“Today, even before I open my email, my blood pressure spikes thinking of all the requests, problems, and complaints I’m likely to find.” Jane Friedman receives a lot of emails from students, strangers, and aspiring writers — all asking for help and advice. But does she respond?
Originally posted on Be Inspired..!!: “There is a treasure house of power within the human mind.” You must use your conscious mind intentionally and take action to direct what your subconscious mind focuses on. You are the Captain, and your subconscious mind is the crew or team of workers deep within the hold of the…
Originally posted on Be Inspired..!!: Respect yourself and other will respect you ~ Confucius Respect starts with respect for self. A person who respects themselves is confident and has a positive attitude. When you feel good about yourself, it will in turn affect the way you treat other people. The above statement of Confucius means…
Hilton Als on photographer Diane Arbus’ uncanny ability to capture the humanity of her marginalized subjects.
Children. So pure. So naive. So funny. My son cracks me up, warms my heart. And gives me hope. Everyday, he is everything to me. As an only child he is a bit of a chatter-box and knows he’s front in center in our lives. That’s ok. He should feel secure. Now with all […]
If a fraught relationship might be significantly shortening your life, are you better off alone?
Stressful Relationships vs. Isolation: The Battle for Our Lives
By AMES HAMBLIN, MD
- Other family
A Danish health survey asked almost 10,000 people between ages 36 and 52 to answer, “always,” “often,” “sometimes,” “seldom,” or “never” for their applicable relationships.
Eleven years later, 422 of them were no longer living. That’s a typical number. What’s compelling, Rikke Lund and her colleagues at University of Copenhagen say, is that the people who answered “always” or “often” in any of these cases were two to three times more likely to be among the dead. (And the deaths were from standard causes: cancer, heart disease, alcohol-related liver disease, etc.—not murder. Were you thinking murder?)
The association accounted for variables like cohabitation, chronic physical and mental disorders, depressive symptoms, and emotional-social support. Worries emanating from close relationships like partners or kids were more strongly related to mortality than worries from those more distant. But still, even if you are not overtly trying to kill your neighbor, it would seem that a duplicitous relationship could be ravaging you both.
Epidemiological studies like this have told us before that stressful relationships, especially marriages, are associated with cardiovascular disease, immune dysfunction, and endocrine dysregulation. We’re not certain why. Studies have implicated inflammatory cytokines and elevations in the stress hormone cortisol. This study is unique in looking directly at death, though. It’s especially interesting because positive, protective effects of social relations on health are widely known. Like exercise, relationships shape individual health outcomes throughout life.
How we learn to trust ourselves to solve our own problems.
- How can I be happier?
- How can I learn to trust myself and others?
- How can I get rid of anxious thoughts so that I can focus on my priorities?
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but hunkering down and working on the basic components of a satisfying life can go a long way toward achieving mental peace and emotional well-being. The following tips can help with this practice:
1. Happiness is largely determined by how you handle stress. Listen to your fears, and spend time every day quietly thinking about them. Sit with them, and maybe even thank them. Ask yourself: What lesson am I supposed to learn?
And be patient with the slow pace of problem-solving. Time moves fast when we’re having fun, but life and its problems are meant to be savored. The beauty of sitting in the muck is knowing that you’ll find your standing posture eventually. Transform your fears into faith that life will turn out OK.
2. Security. Know that the world is basically a safe place, where most people possess good will. When you trust in that, you believe that things will work out the way they are supposed to. Most important, you trust yourself to solve problems. While it can be hard to find the good in the world, especially given around-the-clock access to bad news, the truth is there are more positive events every day than dangerous, scary or negative events.
3. Direction. Listen to your thoughts; they are the cornerstone of your mental health and the key to executing a healthy plan of action. Try this three-step process to deal with your stress:
- Reframe. When negative thoughts invade your brain with catastrophic “what ifs,” make a conscious effort to look at the big picture. The Helicopter View exercise can help: Imagine that you’re looking down at your problem from a helicopter. As the helicopter takes off, rising higher and higher, the view zooms out to reveal a bigger and broader picture less focused on the ground-level details. When you pull back from an emotional situation, you can see things more clearly and rationally.
- Relinquish the need to control a situation or another person: The “my way or the highway” mindset and other inflexible, rigid, or concrete behaviors keep you miserable and stuck. Letting go provides you with the clarity and direction necessary to focus on the things within your control and let go of what you cannot control (such as people, weather, and traffic, for starters). Put your energy into what you are able to influence and be OK with being powerless over other situations. In short, stay out of your own way.
- Reset to relax: Take a “brain break” and experience a lighter sense of being. You are neither a prisoner nor a passive participant in your life. Seeing yourself as an active, capable member of society means you’re not confined to playing defense and waiting for the other shoe to drop. On the contrary, playing offense means your actions are calm, confident, measured, proactive, and purposeful. (Mindfulness-based exercises can help you change your mindset. Click here for a short video on the basics of meditation.)
- To overcome relationship stress, and symptoms of anxiety and depression, check out The Happiness Course.
- For honest psychology and no fluff, subscribe to WiredforHappy.
- Follow Linda on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Copyright 2016 Linda Esposito, LCSW
Linda Esposito, LCSW is a psychotherapist in Pasadena, CA specializing in helping stressed out, sleep deprived anxious adults, and angry teens and their frustrated parents. She’s especially interested in improving our collective stress management skills, and reducing the 46 million plus prescriptions written yearly for Xanax in the US. Linda also writes for The Huffington Post, as well as her psychotherapy blog WiredforHappy.com.