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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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
bond.

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
us?
● 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
most.

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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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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Reduced Anxiety

How I Reduced My Anxiety

By Liz Hankin, M.A., MFT

In todays digital age we are all very concerned with what’s coming next and never seem to be happy in the moment.

I swear every time a new iPhone or Apple Product comes out anxiety amongst the masses skyrockets.

This need to be the best, by always knowing what is coming next in the technological world

sometimes bleeds over to our personal world.

I know for me, who still has an iPhone 5 s (I’m fine with it), I still find my anxiety spiking at various times due to my mind pushing me into the future before I am ready.

Living in the future in your mind and making up possible outcomes to things that have yet to occur, can make anyone anxious.

It has been said that, “anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of

its strength”, and as someone with a Anxiety Disorder I tend to agree.

In recent years I have gotten my anxiety under control, now I no longer even need medication to get me through my days.

Over the past 10 years here are some things that I have used to help me get to the point where I am today, at peace with my anxiety.

1.Anxiety is NO JOKE: If you feel as if you are having anxiety, take a moment to think about

where it is coming from?

Where in your body do you feel its effects? Is there some way to alleviate the situation before it

turns into a panic attack? Ignoring your anxiety could lead to more severe attacks down the line.

If we do not deal with our anxiety it can begin to find its way into other areas of our life where

we never thought we would have anxious feelings (think, going for a drive or having sex).

So assess where it is coming from.

2.Find someone to talk to:

Whenever I find my anxiety levels rising I make sure to talk to a friend or family member who I trust to

hold my feelings, and validate my experience.

Even when I do feel better after talking to this person, I still make an appointment with a therapist.

A therapist can serve as an impartial sounding board with whom to work through your anxiety.

3.Find a Physical Outlet: When my anxiety began to get really bad,

I was living far away from my family for school and could not move home.

I felt like everything that I did that was not geared towards helping them was selfish and a waste.

My therapist talked with me about getting into some kind of workout.

I found a boathouse nearby and began to row Crew, something I had not done since high school.

I found that the intense workouts coupled with the quiet mornings spent out on the water helped me to

clear my mind and began to help me think more lucidly about the matters that were causing my anxiety.

Exercise, especially where we need to focus on the task a hand, allow for a sort of “mental vacation”

this can also be said about mediation.

4.Find a Mental Outlet: The calm and tranquility I found out on the water changed my whole

perspective on what was worth worrying about and what was not. I began to research meditation.

Now, being someone who was diagnosed with ADHD at 8 years old, I do not pride myself on my

amazing concentration skills,

I have let that ship sail, but there are meditations that I have found that have worked for me.

Progressive muscle relaxations and guided mediations that I found on Youtube have made a lot of

difference in my life.

Starting the day with a 5-minute mediation helps to slow my thoughts down, and keep me present to

set my intentions for the day.(Reduced Anxiety)

The brain is a muscle so start short and build your way up to longer mediations, if this is a route that speaks to you.

5.Say NO to your every day legal stimulants and depressants: This is probably obvious to some,

but coffee is a stimulant and thus will raise your heart rate and, in turn, your anxiety. LAY OFF

until you can pinpoint where your anxiety is coming from and treat it.

Do not poke the bear!! Drinking, though a depressant also has the ability to spike your anxiety.

Many who suffer from social anxiety use alcohol and other drugs to calm themselves.

This is not recommended and can also cause your anxiety to get worse when you are in the

hangover or withdrawal phase of use. Again, until you find where your anxiety stems from, try

to avoid things that are under your control that will affect you.(Reduced Anxiety)

 

6.See a Psychiatrist: If you are still struggling with getting your anxiety under control

please see a psychiatrist. A psychiatrist can prescribe you things like benzodiazepines or

anti-depressants to alleviate your symptoms.

Benzodiazepines (such as Xanax, Valium and Klonopin), are considered “short term” and “quick fixes” by most Psychiatrists.

This is the type of pill I was prescribed by my doctor, which helped me when I felt

a panic attack coming on and helped me calm down enough to fall asleep.(Reduced Anxiety)

These drugs are highly addictive and should only be used in moderation, as prescribed.

Anti-depressants on the other hand are used for more long-term alleviation of symptoms.

Both should be closely followed by the prescribing doctor and should also be coupled with

psychotherapy to receive maximum benefits.

After being on Benzodiazepine’s for years my therapy began to get to the root of my anxieties

and now I no longer need any medication to deal

with my anxious mind.(Reduced Anxiety)

In the end, you need to find what works or you. Whether it is one or two of the things I listed or

all of them combined. Most importantly though, please do not ignore what your body is saying to you.

 

One day I hope that you can make peace with your anxiety the way that I have and not miss out

on things just because they scare you.(Reduced Anxiety)

Trust me, I still get anxiety and anxious thoughts run rampant in my head sometimes but instead

of letting them cripple me I use them as a reminder to stay present and enjoy the

discomfort because in the end that is how we grow and change.

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