Situational Anxiety Interview

Mental Health Matters Interview

Situational Anxiety

Dr. Katherin Garland

Host of Mental Health Matters

This week, I speak with one of my dearest blogging friends, Dr. D!

We discuss all things anxiety. She explains the difference between anxiety disorder and situational anxiety.

Dr. Dinardo provides 3 strategies to help us cope with situational anxiety, especially because it may be heightened during the pandemic and times of racial unrest.

1. Video Format of Interview

Watch on YouTube.

2. Podcast Format of Interview

Available on SoundCloud and Apple Podcasts.

Reflection Questions

  1. What did you learn about situational versus clinical anxiety from our interview?
  2. Can you relate to the personal example of heightened situational anxiety shared by Dr. Garland? How so?
  3. Have you experienced increased situational anxiety since COVID-19? In what areas of your life?
  4. What techniques help you cope with unexpected stressors and challenges?
  5. Do you see failure as a positive or a negative? Why?
  6. How does fear, trepidation, and worry manifest physically in your body?
  7. What would you tell your younger self about stress and anxiety?
Watch Anxiety Video: Click Here 

IS THIS NORMAL? Differential Diagnosis 101

The most common question people ask when they discover I’m a psychologist is – “Is This Normal?

This question is a significant motivator for creating this psychology blog in the first place.

Because too often people suffer because of lack of understanding versus a diagnosable medical condition.

differential diagnosis  ·  the process of differentiating between two or more conditions which share similar signs or symptoms.

Case Study

Two people present with similar symptoms (e.g., rapid heart beat, excessive worrying, difficulty concentrating) with vastly different causes.

On closer inspection

One person’s symptoms is caused by lack of sleep, excessive caffeine consumption, and a recent breakup.

While the other person’s symptoms is caused by a mental illness, as diagnosed by a registered psychologist, using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

One improves with time and lifestyle changes, while the other requires more intensive psychological intervention.

Education Empowers Everyone

This is why it’s my life mission to share psychology everywhere, all the time.

In the classroom. During podcasts. On YouTubeRadioTelevision. Psychology articles, textbooks and blog posts. On the TEDx stage.  Instagram . In between sets at F45 workouts.. and at the local coffee shop.

Psychology is my favourite subject after all.

Psychology Goals

To make DAILY mental health education accessible, sustainable, and easily APPLICABLE.

To eradicate misconceptions about normal versus abnormal functioning.

To help students develop positive coping techniques in fun, interactive, and uplifting ways.

To reduce stigma about mental illness.

To encourage people to seek professional help and guidance for mental health queries.

Instead of simply asking a friend’s opinion on a topic of utmost importance.

Video:

Therapy versus Talking to Friends: What’s the difference?

Especially when it comes to transitory states, emotions, and situations.

Stress versus panic disorder.

Sadness versus clinical depression.

Neatness versus obsessive compulsive disorder.

The topic of this week’s psychology video:

Video:

What’s Normal? What’s Not?

Temporary Emotions versus Mental Illness

For example, distressing emotions often improve with rest, perspective, and time.

While mental illness requires more ongoing medical support and therapy to see improved functioning.

My hope is that mental health education becomes paramount in both the classroom and the doctor’s office.

An ongoing conversation about what’s healthy versus what’s not.

So that people don’t automatically assume they’re mentally ill simply because they’re having a bad day.

More Resources Coming Soon!

Mental Health Matters

Host Dr. Kathy Garland

SITUATIONAL ANXIETY with Dr. Dinardo

Live Interview

Airing July 31, 2020!

Stay Tuned for Dr. Garland’s Video & Podcast!

Peer Pressure: What happened when I quit drinking?

Getting ready for my online summer courses which requires a lot of new psychology videos.

Including video discussions on health, wellness, and personal empowerment.

Similar to in person college classes, the goal is to stimulate active discussions and open communication.

For example:

Discussion Topic

What happened when I quit drinking?

Watch this short video on my own experience with peer pressure, alcohol, and behaviour change and answer the questions below.

