  2. Do I have control over this situation? For example, if it’s a new time demand, maybe there’s room for negotiation. Or sometimes, you may have to say NO and mean it.
  3. What else can I do? Begin to brainstorm other ways you might handle the same or similar situation in the future. For example: be more assertive; do deep breathing; go for a walk or do some pushups (my personal favorite); or simply, don’t bring any more candy to work.

As always, I love helping women live happier, healthier lives. Whether you call it depression, anxiety, stress, or nerves, I’d like to help. I invite you to call me at 512.680.2874 for your free phone consultation. We can discuss if therapy or coaching could be what you’re looking for.

Looking forward to hearing your story and helping you feel better,

Dr. B.

Some Ideas On Why We Need To Laugh More Often

All good things…need a 2.0!

It’s August, it’s hot and I can’t take this heat. Time for a re-boot.

Re-boot in this case means a few things have changed at TBC. As of 7/31, the doors have closed and I’ve moved online, ready to serve more of you in a more convenient way.

I’m also taking a short break while I continue to get everything ready, so for this month, I want to reprise an article about laughter. With this heat, it may be hard to find something to laugh at but I’m doing my best to bring more belly laughs into my day to get through it all.

Some Ideas On Why We Need To Laugh More Often

Take a moment and think-when’s the last time you had a good laugh? Take your time. If you find it hard to remember, listen up.

I know it might sound cliché, but laughter really is great medicine to feed your soul and keep you on track.

Why? Laughter, whether it’s easy or deep in your belly, serves a great purpose. It immediately encourages a distance between a situation and your reaction to it. When you have that emotional distance, there’s less attention on you and the situation, so you might be able to see it and yourself a lot more clearly. It helps you gain perspective which in turn might allow you to come up with better ideas on how to handle a situation.

Besides reducing your stress hormones, what else does laughter do? It:

  • Stimulates your immune system (think Norman Cousins and Patch Adams)
  • Relaxes your muscles
  • Lowers your blood pressure
  • increases social bonding, keeping your relationships fresh and making them stronger

With all these great benefits, why aren’t more people laughing? Well, they may not know about the benefits. Also, the challenge is remembering to do it regularly. You have to make laughter important and create space for 
it. Another thing, even if you don’t laugh, according to Dr. Sonya Lyubormirsky, just the “expectation of laughter can increase beta-endorphins and human growth hormones’.

So, what can you do to laugh more? I’ve got a few ideas. 
Do what Norman Cousins did. He watched funny movies. I totally agree with his statement that

“laughter serves as a bulletproof vest that protects you against the ravages of negative thinking”. 

The spontaneous laughter you have when you watch funny movies can help you disconnect from your troubles.

If you teach or offer any kind of training, add levity to what you’re sharing. It not only benefits you but helps those attending gain a deeper, better grasp of the new information.

If you have small kids, release your inner child and join them playing on the swings (although it’s kinda hot now, so maybe find an inside place with a playset)

At family dinner or any time your family regularly gets together, create a new ritual of everyone sharing something funny or telling a new joke.

I love just about anything by Loretta LaRoche, for example: Life is Short, Wear Your Party Pants or Life is Not a Stress Rehearsal. I get them free at my local library.

My challenge to you this month is, everyday, make sure you get in at least 10 good belly laughs. Even if you have to put it on your schedule, make it important, and do it. And since laughter is contagious, you might create your own flashmob, make new friends, and just have a darn good time.

As always, I love empowering women to live happier, healthier lives. Whether you call it depression, anxiety, stress, or nerves, I’d like to help. I invite you to call me at 512.680.2874 for your free 15-minute phone consultation. Let’s discuss how I may be able to help.

Looking forward to hearing your story and helping you feel better,

Dr. B.

How Choosing One Thing (and One Thing Only) Can Have A Positive Domino Effect

It’s almost summer. To help me get through it I’m considering the options I have to stay cool and not lose my cool. Some of you have been sharing with me the many things you want to do to not lose your cool. Consider joining me this month as I suggest you choose one, yes only one, thing to do to achieve this. Focus on that and do it well-then the domino effect usually takes effect and several other aspects of your life seem to more easily fall into place.

Let’s choose one new health promoting behavior that we’ll practice regularly. And then let’s reward ourselves for sticking to it.

How Choosing One Thing (and One Thing Only) Can Have A Positive Domino Effect

When we say we want to see and experience positive changes in our lives, what are we really saying? Usually we’re saying we want a lot of changes and we want them yesterday. But is that really wise or beneficial? A person could become overwhelmed by too many changes such that it puts them back into the ‘stuck’ place they were before.

