Blog - Jonathan Alpert

Jonathan Alpert

Psychotherapist | Author


7 Ways to Stay Sane this Thanksgiving

Now that November is here, we’re headed full steam ahead towards Thanksgiving and for many people, the throes of family drama. By virtue of family gatherings, conflicts intensify, old wounds are opened, and tensions rise. Frankly, for some people they’re only interacting with certain people because it is forced upon them by these gatherings. As such, I see an uptick in patients coming to me in anticipation of these gatherings.
Here’s how to keep your sanity this Thanksgiving:

Forget perfectionism. The moment you believe that you need to pull off the perfect holiday gathering or, even worse, have the perfect family, is the moment you set yourself up for disaster. Nothing and no one is perfect. It’s entirely normal for families to have their flaws, colorful characters, and black sheep. Just the same, even the most carefully planned holiday meal can sometimes encounter a hiccup or two…or worse. Accept and embrace it. By adjusting your expectations, you’re less likely to be disappointed and stressed should something not go according to plan, and you’ll also take the pressure off yourself.

Forget about winning the argument. Although you might feel compelled to drive your point home, ask yourself, “is it really worth it?” Consider the emotional cost of doing so. Instead, simply acknowledge the differences and move on. Remember, sometimes it really isn’t worth it to win the battle but lose the war.

Avoid highly sensitive topics.
If in the past certain topics have proven to be anxiety provoking, stress-inducing, or simply uncomfortable, then dodge them. Avoid such hot button topics as Obama’s health care program, a divorce in the family, or other emotion-laden topics and stick with safer subjects.

Don’t feel intimidated by know-it-all relatives. Every family has one…or more. Dealing with them is simple. Ignore them. Understand what’s going on inside their mind: they crave attention and feed off an audience. The audience reinforces their behavior. If they don’t get the reinforcement, then they’ll eventually get tired of hearing themselves talk and will stop.

Don’t personalize unsolicited advice from relatives.
Sometimes aunts, uncles, and cousins think they know best. There’s a big difference though between wanting what’s best for you and knowing what’s best for you. Make a distinction between the two. Sure, they want to see you get married, have kids, and have a good career – but they probably don’t know exactly what you deal with on a daily basis so it’s easy for them to dish out advice or tell you what to do. To avoid getting upset by this, simply acknowledge their concern thank them, and move on.

Drink and eat in moderation.
Drinking in excess will lower your inhibitions which could potentially fuel arguments, diminish your happy mood, and make you feel lousy. Similarly, too much food can make you feel bloated, irritable, and tired. Only consume what you know you can handle, not what you think you can handle.

Exercise. For many people exercise is the best form of dealing with stress and maintaining good mental health. Make sure you include it during your holiday. That may mean excusing yourself to go for a run or to complete an exercise routine. Do it even if people look at you funny. Better that than feeling miserable.

7 Ways to Rise Above the Agony of Defeat

Disappointment is a normal aspect of life, and it doesn’t discriminate. Whether you’re rich, poor, educated, uneducated, young, old, or somewhere in the middle, disappointment happens and it knows no bounds.
Read the entire Huffington Post column here.

8 Signs You’re Addicted to Shopping

Although not formally recognized by the medical establishment, compulsive shopping can be a big problem and it’s one that is on the rise in my practice. Shopping becomes a compulsion when it is excessive and out of control, and leads to social, legal, or financial troubles. Click here to read entire column.

Mental Training to Rock Your Marathon

As we enter November there are dozens of marathons across the country. The most notable of course is the New York City Marathon on November 2. By this point, participants are probably gearing up for their final training runs and in top running shape. Despite that, anxiety levels can run high and they often feel deflated due to the grueling months they’ve spent training for the race. Many of my clients see me specifically to improve their game. They recognize that such a big part of doing well in an endurance sport such as a marathon lies in the mental tricks they can apply to the sport. Read the entire Huffington Post column here.