Reflection Questions

  1. How has peer pressure influenced your life decisions?
  2. Have you experienced unexpected push back from friends and relatives when you made a significant health change? If so, how did you handle it?
  3. In what ways have your peers and community sabotaged your health and wellness choices?
  4.  In what ways have your peers and community supported your health and wellness choices?
  5. What strategies help you stay committed to positive lifestyle decisions?

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Conversations ⇔ Change 

I also encourage use of this video and reflection questions as an opportunity to talk openly with friends and family about the powerful impact of social influence on substance use. Open conversations empower youth to think for themselves and in turn, reduces their susceptibility to coercion.

Watch Psychology Video Click Here

Ambitious Mama Podcast: Thriving Under Pressure & Posttraumatic Growth

Dr. Andrea Dinardo Ambitious Mama Podcast

Podcast Details & Show Notes

I was recently interviewed by wellness entrepreneur Christa Realba for her Ambitious Mama Podcast Series.

During the podcast, Christa and I discussed how posttraumatic growth and thriving under pressure are possible for all of us.

In different gradients, and at different times for sure. Depending on where you are on your journey.

Dr. Andrea Dinardo PTG Resources
Click Here for Helpful Workbook & Resources

We also discussed how we all have pain and adversity. It’s universal to all of us.

The key is to not get stuck in the challenge and let pain become your identity.

Dr. Andrea Dinardo Resilience

Instead, with support, encouragement, and the right set of resilience skills (this is what I teach), we all have the capacity to grow from difficulty.

To learn from it. To rise up and begin again when the time is right.

In addition to the podcast, resilience is discussed in more detail in my TEDx Talk and on my Psychology Blog, both called “Thriving Under Pressure”: https://DrAndreaDinardo.com

Listen to Podcast

  1.  Apple iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/thriving-under-pressure-with-dr-andrea-dinardo/id1482282864?i=1000464930886
  2. Anchor FM: https://anchor.fm/ambitiousmama/episodes/Thriving-Under-Pressure-with-Dr–Andrea-Dinardo-ealagi
  3. Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/ambitious-mama/e/67169349

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Your Turn

Do you believe thriving under pressure + posttraumatic growth are possible for all of us? Why or why not? Tune into my latest podcast interview and let me know what you think!

Related Post: Teaching Resilience at School

Focus on what’s within your control in life & leadership.

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When things go wrong, what do you focus on first?

The world outside you

or

the world within you?

The following is a video and activity overview from Part 2 of the 2020 SRC Leadership Development Workshop. Click Here for Part 1.

Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.

Be The Change

I believe that (self) control is the foundation of effective leadership because in order to lead others, you must first learn to lead yourself.

  • This concept is based on the Internal versus External Locus of Control developed by psychologist Dr. Julian Rotter.
  • CONTROL is also the second “C” in the Thriving Under Pressure Model discussed in my TEDx Talk.

Leadership Skills Development 

CONTROL – Part 1

In the initial control exercise, participants met in groups to reflect and share their answers to the following questions:

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CONTROL – Part 2

Next, participants applied the C-P-R Model of Sustainable Mental Health Habits to their own experiences as both students and student leaders.

  • This activity helped them focus on the areas of their life, including mental health habits and stress management practices, that is within versus outside their sphere of control.
  • Click Here for the original CPR Blog Post and Video

C. P. R.

CATCH.   PAUSE.   REPAIR.

in action

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1. Student leaders first identified their triggers. Including emotional, cognitive, situational, and physical stressors. CATCH

2. Then they practiced taking a time-out (long deep breath) during high pressure moments. PAUSE

3. Finally, they shared both self-care (fitness, sleep, nutrition) and professional resources (counselling) that help them replenish unmet psychological and physical needs (as outlined on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs). REPAIR

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 Control Video ⇒ Click Here
TEDx Talk ⇒ Click Here

How will you lead your life today?

Strength Based Leadership: ReThink Challenges

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On January 11, 2020, I had the opportunity to work with the student leadership team at St. Clair College in Windsor Ontario.

MISSION AND VISION

The goal was to strengthen the bonds between team members and harness the power of their mission for the 12,500 students on campus.

