Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hello Bad Habits

Example One

Your wife left you and you’re feeling despondent; you’re not sure how you’re going to make ends meet.

All of a sudden, you find yourself with a cigarette in your mouth. Your father died of emphysema ten years ago and, until this moment, you hadn’t picked up since.

The stress of divorce has pushed you to the cigarette’s comfort, even though you know it can kill you.

Example Two

You’re living alone and you just went on a date with an interesting guy. He told you he doesn’t want to see you again, so you return home alone and rejected. Your kids are sleeping upstairs. Your mom just left—she watched them while you were out. You rarely drink, but you find that half a bottle of wine is already gone. And you’re almost finished with a carton of ice cream.

Examples One and Two aren’t evil, but on a repetitive basis, they are surely destructive to your health and well being. Both situations are examples of regression; when a person returns to a less mature way of functioning because they are under stress, they are, by definition, regressed.

Note that the emotional instability and a sense of helplessness, so common in divorce, can be precursors to resuming bad habits.

Example One is very common. Data from 2005-2007 revealed that, in the US, the population of divorced and separated men and women had almost twice as many smokers (30.6%) as the married population (16.2%) (Schoenborn and Adams, 2010). Once you start smoking again, it’s difficult to stop. As hard as this fact may be to swallow, we’d like to point out that the life expectancy of a chronic smoker is ten years shorter than that of a non-smoker (Kaufman, 2004). Since your kids need you alive and well, this fact is as precious as the statistic on car accidents.

Example Two is also common. Schoenborn and Adams (2010) found that obesity was more prevalent and healthy weight less prevalent among divorced and separated women than among married women. Heavy drinking was also more prevalent in the population of divorced and separated men and women than it was in the married population. If smoking and drinking or binge eating were your coping mechanisms of choice in the past, you may now find yourself returning to old standbys.

If you’re hurt or angry, alone, sad, or worried, there are wholesome and intelligent ways to manage your pain - ways you can take pride in and that will make you feel good. Ways that can help avoid a loss of control, regret or, even worse, medical illness.

First, acknowledge that you have regressed. It is not as bad as it sounds. We all do it. Regression is common for everyone under stress, married, single or divorce. The problem with divorce is that the stress can take years to abate.

Now deal with your upset with both long term planning and short term prevention strategies. Take pleasure in knowing that you are alive and well and that this will get better one day. I mean it. Find pleasure in taking better care of yourself. It is a good antidote to the destructive pleasures of pigging out, drinking or smoking.

Long term, take care of your body through healthy exercise and eating right. Have people around you to call or hang out with. There is such healing in experiencing that you are not alone. Finally, when alone and in despair, call someone.

Have a buddy who is on your side and beat the need for a destructive pleasure.

After all, the best mistake is the one you don’t make.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Driving You Crazy

Imagine driving along the highway and thinking, "She doesn’t love me anymore." "What’s going to happen to me?" "Should I get a new lawyer? Maybe there’s something wrong with the one that I have."

The inner voices continue. "I can’t stand him; he’s so selfish." "Nobody is calling me back!" "What’s going to happen to my children?" As the voices get louder and the worries increase, you become more distracted and overwrought. Your anxiety begins to impair your ability to drive safely

You don’t notice that you just went through a red light.


It may have been a while back, but the National Center for Health Statistics published some scary data on car accidents and marital status in 1970. They found that the fatality rate was higher for divorced men and women of all races than for those widowed, married, or single.

In fact, on average, the death rate was 2.5 times higher for divorced individuals than for married individuals.

Next time you are driving while ruminating on your divorce, remember, your kids need you alive and well. You may be preoccupied by how much you hate your ex wife, or how you have so little money, or how you can’t wait to go on a date; or you may be concerned about the latest round of legal accusations. Whatever it is, this can distract you and lead to a fatality.

