Stephanie Livingston–Psychologist

Author Archive

High Blood Pressure–Are you working yourself to death?

by on Jan.19, 2013, under ARTICLES

HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
ARE YOU WORKING YOURSELF TO DEATH?

Hypertension is a chronic medical condition that is characterized by an elevation in arterial blood pressure. Blood pressure is measured by systolic (top number) when the heart muscle is contracting or diastolic (bottom number) when the heart muscle is relaxed between heart beats. A reading of 120/80 is typically thought of as normal blood pressure, but can range between 100-140mmHg systolic, over 60-90mmHg diastolic. If a person’s reading is consistently at or greater than 140/90 hypertension exists. Most people have primary or also known as essential hypertension, with no underlying medical cause. Less than 10% of the population have secondary hypertension, which is caused by some other medical condition. Essential hypertension, can be the result of many factors such as age, weight, eating and exercise habits, genetic predisposition, and stress. Stress can influence blood pressure because the chemicals that are released during the stress/fight or flight response results in a constriction of the blood vessels, which raises blood pressure. Over time, the daily hassles of life can add up and cause prolonged elevations in blood pressure, which can result in hypertension and many other associated medical problems, such as stroke and kidney failure.
My dissertation research at The University of Chicago Hospitals revealed some interesting things with respect to hypertension and psychosocial factors in black women. Specifically I looked at a concept proposed by Sherman James called, John Henryism, an active coping mechanism used to deal with exposure to prolonged stressors, such as social discrimination. As the legend goes, John Henry was a slave, who could reportedly out- perform the mechanical steam drill, but at the expense of dying from over exertion. James, an epidemiologist, during his data collection for his research, interviewed a man named John Henry Martin, who had characteristics similar to the legendary John Henry. John Henry Martin was a black man who freed himself from the sharecropper system to successfully farm 75 acres of his own land through hard work and determination by age 40, but at the cost of serious health problems by age 50, including hypertension, arthritis, and peptic ulcer. James developed the John Henryism Scale to measure the degree to which a person relies on hard work and determination to achieve their goals. My research findings using female subjects were consistent with James’ research with males, which revealed that those women who scored high on John Henryism tended to have higher blood pressures than those who scored lower.
I have learned over the years as a psychologist that sometimes trying too hard can be detrimental in the long run. For instance, relaxation techniques, which are meant to calm the body and mind and counteract the effects of stress, require a person to give up control. Trying too hard to relax, like trying too hard to go to sleep just doesn’t work. It is not until the person gives up control that sleep comes. Pushing too hard can elicit a stress response which counteracts the relaxation response. There are times when taking control in an active way is beneficial, like when trying to complete a task or playing a sport. It is important to know the difference when you need to take control or give up control.
Many studies have shown the benefits of relaxation techniques (e.g., biofeedback, meditation, diaphragmatic breathing, imagery) in reducing blood pressure. I have used a self-regulation strategy called heart rate variability (HRV), which involves using computer software that is able to measure a person’s heart rate (HR) and HRV—what happens between heart beats. This activity occurring between heartbeats can be affected by negative emotions such as anxiety, stress, anger, and frustration. A clip is attached to the individual’s ear lobe, where the HR and HRV are transmitted through a wire into the computer and the software transforms this information into a graphic that gives feedback as to the level of these physical activities. The trainee uses breathing and imagery techniques to learn to control their HR and HRV. Oftentimes imagery techniques involve thinking of something relaxing and your body responds by becoming more relaxed. In the case of HRV training, the trainee is taught to think of images of love and appreciation, because studies show that it tends to have a more positive effect. My patients who have used these techniques have been very encouraged in learning to control their blood pressure.
At our clinic, BioSynergy, this process involves taking the blood pressure first to get a baseline. Next, the trainee goes through a round of HRV, and then takes their blood pressure again. A training session of HRV involves playing games on the computer where the trainee is able to achieve a goal, like having images on the screen do certain things like having a rainbow go into a pot and fill up with coins or keeping a balloon afloat, as a result of making the HRV go up or down. The goal is to obtain coherence, meaning a smooth HRV pattern. High coherence guarantees success in playing the games. As mentioned previously negative emotions can have an adverse impact on coherence, making the HRV patterns more erratic. Low coherence can result in a stress response being elicited and all the things that go along with this response, such as release of stress hormones, which can in turn increase HR, HRV and a host of other physiological responses.
Most people are not aware that the heart has a brain of its own that sends signals to the rest of the body, just like the brain in your head sends messages down to the body. Therefore, by controlling the heart, one can learn to control other systems in the body voluntarily. You can try this for yourself at home, by taking your pulse or blood pressure, try thinking of something relaxing or a situation where you felt loved or appreciated for ten minutes, and take your measurements again and see if there is a difference. Keep in mind that you are doing this without the benefit of technology. Imagine what you could do, if you had a little help. The mind is a powerful tool, the body is a highly efficient machine, and computers are intelligent devices. Learning to control the interaction of these three entities, create a dynamic force that can take your mind and body to new levels.
These techniques are not meant to be used in replacement of medication or other medical advice. Consult your doctor before considering using these strategies to manage your blood pressure. DO NOT STOP TAKING YOUR MEDICATION WITHOUT YOUR DOCTORS CONSENT. Contact us today for an appointment. We have offices in Illinois and Indiana and take most insurances.

