People are drinking more during the quarantine.
The Washington Post reported that alcohol sales increased by 55% in mid-March and the San Fransisco Chronicle reported an increase of 42% in the first week of the city’s stay-at-home order.
How do you know if your Tiger King drinking games or Zoom drinking games are all in good fun or if your alcohol consumption is becoming a problem?
Here are some early signs and symptoms:
Many people associate alcoholism with drinking daily or all day or no longer being able to function. The truth is that addiction is an insidious, slow-developing process. These stereotypical ideas about what alcoholism looks like are actually later -stage symptoms. The line from recreational drinking to the neurological condition of addiction had been crossed much earlier. It’s wise to take seriously the earlier, more subtle symptoms described above. These symptoms are often fleeting which makes assessing yourself difficult. Your alcohol intake can seem controllable one day and out of control on another day.
So how can you tell if you’re developing a problem with drinking? Start by noticing what is happening in your body and mind. Drawn from the techniques of mindfulness, you can learn some mastery over your internal experience.
Here is a research-supported practice that will help you to develop a better awareness and some control over urges. ( the ability to ‘control’ urges is a neurological function that is impaired in addiction).
Close your eyes.
Step back into your observer mind and watch how you experience an urge.
Notice where you feel it in your body.
Note the level of intensity.
Note the thoughts about drinking.
Now, imagine urges are like ocean waves: they swell, crest, and fall.
If you fight against them, you can exhaust yourself and be carried away, eventually getting pulled under.
If you stay above them and ride the wave, you will safely make it to shore.
Instead of fighting the urge, use your breath as the “surfboard” and ride the urge through its rise, cresting, and inevitable fall.
As you feel the first urge to drink rise within you, stop what you’re doing, and focus on your natural, unaltered breathing. As thoughts come up, observe them non-judgmentally--let them come and go as you remain connected to your breathing.
You’ll notice that as the urge rises, it also grows stronger and may even begin to feel impossible to ride out. Don’t let it fool you. It will crest, and from that point forward, the urge will fall and dissipate.
Notice a more peaceful feeling.
As urges arise again, repeat the practice.
This practice works best pre-emptively. Do it early in the day. Do it more than once if possible.
Finally, record what you noticed happening in your mind and body in a journal.
We know that the mental health effects of COVID-19 are extraordinary; an emerging grief as we all stand at the precipice of a great loss, the depression that comes with isolation, economic anxiety, trying to ward of restlessness and despair, and the anticipatory anxiety of getting sick.
Our therapists are ready to provide support. We are open and even accepting new clients. Our therapy sessions will take place via tele-health. Tele-health, or tele-medicine, is therapy done over video or phone. Most insurances are now covering tele-therapy sessions.
Research tells us that the relationship between therapist and client is as healing as the interventions we employ. Video therapy continues to offer the deep understanding that comes from eye-contact and the intimacy of her exploring the layers of your emotions through facial expression and subtle body movements. We look forward to getting back into the room together soon. For now, let's stay connected. We're all in this together.
Last year on Halloween, my father passed away. Upon hearing the news, I felt like I was transported to another planet - a cruel new reality where the people you love the most have suddenly vanished.
Grief alters reality. ‘Grief brain’, a fog that sets in after experiencing a loss, can feel disorienting. Suddenly, time has no boundaries and mortality demands most of your attention without your consent. One year later, here are a few of my reflections on the process of grieving.
I’ve learned that the depth of the pain can seem boundless, an empty and bottomless ache, but little by little, pain and love find a way to coexist.
I’ve learned that grief cannot be alleviated but it can be carried. It can be held.
I’ve learned that the experience of grief is as unique as the experience of love in any relationship.
I’ve learned that there is no timeline, no stages, no pattern. Grief is not linear. Waves of tears, numbness, warm feelings of love and even joy may show up at any time.
I’ve learned that overtime, the loss is integrated, not overcome.
Grief can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. A support system and a safe space has helped me explore this new, uncharted territory.
One year later: I’ve learned the importance of embracing whatever brings me joy. At this point in my life, I feel inspired to live in the moment and surround myself with others who know how to do the same; appreciating experiences of all forms. I’ve learned that there is so much beauty and comfort in connection. Filling that lonely space from the inside out has been such a humbling journey.
