2021 Reset: Prioritizing Mental Wellness

2021 Reset: Prioritizing Mental Wellness

While the month of January marks the beginning of a new year, it has also turned into a month of setting high expectations and lofty resolutions for individuals. While goals are great to have, and promote both professional and personal growth, they often weigh heavily on our mental wellness. As we fully settle into the new year, it is important to check in with yourself, see how these “resolutions” may have affected you over the past few months, and ways to prioritize your mental wellness. 

Take a Break

One of the best ways to prioritize your mental wellness is to avoid burnout as best as possible. In order to do so, it is important to take breaks- and often. Whether that be a break from a project you’ve committed yourself to, a relationship that is no longer mutually beneficial, or a goal you’ve been tirelessly working to cross off your resolutions list, taking time to step back will allow you to approach any task with a clearer mindset and accomplish more.

Another common issue linked with burnout is setting unrealistic expectations for yourself. Often the effects of not reaching your unrealistic goals include disappointment and frustration. Taking a step back (or to the side) and thinking about what is realistic increases the likelihood of getting done what you are wanting to. Setting realistic goals leads to higher satisfaction and will support you in feeling good about yourself and proud of your accomplishments. 

Do What You Love

Carving out time on a daily basis for yourself is crucial in truly prioritizing your mental wellness. If you’re having trouble figuring out where to begin, start the moment you wake up in the morning. Set an alarm just a few minutes earlier in order to dedicate time to do something you enjoy or start your day out well. You might choose to wake up and do a mindfulness exercise, play a game on your phone, journal, or practice yoga. What you choose does not have to be goal oriented. It is more important to focus on actually enjoying yourself than measuring your progress when it comes to your mental wellness.

We often hear people’s goals consist of “read more” or “eat healthier,” but often these become more like chores as opposed to activities we actually enjoy doing and look forward to. By focusing more on what you love and less on what you need to accomplish, you’ll find more fulfillment in these activities. Perhaps you can just change the language a bit and replace these goals with “read for 10 minutes a day” and “eat one vegetable a day”, making them easier to measure and strive for. 

Talk to Someone 

Unlike some of the goals you may have written down in January, prioritizing mental wellness isn’t one you can cross off as easily. Making your mental health a daily priority takes time and a commitment to YOU. The first step of course is making a conscious commitment to making it a consistent part of your life. Talking to a friend or family member about your plan is another great way to get started. You can even have them be an accountability partner who you can check in with and encourage one another. Our team of healthcare professionals is also available to help guide you through this ongoing process. By starting the conversation regarding your own mental wellness and wellbeing, you’re setting yourself up for a great year ahead, no matter what day it may be. 

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What is Sports Psychology and Could You Benefit?

What is Sports Psychology? 

Sports Psychology is the use of psychological knowledge and skills to encourage optimal performance and well-being of athletes. It also addresses the developmental, social, and systemic components of sports and the organizations, coaches, and players involved.

How do you know if you need one? 

  • Is your performance suffering?
  • Do you have negative thoughts about your skills or mental toughness?
  • Do you feel overwhelmed with balancing life and sport?
  • Do you lose focus easily or struggle to cope with pressure?

Or… Are you…

  • Looking to develop your mental skills?
  • Improve your grit and self-confidence?
  • Enhance your optimal performance level?
  • Increase your concentration and ability to deal with adversity?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these then a sports therapist is for you! We help both struggling athletes to improve and successful athletes to increase their performance by utilizing psychological techniques and proficiencies.  Whole Health Psychological Center’s Intern Lauren Clem specializes in Sports Psychology!

Here are a few links about Sports Psychology and therapists and their impact on athletes of all ages:

A Growing Demand for Sport Psychologists
Inside the Mind of Champion Athletes
Sports Psych for Young Athletes 

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Partner Communication: Do’s and Don’ts


By: Drema Carpenter, Psy.D., Post-Doctoral Resident

Healthy communication is the key to a healthy relationship. When healthy communication is not used, false assumptions and misinterpretations occur. Understanding and identifying Do’s and Don’ts to communication is the first step to improving or maintaining a healthy relationship. However, this takes practice! There are four main Do’s:  Reflections, “I” Statements, Relationship Conflict Resolution, and Assertive Communication. 

