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“True love almost always fades, but money stays green forever.” That’s a quote from the 1957 Cary Grant movie, Kiss Them For Me. Yes, it’s a cynical sentiment, but it’s also a belief quite prevalent in our world. So many clients say to me that they don’t know if they will ever find lasting love because they don’t know if such a thing even exists.
For those who want to believe in the “happily ever after” story in time for Valentine’s Day, here’s some good news. A series of studies have found that romantic love does not necessarily wither like sun-parched crabgrass and convert to boredom over time. In fact, science actually has found a way to measure the love response in the brain to prove this point. A new study out of Stony Brook University in New York hooked up subjects who had been in a relationship for varying lengths of time to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners while the subjects looked at photos of friends, strangers, and the one they loved. The results showed that when they saw the photo of their partner, the newly infatuated couples and those still in love after 20-plus years had similar brain responses.
“We found many very clear similarities between those who were in love long-term and those who had just fallen madly in love,” said study director Dr. Arthur Aron. Whether the subject was newly in love or still in love after many years, the reward and motivation centers of the brain were stimulated as well as the area of the brain associated with addiction to substances like cocaine upon seeing the photo.
Other studies provide solid evidence that long-term love really does exist. According to research led by Bianca Acevedo and published in the Review of General Psychology last year, at least 13 percent of couples still experienced strong feelings of romantic love after being with their partner for more than 10 years. This research reviewed 25 previous studies on relationships lasting anywhere from a few months to many years, and found the main difference between new relationships and happy long-term relationships was that the obsessive component tended to diminish over time, but the intensity, engagement and sexual chemistry remained strong.
All research indicates that it isn’t mere luck that creates the magic of lasting love—it’s hard work. Those who stay in love, says Bianca Acevedo, “… are often very relationship focused. Their relationship is something that is very central to their lives, something they spend time on, work on, really care about.”
But the real key to romantic endurance was perhaps best expressed by William Shakespeare, without the help of scientific studies endorsed by universities: “Love is not love that alters when it alteration finds… Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks Within his bending sickle’s compass come: Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom.”
Blessings and Happy Valentine’s Day in Advance,
Hiyaguha, The Life-Change Coach
Lately, I’ve found myself in the position of waiting for news on many fronts. Waiting for medical news, waiting for financial news, waiting for job news. I don’t even like to wait in line at the supermarket—I get terribly restless–so waiting for important and potentially disturbing news isn’t something that I do easily. But of course, that’s life. Eventually you’ll take a medical test and need to wait for the results, or you’ll take an important certification test or a final exam that won’t be graded for a week, or apply for a job or a mortgage or a loan or you’ll ask someone to marry you and they’ll want time to think it over—all waiting scenarios.
To wait calmly and gracefully challenges everything that’s human within us. How can you cope with that in-between time, when you don’t know what you’re dying to know—yet? Here are some tips to reduce stress:
Stay off the internet. Put that machine away. Doing research on the possible deadly illnesses you might have while waiting for the medical tests to come back won’t sway the results, and may work you up into such a frenzy that you’ll make yourself sick, even if your test results come back just fine. Researching foreclosures while waiting for the bank to review your refinance application won’t help, either, nor will going on Match.com while waiting to hear back from the person you just proposed to.
Do NOT try to ignore the feelings you’re experiencing. Do NOT belittle yourself for feeling anxious. Your feelings are natural and universal and human and even instinctive. They are your system’s way of signaling you that it might be wise to prepare for a change.
Create a safe space. Dedicate a particular spot in your home as your personal haven. Put objects that you love and that make you feel safe there, and then allow yourself the luxury of spending as much time as you need there.
Stay off of caffeine. You probably have more than enough stress pumping through your system without speeding it up even more.
Don’t try to numb yourself with narcotics. Drinking alcohol or doing drugs or overeating will make you feel lousy in the end.If you need a substance to help you relax, try valerian or melatonin, neither of which will undermine your health or linger in your system. Exercise can also help enormously with stress.
Care for yourself like you’re a baby. You really need nurturing to help with the anxiety. Eat healthy comfort foods, get extra rest, take long baths.
Allow yourself the indulgence of having comfort objects around you. Now may be the time to wear that special outfit, to sit on the couch with that fluffy blanket pulled up around your body, to watch your favorite movie again.
TALK to people. Don’t isolate. Let others know what you’re going through. Ask for support.
Practice whatever stress-reduction techniques or strategies for reducing anxiety that work for you, whether meditation, prayer, EFT, TAT, hypnosis, listening to music, calling your coach, and so on.
What suggestions do you have for ways to reduce stress and anxiety and make it through the waiting time?
Dr. Hiyaguha Cohen offers life coaching by Skype or phone and in-person Hawaii counseling.