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Stereotype Threat

by on Jan.19, 2013, under performance anxiety treatment

Stereotype Threat—does being a minority affect your performance

Have you ever been the only girl in a math class of all boys and felt intimidated; or a black student in a predominately white college or university, or a white male competing in a basketball camp of mostly black males? If you have felt intimidated in any of these situations, you may have been a victim of “stereotype threat”, A concept developed by Claude Steele, a social psychologist at Stanford University. He found that stereotype threat, feeling pressure to perform in a given situation because you feel that you have been type cast, negatively affects performance. The girl in a math class of mostly boys may have learned to believe over the years that boys are better than girls in math. Or the black student may have internalized the belief that whites are smarter or are at least preoccupied with the idea that white students may view them in that way. And the white basketball player, like the movie title “White Men Can’t Jump” may feel intimidated by black basketball players who tend to dominate in this sport. In Steele’s ongoing research, he found that the individual who may be a victim of stereotype threat may not even be consciously aware that they are experiencing it. The problem with stereotyping in this case, is that it tends to have a negative effect on performance. The part of the brain needed to perform the task at hand, whether it is doing well on a math test or shooting a basketball gets drained by the focus on the effects of the stereotype; thereby hindering performance. You can imagine how stereotype threat can be manifested in everyday life in most areas such as business, education, sports and entertainment, and health.
What is the solution to stereotype threat, you might ask. Something as simple as writing a narrative about one’s values and why one hold’s these values prior to going into the stereotype situation, like taking a test, can improve performance significantly. Or, reminding yourself of your accomplishments or credentials prior to your performance, can also be helpful. Steele found that black students who had to check the race box prior to taking a test was enough to trigger stereotype threat. However, when students were allowed to do the narrative exercise before the test, they were able to counteract the effects of stereotype threat.
At our clinic, we help people counteract the effects of stereotype threat by: evaluating the individual to determine if they are experiencing stereotype threat and the type of stereotype threat. Different types of threat require different approaches. We will also rule out any mental disorders that may play a role (e.g., stress, anxiety disorders, depression) in underperformance. Subjective and objective measures, (eg, clinical interview, testing, stereotype threat scales, physiological measures) both pre and post treatment will be used. The goal is to Devise an individualized program to address the specific needs of each client.
Treatment protocols include a combination of (behavioral skills training, relaxation techniques, mental skills techniques, cognitive-behavioral therapy, biofeedback). The goal is to generalize these strategies to improve performance by applying these strategies to real world settings.
Contact us today for an appointment, if you want to improve your performance in work, school, health, business, sports, or entertainment. We have locations in Illinois and Indiana.
Taken from, Whistling Vivaldi, (Steele, PhD, Claude, 2010, W.W. Norton & Co, Inc.)