Reflections guide us to become better listeners for our partners. They are used by repeating back what the partner originally said but in your own words. By repeating what your partner said in your own words, you are showing them you did not just hear them, but you understand them as well. An example of a reflection would be, “I get so angry when you come home late without calling. You do not care if I am waiting on you to eat dinner or not.” The partner could respond back by stating, “You feel angry and do not feel like a priority when I do not call to remain on the same page as you. It is important to you that I communicate what time I will be home.” Another important note when practicing reflections is the tone of voice that is being used. Use a tone that comes across as a statement. You want your message to your partner to come across as you attempting to understand them, as opposed to being argumentative. Your reflections do not have to always be accepted 100% by your partner. It is okay for your partner(s) to let you know if you missed something that is important to them or if they don’t think you understood what they were saying. If the partner did not mention an emotion initially, observe their tone and body language and reflect the emotion that is being sent to you to confirm if this is accurate for them. Examples of how to reflect back to see if you are understanding them more clearly are: “I hear you saying…,” “I imagine you feel…,” or “What I hear you saying is that…” By starting with these statements, you are acknowledging them and confirming the message you are hearing fits what they are saying and feeling. 

“I” Statements are used to focus on the person sending and to reduce defensiveness. By starting the statement using “I”, you are able to explain how you feel in a way that your partner can hear. A good “I” statement takes responsibility for one’s own feelings that is difficult to argue with, because you are speaking about your feelings. The statement goes as follows; “I feel_____(emotion) when____(situation).” Be careful how you verbalize the situation that caused the emotion. For instance, be aware of your tone and if your wording is blaming the other person. The following table shows some blaming versus “I” statement examples

Blaming “I” Statements
“You can’t keep coming home so late, it’s inconsiderate.” “I feel worried when you come home late, I cannot sleep.”
“You never call me, I guess we will only speak on your terms.” “I feel sad and my feelings are hurt when you do not call, I feel disconnected and insecure when you don’t call. 

Relationship Conflict Resolution involves focusing on the problem, not the person. This means that during a disagreement or argument, the tone remains calm, there is no blaming the other person, the argument does not involve personal insults, raised voices, or mocking each other. You simply focus on the problem, not the person. Using reflective listening during a conflict can be helpful; repeating back what your partner said in your own words. Use “I” statements, take a time-out from each other, and work towards a resolution. When working towards a resolution, sometimes a compromise (or finding a middle ground you are both comfortable with) has to take place.

Assertive Communication is when both individuals are able to express their thoughts and emotions and feel respected at the same time. When assertive communication is used, the person is providing information regarding their needs, wants, and feelings. In order to use assertive communication effectively, you want to listen without interrupting, clearly state what the needs and wants are, show that you are willing to compromise, stand up for your own rights/morals, use a confident tone and body language, and make good eye contact. Examples of assertive communication include: 

“I completely understand what you’re saying but I have to disagree,” 
“I feel frustrated when you are late for meetings. I don’t like having to repeat information.”
Can you please explain the reasoning behind your decision, so I can try to understand why you chose it,”
“I understand that you have a need to talk but I need to finish what I’m doing. Can we meet in half an hour?” 
“I want you to help me with this report,” “Can you suggest a time we can talk about the missed deadline. I’m concerned.”

The two primary don’ts include Passive and Aggressive Communication. Passive communication is when an individual prioritizes the wants and needs of someone else even at their own expense. During passive communication, the person is not expressing their own feelings or needs, they are simply adhering to the other person’s needs. When this occurs, the person using passive communication is setting themselves up to be possibly taken advantage of, even by people that may not realize they are doing this. Some factors that fit with passive communication include being soft-spoken and quiet, allowing others to take advantage, prioritizing needs of others, uses poor eye contact (looks down or away), not expressing their own needs or wants, and lacking confidence.

In aggressive communication, the person is only expressing their own needs, wants, and feelings. The other person is being bullied, ignored, or dismissed. Aggressive communication signs include being easily frustrated, speaking loud or in an overbearing way, unwilling to compromise, using criticism and humiliation, domination, frequently interrupting and not listening to the other person, and acting disrespectful towards others. 



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7 Ways to Deepen Your Intimate Connection With Your Partner By: Danielle Graves, M.A.

Have you ever experienced a strong attraction (good chemistry) towards your
partner but felt like the intimacy and connection were lacking? Maybe you’re
wondering why you are feeling unfulfilled in your relationship and if there is
something more that can be done. There could be a few possible reasons for this.

