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Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

Addicted to Work? Take the Short Quiz

posted by Linda Mintle

business manIf you work to avoid negative emotional states such as anxiety and depression, perhaps work has taken on an addictive quality.

In a state of frustration, Rachel recounted her life. “It’s like I married my alcoholic father. Not a day goes by in which my husband spends less than 12 hours on some assignment related to work. When we vacation, he says he wants to rest but I always find him secretly working on his lap top. At night, he steals away to the quiet of his at-home office until wee hours of the morning. After a few hours of sleep, he’s up and traveling to the real office job. I don’t see him until 8:00 pm. By then the kids are in bed. He grabs a bite to eat and the cycle starts all over again. There is something terribly wrong here. Can a person be addicted to work?”

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In the same way a drug addict uses cocaine or an alcoholic downs booze, work can have an anesthetizing effect on negative emotions. Yes, people do use work to escape and avoid unpleasant emotional states. But because hard work is so sanctioned in our society, it is an addiction often minimized. But the fall out for the family can be just as devastating.

Take the short quiz to see if you are addicted to work:

· Do you view work as a haven rather than a necessity or obligation?

· Does work obliterate all other areas of your life?

· Can you make the transition from the office to the Little League game without guilt and constant thinking of what you need to do?

· Do you have work scattered all over your home?

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· Do you regularly break commitments to family and friends because of deadlines and work commitments?

· Do you get an adrenaline rush from meeting impossible deadlines?

· Are you preoccupied with work no matter what you do?

· Do you work long after your co-workers are finished?

If your answers are “Yes” to most of these questions, it’s time to reevaluate your love for work and cut back. Workaholism can bring emotional estrangement and withdrawal in your relationships. In the worse case, it can even lead to separation and divorce.

Children of workaholics learn they are valued for their achievements and often lack parent attention. They have high levels of depression and tend to take on parenting roles similar to those in alcoholic homes.

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If you think you may be a workaholic, acknowledge the problem. Then, begin making small changes that limit work hours. Pay attention to other parts of life like your family, spirituality, play, friends, etc. Vow to spend more time doing other things and do them. Talk to your family about balance and determine ways to be more involved. Turn off electronics when you come home and be unavailable for certain hours of the day. Leave the office at a reasonable time even if your work isn’t perfect or completely finished.

Don’t downplay the negative effects workaholism plays in your life. Even though you may be rewarded at the work place for your obsessive efforts, your family needs you, not more work. And as the well-known saying goes, “I’ve never met a dying person who regretted not spending more time at the office!”

 

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Anxious? Give Exposure Therapy a Try

posted by Linda Mintle

girl and dogLet’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.

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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.

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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.

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Can Peer Pressure Be a Good Thing? 8 Parenting Tips

posted by Linda Mintle

family teensPeer pressure sounds like a negative thing because we usually think of it as something to resist. But the teenage brain loves social acceptance more than the adult brain.

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.

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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

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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.

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Why The Royal Baby Was A Stress Reducer

posted by Linda Mintle

SmallerAfter all the bad news of the day, did you find yourself smiling at the birth of the royal baby?

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.

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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!

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