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Student Representative Council (SRC) Leadership Team

We talked about the many ways challenges can be transformed into opportunities.

And how pressure can be used in a positive way to motivate us to the next level of our lives.

CHALLENGE is the first “C” in the “Stress to Strength” model from my Thriving Under Pressure TEDx Talk. Photo below.

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Psychology of Leadership 

In the video from the leadership workshop I give an overview of the ABC Model of Cognitive Psychology and the Flow Model of Optimal Performance.

We also discussed why resilience is not so much about what happened, but our thoughts about what happened.

Listen in for more:

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

More videos and learning moments from the leadership event to come. Stay Tuned! Dr. D 📚❤️

Special thanks to UWSA VP of Advocacy Arop Plaek Deng for being the photographer and videographer at the SRC Leadership Event 📸 
Challenge Video ⇒ Click Here
TEDx Talk ⇒ Click Here

Coping with loneliness during the holidays.

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When we feel a painful emotion, our first instinct is to pull away. To numb the pain. To hide from the intensity.

This was the case for Sarah and Jack, two unique individuals with vastly different circumstances. But they each experienced the same emotion: loneliness. An emotion that is heightened during the holidays.

Original Source:

I originally wrote this article for The Drive Magazine.

https://thedrivemagazine.com/posts/lean-into-loneliness/

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SARAH

Sarah was a 42-year-old recently divorced woman who was about to face her first holiday season alone. Living in a new town, miles away from friends and family, she was waiting to begin a new job in January. Hours felt like days.

Days felt like months. Sarah had tried everything to fill the void inside. The mistake she made was running away from the one thing that would help get her to the other side: loneliness itself.

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Knowledge is power

1. Understand the emotion

We need to first understand an emotion before we jump to the conclusion that it’s either good or bad, because in reality, emotions are almost entirely physiological in nature.

There’s not a negative or positive to them. It’s in our mind that we make it one or the other. This concept is supported by Schachter-Singer’s theory of emotion:

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This theory of emotion explains why two people can experience the exact same event and have completely different emotional reactions to it.

What matters most is the person’s interpretation of an event, not the event itself. After all, as they say, one person’s glass-half-full is another one’s glass-half-empty.

In Sarah’s situation, she interpreted her physiological response to idle time as loneliness, while another person might label it as much-needed relaxation. Ultimately, Sarah has a choice. One interpretation debilitates; the other empowers.

2. Witness the emotion

Now that Sarah understands the interpretative power she holds over her environmental triggers, the next step is to witness loneliness in a neutral, curious state rather than fighting it at every turn.

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In doing so, Sarah neutralizes the intensity of her emotions, allowing them to flow through her, rather than getting stuck in a repetitive loop of pain.

Here are four simple ways to create space between triggers and responses:

1. Count to 10

2. Take a long deep breath

3. Make three wishes

4. Look up at the sky

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Taken one step further, each time that Sarah experiences a challenging emotion during the holidays, rather than running from it she needs to lean in and ask that emotion, “What are you trying to teach me?”

3. Reframe the emotion

The final step for Sarah is to learn how to reframe the situations that trigger her loneliness, and understand why sometimes she overreacts, while other times she lets go without a second thought.

Solitude is perceived as isolation by one person and freedom by another.

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Reframing exercise:

1. Identify a situation that triggers loneliness.

2. Imagine the best-case scenario: “This situation is temporary.”

3. Look for evidence of the best-case scenario: “The longest I’ve been single is two years.”

4. Describe the worst-case scenario: “I will be alone forever.”

5. Name the benefits of the worst-case scenario: “I am free to do what I want.”

6. Finally, ask for help in reframing triggers, especially when feeling overwhelmed.

Once Sarah learns how to change the story “behind” the story, her instinctive loneliness lessens. And her ability to choose a higher thought improves.

Watch Video Summary

Click Here

JACK

At 55 years of age, Jack was also feeling the pangs of loneliness. His wife of 25 years died suddenly of a heart attack two years ago.

Unexpected was an understatement. They had run in three marathons together and had spent their weekends sampling new vegan restaurants in their local community. Ever since his wife had died, Jack struggled to face the holidays alone.