Let’s think about relationships like tending a garden. They need a certain level of de-
weeding, and fertilizing to grow, not to mention consistent sunlight and watering. You
can only imagine what the garden would look like if left alone.

There are certain plants that need more attention than others, and when the
responsibility for tending the garden is shared to align with the strengths of each person,
it will surely continue to thrive.

Like tending a garden, the best relationships happen when both partners invest their
time and energy into growing the relationship and are open to adapting when
necessary. Then it becomes an experience that both of partners co-create; it becomes
an experience done together.

In order for you to experience a deeper, more intimate connection with your partner,
attraction and affection need to be present. Having one instead of the other can almost
determine the longevity of a relationship. Attraction is based on the sexual and romantic
desire that brought you two together. Affection is the fondness and care that keeps you
together. If attraction were the type of flowers you have growing in your garden, then
affection is the tending and fertilizer.

Once that is established, there are many ways that you can enhance the intimate
connection in your relationship. Intimacy can be divided up into categories such as
sexual, emotional, romantic, intellectual, and so on. Decide what is important for each
person and build on that. Whether you’ve been seeing someone new and are still
getting to know each other on a deeper level, or if you are with a long-term partner(s)
and looking to re-ignite the spark, the following suggestions will surely lead to a stronger

1. Open and Honest Communication to Build Trust
Communication is the key to all the categories of intimacy, and self-reflection is crucial
because it reveals your desires so that you can better communicate them.

First, explore what it is you believe you need in order to feel a deeper connection with
your partner and then learn how to voice that to them. Give them the space to voice
their needs and desires as well.

For example, when reflecting on sexual intimacy, if what you are craving is more
foreplay, more cuddles, more pillow talk, etc. then being able to communicate that to
your partner is essential. Sometimes communication can be difficult, especially in newer
relationships. If you find that to be the case, consider using a card game inspired for
opening up more intimate conversations in a fun way. I came across this card game
called ‘Connect’ and it is designed to be played by couples to discuss topics that truly
matter and which foster connection and closeness. You can purchase your own deck
online or use some of these prompts from the deck as thought-starters.
● What I really admire about you is…
● When appreciative friends discuss us, what do you think they might celebrate in
● How would you like to come back together again at the end of every day?
● The trick to understanding why I can sometimes be difficult is to remember that…

For those of you whose partner(s) is a bit of a mystery, this game will give them the
opportunity to share more about themselves. If they don’t like the idea then try the other
methods for connection first.

2. Speak each other’s ‘Love Languages’

Gary Chapman who authored the book “The 5 Love Languages” came up with five
general ways that romantic partners express and experience love. Oftentimes we
assume that our partner wants to receive love in the same way that we do, and this can
lead to frustration and disappointment when your kind gestures are not as deeply
appreciated. The 5 ways we experience love are through Words of Affirmation, Acts
of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.
If your partner’s love language is quality time but you are too busy working and keep
buying them expensive gifts instead, they aren’t going to be satisfied in the long-term.

3. Kiss More &  Kiss for Longer

Recreate those passionate movie kisses to build attraction and connection. A 2013
study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior reported that frequent kissing is correlated with
a couple’s perception of the quality of their relationship and specifically, the more
kissing there is, the higher levels of happiness that is reported. However, kissing can
start fading the longer a relationship goes. One study found that 1 in 5 couples don’t
even kiss at all. So, try not to forget the most powerful kissing moments you had at the
start of your relationship and make kissing a regular part of your relationship.

Kissing is commonly the first event that often takes place before engaging in other
sexual activity. It helps you decide your sexual compatibility and desire for this person
before sex and gives you both more time to build up that sexual anticipation. Be mindful
of why you kiss though because kissing that is done in order to initiate sex does not
always turn out favorably when one partner is not in the mood and would prefer to
connect in other ways. Kissing throughout the day and during sex is a sign of affection.

4. Explore sensuality without the goal of orgasm

To continue on the topic of sexual intimacy, take your time exploring each other’s
bodies and fantasies without orgasm being the only goal. By taking your time, you will
learn to appreciate each other more on both an emotional and physical level. Going
back to my gardening example, flowers need time to grow before they blossom. Enjoy
every moment of growth that brings you closer to reaching the full potential of the
relationship and your connection.