This month, if you’re considering any positive changes, choose one and one only to focus on. Select one that you can make specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and has a time span to it. Yes, I’m on my SMART soapbox again, but stick with me.

Do you know your one thing yet? Take a few moments and when you’re ready, read on.

Now that you have that SMART positive change in your mind, become more aware of how you’re feeling, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Feel free to do a body scan and then some deep breathing to help with this.

Example: Desired positive change: increase social connections

With this specific positive change in mind, you may already know someone or a few people you want to get to know better. Choose today to start reaching out, making plans to get together, and then actually getting together. In a world of e-communications, sometimes time is wasted with the back and forth of them.

Suggestion: old school phoning could work.

Yes, at first doing all the above may feel a little uncomfortable, but that’s what goals are for-to encourage us to move forward and accept the rug will be pulled from underneath us, but we keep on going knowing that we’re moving toward what we truly want. Looking back is not an option!

As this new behavior becomes second nature, now you’ve got double rewards; new friends, plus any thing you decide to treat yourself with to congratulate yourself for sticking with it.

Oh by the way, my one positive thing to keep me cool this summer:  a really wide-brimmed hat with SPF 50. I can wear it for gardening, with friends, while shopping or even when sitting on the deck watching the clouds go by. My reward: being able to enjoy more gorgeous sunsets at the end of a long day.

As always I love helping women live happier lives. Give me a call today at 512.680.2874 for your free 15 minute consultation. Or schedule a Calming ConversationTM for coaching at my website: brinkleycenter.com. Looking forward to talking with you.

I Want To Change AND I Don’t Want To Change

May is Mental Health Awareness Month so I thought I’d do something a little different.

SITUATION: You’ve been thinking about what you want for years and you’ve finally made the phone call, got the appointment, and have even been to several sessions-but you still feel the same. What could be going on?
 
This is very common and several things could be going on but for this month, I only want to talk about 2 possibilities. It’s something for you to consider if you’re seeing a mental health professional or are considering seeing one.

I Want To Change AND I Don’t Want To Change


Before I accept someone to work with, I ask do they have emotional energy, time, and the finances to support what they’re about to undertake. Engaging in therapy is NOT easy, it’s not a walk in the park where the clinician waves a magic wand over you and ‘poof’, life is shiny and brand new.
 
It takes serious work, a commitment of time, and emotional energy, and financial resources to take you from A to Z – and you have to do the work.
 
But maybe you don’t want to: Here are 2 possibilities using examples:
 
1. Perhaps you’re the type of person who worries. A lot. You’ve been worrying for years and you say, “I’m tired of all this worrying”. You go to some sessions but you’re feeling frustrated that you’re still worrying. And your mental health provider may be feeling a little frustrated too.
 
What could be going on?: It could be that a part of you believes your worrying actually serves a protective function, a purpose,  and if you don’t worry, a lot, something bad will truly happen. So you worry to keep the bad situations away. And you’re afraid to give up the worrying for what you fear will replace it – something bad. So right now you’ve got some good reasons to keep the anxiety going – the worrying keeps you or someone you love safe. 
 
Or perhaps this situation:
 
2. Someone else is worrying too and like the person above, says she wants positive change, but unlike above, she doesn’t want to do the work necessary to address her anxiety symptoms. Bottom line, she doesn’t want to do the work, like homework, truly engage in the sessions, or investigate where the symptoms could be coming from. Again frustration on both the client’s and the clinician’s part.
 
There’s nothing wrong with being in either state –it’s just where you are- but if you truly want that shift, you and the clinician will need to figure out what’s truly going on for you and that could allow you to make the shift you say you want. 
 
To your mental health!
 
As always, I love helping women live happier lives. Whether you call it depression, anxiety, stress, or nerves, I’d like to help. I invite you to call me at 512.680.2874 for your free 15-minute phone consultation. Let’s discuss how I may be able to help. If we decide to meet, I’ll have tea and chocolate waiting for you. 
Looking forward to hearing your story and helping you feel better, 

Dr. B. 

5 Easy Ideas For Change You Can See

Time to catch up as we continue into this new year. I’ve been working on making some positive changes I can see this year at TBC and I’ll slowly be unveiling them over the next several months.

If your intention for 2019 is to create more ‘change you can see’, then you’re in good company. For me, it’s the year of the Boar in the Chinese calendar-hence, it’s my year and I’ve decided to get as much out of it as I can. But no matter what your lunar sign is, I want to share 3 questions to keep you on track with your intentions so that this year, you can finally experience what you keep on telling me you want to experience. You might want to journal your answers as you settle down with a good cuppa in your favorite snug.

Ask yourself:
1. What would I like to see that’s different about situation X? Be very specific!