Staff therapist: Stephanie Sandoval, AMFT
"Creating meaning and a narrative about the relationship and its ending helps people get closure,” Dr. Engler says. “You don't need the partner for closure—you can do it on your own.”
- Dr. Engler in Women's Health Magazine, "13 Ways To Get Over A Crush Once And For All"
“I hear all day from couples that they harbor a sense of disconnection that they often don't say out loud," says Brandy Engler, Psy.D., a relationship therapist in Los Angeles. "These kinds of questions help people put words to what they want and how they want to feel—it taps into your core longings.”
- Dr. Engler in Women's Health Magazine, "8 Questions That Provide The Ultimate Compatibility Test"
As my practice grew, my role changed from author to entrepreneur. Both are creative endeavors, but I was in foreign territory. I became mired in the non-glamorous parts of being a business owner –learning acronyms like ADP and EDD—and I lacked the skills for managing money or people. I was working 14 hour days, answering phones and emails, filing medical claims, negotiating deals on office spaces and training staff.
One year into our business boom, with 12 therapists and 2 offices, I was flat broke. I learned that growth doesn’t equal profit. Sunk by taxes, high overhead and no financial management skills, I sought out PACE Women’s business center in downtown LA, a non-profit organization that teaches business skills to female entrepreneurs. I joined their mentor program which connects retired business leaders with female entrepreneurs. Soon, I learned accounting skills and financial strategies that helped my business to become profitable while growing.
I’ve learned that the role of CEO is to focus on the big picture; to see the system as a whole, so I could create the most efficient, smooth and cost-effective flow rather than getting lost in the everyday small details."
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti recognizes Silver Lake Psychology at the Small Business Summit Awards.
Dr. Engler was honored to receive a award from the Mayor of Los Angeles at the Small Business Summit Awards Ceremony. Silver Lake Psychology was recognized as a small business success story in the Los Angeles area. Thank you to the Pace Women's Business Center for all you have done to make our collective grow.
As we approach the Remembrance Altars event at Silver Lake Psychology next week, I’ve been thinking about the meaning of death. This question was on my mind as I hiked the beautiful redwoods in Bothe-Napa Valley State Park. Most redwoods grow from sprouts that form around the base of an old tree, using the nutrients and root system of the parent tree. When the parent tree dies, the new generation of trees rise around the parent tree’s stump, using that same root system, and creating a circle of trees that are called “fairy rings.” There is something touching about the children of the mother tree forming a circle around the mother and that they are all still connected to the stump. And I’m inspired that even in death a living thing is still providing the roots and structure that its children grow from and is still feeding and nourishing them. In the end, the remains of the parent tree become part of the children. It makes me trust in the process of death, that it has meaning and purpose. That it’s not an ending, but a cycle.
"The most important part of communicating about libido is that each partner doesn't personalize the other's libido (i.e. your libido is low, that means I'm not attractive enough). I've spoken to hundreds, probably thousands, of people about libido, and it is almost never that reason. Once partners can see that libido itself is a journey, both personal and relational, they can be supportive and curious, ready to find each other's edges and challenge each other to feel and try new things."
- Dr. Engler in Vice Magazine, "Expert Advice on What to Do About a Low Sex Drive"
"Many of us have jobs or hobbies that keep us in our heads and out of our bodies, says Brandy Engler, LA based therapist and author of The Men on My Couch. Activities, including Yoga, gardening, and exercise, that don't rely on mental stimulation and instead connect us to our senses, relax us, or get us into our bodies are more likely to open us up to being sexual."
- Dr. Engler in Good Housekeeping Magazine, "20 Bad Habits That Are Killing Your Libido"
Dr. Engler's Articles on the Huffington Post:
Should You Get Pre-marital Counseling?
Women's Health Magazine interviews Dr. Engler on the factors to consider.
Why Moving in Together Kills Your Sex Life, and What to Do About It.
Men's Health Magazine interviews Dr. Engler about how to improve your sex life, and reviews her book, "The Men on My Couch."
11 Things That Actually Surprised This Sex Therapist.
BuzzFeed reviews Dr. Engler's new book, "The Women on My Couch."