Good communication will come in handy when discussing what ways you like to engage
in foreplay and what ways don’t get you as turned on. Here are some ideas you can
incorporate into your next enhanced foreplay session:
● Try giving each other full body oil massages
● Introduce some fantasies through role play
● Experience physical closeness through cuddling and talking in the place you
most associate with sexual intimacy, without the intention of doing more.

6. Seek Advice from a Couple’s or Sex Therapist

There may be deeper rooted issues that keep us blocked from deepening our
connection and receiving counseling can reveal our own (or our partner’s) fears of
intimacy or more fully understand what is going on.

7. Form New Relationship Habits

To conclude, my final suggestion is to use all this advice to develop new habits in your
relationship. If you don’t like the way things have been flowing, then changing a few
behaviors might just improve the whole pattern.
For example, instead of jumping out of bed to take a shower immediately after sex, lay
there for a while and enjoy the afterglow together. Talk about what you enjoyed the
most from the experience to keep it lasting longer. Develop a shared morning or
evening ritual that allows you to expand upon the type of intimacy or affection you need

This article was intended to reveal some of the many ways that you can use to improve
your relationship. Be creative and try what works best for you and your partner(s) while
seeking outside guidance from a therapist who specializes in sex and relationships, if
you feel stuck.


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Socializing By: Rachel Needle, Psy.D.

8 Amazing Ways to Socialize During the Coronavirus Pandemic to Improve Your Mental Health and Well-Being | Socializing

By: Rachel Needle, Psy.D.


“Social distancing &Socializing” has recently become our new norm due to the mandated restrictions for

preventing the spread of the Coronavirus. The phrase “social distancing” sends the message

that we should not be interacting with others causing us to feel lonely, stressed, and worried.

Socializing is essential for human survival, so we must continue to socialize. 

Let’s think about this a little differently. Instead of using “social distancing,” let’s change it to “physical distancing.” A change in language can change how your brain processes the information.

When switching “social” with “physical,” our brain can process this as maintaining social interaction

rather than eliminating it. When our brain processes the information in this way, it allows us to

feel less stressed and isolated.

We can continue to physically distance ourselves from others while still socializing! 

Obvious Routes of Socializing

The most obvious method of socializing is through phone calls, text messaging, and social media.

You can use these methods just to check in with your family and friends, or to consistently

keep in contact with them.  

Phone calls allow you to hear someone else’s voice. Hearing the familiar voices of your loved

ones can help reduce depressive thoughts. So, utilizing phone calls is more beneficial than

conversing through text or e-mail messages. 

Connect Virtually

Virtually connecting with your friends and family allows you to not only hear their voice, but to

see them as well. There are many, MANY programs available for you to connect with others via video.

All you need is an electronic device and an internet connection. Here are some platforms you can try:

  • Zoom
  • Google Hangouts
  • Meet 

You can also use this method to engage in activities together. You can play games or even create a

craft, watch a show or cook a meal together. 

Connecting virtually allows you to socialize while still maintaining physical distancing, all while

having the ability to see and hear your friends and family!

Socialize with Some Fresh Air

Take a stroll around your neighborhood or hop in your car and take a ride around town.

You may be wondering how exactly socializing fits in here. On your adventure you will

possibly see others out as well. Don’t get close to them, just give them a wave or say, “Hello.” 

Keep an eye out for messages or fun designs on sidewalks and windows.

People are developing initiatives to involve large groups of people to create positive vibes around the world. These initiatives are aimed at lifting others’ spirits and allow for socializing without

getting physically close. Here are some examples:

Chalk Your Walk

Encouraging messages are being portrayed on sidewalks and driveways in chalk. The idea is for

you to decorate your property, and then take a look around your neighborhood to see colorful

messages from others.

Teddy Bear in Window

Search for teddy bears or other stuffed animals in windows. This initiative allows children to

participate in a fun scavenger hunt to seek out and wave to cuddly friends. You can search

for #BearHunt on social media to learn more!

Hearts and Positive Messages in Windows

Colorful paper hearts and positive messages are decorating the windows of many houses and

businesses. A variety of Facebook groups are being dedicated to posting pictures of people’s

window creations to show support and spread love during this difficult time.

Support Businesses While Socializing

Businesses that remain open are being creative in their own ways. Here are some examples of

how businesses are being supported while still allowing for social interaction.

Bakeries are putting together cookie decorating kits allowing people to send boxes filled with cut-out

cookies complete with frosting and sprinkles. Those sending these kits to their loved ones can

also request a special message to be written on the box. 

