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Dr. Hallowell's Blog

Archive for February, 2018

Monday, February 26th, 2018

A New Solution for Anxiety: The Alpha-Stim

by Rebecca Shafir, M.A.CCC Personal Development and Executive Functioning coach at the Hallowell Center MetroWest

Perhaps the most common concern my entrepreneur clients report is anxiety and its cousin, insomnia. Founders have every reason to be anxious. In fact, if they are perfectly at ease with their startup, I get suspicious!  For those  new to  entrepreneurship there are constant battles between vision and reality, hope and doubt, deadlines and the worry of having no deadlines at all.  I encourage my entrepreneurs-at- risk to hold off on big, costly decisions until they get a handle on their anxiety. Control over anxiety means:

  • consistently good sleep
  • giving emotion a back seat when solving a problem
  • being able to re-frame mistakes and setbacks and move forward
  • the ability to inhibit impulsive actions and reactions.

Emotional control is one of the four core skills essential to healthy and successful entrepreneurship.

A review of the most helpful of anxiety-reducing activities include: meditation, yoga, exercise, visualization and  mindfulness training etc. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is another fine option, but it requires regular sessions and practice. Others benefit from software tools like The Muse, Wild Divine, Heartmath and other kinds of biofeedback. The usual objections to these approaches include “not enough time,” or “the more I try to quiet my mind, the louder it gets.”

Let me tell you about another safe, effective, well-tested approach for anxiety, insomnia (and depression). It is a form of cranial-electrotherapy called Alpha-Stim. It is a user-friendly, handheld device the size of a cell phone. It requires no practice or effort by the user, and it can be used while doing most other activities except driving.

Moods and emotions are controlled through electro-chemical signals in your brain. When these signals aren’t functioning properly, the hormones and neurotransmitters that regulate your emotions can become unbalanced resulting in an anxious state.

The Alpha-Stim device generates a signal that produces a waveform conducive to calmness and a better state of mind − the Alpha frequency  (8-12 Hz). The Alpha-Stim has been very helpful with many of my clients. For those that notice no change with the Alpha-Stim, other approaches such medications or neurofeedback may be more helpful.

To learn more about the Alpha-Stim go to www.alpha-stim.com or email info@epii.com.

If you are local to the Boston MetroWest area, we offer a personalized Alpha-Stim demonstration and educational session at the Hallowell Center in Sudbury, Mass. If you’d like to make an appointment call 978 287 0810.

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

Connection is Prevention: Start With Mindful Listening

by Rebecca Shafir, M.A.CCC Personal Development and Executive Functioning coach at the Hallowell Center MetroWest

What causes disconnection? Standards, expectations, comparisons, too many rules, too much time talking and not enough time listening, acting like you’re listening, words like “policy” and “should” are good examples. These words and behaviors invite frustration, isolation and alienation. If that is what surrounds you day after day, the anxiety and depression can get bad enough to cause harm to yourself and to others. If a person suffers from a mental illness on top of that, his or her reaction can be magnified to tragic proportions.

Mindful listening is one good solution for creating connection. When you are heard wholeheartedly, when you’re given a chance to express your feelings and given the attentive silence to do so, that lonely place inside you gets some friendly company. If you ever had a family member, teacher or friend who gave you that rare gift of listening, it is memorable. Do you recall? You were the most important person in the world to them during those few minutes. Note how they didn’t talk too much, give advice or interrupt you. They watched you intently – they ignored their phone and didn’t sneak a peek at the clock. It was all about you. Perhaps they didn’t agree with you, but in the end, you finished that interaction feeling valued and respected for your point of view. Your reality was recognized by someone else. You felt understood (or you got the feeling that at least they tried to understand you) and perhaps, quite grateful to that listener. That is the experience of connection I’m talking about.

Mindful Listening is a simple solution to disconnection, but it is not easy. It requires you to forget yourself, your agenda, and like at the movies, “get into the movie” of the speaker. Just like at the movies, you don’t interrupt, cast judgment or argue, you watch and listen with curiosity. As observers, we ask ourselves, what makes that person feel that way, say and do those things?  We want to understand. Connection is a two way street. Once you’ve put aside your agenda to understand someone else, you’re in a better position to help them. Your judgments about this person (i.e. “the troublemaker” etc) were temporarily put aside, and you got a clearer view of what it’s like to be him or her. That person’s story changed you. You, the mindful listener, are in the best position to help them, if you can. If you can’t help them, you can take what you learned and share it with those who are in a better position to help. At worst, just by listening to this person, you have helped them.

