Guest Post: Shift Your Focus and Reduce Anxiety


A guest post from Phyllis Goldberg and Rosemary Lichtman of Her Mentor Center:

Are you in the midst of a fast paced lifestyle, struggling with racing ideas and sleepless nights? If fearful thoughts make you hyper vigilant and put your mind on red alert, join the crowd. There’s been a 1000% increase in the diagnosis of anxiety the past 30 years.

Beginning early on, we all experience periods of anxiety that can recur periodically throughout our lives. Do you remember separation anxiety when you started kindergarten, physical and social changes during middle school, peer pressure and yearning for acceptance in high school, ambivalence around leaving for college?

As adults we are constantly worried about something – family, terrorism, work, health, natural disasters, finances. So while your kids are trying to develop strategies to deal with their own negative emotions, it’s important to monitor your anxiety. You know they’re always watching and how readily they react to your mood changes.

Whereas a certain amount of stress is a natural motivator, more severe anxiety can interfere with your life. In this day and age, we’ve all got lots of balls in the air, trying to balance family life with work and still carve out a little time for ourselves. Wondering what you can do if stress feels like a constant companion? Here are ideas to help you restore balance:

Free yourself from negative feelings. Although you can’t necessarily change the situations you encounter, you can change how you handle them. Face uncertainty with a positive attitude or reframe a pessimistic reaction into a more neutral or optimistic one. By learning more about constructive responses to difficulties, you’ll have access to a wider variety of resources.

Take control of what is within your reach. And have the wisdom to know the difference between what you can manage and what you can’t. Recognize that you don’t have to do it all alone. Sometimes having a series of cognitive behavioral therapy sessions or consulting a psychiatrist about anti-anxiety medication can provide the coping strategies and support you need.

Stay in the moment. Anxiety can make you feel bad about who you are. Don’t beat yourself up about the mistakes you’ve made. Keep in mind that you are human and no one is perfect. Being worried about the past or fearful about the future can keep you stuck. Rather than feeling discouraged and giving up, try something different. You deserve a second chance.

Rely on your own instincts.  Although it’s great to get support from others when you’re frustrated, recognize your hidden internal strength. Trust yourself as you look inside for answers. Emotional discomfort can be a welcome opportunity. It serves as an invitation to grow and leads to greater self understanding.

Spend time relaxing and rejuvenating. Take better care of your body through exercise, healthy nutrition and proper rest as you develop stress relievers. Practice techniques of deep breathing, relaxation or your own form of meditation. Attend to your mind and your spirit. And set aside quiet time to do what it is that brings you joy.

If you want to make life simpler and get back to basics, look at your lifestyle and the choices you’re making. Step back and determine the real stressors. Then consider your options and decide what to change. Take it slow, and add up your small victories. When you make mistakes, learn from them, move on, and leave anxiety behind.

© Her Mentor Center, 2013

Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D. and Rosemary Lichtman, Ph.D. are consultants in family dynamics. Whether you’re coping with marital stress, acting out teens, aging parents, boomerang kids or difficult in-laws, we have solutions. Visit our website,, for practical tips in dealing with parents growing older & kids growing up

Complimentary ebooks and newsletter!  Sign up here  for our free newsletter, Stepping Stones and download complimentary ebooks, Courage and Lessons Learned and Taking Control of Stress in a Financial Storm.


Children, Life, Menopause, Music, Shopping, Stress

Feeling Rattled?

The Great Big Bad Hormones of PMS or Menopause sure can rattle a girl.  And of course sometimes life itself adds to the clatter.

I read once that when things are so crazy you feel like a Mexican Jumping Bean,to try some slow motion.  Pretend you’re a turtle or a sloth.  (Well actually, the pretending part is my idea.)

SLOWLY put the dress back on the hanger.  The mug  in the dishwasher.  The cell phone in the charger.  Think of the nun at the abbey gate in The Sound of Music:  “Slowly, Sister, slowly.”

S….. L….. O….. W….. L…..Y

Doing a chore or even part of one in slow motion is hard, almost painful.  It goes against the core of our efficient adult selves.   But in those slow moments, even if they only last a few seconds, you feel life differently.

You remember the excellent dinner you enjoyed while wearing the dress. Smile about the silly mug your boss gave you in December.  Relive the last phone call you received:  some super cool news from  your son.

