Let’s say you really want a dog but you are afraid of dogs. Every time you see a dog, you become anxious and move away from the dog. This lowers your dog anxiety but doesn’t help you tolerate a dog or better yet, get over your fear of dogs.
So what do you do?
Over a quarter of people in the U.S. population will have an anxiety disorder sometime in their lifetime.
One of the most effective treatments for anxiety is exposure based therapies and yet, a small percentage of patients are treated with these interventions.
Exposure treatments systematically expose a person to a feared stimuli, with the idea that the confrontation will end in a reduction of anxiety. So for example, a therapist would expose you to a dog, work on the anxiety that comes up, and gradually help you lessen your anxiety around dogs so that you could eventually get a dog.
Exposure helps reduce anxiety that is out of proportion to the actual experience. You confront your fears by going into situations that cause you anxiety. Anxiety does increase momentarily, but when the feared consequences don’t happen, your brain calms down. When you do this over and over, your anxiety gets less and less.
Because these procedures make people temporarily uncomfortable, some therapists don’t like to use them. But the discomfort is short lived and ends in a lowering of anxiety.
And because success often depends on field trips in the real world out of the therapist’s office, boundaries and confidentiality could be compromised. But a trained therapist knows to tell her client this, explain and predict what could happen, e.g., you might see someone you know, we will travel in your car together which is not something we normally do but need to do in order to do the procedure, etc. This is called informed consent and you have control over proceeding or stopping at any point.
Exposure treatments used by competent and trained therapist can alleviate anxiety. More people could benefit from this type of approach.
So if you struggle with anxiety and fear, you may want to look for someone who knows how to apply exposure therapies to your problem. Facing your fear with someone who can walk you through it is not only a therapeutic idea, but a biblical one as well. God promises His presence when we feel anxious. His constant presence reassures us we are not alone, He works on our behalf and calms our fears so we can face whatever comes our way with the confidence that He is with us and working for our good.
In fact, teens get great pleasure from being liked by other people. This yearning for peer acceptance peaks around age 15 and then begins to decline.
So can peer pressure be a good thing?
Yes, the influence of friends is important to development. When peer pressure is positive like getting good grades, competing in sports, trying new opportunities, etc., it can encourage teens to try harder or be more excellent in what they do. It prompts teens to take risks, to seek novelty and explore their environment, all steps important to individual development.
However, when it comes to decision making, more development is necessary. Brain research tells us that teens are just as adept as making decisions as adults when they aren’t emotionally wound up. Emotionally wound up is the key phrase here. Brain connections are still forming and emotions get in the way of good decision making until a bit later in development. This is why you see teens making poor decisions with their peers. If peer pressure goes a negative direction, then the decision-making follows that path because of the need to fit in or be liked. But not always.
There are a few factors that help teens resist negative peer pressure:
1) Being popular
2) Having families with little dysfunction
3) Having good, strong communication skills
4) Having a high need for uniqueness
5) Having parents who enforce strict boundaries
6) Having parents who help prepare teens for peer pressure situations with rehearsal or role-playing
7) Having good friends
8) Excelling in something
Parents, bottom line, get your kids involved in positive activities with kids who are motivated. This will go along way to prevent negative peer pressure. Since the teen brain wants peer acceptance, put them around positive peers.
If you did, you were engaging in stress relief!
Stuck in traffic, SMILE!
Someone cuts in line at a sporting event, SMILE!
Your co-worker beats you to a deadline, SMILE!
Your husband forgets to pick up the dry cleaning, SMILE!
Smiling may be one way you can control stress and the impact it has on your body. The “grin and bear it” approach to life may actually be prescriptive.
A study published in Psychological Science (2012) found that smiling, even when you don’t feel like it could be beneficial to your health.
Researchers at the University of Kansas looked at the connection between smiling and recovering from stress. Since other studies have concluded that smiling affects emotions in a positive way, these researchers wanted to see the impact of smiling on stress.
In the study, even people who were forced to smile reduced their physical bodies stress response. They didn’t have to feel happy, just smile! So forget the medications, that extra drink to relax you or that unhealthy way to cope with stress, put on a happy face. Smiling not only signals happiness to others, but relieves stress in your life.
So one more time, let’s put a big smile on our faces and thank William and Kate for giving us a few moments of stress relief!
After all, you are just trying to be helpful, but it turns out that your partner may not appreciate that type of help. In fact, too much advice giving is associated with lower martial satisfaction according to a University of Iowa study. The study noted that men experience advice giving by their wives as nagging or being reprimanded. Wives feel that their husbands are more condescending or see them as incapable when husbands try to “fix the problem.”
If you really want to make things worse, give unsolicited advice. That’s right, spouses don’t seem to appreciate it!
And if you are the one asking for advice or receiving the support, the way you behave is more important than how the person giving the advice behaves. One reason is that asking for and receiving advice puts you in a vulnerable position.
But now here is a caveat. If too little advice is given in a marriage, men suffer. The reason, men look to their wives for their main support. Women look to other women, friends and loved ones in addition to their husbands. So women get help from a broader range of people.
Finally, it appears that even well meaning advice comes across as criticism. Ouch! I was only trying to help!
So what’s best to do:
1) Make sure your spouse is asking you for advice before you decide to give it.
2) Allow your spouse time to talk out a problem. Sometimes that is all he or she needs.
3) Personalize the problem to something you struggled with and how you worked it through, rather than giving straight up advice.
4) If you don’t want the advice, thank your partner for offering it, but tell him or her that advice wasn’t really what you were looking for at this moment. Then follow that comment with what would have been helpful.
5) Don’t be so sensitive. Just say, thanks and take the advice giving as good intention!
Source: Journal of Family Psychology, 2009