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Long Shot: beating the odds to love

by on Jun.10, 2012, under manuscript excerpt

INTRODUCTION
Morgan sat on my couch, three months before she was supposed to get married. Instead of being happy and excited she appeared more annoyed with her situation. She was in conflict because she was not sure if she should go through with it. She was 28, attractive and worked as a pharmaceutical representative. She was engaged to a great guy, by most peoples’ standards. She did not exhibit any emotion, but just presented the facts as she understood them. She apparently had thought about this for some time, but still could not resolve her feelings about the whole thing. The wedding plans were set. Guests had already purchased airplane tickets to attend, and her parents had spent thousands of dollars to make her day like a fairy tale. Her mother’s position was, “Get over it, your father isn’t perfect either. You need to hurry up and make a decision, or I am going to stop continuing the wedding plans.” Despite all of this, Morgan just could not pretend that she was happy, when she was not. She had discussed her concerns with two girlfriends who gave her opposing views, which only confused her more. Her married friend said that she was just having cold feet, stating that there are always things you are not going to like about your mate. While her friend, who was recently divorced, said, “’Be true to yourself. If you don’t feel a connection with him now, what is the likelihood that you will feel it later.”
According to Morgan, her fiance`, Dave, was the most eligible bachelor in their social circle. He was kind to her and loved her unconditionally. Her parents loved him, her girlfriends were envious, and on paper he looked perfect. He was attractive, intelligent, and a successful banker. She could not understand why she could not make a decision. He had all the things that she thought she should look for in a man, except that she did not feel connected to him. He did not make her laugh, they rarely talked, and he wasn’t passionate about anything. Her doubts had been surfacing for some time and after four years of dating, she found herself in bed with his best friend, shortly after they got engaged the year before. She had always been attracted to his friend because he was more laid back and fun to be with. She even thought that she had more in common with her own best male friend than her fiancé. They were able to talk for hours and she felt like, “he got me.” Morgan was not sure she could live a lifetime with a man who did not “get her.” But, on the other hand she was also afraid that if she broke it off, she may never get married and have children. Both scenarios were frightening to her.
Dating is like a horserace, there are Fillies—who are young, optimistic (i.e., glass half full), and energetic single females, with all the promise of winning the dating race to having a loving relationship; Long Shots, who still have a chance for marriage but the odds are slowly moving out of their favor because they are conflicted. They are vacillating between optimism and pessimism, because they are either older, too picky or have begun to settle into a negative mindset about men; and Nags, who are pessimistic (i.e., glass half empty), have resorted to a life of bitterness and resentment and may even be living with regrets about missed marrying opportunities. Morgan is a Filly, for now. She is in her twenties, the prime marrying and childbearing years, is engaged, and well on her way to realizing her dream of having a husband and family. However, she is afraid that this man may not be the total package—her Prince Charming. But, on the other hand if she does not marry him, she could easily turn into a Long Shot—in her thirties, unmarried, no children, with a growing pessimism about ever getting married and having a family. And worse yet she could succumb to being a Nag—growing older, with regrets about the one who got away and never finding anyone else who might meet her requirements.
Many women struggle with this dilemma of whether or not they should go with the imperfect guy, who does not exactly meet their expectations, or take the risk of not ever finding anyone who does. They do not want to end up spending years looking for that guy who has just the right package, only to find that he does not exist. But in many cases, that is exactly what happens. To Morgan’s credit, she is trying to figure this out before she gets married, even though the wedding is only a few months away. Some women never get to the point of engagement due to the fact they have rejected these imperfect men outright, because they did not meet her expectations. Most women have men in their lives, who are interested in them, they just don’t won’t those men or don’t even give them the chance to see if there is a possibility. Are you struggling with finding the perfect man and getting frustrated that there just aren’t any good men out there? It’s not that there are no good men to date, it is sometimes the filter you are using to determine what a good man is. Maybe this time you are the problem, not them.
If you are not already a Filly and want to become one, at least in spirit and mindset, if not by youth, this book is for you. People want committed relationships at all ages and although a woman in her forties or older may not be looking to have children, her chances of finding a mate will still be affected by her mindset. If she has a Nag mindset, her odds of winning the race will be significantly diminished. This book will help you to develop the characteristics of a Filly, agility, speed, and spirit at any age:
* the AGILITY to understand what drives your behavior, while learning to make the necessary thinking and behaving adjustments.
*the SPEED to develop efficient use of your time and energy
* the SPIRIT to get motivated to take action by instilling optimism and mental clarity