8 Ways to Deal with Your Fear of ISIS and Ebola

Lately ISIS and Ebola stories have dominated the headlines. It would be difficult to turn on a news network or open a newspaper, online or print, and not see a story about either of them close to the headlines. It doesn’t matter if it’s a left leaning news organization or conservative – the stories are there and in many ways, unavoidable. At the time of writing this article (October 4, 2014) a quick Google search for these two news topics yielded the following as top results: “Peter Kassig’s Parents Make Video Plead to ISIS” and “CDC Investigates Sick Passenger for Possible Ebola at New Jersey Airport.” These headlines are gripping and are designed to lead the reader to want to know more. That’s how stories get sold and read. Case in point: A boring headline will not stimulate curiosity and will not be read. While a headline that raises questions and leads to uncertainty in the mind of the reader will captivate by way of fear and anxiety. Read entire column here.

How to Spot a Narcissist

How often have you met someone new and been taken by the charm? Or perhaps there’s a rising star at work who seems to do everything right and knows just what to say, never missing a beat in his or her flawlessness. Or maybe you have a friend who always seems to get his or her needs met through you, yet always finds a way to make you feel special. Although these scenarios can be taken at face value, they can also be indicative of someone’s narcissism at play. Although a small dose of narcissism can actually be healthy, there’s a very fine line between what is normal and what is pathological.

What it is:

Narcissism in its purest form is a personality disorder that occurs more in males than in females and is found in approximately 6.2% of the general population. The disorder causes the person to look eternally for a view that will reflect him or her as Mr. or Ms. Wonderful. The Narcissist has a low self esteem, feels empty inside, and often lacks the ability to genuinely connect with people. This might be the result of an early trauma or a tumultuous home life early on. This then led to isolation and a false persona to protect him or her from people who may have been unhealthy. This persona may have taken on the form of the tough guy, the nice guy, or the charming life of the party. It protected the person then and continues to later in life. He or she attempts to gain a sense of self (usually pseudo) through external sources such as friends, family, colleagues, and lovers. Another possible explanation is that little Johnny was doted on by his parents and always made to feel super special. His parents showed him off to people and the praise felt good. As an adult this doesn’t quite exist so Johnny tries to recreate that experience.

The person measures his or her success by over-inflating his accomplishments. For example, salary may be inflated, as well as status, affiliation with successful people, likeability by others, and power. People …

What to Do When Your Manager Steals Your Ideas

Many of my business coaching clients are doing their best to advance. They’re clawing their way up the corporate ladder and do quite well reaching executive levels… but not without challenges. One such challenge that I’ve seen a lot of post-2008 financial crisis, is when a manager steals a subordinate’s ideas. Read entire column here.

How to Bring the Sex Back to Your Sex Life

“I just do it to get him off.”
“It feels like a chore.”
“I have no drive.”
“She’s too busy.”

These are just some of the many things people tell me about their current sex life… or lack thereof. They have been in relationships or married for a few years and lack the drive and desire for sex that they once knew.
Read the entire column here

8 Ways to Bust Your Stress NOW!

Stress is unavoidable and a normal reaction to situations or events that you deem to be a threat, either real or imagined. When a threat is perceived, your nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones then ready the body to take emergency action. Your heart rate increases, blood pressures rises, muscles tighten, breathing gets faster, and your senses become sharper. Read the entire Huffington Post column here.

8 Powerful Ways to Maximize Your Weekend

How often have you thought to yourself on Monday morning, “Where did the weekend go?” Or, “It feels like I didn’t even have time to relax”? Saturday and Sunday for most people is a time to get caught up on all the things they didn’t have time to do during the week, see friends, have fun, and do it all over again five days later. For many this routine leaves them feeling just as exhausted on Monday morning as they felt on Friday afternoon. The challenge: how to simultaneously decompress from the week, recharge, and create positive emotions and experiences.
Read the entire column here: