Monday, December 11, 2017

10 Tips for Managing Holiday Stress in Fifteen Minutes or Less

by: Dr. Tracy Dalgleish, C. Psych.

Holidays bring us a lot of joy. But the increased demands and events at this time of year can also bring us a lot of stress. We tend to say that we are ‘too busy’ to tackle stress and instead of trying to manage it, we push ourselves to get through each day. Come January, many clients end up in my office burnt out. Managing your stress does not have to take hours each day. Just a few short minutes each day can help you not only cope during this busy time, but also prevent burn out down the road.

Here are ten tips that take less than 15 minutes each day to help you manage stress.
  1. Go for a 15-minute brisk walk. It could be around the building during a break, or around the block when you get home.
  2. Take ten, slow, intentional breaths. Breathe in through your nose counting to six, and exhale slowly through your nose counting to six. Try this while taking a shower, or standing in line at a store.
  3. Notice five things. Whether you are sitting in your office, in traffic, or watching your children play, say to yourself, ‘I notice the license plate in front of me,’ ‘I notice the red book on my shelf,’ or ‘I notice the colour of the lights.’
  4. 5-4-3-2-1 with your senses. Notice five things with your sense of sight (see previous). Notice four things with your sense of touch – the roughness of the chair you are sitting on, the smooth edge of the table, the warmth of your coffee cup. Notice three things you hear – the hum of the computer, a car buzzing by, a door opening. Notice two things with your sense of taste (e.g., the taste of toothpaste left in your mouth after brushing your teeth) and smell (e.g., the smell of fresh air). Take one deep breath in through the nose and slowly out through the nose.
  5. Talk to a friend, lover, or co-worker. Sharing with a significant other about what is contributing to your stress can help you problem solve or work through your emotions.
  6. Listen to music. It can be soothing to listen to music that puts you in a good mood.
  7. Try a guided relaxation or mindfulness exercise. I recommend this “Leaves on the Stream” exercise on YouTube. You can also download the app Head Space and get ten free short exercises to try each day.
  8. Let go of unhelpful thoughts. We all have them - the thoughts of worry, the thoughts of “what if,” the thoughts of the worst-case scenario, or predicting the future. First acknowledge that you are having these unhelpful thoughts, then try letting go of your thoughts and focusing on what you are doing in the moment.
  9. Stretch. We could learn a lot from watching a dog or cat. Every time they move, they stretch! Try lifting your arms over your head with a breath in, and as you let the breath out bringing your arms back down.
  10. Make a list. Writing out your to-do items can help unload the mental energy of trying to remember everything you want to get done. Try breaking items down into small, achievable tasks, and prioritizing items.

Finally, if stress becomes too difficult to manage, reach out for help. Trained psychologists and therapists are available at CFIR to help you manage stress, depression, and anxiety.


Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Realization That You Need to Be Desired in Order to Be Turned On


as written and posted by Sue McGarvie, M.A., on sexwithsue.com

Everyone wants to feel wanted. In fact, I would even say it’s a basic need of sex to be desired by your partner. For women, it’s especially important. Many women who can feel arousal (but not desire) meaning their bodies can be turned on but they aren’t emotional feeling into sex is common phenomenon. They need to be convinced or get their sexual energy from someone else. As Psychology Today reports recently, “Most women, for instance, have a strong wish to feel sexually desired. Men also like to be desired, of course. But among the women I see in my office, it’s often much more of a “thing.”

Many women say they don’t feel any spontaneous desire for sex unless it’s stimulated by someone desiring them. As sex therapists, we would say their desire is purely “responsive.” Many women report that feeling desired is what turns them on the most.

Heterosexual human mating tends to be like traditional couples’ dancing. She needs him to ask her to dance. The dancing itself might be nice, but even more important is that he showed initiative and wanted to dance with her. 70% of men are different. They may enjoy it if their partner passionately wants to have sex with them, but they don’t particularly need to feel desired in order to get turned on. Their desire is more “spontaneous.”

But what about the 30% of men that do need their partners to express great desire in order to be turned on? I see men in my office every week who need explicit desire by their partners to get aroused.

A man like this is almost always brought to my office by his unhappy wife, who complains that he rarely, if ever, initiates sex—thus depriving her of the chance to feel turned on by his passion for her. And she’s bone tired of initiating.

He will tell me privately, that he wants her to start sex or he can’t get his mojo going.

“A heterosexual guy whose principal turn-on is to be desired finds himself in more difficult territory. Very few women are interested in consistently being the initiator.

A man like this usually learns to keep his responsive desire a secret. If he tries to explain it to a female partner, often the concept will be so foreign to her that she’ll have no idea what he’s talking about.”

It’s a challenge. 50 Shades of Grey sold millions of copies because it appealed to the very common female fantasy of being “taken”. The desire to be dominated safely is by far the most popular sexual model with women. And men who are responsive (are often the more thinking guys) feel frustrated and voiceless.

So, what do you do to solve this? It starts with communication, acceptance and negotiation. And an understanding that sex isn’t “supposed to be a certain way”. Women have been chased around the school yard by boys wanting to pull their pigtails and we expect “handsy” men. It’s certainly not what we always want (nor is it appropriate outside of consenting adults), but it’s what we expect from men. Understanding that sex is play – adult play- and not always about pounding intercourse helps get this message through. As do signals (pull an earlobe or drop a secret word) to indicate interest so that neither one is being pushed away helps with the shutdown of rejection of a partner who can’t figure out what you need to be turned on. And learning that your expectations of sex might be getting in the way.

I teach a monthly “School of Sex” series done with humour, inclusion and fantastic speakers. It allows people to sit in the back row and listen to how other people in their community think about sex – without social conventions and limiting beliefs. Really hear what turns on the men and women that live in your neighbourhood can be powerfully healing to someone who feels sexually inhibited. It’s liberating for many people not to feel alone in how they feel sexually.

And as the author of the study succinctly summarizes: If you’re a woman in a relationship with a man who doesn’t initiate sex as much as you’d like, you may want to keep in mind the possibility that he might need the same thing you do.

Read more about our Relationship & Sex Therapy Service.