Various restaurants are creating family meal kits for others to send to those they care about as well.

These meal kits provide a cooked meal for the entire family.

Interactive businesses, such as fitness-based companies, are portraying videos via social media

to continue to keep their business open while maintaining a connection with their customers.

Socializing in Your Own Home

While you have to physically distance yourself from everyone, if you are all staying home you

can have less distance with the family members or pets within your own home. 

If you have family members living with you at home, take the extra time to soak up all that extra family time.

Play games together, have a dance party, bake something everyone enjoys, or just relax and

watch movies. Focus on what you are feeling grateful for, which will help boost your mood!

Pets are not only great socializers, they have amazing mental health benefits as well.

They are there for you to play with, make you smile, and keep you company. And petting them

can help reduce stress and worry.

Keep On Socializing!

While we are required to physically distance ourselves from others, we have ways to continue to

socialize to reduce stress and anxiety, stay positive, and feel connected to others.

So, practice gratitude and go ahead and keep socializing!

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feeling scared

Watching Scary Movies: Why do some people enjoy feeling scared?

Why do some people enjoy feeling scared?

With today being Halloween, this is the time of year (and literally the day) when people look

forward to being scared and seek ways to experience fear. Going to a haunted house, riding

a roller coaster, or just watching a scary movie are some of the ways people look to the

pleasurable, lighter side of feeling fear.

But not everyone enjoys feeling scared, so…what makes it so fun for some?

There are several factors that contribute to the enjoyment of fear, causing people to seek it out.

The first of these factors is the physiological response we get from feeling scared.

This response is called the excitation transfer process or fight or flight response. It is caused by

the autonomic nervous system releasing chemicals such as adrenaline which causes our heart

rate, energy, blood pressure and breathing to increase.

After we experience the fearful event, our bodies remain in an excited state which enhances overall emotions.

For example, after going to watch a horror movie with your friends, any positive emotions that

you experience after watching the movie (hearing a joke, having fun or getting a compliment) are

intensified without you being aware of it. This lets you focus your thoughts on the great time you

had and not on the fear you experienced during the film.

The next factor that influences why some people enjoy fear is simply that every individual is

wired differently. Some people simply enjoy an adrenaline rush, causing them to seek out

situations which trigger fear.

These personality structures also influence why others hate feeling scared.

These people may be more sensitive to environmental stimuli, causing them to have a negative reaction to experiences that elicit fear.

Morbid curiosity can also be a factor in why some people seek out horror movies and events that elicit fear.

The same way that we look at a car accident when we are passing by, we have an inherent

need to be aware of possible dangers around us; and on some level we are curious

about things we haven’t yet experienced.

A word of warning before rushing out to the latest horror film: not all the effects are positive.

Research shows that approximately 60% of children who watched scary movies before the age of

14 had negative reactions which included trouble sleeping and increased anxiety during

activities that are not typically considered unsafe.

Adults can have negative reactions to watching horror movies as well due to memories stored

in our brains. To some, the memories of a horror movie trigger reactions similar to experiencing a trauma.

In addition, people who watch horror movies and violence in the media can become desensitized to actual violence.

Happy Halloween!


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Unhappy At Work

Unhappy At Work?

Unhappy at work? Here are some simple tips to improve happiness in the workplace:

– Keep a plant in your office

– Improve Your Desk Space. Statistics show that employee happiness levels rise when those employees are allowed to decorate their cubicles and bring in personal items for their desks. So bring a little cheer to your work space

– Wear a mood boosting outfit; feel confident in the way you look

– Look for opportunities for growth instead of focusing on failures

– Develop a social network with your coworkers

– Add variety to your work day; go to lunch, meet a friend during your break, do routine tasks in a different order or talk to someone new

– Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Demonstrate behaviors that increase kindness

– Help someone else solve a problem

– Take on additional responsibility

– Move on quickly from coworkers who make mistakes or office arguments

– Appreciate the fact that you have a job

If you are still struggling with being unhappy at work, please do not hesitate to call us to schedule an appointment. 561-721-6400

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Childhood Development

How valuable is the Teddy Bear to Childhood Development

How valuable is the Teddy Bear to Childhood Development

By: Robyn Cassel, Ph.D.

Items such as teddy bears, loveys, special blankets, etc can be very healthy and positive for young

children, particularly to use in early childhood as transitional items to help the child soothe him

or herself during new and unique situations.