Do your kids a favor. Just pull off to the side of the road and chill a bit. Take a deep breath. Let go of some tension. Feel the pleasure of being alive and know that this will all be over some day.
It is good to be healthy and alive for your kids.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Local Event in Westchester, NY: Transforming Illness Into A Self Healing Journey

The Katonah Study Group For Integrative Medicine

Presents: Paul Epstein, ND

February 16, 2011

Katonah Library


$15 (unless you are a member)

Please bring your favorite dish - drinks will be provided

Transforming Illness Into A Self Healing Journey: How Biography Becomes Biology

Disease tells a story, not just about our cells and a diagnosis, but about our self and our life. We will explore the mind body connection and the role of attitudes, beliefs, stresses and emotions in the healing process. Our challenge is the integration of curing and healing. Learn how healing happens when we engage in our inner healer and how illness is an opportunity to embark on a journey of self-healing and awakening.

Paul Epstein, ND is a naturopathic physician, mind-body therapist, mindfulness meditation teacher, international speaker and workshop leader with over twenty five years experience in Mind-Body Integrative Medicine and its clinical application. A 1984 graduate of the National College of Naturopathic Medicine, he did a residency in behavioral medicine, stress, and lifestyle counseling.

He has trained in the Internal Family Systems Model of Psychotherapy, studied at the Academy for Clinical Guided Imagery, completed the three-year training program for meditation teachers at the Spirit Rock Meditation Center, and is a certified yoga teacher. He is the guiding teacher of the Insight Meditation Community of Fairfield County, and is a faculty member for The Graduate Institute Masters Degree Programs in Experiential Health and Healing and Holistic Thinking, and has taught counseling at the Naturopathic College at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut.

He travels worldwide leading mindful healing retreats and trainings and mentors health care professionals to integrate mind-body therapies in their life and clinical work. As a practitioner, he integrates a whole-person integrative approach with contemplative psychotherapy. He maintains a private practice in Westport, Ct. transforming stress, pain and illness into a journey of self healing and an opportunity for spiritual awakening.

Membership Privileges

Fifty dollars lasts all year (Compare to 15 dollars a meeting at the door!)

Future Scheduled Dates:

March 16th

remainder of dates will follow.

We look forward to an exciting year of learning and networking with you - The Katonah Study Group


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Where Are My Friends - A Case Study

You know, now that I’m struggling with some depression, I realize how much I lost with this divorce. Danny, my ex, never really wanted to hang out with my friends, and while I liked his friends, now that we are divorced, they want to hang out with him. So it’s slim pickings for me. You know I wonder if this is what happens in most divorces. Why do friends feel the need to choose?

Sandra, age 53

Like Sandra, your community of friends and family may not be there for you in the way you expect. You may have one or two good friends who are there. You may be surprised by who shows up and pays attention; you may be saddened by those who don’t. In death, you these issues don’t come up. In divorce, they do.

For-warned is for-armed. Just know that if you are going through a divorce, you will need to find people who care about you. Don’t spend a lot of time in disappointment, because, there are going to be people who will disappoint you. Instead look for those who care – and they are there.

You can make grief last a lot longer if you focus on how people fall short. Many do.

Try DivorceCares, or find a support group, or reconnect with old buddies that have always cared about you and be open to discovering those friends that actually come through for you. They are a godsend.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Where Are My Friends

The loss of a marriage is a real death. That is why people grieve in divorce despite the fact that nobody has died. Grief applies to other human losses and not to a loss that comes from death. In some ways it is trickier to recover from divorce than from a death, because when you lose a spouse, a child, or a parent to death, the community responds in a positive ways because everyone understands.

But, when it comes to divorce, not everyone understands. It’s a process that pushes people’s buttons—some people will judge, others will pull away and others will simply feel awkward. You’ve probably known a divorcee who lost his friends in the process, or whose buddies felt they needed to choose sides. For some family and friends, divorce creates a dynamic they are just not prepared to handle.