Time and time again female patients and friends of mine are asking the same question, “Why am I not married, or at least in a serious relationship.” Women are eagerly looking for answers to the plight of their single status. Women of different races, ethnicities, socioeconomic status, educational levels, and family backgrounds are all struggling with the same issue—“Why Me.” The answer is the same—looking in the mirror.
In writing this book, I have attempted to shed some understanding on why there has been a shift in our dating and marriage patterns and to provide a program for women of all ages who are considering finding an intimate relationship. This approach involves working from the inside out rather than the outside in. Many self help books that use the outside in approach focus on dating tips, or how to know when a man likes you. The inside out approach focuses on self-reflection and how your own internal issues may be interfering with finding and keeping a mate. This book will help you to know when you are the problem and what to do next.

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Test Anxiety

by on Feb.20, 2011, under performance anxiety treatment

Coordinator of Student Services

To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing this letter to introduce myself to you and to inform you of the benefits of psychological strategies used in an educational setting. I have been a licensed psychologist for almost 20 years and have found that these techniques are very helpful to students who want to perform at an optimal level. As you are probably aware, many college students suffer from mental disorders ranging from depression, anxiety, and personality disorders, which can in turn affect their ability to perform on tests. Making the transition from high school to college can be very intimidating, especially if the student does not have the necessary resources to cope with this major life event. Many students fail to matriculate through college in a timely fashion because of poor study habits, writing skills, and test taking abilities. Test anxiety can paralyze and otherwise competent student and prevent him or her from performing adequately. Furthermore, women suffer more from all types of anxiety than men.
Some colleges and universities provide services to assist the student in making this adjustment. I think my services will help to augment what you may already offer.
*test anxiety treatment
*career counseling
*psychotherapy
My specialty is combining proven psychological principles with technology, to affect physical, behavioral and cognitive functioning. Test anxiety in particular has been shown to be helped by behavioral strategies and physiological feedback retraining Heart Rate Variability (HRV) treatment. Em Wave® by Heart Math. You can learn these strategies in just eight to twelve weeks.

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singles support group

by on Feb.06, 2011, under Support Groups

Are you having difficulty finding a mate? Do you seem to be doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result? Why not try a new approach. This is an eight week support group that focuses on psychological and behavioral factors that may be hindering your ability to find a suitable mate. This approach uses proven psychological strategies to help you to break down those barriers that keep getting in your way. The support group is led by a licensed psychological with over twenty years of experience in treating relationship issues. Working from the inside out by treating underlying emotional and behavioral issues, rather than from the outside in, dating randomly in hopes that you will find that needle in a haystack, will increase your chances of finding a healthy relationship. Start today.

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Heart Attack or Panic Attack?

by on Feb.06, 2011, under Support Groups

Have you had episodes of rapid heart beat, dizziness, or sweating, accompanied by an overwhelming fear that you were going to lose control. If you had these symptoms and went to your doctor, who said that all your medical tests were negative, and that it may just be anxiety, you may have been having a panic attack. Panic atttacks are just one of the many types of anxiety disorders. Although the etiology of panic disorder is not completely understood, psychological factors clearly play a role in the triggering and maintenance of the disorder. If gone untreated, this type of anxiety disorder could lead to agoraphobia, avoiding situations that trigger the panic attack. Consequently, it may be more and more difficult to live life (eg, driving a car, going to the grocery store, being in crowds), due to this paralyzing fear. This eight week support group will help you to identify psychological factors that may be underling your anxiey, make behaviroal changes, and assess your progress. The support group is led by a licensed psychologist, with years of experience in treating anxiety disorders. Come and learn these proven strategies to overcome your anxiety.

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Control Your Weight Before It Controls You

by on Feb.06, 2011, under Support Groups

Have you been frustrated with trying to lose weight and keeping it off? Have you tried various fad diets, diet pills, weight loss programs, and exercise, but are still falling short of your weight goals? Maybe you need to take a closer look at the psychological aspects of weight loss. Usually, by the time a person is significantly overweight, they are eating for reasons other than hunger. Depression, anxiety, boredom, loneliness, and stress are just a few of the triggers for overeating. This eight week program will help you to identify underlying psychological and behavioral issues that may be hindering your progress, set goals, and evaluate your results. The group format, led by a licensed psychologist with years of experience in weight control, will provide a supportive environment to help you to overcome emotional blocks that may be preventing you from achieving your weight goals. Join today!

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GET YOUR HEAD TOGETHER

by on Feb.02, 2011, under ARTICLES, Articles

GET YOUR HEAD TOGETHER
Psychological approaches to male sexual dysfunction
Every night we are bombarded with commercials pushing drugs that claim to improve a man’s sex life. We see a middle aged couple sharing a moment together in a bathtub, on the beach, with running water everywhere. The good looking aging baby boomer, who has taken one of these sexual enhancing drugs, is comforted by the notion that when the moment arises, will be ready to perform in the bedroom. He is guaranteed an erection to meet his partners’ needs. But let us not forget the disclaimers (eg, you may have an erection for several hours, numerous side effects, contraindications). These commercials play on the fears of men who are growing older and fear not being able to have a satisfying sex life.
Are you taking one of these sexual enhancing drugs, used to address erectile failure, or are you considering taking one of these drugs? Before you make this decision, first discuss with your physician non-medication approaches to this problem. Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is defined as the inability of the penis to maintain and full and firm erection sufficient for penetration during intercourse. ED can include premature ejaculation and erectile failure. ED can be caused by a number of different things such as: the side effects of certain medications (eg, anti-hypertensives, narcotics), disease (high blood pressure, diabetes), depression or anxiety. Your doctor will help you to rule out any medical reasons for having this problem. If your doctor says that there do not appear to be any physical ailments that seem to be causing the problem, then you might consider psychological explanations. In fact sometimes ED can begin as the result of a medical issue, such as side effects from medication, but later be maintained because of psychological reasons, even after the medication has been stopped. For example, I once treated a 45 year old male in the Hypertension Clinic at The University of Chicago Hospitals for sexual dysfunction. He complained that the high blood pressure medication that he had been given was causing him to lose his erection. He had become very anxious about having sex, for fear that he would not be able to maintain an erection sufficient for intercourse with his wife. His wife was supportive and encouraged him to see his family doctor, but for many months he refused because he was too embarrassed. Finally, she made the phone call and he had a check up and told his doctor about the problem he was having with the medication. His doctor, changed his medication to a drug that had fewer sexual dysfunction side effects and sent him on his way. Unfortunately, this change in medication did not solve the problem, because by this time his performance anxiety was so high that he was afraid to try sex for fear of failure. The medication issue had resolved, but now it was the anticipatory anxiety that triggered the problem. At this point he agreed to try psychotherapy to address this problem.
He and his wife were evaluated, and it quickly became apparent that anxiety was playing the predominant role in his ED. After several sessions of treatment using cognitive-behavioral therapy, relaxation training, and biofeedback he was able to manage his anxiety and was able to perform sexually without difficulty. Those ED problems that are organic in nature (eg, prostate cancer, uncontrolled diabetes) will not likely be resolved with these psychological approaches alone. However, there are many options available to those with disease that has affected sexual functioning, including penile implants and sexual enhancing drugs, such as those previously mentioned. If you have discussed your problem with your doctor and he/she has recommended these approaches, then proceed. Otherwise, psychotherapy and marital therapy can be helpful in treating the patient and/or couple cope with diminished sexual functioning. There are also good self-help books that can step you through dealing with this problem.
With the prevalence of sexual enhancing drugs, that we see on television commercials almost every night, many men are falling into the belief that there sexual functioning should be enhanced even if they are not middle age or older. Some men in their thirties, who are healthy and have no disease processes are taking these drugs because they feel they need a boost. Chances are their issues could be resolved with psychotherapy. Oftentimes, these are men who have issues of self-confidence or they merely want to increase their sexual desire and performance, even if it is at a normal level. Those who seek out these drugs need to be aware that all drugs have side effects and the risks of taking such drugs should be discussed with your doctor. But more importantly, if there is another way to achieve sexual satisfaction without medication, why not give it a try. In the absence of disease, sexual desire and orgasm is 99.999999% psychological. Focus on getting your head together. That is, the one on your shoulders.
