Love being single, single, relationships,

Can You Love Being Single Too Much?

Increasing numbers of women are single for one simple reason: They want to be. They don’t have intimacy issues, they are not selfish, and they are not single because they cannot find a partner. It’s a deliberate choice. While many may still believe that being single is synonymous with isolation and that the only on-ramp to happiness is marriage, research tells a different story.

Social scientists Natalia Sarkisian and Naomi Gerstel found that single people have more social connections and are more involved in their communities than their married counterparts are. They are also more likely to socialize with neighbors and friends and to reach out to those in their social network. In other words, they are generous and happy. Other research suggests they are also healthier than their partnered peers. They work out more and are in better shape. On top of their physical fitness and active social lives, single people are more likely to experience a sense of personal growth and a feeling that their life is a continuous process of learning and discovery.

One thought to keep in mind: People change. We are ever-evolving. Daniel Gilbert, professor of psychology at Harvard University and author of the best-selling Stumbling on Happiness, puts it this way: “Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished. The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting, and as temporary as all the people you’ve ever been. The one constant in our life is change.” Stay flexible. Keep an open mind. You never know what your future self will think.

This article originally appeared in the February 2019 issue of Marie Claire Magazine.
depression, mood booster, improve mood, bad mood

How to Get Out of a Bad Mood

The next time you find yourself in a bad mood, try to pinpoint exactly what is bothering you and describe your feelings more precisely. Are you frustrated? Disheartened? Despondent? Exasperated? Instead of resigning yourself to a generalized negative mood for the next few hours, try to label your emotions.

People who are able to differentiate their negative emotions are better at regulating and managing them, according to science. Rather than being consumed by a general feeling of malaise, differentiators are more action-oriented. Knowing what is wrong empowers them to seek a solution and tailor a response to the situation. For example, recognizing that you felt flustered after a disagreement with a colleague might prompt you to speak to the manager or go for a walk outside. Feeling “bad” doesn’t provide you with the same kind of useful information. It just hovers over you like a cloud. And because it is so vague, it can easily spill into other aspects of your life and be the reason you snap at your partner later that day.

People who struggle with emotion differentiation are more likely to feel overwhelmed and helpless. They may also be more vulnerable to unhealthy or unfocused responses like binge drinking or physical aggression. Distressing feelings are more likely to dominate their attention and dictate how they behave.

The good news is that emotional differentiation is a skill that can be learned and deployed on a daily basis. By expanding your emotional vocabulary, you are giving yourself the tools to label and understand an array of nuanced emotional states. Not only will your bad moods be less bad, you will be better equipped to handle negativity when it arises.

This article originally appeared in the June 2019 issue of Marie Claire Magazine.
too much self care

Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Self-Care?

During an airline safety demonstration, the flight attendant instructs you to put on your oxygen mask before assisting others if the cabin loses pressure. They tell you this for good reason. If you run out of oxygen, you will lose consciousness and won’t be able to assist anyone else. It is a life-or-death situation. But mental health is more nuanced. It does not exist in such absolute “either-or” terms. Of course, it is important to take care of yourself—to put on the proverbial oxygen mask—but it doesn’t mean you should retreat into yourself and disengage from the world around you. Here’s the thing: You can take care of yourself and be there for others at the same time.

I had a patient, let’s call her S, who became so preoccupied with self-care that it began to undermine her well-being. She withdrew from her book club so she could read self-help books on her own. The group didn’t always choose books she liked, so she felt justified in her decisions. Making herself a priority gave her license to decline invitations that weren’t convenient or to her liking. She didn’t attend a friend’s birthday dinner because it wasn’t at a vegan restaurant. She privileged “me time” over family time. When her sister came to town for a visit, she barely made time to see her.

It was self-care on steroids. S was getting lots of sleep, eating a healthy diet, meeting with a life coach on a regular basis, meditating 30 minutes a day, and getting plenty of exercise. But she was missing out on a crucial aspect of well-being: social connection. Instead of focusing exclusively on yourself when the going gets rough, remember to look up, look out, and, above all, connect with others.