Jack’s story is as much about him as it is about the family around him. His family and friends’ automatic response was to feel sorry for him, a response that compounded his feelings of disconnectedness and misunderstanding.

Jack did not want people to feel sorry for him. He was a proud man who was ready to move on.

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Get out of your own head

1. Meet with “experienced” widowers

As much as Jack missed his wife, he also missed his ability to connect authentically with friends and family. Having been treated with kid gloves since his wife died, Jack longed to be seen as a victor rather than a victim

As such, I encourage Jack to connect with like-minded individuals who had been through a similar situation: widows and widowers. Specifically, ones who had been on their own for several years.

The benefits are twofold. One, Jack would learn new ways of relating to friends and family. And two, he’d be given the green light to grow and acclimate to his new circumstances.

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2. Connect with others in unexpected, low-pressure ways

The other component missing in Jack’s life was fun. Simple, cheerful, good-time fun. Everything had become so serious since his wife died, with almost every conversation beginning or ending with his wife’s death.

There was no doubt that he missed her with all his heart. But equally, he longed for moments where he could be free of the loneliness and pain.

I recommend that Jack reintroduce sports into his life. Something non-competitive that would get him out of the house on a Wednesday night. Better yet, if it involved people that he had never met, it would allow him to continue his journey of reinvention and rediscovery.

Equally therapeutic for Jack would be joining a cinema group or regular euchre meetup—both would offer him a chance to be in the moment and enjoy the simple pleasures in life.

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3. Honour the old, create the new

Finally, I advise Jack to examine the memories and traditions that he wanted to keep alive during the holidays—and, equally, the ones of which he was ready to let go.

Jack took the practice one step further. Declaring December a month of renewal and reinvention, he revived a strength and peace inside that radiated out to his entire family.

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

Conclusion 

Jack and Sarah have a lot to teach us about loneliness and how important it is to honour the unique ways in which we process adversity.

One size does not fit all. Fellowship and fun were vital for Jack’s growth and recovery, while Sarah needed a more analytical approach to processing difficulty.

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• Lean into loneliness

• Approach it with openness and curiosity

• Make space for the lessons beneath the suffering

Disclaimer: This post and magazine article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. To protect the privacy of individuals, names and identifying details have been changed.

Your Turn

1. How do you cope with difficult emotions during the holidays?

2. What strategies do you use to make peace with the heightened pressures of the Christmas season?

3. What are your unique traditions and one-of-a-kind celebrations?

Video of Blog Post → Click Here

Body Image: Don’t Believe Everything You Think 💭

Perception versus Reality

I was motivated to write this post and film the accompanying video after witnessing so many of my students overwrought by feelings of inadequacy regarding their body image and self worth.

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There was no doubt that in reality they were healthy and whole, but in their minds, they believed the opposite.

 The Antidote

The following is a set of questions that challenge irrational perceptions and cognitive distortions using reality itself.

The inquiry is not limited to body image and weight and thus can be applied in any areas where you find yourself caught in a repetitive thought loop.

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Reality Testing Homework:

  1. How do I know if this thought is accurate?
  2. What evidence do I have to support this thought or belief?
  3. How can I test my assumptions/beliefs to find out if they’re accurate?
  4. Do I have a trusted friend whom I can check out these thoughts with?
  5. Is this thought helpful?
  6. Are there other ways that I can think about this or myself?
  7. Is it really in my control?
  8. Am I overgeneralizing?
  9. Am I making assumptions?
  10. What would I say to a friend in this situation?
  11. Can I look for “shades of gray”?
  12. Am I assuming the worst?
  13. Am I holding myself to an unreasonable standard?
  14. Are there exceptions to these absolutes (always, never)?
  15. Am I making this personal when it isn’t?