GET YOUR HEAD TOGETHER
Psychological approaches to male sexual dysfunction
Every night we are bombarded with commercials pushing drugs that claim to improve a man’s sex life. We see a middle aged couple sharing a moment together in a bathtub, on the beach, with running water everywhere. The good looking aging baby boomer, who has taken one of these sexual enhancing drugs, is comforted by the notion that when the moment arises, will be ready to perform in the bedroom. He is guaranteed an erection to meet his partners’ needs. But let us not forget the disclaimers (eg, you may have an erection for several hours, numerous side effects, contraindications). These commercials play on the fears of men who are growing older and fear not being able to have a satisfying sex life.
Are you taking one of these sexual enhancing drugs, used to address erectile failure, or are you considering taking one of these drugs? Before you make this decision, first discuss with your physician non-medication approaches to this problem. Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is defined as the inability of the penis to maintain and full and firm erection sufficient for penetration during intercourse. ED can include premature ejaculation and erectile failure. ED can be caused by a number of different things such as: the side effects of certain medications (eg, anti-hypertensives, narcotics), disease (high blood pressure, diabetes), depression or anxiety. Your doctor will help you to rule out any medical reasons for having this problem. If your doctor says that there do not appear to be any physical ailments that seem to be causing the problem, then you might consider psychological explanations. In fact sometimes ED can begin as the result of a medical issue, such as side effects from medication, but later be maintained because of psychological reasons, even after the medication has been stopped. For example, I once treated a 45 year old male in the Hypertension Clinic at The University of Chicago Hospitals for sexual dysfunction. He complained that the high blood pressure medication that he had been given was causing him to lose his erection. He had become very anxious about having sex, for fear that he would not be able to maintain an erection sufficient for intercourse with his wife. His wife was supportive and encouraged him to see his family doctor, but for many months he refused because he was too embarrassed. Finally, she made the phone call and he had a check up and told his doctor about the problem he was having with the medication. His doctor, changed his medication to a drug that had fewer sexual dysfunction side effects and sent him on his way. Unfortunately, this change in medication did not solve the problem, because by this time his performance anxiety was so high that he was afraid to try sex for fear of failure. The medication issue had resolved, but now it was the anticipatory anxiety that triggered the problem. At this point he agreed to try psychotherapy to address this problem.
He and his wife were evaluated, and it quickly became apparent that anxiety was playing the predominant role in his ED. After several sessions of treatment using cognitive-behavioral therapy, relaxation training, and biofeedback he was able to manage his anxiety and was able to perform sexually without difficulty. Those ED problems that are organic in nature (eg, prostate cancer, uncontrolled diabetes) will not likely be resolved with these psychological approaches alone. However, there are many options available to those with disease that has affected sexual functioning, including penile implants and sexual enhancing drugs, such as those previously mentioned. If you have discussed your problem with your doctor and he/she has recommended these approaches, then proceed. Otherwise, psychotherapy and marital therapy can be helpful in treating the patient and/or couple cope with diminished sexual functioning. There are also good self-help books that can step you through dealing with this problem.
With the prevalence of sexual enhancing drugs, that we see on television commercials almost every night, many men are falling into the belief that there sexual functioning should be enhanced even if they are not middle age or older. Some men in their thirties, who are healthy and have no disease processes are taking these drugs because they feel they need a boost. Chances are their issues could be resolved with psychotherapy. Oftentimes, these are men who have issues of self-confidence or they merely want to increase their sexual desire and performance, even if it is at a normal level. Those who seek out these drugs need to be aware that all drugs have side effects and the risks of taking such drugs should be discussed with your doctor. But more importantly, if there is another way to achieve sexual satisfaction without medication, why not give it a try. In the absence of disease, sexual desire and orgasm is 99.999999% psychological. Focus on getting your head together. That is, the one on your shoulders.