It is well established that having a shoulder to lean on helps us get through a bad day, and studies show that social support is one of the best salves for stress. Less well-known are studies that show how providing a shoulder to lean on helps buffer against stress. In a University of California, Los Angeles, and Yale School of Medicine research article titled “Prosocial Behavior Helps Mitigate the Negative Effects of Stress in Everyday Life,” participants who engaged in other-focused behavior, such as holding open a door, asking someone if they needed help, and lending a hand, reported better moods and lower daily stress levels than those who didn’t. In sum, self-care is a good thing. Just don’t let it become the only thing.

This article originally appeared in the July 2019 issue of Marie Claire Magazine.

The Importance of Gratitude

Many people keep gratitude to themselves. They feel it but don’t express it. Like you, they assume the other person already knows how much they are appreciated or they worry about finding the right words to say what they want to say. I have a patient who was so concerned about writing the perfect thank you note that she often ended up not writing one at all. Putting pen to paper or sending a thank you email may seem unnecessary or feel uncomfortable but research tells a different story. According to a recent study, we systematically underestimate the positive impact of expressing gratitude and overestimate how awkward an expression of gratitude might make someone else feel. Misunderstanding the consequences of saying thanks keeps us from engaging in a simple action that would make us and someone else a little happier. The conclusion of the study is crystal clear: every time we don’t express gratitude we are missing an opportunity to give others and ourselves a boost. Expressing and experiencing gratitude in everyday life is one of the most reliable ways to improve your own wellbeing and the wellbeing of someone else.   Gertrude Stein famously said, “Silent gratitude isn’t very much to anyone.” She was right. Say it. Write it. Express it somehow. Whatever you do, please don’t keep it to yourself.   This article originally appeared in the March 2019 issue of Marie Claire Magazine.

How to Cool Down in the Heat of the Moment

In the heat of the moment, one of the worst things to do is what people normally do--immerse themselves in their emotions and focus on their hurt. This response is like putting gasoline on a fire. It fuels the flame by keeping angry and aggressive thoughts front and center, making it more likely you will say something you later regret. Psychological research offers a simple strategy to cool these hot emotions. When someone upsets you, try to pretend you are a fly on the wall and viewing the situation from a distance. This is known as “self-distancing.” The process of mentally stepping back from an experience and viewing it as separate from the self and through the eyes of an outside observer can help you stay in control.   In one study, college students were paired with a partner who, as part of the experiment, intentionally provoked and berated them for not following directions with comments like “Look this is the third time I have to say this! Can’t you follow directions?” in an impatient and obnoxious tone.  The students who had been told to adopt a self-distanced perspective were less quick to anger and responded less aggressively than those who immersed themselves in their feelings. When you are psychologically distanced from a situation, you gain perspective. The long line at the grocery store might feel a little less personal. You are more likely to consider the possibility that the driver who cut you off is late to pick up her child from daycare and not just a jerk or that a disagreeable colleague is having a tough time at home and not just lazy. Potentially explosive interactions with, friends, family, partners, and even strangers are less likely to explode when you picture the moment from afar. Channeling a fly provides greater distance and as a result, less drama. This article originally appeared in the March 2019 issue of Marie Claire Magazine.

Tina Sharkey

Tina Sharkey is the Co-Founder & Co-Chair of Brandless, a company that makes a curated assortment of high-quality things for you, your home, and your family in support of a life well-lived life.

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Tina Sharkey


Tina Sharkey is the Co-Founder & Co-Chair of Brandless, a company that makes a curated assortment of high-quality things for you, your home, and your family in support of a life well-lived life.

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Love being single, single, relationships,

Can You Love Being Single Too Much?

Increasing numbers of women are single for one simple reason: They want to be. They don’t have intimacy issues, they are not selfish, and...
depression, mood booster, improve mood, bad mood

How to Get Out of a Bad Mood

The next time you find yourself in a bad mood, try to pinpoint exactly what is bothering you and describe your feelings more precisely....
too much self care

Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Self-Care?

During an airline safety demonstration, the flight attendant instructs you to put on your oxygen mask before assisting others if the cabin loses pressure....

The Importance of Gratitude

Many people keep gratitude to themselves. They feel it but don’t express it. Like you, they assume the other person already knows how much...

How to Cool Down in the Heat of the Moment

In the heat of the moment, one of the worst things to do is what people normally do--immerse themselves in their emotions and focus...

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