Managing Workplace Anxiety

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There’s no denying work can be stressful. For those of us who suffer from an anxiety disorder, each day can be a struggle to get out of bed, get dressed, and get to work on time. Those who are unsure of their talents and abilities may voluntarily miss out on opportunities that would put them ahead in their companies because they don’t know if they’d be able to fulfill the needs of the position. Public speaking and traveling can be difficult for most people to adjust to, but missing opportunities willingly can also exacerbate symptoms of anxiety disorders.


In order to mitigate the symptoms of anxiety disorders and manage anxiety in the workplace, it’s a good idea to be proactive every day so you can live a happy and healthy work life. It’s also important to realize that feeling anxious is a perfectly normal response to stress, but if it becomes overwhelming, that’s when you need to actively take steps to make positive changes for your overall wellbeing.


Be Self-Aware

Being self-aware means checking in on your own physical and emotional responses when feelings of anxiety arise. Be mindful of what exactly is causing your stress and try to see how you can make changes. Are you overwhelmed by unrealistic deadlines? Do you dread everyday responsibilities? Figure out whether or not you need to reorganize or if you’re procrastinating on projects. Don’t try and disregard your feelings because they won’t go away, in fact, they’ll probably intensify. Instead, try to pinpoint exactly what is causing the excessive stress.


Make time for yourself

When our plates are full and we feel like we have no time for ourselves, that’s when we especially need to carve out our day and make extra time. When we’re feeling anxious and overwhelmed, we’re less likely to exercise, but our bodies need it most at that time. Try hard to care for your mind and body by eating the right foods, getting enough sleep each night, and squeezing in some workout time.


Reach out to friends and family

Loved ones can be a source of guidance, wisdom, and support. More than likely, you have someone in your circle who is experiencing feelings of anxiety and a loss of control. If not, someone is going to have gone through it at some point in their past. Even if you don’t want to discuss this with friends and family, just knowing they are there for you can be a positive re-enforcement.


Seek help from a professional

There is no shame in asking for help if you aren’t managing your anxiety alone. If you’re struggling with an anxiety disorder and don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere, it’s best to seek out help in order to manage it effectively. A clinical psychologist will help you figure out not only where your stress is coming from, but how to deal with it so you can live a life that is not controlled by anxiety, but by yourself.

Spread the Positivity Virus

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Peer pressure is something adults tell children to watch out for. They are afraid because children are thought to be impressionable. Little do they know, the attitudes of their friends can affect them in similar ways. Your colleagues may not try to get you to engage in illegal behavior, but surrounding yourself with negative people may lead to negative feelings, and the same can be said with positivity. But why does this happen?

The culprit may be social cues. Most humans have the ability to sense a mood shift, based off of nonverbal cues. These can include posture, facial expression, and movement. Someone who is frowning is sad. Someone who can’t stop tapping their fingers is jittery. Someone with their arms crossed is closed off. There are hundreds of social cues humans subconsciously recognize.

Social cues are said to make up 55% of all communication. Before we learn our first words, we observe our family’s behavior and categorize behaviors by their intended effect. This means we can recognize the mood in any given situation without directly asking about it even before we begin school.

Obviously, social cues are a key to this puzzle, but how exactly do they fit in?

When someone does not adhere to social norms, they stick out like a sore thumb. Sometimes, there is an event which calls for celebration or one that calls for grief. However, sometimes a group’s mood can be a byproduct of one or two people’s attitude.

Daniel Goleman says that leaders influence their teams’ moods. A manager who angrily points out all of your mistakes can make you feel angry in return. A respectful boss will inspire respect from their employees. In your social group, there is almost always one particularly vocal friend (whether they are happy, sad, or any other emotion), who acts as the leader of the group. Everyone else tends to model their behavior around this centralized person.

There are circumstances where it is appropriate to experience negative emotions, but living a happy life is important to your mental health. Spending all of your time with negative people will ultimately lead you to feel more negative. Experiencing the world with positive people will allow you to enjoy more in life and lead to a deeper appreciation of all life has to offer.

Positivity can be spread as easily as a disease. Every positive word or action transfers this positivity to the next person. Surrounding yourself with positive people is the best and easiest way to live a fulfilling life.

So what are you waiting for? Go out into the world and find new people to share your positivity with. After all, your positivity is just as contagious and can make ripples in the world.

