Health (USA) - - Success In Sight -

Get a sneak peek at fit­ness guru Jil­lian Michaels’ new book, The 6 Keys.

Lynn Sal­adino, PSYD, shares her pro­fes­sional ad­vice on harm­ful phone habits, so­cial anx­i­ety, and more.

My friends have ac­cused me of phub­bing (snub­bing them to look at my phone). I don’t even re­al­ize I’m do­ing it any­more; it’s so au­to­matic. How do I stop?

Phub­bing is one of those habits that can seem harm­less, yet be in­fu­ri­at­ing to those around you. Where you di­rect your at­ten­tion in­di­cates your pri­or­ity at the mo­ment.

Even if you’re an ex­cel­lent mul­ti­tasker, us­ing your phone while hang­ing with your friends sends the mes­sage that they’re not im­por­tant enough

to war­rant your full at­ten­tion, which doesn’t make any­one feel great!

To rem­edy the prob­lem, try to fig­ure out why you’re on your phone so often. Are you es­cap­ing to so­cial me­dia be­cause you feel so­cially awk­ward? Or are you afraid of miss­ing im­por­tant mes­sages?

Once you know the “why,” you can start prob­lem-solv­ing. For ex­am­ple, if you keep check­ing your screen be­cause you don’t want to miss a call from your sit­ter, set your phone to ring only if it’s her; and let your friends know you’re ex­pect­ing a call. This al­lows you to man­age your own worry and elim­i­nates any as­sump­tion that you’re dis­in­ter­ested in the con­ver­sa­tion tak­ing place right in front of you.

If you’re find­ing that your phub­bing is, in fact, purely habit, try plac­ing your phone out of reach, or ac­tu­ally turn­ing it off. Your friends will ap­pre­ci­ate it, and you’ll likely en­joy your so­cial time a lot more when you’re not teth­ered to a de­vice.

When I’m un­der the gun at work, I tend to get short with my part­ner. Any tips for leav­ing that ten­sion at the of­fice?

Isn’t it ironic that we often take out our worst stress on those we love most? One rea­son for this is that it takes en­ergy to be pa­tient and kind; and if you’re get­ting squeezed at work, your en­ergy is likely in short sup­ply. We also tend to feel that we can be our “true” selves with our part­ners—which, in your state, might be an over­tired, grumpy mon­ster. Lucky them!

Your ac­knowl­edg­ment of the is­sue is an im­por­tant first step. Now think about what you don’t like about your cur­rent be­hav­ior and what you do like. Then set an in­ten­tion about the kind of part­ner you want to be and write it down. Be spe­cific and use pos­i­tive lan­guage. For ex­am­ple, “I want to be kind by ask­ing about your day” is a lot more pow­er­ful than “I don’t want to be a jerk.”

Once you’ve cho­sen an in­ten­tion, ask your­self what you need to do to ful­fill it. One pos­si­bil­ity might be cre­at­ing some sort of tran­si­tion be­tween work and home, so you can be more fo­cused when you en­gage with your part­ner in the evenings. Us­ing a meditation app on your com­mute, or walk­ing the dog or tak­ing a quick shower be­fore din­ner might do the trick.

It’s also a good idea to work with your part­ner to cre­ate a plan that al­lows you both to feel sup­ported. That might in­clude shift­ing house­hold re­spon­si­bil­i­ties or or­ga­niz­ing a nice week­end to­gether once the dust set­tles. This helps your part­ner feel like a pri­or­ity, rather than feel­ing like a re­cip­i­ent of your “left­over” en­ergy af­ter a long day at the of­fice.

As some­one who strug­gles with so­cial anx­i­ety, the hol­i­days are not my fa­vorite time of year. What’s your ad­vice for nav­i­gat­ing all the par­ties and re­unions in the weeks ahead?

For peo­ple with so­cial anx­i­ety, hol­i­day cheer can eas­ily turn into hol­i­day fear. To stay calm and in con­trol this sea­son, do some ad­vance plan­ning: Take a look at your so­cial cal­en­dar and care­fully choose the events you’ll at­tend. Many peo­ple say yes to more than they can han­dle. De­cide which par­ties are most im­por­tant, and de­cline oth­ers quickly to get them off your mind. If guilt over miss­ing a friend’s soiree is both­er­ing you, ar­range to get to­gether for a low-stress din­ner af­ter the hol­i­days, to show that you value the friend­ship even though you can’t make the big event.

To re­duce your stress at the par­ties you do at­tend, do some prep work ahead of time. For ex­am­ple, if your ef­forts at small

talk often end in awk­ward si­lences, brain­storm top­ics you’re com­fort­able bring­ing up. High­light­ing com­mon­al­i­ties, such as how you know the host, or com­pli­ment­ing some­thing the other per­son is wear­ing can keep the con­ver­sa­tion flow­ing.

Also think about how you’ll re­spond to ques­tions you might be feel­ing sen­si­tive about, such as your re­la­tion­ship sta­tus if you re­cently went through a breakup, or your work if you’re not lov­ing your job right now. By an­swer­ing sim­ply and then chang­ing the sub­ject to some­thing you’re look­ing for­ward to, like an up­com­ing va­ca­tion, you can re­di­rect the con­ver­sa­tion into safer ter­ri­tory.

Be­ing de­lib­er­ate will al­low you to get through the event with less anx­i­ety.

And a fi­nal word of ad­vice: Use cau­tion with the crutches that help ease your stress in the mo­ment, such as sweets and al­co­hol. It’s easy to go over­board when you’re ner­vous, which only leads to re­gret later.

My sis­ter and I have al­ways been com­pet­i­tive with each other, and it re­ally takes a toll on me. How can I bow out of the cy­cle?

Sib­lings—they’re the op­po­nents who never go away. Com­pe­ti­tion be­tween sis­ters often starts early and can last a life­time. If she fre­quently re­ceived praise when you were kids, you worked even harder to grab the spot­light. If you were ac­cus­tomed to be­ing num­ber one, you made sure your sta­tus was se­cure.

Break­ing this cy­cle is a worth­while goal, but be fore­warned, it can be chal­leng­ing. Start by tak­ing a hard look at your rea­sons for com­pet­ing with her. Some­times it’s just ha­bit­ual. Other times it’s a deeper feel­ing that you’re “less than.”

If that’s the case, iden­tify the ar­eas of your life where you feel in­fe­rior to your sis­ter and as­sess which are ac­tu­ally im­por­tant to you. Say you’re sav­ing to up­grade to a new home, for ex­am­ple.

Is it be­cause your fam­ily needs more space—or do you sim­ply want to one-up Sis? If your mo­ti­va­tion has more to do with her than any­thing else, gen­tly ac­knowl­edge that, and move on to goals that are bet­ter suited to you.

The bot­tom line: Some­times we in­stinc­tively want to fol­low in our si­b­ling’s foot­steps, but it’s im­por­tant to make sure your fo­cus is aligned with who you are, not who she is. For in­stance, maybe she’s a nat­u­rally good gift giver and al­ways picks out the per­fect hol­i­day presents, while you are a fi­nan­cial whiz and help your mom and dad do their taxes ev­ery spring. By ac­knowl­edg­ing and ac­cept­ing your dif­fer­ent strengths, you’ll be­gin to see your sis­ter as her own per­son rather than a bet­ter or worse ver­sion of your­self.

Jil­lian Michaels gets us think­ing about DNA.

Can’t stop check­ing your screen? Fig­ur­ing out why can help you quit.

Dr. Lynn LYNN SAL­ADINO is a clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist in New York City spe­cial­iz­ing in weight man­age­ment, re­la­tion­ships, and life tran­si­tions.

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