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How to Conquer Insomnia

by on May.16, 2010, under Articles

CONQUERING INSOMNIA—A Cognitive Behavioral Approach

Are you having problems sleeping? Insomnia is a health problem that will affect most Americans at some point in their lives. There are three major types of sleep disturbance. Onset and maintenance insomnia, and early morning awakening. Onset insomnia has to do with difficulty falling asleep; maintenance insomnia is related to staying asleep and EMA, means waking up earlier that one’s usual wake up time. Anxiety is usually related to onset insomnia. Have you ever found yourself lying awake at night, unable to sleep, because you cannot turn your mind off. You may be replaying the days’ events in your head or worrying about an important meeting tomorrow. EMA, on the other hand, is related to depression. If you find yourself awakening at three or four am, when your usual wake up time is six or seven you may have EMA. Many things can cause depression, but most often it is related to some type of loss—loss of a job, marriage, loved one, pet, or disability. These environmental events can lead to negative or distorted thinking patterns which in turn can lead to depression. Sleep disturbance is one of many symptoms of depression, be it hypersomnia (sleeping too much) or hyposomnia (sleeping too little). And then there are complications with sleep due to pain, disability, medication side effects, sleep apnea and environmental conditions such as temperature, and light.
Another group of people who may have sleep problems is shift work individuals. People who have been night owls all their lives, may have difficulty working during the day and sleeping at night. And conversely, people who are used to sleeping at night and working during the day, like most of us, may have trouble sleeping during the day and working at night. However, most people can adjust to a routine as long as it remains constant. Their body will likely eventually adjust to the new schedule. Unfortunately, those who are on rotating shifts, find It difficult to keep up with a constantly changing schedule. Their body never learns when It is supposed to sleep. It has been my experience that this group is the hardest to treat.
So you might ask, why is sleep so important. One of the most important reason is health. Studies have shown that when people are sleep deprived they tend to eat more, have higher blood pressure, and lowers immune functioning, which can lead to many illnesses. From a cognitive perspective, reaction time, attention and concentration, and memory are all affected by sleep deprivation. Slowed motor skills and mood changes are also side effects. Unlike, substance abuse, which can cause similar symptoms and the person is aware that the substance (ie, alcohol) may be causing their problem, most people are not aware of the impact of sleep deprivation on these different areas of their lives. Consequently, a person who is sleep deprived may have no problem getting behind the wheel of a car or operating potentially dangerous machinery. It takes only a moment of nodding off for a sleep deprived truck driver to cause a major accident. Most studies have shown that individuals need approximately eight hours of sleep per night, in order to feel rested and rejuvenated, irrespective of your age.
The good news is that there is effective treatment for insomnia that does not involve drugs. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT, involves changing thinking patterns and habits. The sleep hygiene rules listed below may help you get a handle on your sleep problems. A first course of action is to visit your primary care physician to rule out any medical reasons for having a sleep disturbance. Sometimes medications will be prescribed to help with sleep, especially in acute situations of severe stress or chronic illness. Over the counter medications can have mixed results. They often help initially, but if used for long periods of time, they may actually become ineffective and even interfere with your sleep.
Sleep hygiene rules
Regulate sleep wake cycle
Go to bed at the same time (within a 30 minute before and after bedtime window) and get up at same time every day. On weekends, do not sleep in more than one hour later than your normal wake up time.
Do not take naps. If you are severely sleep deprived, get up at your normal wake up time and if necessary take a short cat nap (15-30 min) and force yourself to stay awake until your bedtime.
Do not stay in bed for more than 15 minutes lying awake. Get up, go to another part of the house and do quiet things to make yourself sleep (TV, music, reading). Do not start cleaning the house, surfing the web, or doing work. And most of all to do not eat, because you may actually condition yourself to awaken during the night feeling hungry.
Avoid stimulants in evening
Do not smoke, drink caffeine, eat sweets, or exercise in the evening. However, if evening is the only time you have to exercise, it is better to exercise than not.
Relaxation techniques
Learning diaphragmatic breathing, imagery, or progressive muscle relaxation are ways of activating your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) and facilitating asleep. Sleep is a passive activity, that requires you to let go. The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is the alarm system, that kicks in when the body into fight or flight (increase blood pressure, respiration and heart rate). Think of the SNS as the accelerator and the PNS as the brake. When you are in an emergency situation you want to press the accelerator. But, if you are trying to go to sleep you want to put on the brake. Taking control and trying to force yourself to go to sleep rarely works. Tossing and turning and looking at the clock only makes the situation worse. Doing something that helps you slow down will help you to fall asleep.
Associate the bed with sleep not wakefulness
You should only sleep and have sex in bed. No TV, working, talking on the phone, or any other activity in bed. These behaviors require you to be awake and alert and contradict the calming down process for going to sleep. If you are doing activities that require you to be alert, you may begin to associate the bed with wakefulness not sleep.
Make your sleep environment conducive to sleep. Make sure you have a comfortable mattress, room temperature, and lighting.
Develop a pre-sleep routine
Signal to your body that it is time to go to bed by developing a routine just before bed. Activities such as showering, saying prayers/meditation, brushing teeth, or reading can all indicate to your body that sleep is imminent. Eventually, your body adapts to a schedule just like an infant whose parents maintain a rigorous feeding and sleeping schedule with them. After some training the infant will expect to eat and sleep at a certain time no matter where they are. The same can be true for adults. Good night and sweet dreams.