Source: Challenging Cognitive Distortions

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Related Research & Articles

1. Past visual experiences weigh in on body size estimation. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-18418-3#Sec2

2. The image in the mirror and the number on the scale: Weight, Weight Perceptions, and Adolescent Depressive Symptoms. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3610322/

3. Perception versus reality of body weight: Which matters most. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0165032713002905

4. How social media contributes to body dysmorphia. https://www.thelexingtonline.com/blog/2018/5/7/how-social-media-contributes-to-body-dysmorphic-behaviors

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REFLECTION QUESTIONS

What are your perceptual filters?

Rose coloured? Perfectionist? Overachiever?

How often do you TEST reality?

Do you believe everything you think?

Click Here to Watch Video

DrAndreaDinardo.com

Thriving Teams. Thriving Leaders.

THRIVING TEAMS Dr. Andrea Dinardo

LESSONS LEARNED

In the post below, I share lessons learned at a recent thriving student leadership  teams workshop.

It was a true team effort!  With the team-building and leadership exercises equally led by the student leaders and myself.

ThrivingTeamsLearnTogether

Please join in and explore the reflection questions, interactive activities, and workshop videos with the teams in your life.

Together Everyone Achieves More!

WHAT HELPS TEAMS FLOURISH & THRIVE?

1. Compassion and Empathy

“It takes both sides to build a bridge.”

Perspective taking exercise.

Discussion Questions:
1. Identify a problem you have faced as a student leader.
2. Determine what’s “below the surface” that could potentially be the source of the problem.
3. Explore the problem from the perspective of the student.
4. Describe the problem and potential solution using both the leader’s and the student’s perspectives.
5. Summarize the lessons and potential opportunities of the original problem. Eg. What did you learn about yourself? What did you learn about the student?

“Together We Rise.”

UWSA Student Leaders BOD

2. Conscious Goal Setting

“Goals with Soul.”

Personal and Team goal setting exercise.

Discussion Questions:
1. What are your goals as student leader for the school year?
2. What are your goals as team member for the school year?
3. What are your greatest assets for the team?
4. What areas do you need assistance from the team?

“Teamwork makes the dream work.”

UWSA Student Leaders Executive

3. Shared Vision

“Your life is your message to the world.”

“What’s Your North Star?” team building exercise.

Discussion Questions:
1. What’s Your Purpose?
2. What Lights Your Way?
3. What Bonds and Unites Your Team?

“What’s Your Why?”

WHY Vision Board.2

Everyday Leadership

  • I encourage you to try our Thriving Teams Thriving Leaders Exercises in your own life.
  • Whether it be your family team, your friendship team, your neighbourhood team, your church team, or your sports team.
  •  Teams are everywhere!

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Assistance from UWSA Team

The videos in this post were filmed with the generous help of student leaders during my THRIVING TEAMS presentation at the University of Windsor Students’ Alliance (UWSA) Summer Board Retreat.

What an incredible group of leaders they are!

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Helpful Resources

  1. TEDx Talk: Thriving Under Pressure
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czXG8odb7pY
  2.  University of Windsor Students’ Alliance (UWSA) website
    http://www.uwsa.ca

“Teamwork divides the task and multiplies the success.”

ABC Technique: Transforming Painful Experiences

 Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing: your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.

The Stories We Tell Ourselves 

In this blog post and classroom video, I share strategies for transforming painful experiences. Especially those beyond your control.

Strategies include: Cognitive reframing (identifying and then disputing irrational or maladaptive thoughts) and the ABC technique (Antecedent, Belief, Consequence).

Dr. Andrea Dinardo ABC Technique

I also discuss my latest article in The Drive Magazine (link to article below) where I help a good friend transform the painful story in his life (house flood) into a more meaningful and empowering experience.

Read Here: https://www.thedrivemagazine.com/posts/the-stories-we-tell-ourselves

Dr. Andrea Dinardo The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Tips for Transforming the Painful Story in Your Life

1. Talk to others who have overcome similar circumstances. Be open to their lessons.

 2. Ask five people to identify five strengths. Refer to them during the low points in your day.

3. Reflect on times in your life when you have successfully overcome adversity.

4. Be proud of what you’ve been through and have faith in where you’re going.

Excerpt From The Stories We Tell Ourselves, The Drive Magazine

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

To Watch Video Click Here

DrAndreaDinardo.com