Learning to Live With Chronic Pain

chronic pain - herrick liptonDisorders that force the sufferer to live with chronic pain rarely receive the attention they deserve from the media. This past month, Lady Gaga had to postpone some of her tour dates due to her fibromyalgia. It seems that the illnesses that we are unable to explain, such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, often receive little media attention. Fortunately, some celebrities like Lady Gaga will unabashedly shine a light on these disorders, forcing us to take a closer look at what these problems are and how to help those afflicted.


In the case of fibromyalgia, the pain is a result of overactive nerves, but the cause is largely unknown. It has been known to come about as a result of a traumatic event, stressful life events, or car accident, but it can also arise seemingly out of nowhere. What we do know is that an overwhelming amount of women are subjected to the disorder statistically, and there’s no cure that will solve the disorder.


Be honest with what you can and can’t handle


Having chronic pain will inevitably take a serious toll on your overall mental health, but it will also inadvertently pose a threat to your relationships. It can be difficult to not take your pain out on other people, so it’s best, to be honest with yourself and your loved ones about what you can and cannot put up with while dealing with the pain. If you have a friend or family member that constantly complains about their life, you may need to explain that that type of negativity is not something that you can handle in addition to your disorder. If they understand, they’ll be mindful of what they are willing to do for you. If they don’t understand, it might be time to distance yourself from them.


Find a way to relax


Chronic pain can make relaxation seem incredibly difficult, but it’s not impossible. Figure out a way to allow your mind and body to relax and stick to it. Try out yoga and practice deep breathing. The important thing is to remember to try and calm your muscles. Be mindful of how you feel before, during, and after the relaxation exercise, and if it works, keep it up!


Make sleep a priority by avoiding alcohol


Sleep issues and chronic pain pretty much go hand in hand, oddly enough, sleep issues and alcohol use also typically go together. Sleep is essential for everyone, but it’s especially crucial for those living with chronic pain. If you find yourself to be tired all the time and don’t get enough sleep, limit the amount of alcohol you drink to gain more control of your sleep schedule.


Get support


To deal with your disorder, you’re going to need a strong support system. Talk to your friends and family about what you’re going through and ask them for help when you need it. Another way to expand your support system is by attending support meetings for those living with chronic pain. It may seem awkward at first, but these meetings will help you gain connections with those who know exactly what you’re going through.

Everyday Tips to Help Control Anxiety

Everyone has experienced the overwhelming feeling of anxiety at one time or another. When you were in high school it may have been a big test that you stressed about the night before, or the day before start a new job. The anxious feelings you have before any big life event are felt by most people, however when you experience anxiety day after day, you should take steps to ease these feelings of helplessness and panic. Luckily, there are several things you can do each and every day to lessen the grip anxiety has on your life and gain more control of your emotions.

Write It Down

Try to figure out exactly what isJournaling making you feel anxious by writing down your thoughts in a journal. Journaling on a daily basis can improve your mental and physical health because it helps you define your internal thoughts and put them on paper. Write fast, and without worry about grammar, spelling, or fear that someone will find it and read it.

Limit Caffeine and Alcohol

Alcohol and coffee can both exacerbate the effects of anxiety. It doesn’t mean you have to cut them out either entirely, but use them both in moderation. Try not to have caffeine in the afternoon, as this can cause you to be up later than normal and affect your sleep schedule. Drinking too much alcohol in the evening can lead to a restless sleep. Although alcohol can put you to sleep, it’s not quality sleep that will have you feeling rested the next day.


We all know exercise has many health benefits, but it also dulls the intensity of anxiety. A good exercise regimen that includes a couple hours a week of moderate exercise can help you keep your anxiety in check as well as giving you a boost of energy and confidence.

Practice Good Breathing

Oftentimes when faced with stress, we will hold our breaths. When you feel very anxious, take a moment to focus on your breathing and take a few deep breaths. Try your best to bring your attention to your breathing and not think about anything else to give your mind a quick break and make sure you’re breathing properly. Deep breathing triggers a relaxation response, helping us to calm down and take a step back.

Try not to Dwell on the Past

Maybe you said or did something embarrassing or made a mistake. Try not to dwell on what has happened and definitely don’t let it keep you from enjoying the things you love. Chances are, the worry you have about a particular event is not even being thought of by those who witnessed it.