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Peak Performance Training

by on Jan.02, 2009, under Brochures

Exceeding Limits/Living Ahead

ELA is a division of Biopsychtech of Chicago, Ltd. and offers services specifically targeting individuals, companies, and teams who want to enhance their performance. ELA helps these individuals to exceed the limits of their raw talent, technical, and physical skill by giving them the tools to live ahead of the curve.

FEES

Some services are covered by insurance and some are fee for service.

DID YOU KNOW?

*regulation of emotion and intensity is key to peak performance.

*anger, frustration, anxiety & fear can cause changes in blood pressure, respiration rate, peripheral temperature, heart rhythm/rate

*erratic heart rhythms block our ability to think clearly

*em Wave® is a monitoring tool that can facilitate changes in heart rhythm coherence

*mental skills training can improve performance through mind/body synchrony

Biopsychtech of Chicago, Ltd

333 N Michigan Ave, Ste 1801

Chicago, IL 60601

16233 S Wausau

South Holland, IL  60473

8865 W 400 North Ste 135

Michigan City, IN  46360

Phone (312) 907-3644

Fax (219) 879-2525






RAISE YOUR GAME! Peak performance training

the mind is the new frontier

free your mind…

Learn how to use proven psychological principles and cutting edge technology to enhance your level of performance anytime, anywhere, without medication.


How to raise your game

Peak Performance Training (PPT) is a program designed to help you improve your level of performance by facilitating mind/body synchrony. If you are trying to take your game to another level, PPT may be for you. Studies have shown that stress can interfere with the body’s ability to relax, the mind’s ability to make good decisions, and one’s ability to manage his/her emotions. Whether you are making a shot, performing on stage, having difficulty focusing on a task, taking a test, making an executive decision or trying to lower your blood pressure, getting into “the zone” is beneficial.

GETTING INTO THE “ ZONE”

The zone is playing without thinking. When one is in the zone there is complete mind/body synchrony. The zone is the state of consciousness where your higher motor faculties and intuition merge in liquid coordination.

PPT APPLICATIONS

*Sports/Entertainment

*Business

*Health

*Education

PPT TOOLS

*Mental Skills Training

*Behavioral Conditioning

*Heart rate variability (HRV) feedback measured by em Wave® by HeartMath®

*Relaxation techniques

WHO CAN BENEFIT?

*athletes, teams, coaches

*business (decision making, stress)

*patients (pain/blood pressure)

*students (ADD/ADHD, test anxiety)

*anyone who wants to improve performance or quality of life

what are the benefits?

*changes in anatomy & physiology

*improved cognitive clarity

*improved eye hand coordination

*established routines versus rituals

*mind/body synchrony

*emotional/intensity regulation

*better decision making under pressure

*coping with winning, losing, & injury

heartmath® facts

HeartMath and em Wave® PC provide a system of tools and techniques that are based on 15 years of scientific research on the psychophysiology of stress and emotions and the interaction between the heart and the brain. In general emotional stress creates erratic heart rhythm patterns, that in turn affects the body’s ability to function properly. Heart rate variability (HRV) coherence training systems have been used effectively to improve performance anxiety in the areas such as, but not limited to Sports/Entertainment Business , Health, and Education. Moving from chaos to coherence by learning to control HRV in real time, with the use of cutting edge technology is the goal of HeartMath strategies..

Tiger Woods comment: In an interview with Jimmy Roberts of NBC Sports, Tiger Woods was quoted in part as saying:, “the guys who are really controlling their emotions are going to win.”

other services

*individual, couples, group psychotherapy

*psychological testing

*coaching

*consulting

*biofeedback

Call 312 907-3644

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