2. What will be the good things about changing my current behavior?/attitude?/way of thinking?/relationship(s)?

3. What will my life be like in 1 year (3 years?; 5 years?) from now if I change my current behavior?/attitude?/way of thinking?/relationship(s)?

Those 3 can get you started.

As an example, I’d like to share some of the highlights of one of the positive changes I’ve decided on for TBC this year.

1. Different: Not every professional woman wants, needs, or benefits from engaging in therapy. Plus, they may NOT have a psychiatric diagnosis-instead, they may just want to learn skills and strategies.  Therefore, offer them an alternative to therapy that still helps them break the stress-worry cycle so they can experience confidence and calm, even in chaos, and feel energized, resilient, and power FULL, all in a time sensitive manner. This is the Calm and Confident SystemTM; a one-month (accelerated) or 6-month program designed especially for professional and executive women…

2. Good things: Can strip what I do to share skills, wisdom, and practical information without all the therapy minutiae; can reach and work with women around the world; can work on-line which provides more time and location freedom…

3. In 1 year: Can help more women from around the world; more time and location freedom…

But to accomplish this, I’m all about action steps-yes I have to do the work to make this happen. To be blunt, the same goes for you if you want change you can see, you’ll have to do the work. Unfortunately far too many people ignore this step and rely on magical thinking.

That never works!

After you’ve answered the above 3 questions, you’ll need to start thinking about what you’ll need to do, to get what or who you want. What will you have to give up, stop doing, start doing, etc…? Answering these questions won’t be easy and you may not get the answer the first time through, but the benefits will be worth it; think of where you’ll be after you’ve put the positive changes into place.

For some of you the Calm and Confident SystemTMmight help accelerate you on your path to where you want to be. If you believe that could be you, schedule a 30-minute Calming ConversationTM with me. Can’t wait to talk with you!

As always, I love helping women live happier lives. Whether you call it depression, anxiety, stress, or nerves, I’d like to help. I invite you to call me at 512.680.2874 for your free 15-minute phone consultation (traditional therapy) or for your 30-minute Calming ConversationTM. Let’s discuss how I may be able to help. If we decide to work together, I’ll have tea and chocolate waiting for you. 

Loads of Respect!

Dr. B. 

Dr. B. is now an Ambassador for the National Register of Health Service Psychologists. If your site has psychology practicum students, psychology interns, or early career psychologists, call me to schedule a free presentation about the benefits of membership in the National Register. 

Don’t Let Stress Grinch Your Holiday Season

Wow, where has 2018 gone?

It’s holiday time again and you know what that means: unfortunately many people believe that this means everyone “should” be happy, “should” get along, “should” spend a lot of money, and “should” overeat. But do you really want to live a “shouldy” life? I don’t and you probably don’t either. To stop the “shoulds” from coming down your chimney, here are 10 easy ideas so that stress doesn’t grinch your holiday season.

Don’t Let Stress Grinch Your Holiday Season

1. Be in the moment. Enjoy and savor the conversations and interactions as they occur. If they don’t uplift you, take yourself out of them.

2. Say “NO”, mean it, and stick to it. This applies to people, events you don’t want to attend, or any thing that forces you to overspend or overextend yourself. Become a broken record if you have to.

3. Avoid regrets. Decide beforehand what you’d regret not doing or who you’d regret not seeing – then do that.

4. Decide how you want to feel. This means monitor and change thoughts that don’t encourage feeling good.

5. Create your own tradition(s). Just because your family always did things a certain way doesn’t mean you have to do the same.

6. Don’t allow others to “guilt-trip” you. If someone who has harmed you (in whatever way) in the past will be present, don’t allow others to tell you things like: “forget about it”;  “get over it”, “they didn’t mean it”, to try and force you to attend or interact with them. Refer back to # 2.

7. Get moving. Exercise helps you feel better, think more clearly, quiets your busy mind, gives you more energy, and staves off stress hormones. Invite others to join you for a walk or a pickup game.

8. Learn to delegate. You can’t do everything or please everyone. Share the responsibilities so you can have some enjoyable extra downtime.

9. Make yourself a priority. You have to fill your own well first, so you can be there for others who may need you. Keep close to your regular routine, like exercising, food plan, meditating, etc..,

10. Spend some quality time alone. Make sure you take care of your emotional and spiritual self by nurturing, loving, and being good to yourself.

As always, I love helping women live happier lives. Whether you call it depression, anxiety, stress, or nerves, I’d like to help. I invite you to call me at 512.680.2874 for your free 15-minute phone consultation. Let’s discuss how I may be able to help. If we decide to meet, I’ll have tea and chocolate waiting for you.

Looking forward to hearing your story and helping you feel better,

See you in 2019!

Dr. B.