Children can be encouraged to have a soothing item, but the genuine attachment to a transitional

object is nearly always created naturally if and when the child is in need.

When the infant/toddler begins the natural, gradual process of separating for slightly longer

segments of time from the primary caregiver, the child begins to develop a sense of self

outside of the parent-child dyad.(Childhood Development)

Though the separations and increased time spent independent of a parent might seem small or

insignificant, many toddlers experience anxiety and are eased by developing a symbolic

attachment to an object which acts as external representation of the parent.

It is a concrete item which symbolizes the comfort of the parent but also allows the child to explore

his or her new independence more comfortably.

It is helpful to be kind and supportive with your child about the item, as it means that they are beginning to learn the art of self-soothing and they are becoming more comfortable with being independent. Depending on the child’s age and the object, it might be appropriate to have the object with them most of the time.(Childhood Development)

However, it is appropriate and healthy to establish realistic limits with the child while

being kind and supportive development.

For example, objects must be washed. Parents can involve the child in the process and provided

activities to help the child self-soothe during that time, using it as a learning opportunity

to instill belief that the child will be alright for the short period of time away from the toy.

Activities which might help the child self-sooth and continue to internalize the object might include

discussing fun times they had with the toy or drawing a picture of it.

The parent can teach other means of self-soothing such as taking deep breaths or labeling feelings

if the child has the language. It is important to validate the child’s feelings about not having the

object in hand without encouraging the child to act out.

As the child ages, additional boundaries might be important.

For example, the child can be permitted to bring the object on an outing, but they must leave it in the

car or with a parent in a bag when

the child is on the playground or with a peer. Further, allowing the child to make choices about

where to store the item, within limits placed by the parent, can increase the child’s sense of

control in the anxiety-provoking situation. Longer periods of time without the object, which

occur naturally, will increase the child’s confidence that they can self-soothe without it.

When the child enters preschool, the parent might discuss additional boundaries while being

sensitive to the child’s anxiety about entering a new environment. It can be useful to provide the child with information that other children might want to play with the toy. If the child does not want to share the toy,

a parent can recommend keeping it safe in a cubby, backpack, or at home in a special designated sp

ot. Additionally, as the child ages, the parent can provide information about how peers might

perceive the use of such objects. Then, the parent can allow the child to make a choice about how to proceed.

As the child becomes more comfortable with his or her sense of self and more practiced at self-soothing, there will be less of a need for the object. Also, small, realistic limits employed when the child is young can

make the transition away from the object smoother. Aiming to eventually find a safe area to

keep the object indefinitely in the home might be an easier alternative for the child to cope

rather than needing to give or throw away the object.

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Psychological Effects

Positive Psychological Effects of March Madness

The Positive Psychological Effects of March Madness

By: Melissa Fogel, Psy.D.(Psychological Effects)

That magical time of year for sports fans is just around the corner as we enter the month of March and approach March Madness. March Madness is the NCAA basketball tournament that lasts for three weeks and impacts everything from businesses productivity to interpersonal relationships.

In the month of March the amount of vasectomies performed increase by 50 percent due to the opportunity to rest and recover from surgery while watching the tournament. Besides affecting the rates of medical procedures, March Madness has a significant effect on businesses.(Psychological Effects)

In 2013 studies showed that the tournament will cost businesses $134 million in just the first two days. Approximately 3 million U.S. employees will spend one to three hours at work watching the games, and two-thirds of all workers will follow the tournament at some point during work hours.

Overall, this does not seem to negatively effect overall perspective of the tournament by employers. According to a survey by OfficeTeam, when office managers and executives were asked whether the NCAA basketball tournament had a negative effect on employee productivity, 75% said there was no impact, and 16% said there was either a very positive or somewhat positive impact.(Psychological Effects)

The opportunity for bonds to form in the workplace surrounding the tournament increase. This results from things such as office pools, discussions about the previous night’s games and team rivalries.

These bonds have been shown to build morale and inspire teamwork

Regardless of the loss or gains in business, the excitement surrounding March Madness results in psychological happiness for the fans who watch it.(Psychological Effects)

According to Daniel Wann, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Murray State University in Kentucky “Being a fan gives us something to talk about, to share and bond with others. And for the vast majority of people, it’s psychologically healthier when you can increase social connections with others.”