Why Sitting is Bad for Our Health

Sitting Everyone knows that there are health risks associated with smoking and drinking too much, but how about sitting? When it comes to seemingly innocent activities, sitting is near the top of the list, but sitting for too long is far worse than you think. If you’re working 9 to 5 at an office job, you’re probably sitting for about 8 hours a day – if not more. It’s not just people at a desk job though, even people that have more active jobs sit more than you think. Eating and watching tv are other activities that, chances are, you will be sitting for.

What’s the Big Deal?

1. Sitting is not really something our bodies are designed for. The angle at which at bodies sit puts undue pressure on your back, shoulders, and neck. Over time, sitting can hurt your posture and make you more susceptible to back injuries.

2. The main activities that come from sitting for long periods include watching television and working from a desk. If you’re main daily interaction with the outside world is through the internet or a television, this can put a damper on your social skills. It may become harder to make or keep friends and you’ll be more likely to develop feelings of depression and loneliness.

3. Sitting still burns an average of 56 calories an hour, however compared to walking and other forms of exercise, this is hardly enough to make a dent in your daily caloric intake. If you’re sedentary throughout the majority of the day, it’s very likely that you’ll become overweight or obese.

4. The chances that you will develop cancer or diabetes increase with a sedentary job or lifestyle. Your body may develop a reduced sensitivity to insulin because the body is not able to handle blood sugar as it should.WatchingTV

What Can You Do?

The potential results of sitting for too long are scary, but there are effective steps you can take to better your situation. If you do work at an office job, see if you can use a stand up desk or even a fitness ball to keep active throughout the day. If you must sit in an office chair, try to sit up straight and take multiple breaks throughout your day to move around. Getting up once an hour to get a drink of water will help you stay hydrated and get moving. Whenever you get home, it’s a good idea to keep active; moving directly from your work desk, to a car, to your couch is too sedentary.

Symptoms and Signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

selfie-900001_960_720Everyone can act narcissistic at times, especially when something happens to make us feel special. However, when someone is obsessed with his self-image to the exclusion of friends’ or relatives’ interests and needs, they may have narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). A psychologist or psychiatrist can provide an accurate diagnosis, but the following symptoms and behaviors may indicate the need for a professional consultation.


Most people like to feel important at times like while doing their job or performing community service, but individuals exhibiting narcissistic behavior want to feel important all the time, in all or most situations. Their need to be in the limelight takes precedence over others and they have a tendency to take control of conversations in order to project their importance.

Exaggerated self-esteem

Another common symptom of this disorder is an inflated sense of self. People experiencing narcissistic personality disorder seem to expect others’ lives to revolve around his wishes. The narcissists’ needs are prioritized over those of anyone else, including family members or close friends.

Strong need for admiration

We all have been guilty at one time or another of fishing for compliments. It’s normal to occasionally desire recognition for the way we look or our personal achievements, however individuals who constantly preens and struts around in new clothes, a trend-setting hairstyle, or by adopting affected attitude traits will likely call attention to himself, but not in the desired way. This person may ask if you like how he looks or if you noticed his new shoes, deliberately calling attention to himself to get the praise he desperately craves.

No empathy for others

Those with NPD usually think far more highly of themselves than they do of others. In fact, they seldom show compassion or empathy for those who are struggling because they are more focused on meeting their own need for appreciation.

Fragile self-image

Surprisingly, narcissists typically have low self-esteem, although few would believe it because they are often boastful of their own achievements. This self-esteem issue may have resulted from personal traumas, such as an abusive childhood or constant criticism and neglect. As a result, the person develops a need to over-admire himself to compensate for natural family affection that did not develop or thrive during his early years.

Hypersensitive to criticism

Criticism can be tough for anyone to accept, but someone who overreacts to constructive criticism may be a narcissist. Someone with NPD is unable to objectively process negative feedback, instead of accepting and learning from any negative feedback, these individuals would most likely react disproportionately and inflate their self-image to mask hurt over the criticism.

While there may be a bit of narcissism in each of us, a small percentage of individuals go on to develop narcissistic personality disorder which ultimately restricts their realistic perceptions of themselves. This can be an obstacle to healthy relationships, leading to loneliness and even more isolation. Those who believe they may have a problem with this personality disorder should consult a psychiatrist for testing and possible treatment, if needed. It can be lonely living as a narcissist, even though they behave as though they are better than everyone else. A professional diagnosis can open the door to a brighter, more harmonious future.