Rattles don’t calm babies.  They set them laughing, wiggling, and kicking, but have you ever tried to rush a baby or a toddler?  Can’t really be done.  They must know something we know-it-all grownups don’t.

Feel the calm of slow motion the next time you’re stressed.  And in that instant, hear the rattle of your life silence itself, even if just for one slow, peaceful moment.

Photo:  Since I have a grandchild on the way, I have rattles on my mind–the good kind.  I don’t think I’ll let the baby play with this antique celuloid model.  That rattle will remain on a high shelf, but if Baby wants brand new rattles, Grandma will take them off the toy store shelf faster than you can say “Do-re-mi.”

Quotes from The Sound of Music In a slow moment, check out these quotes from the movie!  I was amazed how many lines I knew.

Life, Mood, Stress

Just Breathe…

I send out this post with special thoughts for those of you who are worried, weary, grieving, hurt, or ill this holiday season. The holidays are an extra tough time to be dealing with life’s punches.

I’d heard the expression for years.


Big deal.  So what.  Platitude.  Simplistic.

I didn’t get it (and I also didn’t give it much thought).

And then one December, my father was sick.  Really sick.  On his fourth hospital.

Throw in unexpected company, the start of an MFA program, and quickly approaching Christmas with its trappings (or should I say traipsing, here or there in a hundred different directions on holiday errands).

I was opening the car door after finishing another errand.  If I could have sunk through the parking lot to the center of the earth and stayed there, I might have.

I remember holding onto the door handle for a second.   “Breathe,” a voice from within instructed.  “Stand still Barbara and breathe.”

I did.

And then I got it.


Sometimes, standing still and breathing is just  what you need to do.

Sometimes, at least in that moment, it’s all you can do.

But small miracles abound in those breaths.

Almost always, they fuel the courage to go on.

Photo:  On Bald Head Island off the coast of North Carolina, there are four one room cottages that sit by the harbor.  Named for the elements, they are Water, Fire, Earth, and Air.  I present you the sign that hangs on Air, in honor of the air we breathe.  With gratitude, air!

Winners of Unwrapping the Christmas Creche are Elle and Leslie!

Celebrations, Stress

The Magic Guilt-free Holiday Wand and a Picture Book Giveaway

Holiday advice articles and blogs beg us to say no, to take on less, and to use shortcuts at holiday time.  Why then, do you feel so guilty when you do?

Maybe it’s because you don’t have your own Magic Guilt-free Holiday Wand.

One wave of the wand over your holiday head, and you, my sisters, will be ready to give the old heave-ho to obligations, traditions, and requests that are bogging down your holiday spirit and time.

Thanks to  this incredible wand, you’ll be amazed at how happy and relaxed your holidays will be.  And as everyone knows, if the Queen of the Holiday Household ain’t happy, the elves aren’t happy either.

What’s cool about the Magic Guilt-free Holiday Wand is that it’s fun, easy, and inexpensive to make all by your holiday self.

Start with a paper towel tube or an old toothbrush.  Tape or tie a bit of ribbon to the end.  Add a splash of glitter if you’re feeling extra sparkly.

When it’s finished, hold the wand  in front of you.  Say, in a festive voice, “You are my beautiful Magic Guilt-free Holiday Wand.  Help me to make guilt-free decisions this holiday season.”


It’s that simple.

I’m not sending out a family photo shot for the first time in twenty-eight years.  As soon as I made the decision, I just waved my wand, and the guilt was gone.

Well almost.  Sometimes, you have to wave it twice.

Every now and then you have to wave it three times.

But never more than three times, I promise.

Thank you Magic Guilt-free Holiday Wand!

Let me know, dear Holiday Readers, how yours works…

Photo Above:  I found this picture of a magic wand in the School Art Exhibit at the North Carolina State Fair.  I don’t know if it’s a Magic Guilt-free Holiday Wand or not, but I do know it was painted by a clever, creative, sparkly young lady named Sarah.

Giveaway:  Unwrapping the Christmas Creche by Lisa Flinn and Barbara Younger is told in the voice of a child as he or she unwraps the nativity scene from Mary to the shepherds to the wise men to the cow to a visiting dog.   I’m giving away two copies.  Send in a a comment saying you would like to win one of them.   Comments should be posted by Friday, December 16 at noon E.S.T.