According to Wann who has conducted 200 studies in the past twenty years, the results are consistent: people who identify themselves as sports fans tend to have lower rates of depression and higher self-esteem than those who don’t.(Psychological Effects)

The three week tournament brings us a greater opportunity to connect with others, which is a key factor in psychological happiness. Chris Peterson, one of the founders of positive psychology states: “Other people matter”.

Many studies have shown that both the quality and quantity of social connections have an impact on our health and longevity as well as psychological wellbeing.

While the Super Bowl is a sporting event that brings both sports fans and normally uninterested parties together,

the Super Bowl is a culmination of a season and only lasts one night.

On the other hand, the tournament gives us a longer-lasting event that provides more opportunities

to participate in social opportunities and connections. And Wann states

“bonds tend to be stronger with a longer passage of time.”

Regardless of whether you watch the tournament with others or alone, this sporting

event brings about a distraction from the mundane routine of everyday life and can shift the

focus from one’s daily stressors and worries. Watching sports is appealing to us in the

same way movies are. They provide an escape to the viewers, even if for a couple of hours.

The element of excitement and uncertainty in the tournament is also a key factor leading to happiness.

The nature of the tournament; progressing as early games affect later ones leads to a

sense of excitement. Cinderella teams and big upsets provide unpredictability and

an aura of excitement throughout the three weeks.

The psychological concept of affects, or the source of emotions, is biological and remains constant. The affect of interest-excitement can motivate auras of happiness. Without the activation of excitement we can feel tired and lifeless.

Studies show that two to four percent of marriages are negatively affected when one spouse is an ardent sports fan, however being a sports fan can have a positive effect on relationships.

The tournament gives couples an opportunity to participate in an event together, be it going out to

watch the games or starting their own bracket pool.

It also can give couples time apart, with one partner being able to leave and socialize on their own.

Both these situations can positively affect a couple’s happiness.

So as March Madness approaches, enjoy the positive results to your emotional wellbeing and relationships and let the games begin.

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Peer Pressure

Parents, Teens, and Peer Pressure

Parents, Teens, and Peer Pressure

By: Robyn Cassel, Ph.D.

Parents can help bolster their child’s independent thinking skills, self-esteem, and ability to reach

out for support by building a genuine, honest, validating, and open relationship with their youth.


When young adults feel appreciated, heard, and accepted by their parents, they are more likely to

communicate about their feelings and make healthy decisions.

Confident, valued, validated teens with positive parental relationships are less likely

to fall for peer pressure.

Statistics show that children (and adults for that matter) are happier, perform better at school/work,

and make healthy, productive choices when positives are emphasized more frequently than negatives.

When you help your teen to see the small, fabulous things about his or her character or behavior

on a daily basis, you teach him or her how to find those things within themselves.

You also make it more likely that those positive things will continue to occur.

For every 1 critical or negative comment made to your teen, it is important to make 6 positive, specific reflections to him or her.

This will not spoil him or her. In fact, it will help your teen develop positive coping skills, resilience,

and optimism which can decrease the likelihood of developing anxiety and depression.

In turn, it can significantly decrease succumbing to peer pressure.

Follow your teen’s lead; act genuinely interested in friends, hobbies, video games, and everyday happenings.

Do this in a way that is natural to you and to your child allowing space when requested.

When you actually care about your young adult’s interests and take the time to listen, play a game, or

chat about his or her social drama, he or she will be more likely to reciprocate interest in you and

a deeper trust will develop.

It will be easier to talk about the hard stuff when you already have a trusting, genuine relationship.

Despite all efforts to shelter teens, they will always have exposure to peers making unhealthy

decisions at some point in their lives.

Acceptance and acknowledge of this fact, without judgment can help parents and teens to be real and acknowledge difficult temptations and vulnerable feelings.

Talk openly about issues on the news, friends’ problems, and other sensitive subjects.

Normalize questions and concerns. Use these discussions as ways to begin to talk about your child’s own difficulties and opinions.

Validate your teen’s feelings. You don’t have to agree with the behavior or the reaction to take

a moment to take perspective and try to understand where he or she is coming from.


This can help to significantly improve self-esteem and sense of self-worth.

Teens tend to abide by rules with less fight when his or her feelings are being considered and respected.

You are the boss, you are the leader.

However, when you instill a sense of democracy within the relationship in areas you determine,

your teen can experience a small sense of control over their ever changing emotions and lives.

When they feel as though they can control something, they may make fewer attempts to glean

this feeling from peer experiences in unhealthy ways.

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