For more information on narcissistic personality disorder or to get help in managing it, visit the New Horizons Community Center.

Best Apps for Meditation and Mental Health

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Some of the latest apps are specifically designed to help people manage their mental health. Some of these apps offer great advice and management techniques and even include meditation and other mind-body exercise tips that can help people achieve greater mental clarity. Here are a few of the best apps for meditation and mental health.


Anyone who is new to the art of meditation and wants to learn the most effective techniques will greatly benefit from this app. Through a series of 10-minute daily exercises, users are able to establish habits that help them incorporate meditation into their everyday lives. The app’s settings include reminders and allow people to choose meditation exercises that focus on themes like performance and overall health.


Although this app is designed especially for teens and other young people, anyone can benefit from the features available that help manage anxiety. This app teaches the user how to face anxiety head-on, making it easier to conquer certain obstacles. Tools cover topics such as social anxiety, panic, worry, and tips on how to deal with conflict. Users learn ways to ride out intense emotions and how to overcome anxiety that holds them back in life.

Relax Melodies

Since getting enough sleep is crucial for good mental health, this app is particularly beneficial for anyone who struggles with insomnia. The app includes many different music selections that can elicit feelings of relaxation and tranquility and make it easier to fall asleep faster. Additional calming sounds are included, which can be useful for activities like meditation and yoga.

PTSD Coach

Post-traumatic stress disorder can affect people from all walks of life, and this program helps users screen and track many of the symptoms. Reliable information and treatments are also included in order to make it easier to handle stress symptoms. More than 100,000 people, many of whom are military personnel, have downloaded this app and found its features to be highly useful.

Simply Being

Developed by Meditation Oasis, this app is another example of a great program for meditation. A soothing voice guide takes users through a series of meditation sessions that range from five minutes to a half an hour in duration. The app also includes music and has helped many people reduce their stress levels and improve their sleep.

DBSA Wellness Tracker

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance offers this app to enable people to keep track of their overall moods. Users can also learn more about mood disorder symptoms and medications along with their side effects. A monthly report is provided to notify everyone of their monthly mental health trends, and this information can be given to mental health specialists to devise more effective treatment plans.


While these apps are not substitutes for professional counseling, these are great tools to have to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle and take control of your stress, sleep schedule, and overall mental health.

To view this information in presentation formant, visit my Slideshare.

Virtual Reality and Mental Health

Virtual RealityWith the recent rise of augmented reality, it is only a matter of time before virtual reality becomes a regular part of daily life. It is already, for example, becoming common in behavioral health. Virtual reality is currently being utilized for treatment of several different phobias. This type of treatment is called VReality Therapy, and it is already making strides in helping people get over once-crippling fears.

The premise of VReality Therapy is exposure. Clients put on virtual reality goggles that are manipulated by a trained therapist. They are slowly exposed to their phobias in the midst of performing relaxation techniques. Meanwhile, the therapist is also recording physiological responses of the patients so patients can keep a log of their progress. This is an ongoing therapy process, meaning that several sessions are necessary, however it has been proven to reduce fear of phobias, and even to remove it entirely.

Virtual reality is effective, as writes one patient who was treated for his phobia of blood with VReality Therapy. His phobia was a real issue due to the fact that he has diabetes, and therefore must take regular blood tests. His experience was with using a Samsung Gear VR Headset in the office of a trusted therapist. The program put him a virtual doctor’s office waiting room, then, after a while, into a virtual doctor’s office, where he was prepped by a nurse. His therapist talked him through relaxation techniques as his anxiety levels rose closer to the drawing of blood. When the blood was drawn in the virtual world, the author reports being able to feel it. The experience was jarring, but the author was able to get through ten minutes of having his blood virtually drawn, thanks to the guidance from his therapist.

A fear of blood is not the only thing being treated by these virtual reality goggles and therapists, however. There are also simulations to combat fears such as that of flying, heights, needles, animals, small spaces, driving, and public speaking. VReality Therapy can also be used as a resource to help treat generalized anxiety disorder. Patients can be eased into triggering situations in an environment they know is controlled by a trusted professional. This makes them more willing to work on facing their fears, and does not put them in harm’s way in the process.