Learn more about Mindful Listening at www.MindfulCommunication.com and the book The Zen of Listening: Mindful Communication in the Age of Distraction by Rebecca Shafir.

Monday, February 19th, 2018

ADHD: Ferrari Engine for a Brain, with Bicycle Brakes

We don’t treat disabilities; we help people unwrap gifts.

When you come to The Hallowell Centers, you leave with hope and optimism.

Watch Dr. Hallowell explain this analogy.

Learn more about The Hallowell Centers

Dr. Hallowell’s books, audio and apps, and More about ADHD.



Monday, February 12th, 2018

Children and Anxiety – Signs and How to Help

Anxiety–or what I call “toxic worry”–is rampant among children these days.  Ask any school teacher and she or he will tell you that kids are worrying far more than they did just a decade ago.  Not necessarily rising to the level of a diagnosable anxiety disorder, like obsessive compulsive disorder or generalized anxiety disorder, toxic worry nonetheless is really bad for a child’s health, school performance, and sense of well being and security in the world. 

These kids really do need help.  Aside from obvious signs, such as a child sharing many worries with others, or complaining of various somatic complaints or missing school due to minor illnesses, here are some less obvious signs that your child–or any child–may be suffering from toxic worry.

       1. The child just “isn’t himself” or “herself”.  Nothing specific, but the sparkle has left the eyes, and the usual buoyancy has sagged.  The once-happy child has been replaced not by an obviously unhappy child, but a child who is not the formerly overtly happy child.

       2. The child is not sleeping soundly, and wakes up tired.

       3.  The child is unusually clingy, not wanting to be left alone when normally he or she is fine alone, and has trouble going to bed without being tucked in or read to.

       4.  The child asks many questions about the state of the world, the health of parents and relatives, the health of the family pet, and the state of parents’ marriage (when normally the child does not ask these questions).

       5.  You notice little cuts, bruises, and other marks that could be the result of the child picking at his or her skin, or you notice fingernails bitten down to the quick.

       6.  The stories the child writes for English class at school reflect a dark or apprehensive tone or describe impending doom or bad times.

       7.  In repose the child looks worried or apprehensive.  When asked what he or she is thinking, the reply is, “Oh, not much.”

       8.  The child develops various superstitions, not to the level of OCD where the superstitions have to be obeyed, but just little new habits, like wanting to triple check that the doors are locked at night or that the toothbrush is thoroughly rinsed out.

       9.  The child spends inordinate time in escapist activities, like on-line games, fantasy literature, or science fiction movies.

       10.  The child does not volunteer for new activities, new trips, new adventures, or even to try a new restaurant, wanting instead familiar people, places, and routines.

What a parent, teacher, or other caring adult can do is follow these three steps, which are my carry-it-with-you-everywhere first-aid kit for toxic worry:

        1.  NEVER WORRY ALONE.  This motto should be emblazoned on every person’s brain, regardless of ago.  Connecting with a trusted other is BY FAR the best immediate remedy for toxic worry.

         2.  Get the facts.  Toxic worry is usually rooted in lack of information, wrong information, or both.  Do whatever you need to do to get the actual facts.

         3.  Based on those facts, and with the person you turned to to worry with, MAKE A PLAN.  When you have a plan you feel more in control and less vulnerable.  Toxic worry derives from feeling low on control and high on vulnerability, so when you reduce feelings of vulnerability and increase feelings of control, you reduce toxic worry.  Making a plan does this. If the plan does not work, you revise the plan.  That’s what life is all about, revising plans that didn’t totally work.


Learn how the Hallowell Centers Can Help You.

When You Worry About The Child You Love

Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

How to Break Cell Phone Addiction

How many times do you reach for your phone during the day? At night?  Break the habit of having to be on your cell phone or other electronic devices at all times by  scheduling an amount of time to:

Turn it off!

It is that simple; and that hard!

I believe our constant use of cell phones, social media, and email  can actually slow productivity and lead to culturally-induced attention deficit disorder, both in adults and children. So schedule some time now to T.I.O. (turn it off!)

Visit Distraction.com for Dr. Hallowell’s tips on coping and connecting in our crazybusy world.

Read Crazybusy for strategies on coping in a world gone ADD.


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