What do you want out of life?

Are fears, anxiety or depression holding you back from the life you want? Do you have weight management issues that have more to do with your mind than your mouth? If so, I would love the opportunity to speak with you about how I might be of help.

Therapy should be an individualized process that focuses on your personal goals.  I have seen this process lead to improved relationships, personal confidence and development of greater control over emotions.

Jeanne Latiolais, PsyD

Committed to helping you get what you want out of life.

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By Jeanne Latiolais, Psy.D. 12 Oct, 2017
Most of us know feelings are important, that they have a place and a purpose.  However, we all have emotions that make us feel uncomfortable.  Certainly, my practice is built on helping people gain cognitive control when facing the overwhelming emotions brought on by such disorders as panic attacks or OCD.

Yet, more and more in my practice I notice the irrational fear of emotions. Sometimes during the course of therapy it becomes evident that a client has the hope that they will never feel anxious again, or that their grief will be gone.  They fear the emotions of others too, and avoid, for example, the friend who is going through a divorce.   They often become experts at concealing their emotions and present an always-sunny demeanor to the world to mask (to others as well as themselves) what they are truly feeling.  Any emotion can be uncomfortable, and so their focus becomes avoiding them.  They typically believe others cannot handle emotions either and go through excessive lengths to keep their loved ones, especially their children, from experiencing normal ups and downs. Though it is not an actual clinical term, I have come to think of this as Emotion Phobia.

As with any phobia, avoidance is a hallmark.  Avoidance both momentarily makes one feel relieved, while long-term it exacerbates the problem. Confusion in life can result as a person becomes more and more distant from what they truly believe, feel angry about, or need.   Relationships suffer, as people find it difficult to be close to someone who alienates their feelings.

But it is coping with and coexisting with our emotions that is the goal, not the elimination of emotions. Fear, loneliness, anger, and frustration are all a part of life and each has purpose.

A recent article by Harvard Mental Health looked at studies of those who accept, versus deny or denigrate, their emotions.  Not surprisingly, those who were able to acknowledge their own bad feelings were more psychologically healthy in the long run.

My advice to Emotion Phobics:  Begin to retrain your brain to recognize that emotions are simply bits of information . They add to your understanding and should be considered, not feared.  They are as important to us in choosing a spouse, a house, or a career as many other logical, practical considerations.  Emotions should not rule us, but they should not be relegated to the trash bin, either. 
By Jeanne Latiolais, Psy.D. 22 Aug, 2017

I see you at my gym. Yes, you. I know what you are up to. I might have done it once or twice myself.

You exercise hard, doing things you hate. You exercise because you are supposed to. You’ve got to lose weight. You’ve got to flatten your abs. You’ve got to get more fit. But mostly, really, truth be told, you exercise because you are punishing yourself.

Be honest. It’s punitive. You exercise to make up for that weekend binge, that unplanned cookie at work yesterday, that extra 10 pounds you have to lose. And, you tell yourself you will atone for your nutritional sins by pounding harder on the treadmill. And, you hate the treadmill.

The worst part about punitive exercise is that it will eventually have exactly the opposite effect you are hoping for. Hoping to lose weight, you engage in tiring, draining, unpleasant exercise, which leaves you feeling increasingly negative about exercising. Your physical efforts mentally defeat you.

However, you can use your brain to improve your body!  Exercise is supposed to be satisfying, like a drink of water when we are thirsty. Humans are supposed to move, not abuse themselves. Non-punitive exercise releases neurotransmitters that improve mood, such as serotonin. Interestingly, a good serotonin balance not only combats depression and anxiety, it can decrease the desire to overeat .    

Three suggestions can help you stop the punitive exercise and start feeling and looking your best:  

First, choose exercise you like :  walk, bike ride, hike, swim.  A round of golf, or a strength training class. Pick something that you feel good doing, or at least don’t feel bad doing.

Second, give yourself credit for exercise every time you do it. Just a little encouraging self-talk, like “I’m proud of myself for taking the time to walk,” or “I feel so much better once I get a little activity,” or “I am getting stronger!”

And lastly, for exercise to be helpful, it has to become a habit .  Plan for exercise in your daily schedule.  I recommend new exercisers commit to only 5 minutes a day of exercise until it becomes habit.

Does 5 minutes sound silly? Consider that a year’s worth of  5 minutes a day exercise would amount to more than 30 hours of exercise! That’s enough to burn about 3 pounds of fat —without even trying; without feeling terrible; without a big time commitment; or even a gym membership.

And, I might add, without punishing yourself. A five minute walk in fresh air feels good. Doesn’t seem like such a difficult habit to start now, does it?  After a few weeks, it might even make you want to do 10 minutes. Just to be extra nice to yourself!

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