Virtual reality has broad implications for for the world of behavioral health. Not only can it be used to treat things like phobias and anxiety, it may also be a great resource for those with depression and other mental illnesses. I cannot wait to see where VReality Therapy will lead!

For more information and behavioral health news, visit the New Horizon Counseling Center website.

Startups that Transform Behavioral Health

StartupHealth technology has become an exceedingly lucrative niche as of late. More and more technology companies are inventing ways to make healthcare easier and more accessible. This influx of startup companies focused on health technology, however, has recently shifted focus. Instead of starting businesses based on general physical health, there is now a large number of companies making technology focused on behavioral health. Unfortunately, Behavioral Healthcare in the United States has suffered as of late. It faces several internal and external issues that prevent behavioral health from becoming a medical priority. New startup companies are hoping to help. Below are two that look quite promising.

Quartet Health

A persistent issue in behavioral health today is the low level of access that behavioral health patients have to trained professionals. Quarter Health has created a comprehensive platform that includes patients, doctors, and insurers. Primary Care Physicians are able to refer patients to behavioral health professionals that work with the patient’s insurance through this platform, as well as to be updated on the progress of each patient. Behavioral Health professionals are able to communicate with the PCPs of their patients, as well as to accept or deny patient referrals with no risk. Additionally, they can use the platform’s billing and scheduling tools for their practice.

This platform is also used by insurers and employers in a number of ways. For one, it has tools that help determine whether or not someone is suffering from an undiagnosed behavioral health disorder. It also can help spread understanding of such disorders and the effects they have on behavior and performance. Patients are also given perks in this platform. They can take part in online treatment programs, communicate with health providers on a secure connection, and even talk to others suffering from the same conditions.

Akili Interactive

Akili is a different type of digital health company in that it works to build quality platforms with video-game-like qualities that can be remotely used by patients and physicians alike. These platforms will be used in a variety of ways, including to assess neural functioning in patients, as well as provide an interactive situation in which interventions can be put in place.

The platforms that Akili is developing fall into certain categories. The first is the group meant to improve neural functioning and cognitive systems. Another is cognitive measurement, which includes products that frequently assess the neural functioning of each patient.

For more information and behavioral health news, visit the New Horizon Counseling Center website.

Pokemon Go and Mental Health

PokemonThe newest craze to hit the digital sphere panders to the nostalgia of many. Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game that exists on an application on your phone. Its premise is ingenious – those with the app can walk around to ‘catch’ Pokemon in real-life places. All they have to do is point their phone camera at where the Pokemon is supposed to be, and it shows up on their screen, surrounded by the real world. Players use their touchscreens to throw Pokeballs and collect these critters. One of the great many features of the game is that it is built on a premise of walking. In order to run into Pokemon, hatch eggs, and find Pokemon gyms, players must get outside and wander around different neighborhoods. Soon after the game was released, many of those who downloaded it began to report an improvement in their mental health, catalyzed by Pokemon Go.

People have taken to platforms such as Twitter and Tumblr to express how the game has made strides in easing symptoms of depression and anxiety. They have reported that it has given them the motivation to get outside on days during which they feel like doing nothing at all. Additionally, Pokemon Go has been proven to be a great way to interact with strangers. Those with mental health issues find themselves not only walking around outside, but also socializing, which is important when dealing with mental illness.

Experts say that the game is also beneficial for mental health in that it allows people to take a break without indulging in common negative forms of escape. For example, many people, after a long workday, tend to go home or to a bar and have a drink to relax. This can lead to a reliance on alcohol when encountering everyday stressors. Pokemon Go has given its players a way to get their mind off of stressors that simply involves getting some exercise. Instead of having a drink, users are prowling the streets for rare Pokemon and getting a much-needed dose of sunshine.

Success stories are still pouring in on social platforms. One user reported that the game gave her a reason to spend the week outside interacting with friends, which, to her, was ‘unreal.’  Another stated that the game worked better for him than any therapy or medication that had been prescribed. A third tweeted that Pokemon Go actually made him want to go outside and interact with people, after having not had that urge for years. These are only a few example of the hundreds, maybe thousands, of accounts of the game helping a player ease their psychological struggle, even if only for a little bit.

Pokemon Go has unintentionally become a therapeutic app for so many people, and it is just getting started. This really speaks to the power of technology in helping people deal with the negative symptoms of mental illness. I am excited to see what other augmented reality games appear in the future, and the effect they will have on mental health.