From Learning to Relax to Keeping a Diary

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“Suzanne Gelb Image”

Dear Readers:


Answers to the questions in today’s column can be supplemented with excerpts from my book “Welcome Home. A Book About Overcoming Addictions” (p. 82 for Answer 1; p. 84 for Answer 2). For more information visit my Web site at

”Deep Breathing – Does it Work?”

Dear Dr. Gelb:

I am in my final semester of college and I need to get good grades to graduate. I freeze up around exam time and my hand even shakes when I write exams. I have heard experts recommend deep breathing for relaxation, especially before a test. Do you agree?

Almost Graduated

A: Dr. Gelb says . . .

Dear Almost Graduate:

Your question brings a smile to my face as I recall a similar query I heard on a TV show where the host responded, “yes, deep breathing or holding one’s breath is an excellent way to turn blue in the face.” But seriously, of course deep breathing is good because it can increase circulation and support alertness.

Does it reduce anxiety? It hasn’t worked for me. I prefer examining the cause of the anxiety and, where needed, relying on professional help to facilitate the resolution of this fear.

”Diaries – Do They Help?”

Dear Dr. Gelb:

I am 16 and my friends keep diaries about their boyfriends. I haven’t had any boyfriends yet, but I have good things happening in my life and I study hard and I am close to my family. Should I keep a diary?

Never Been Kissed

A: Dr. Gelb says . . .

Dear Never:

Many people do keep diaries as a momento and then they enjoy reminiscing later on. That is certainly fine. However, diaries have been known to wreck marriages and destroy relationships. My concern is that when someone writes about trauma or secrets, the risk is that such a diary could become their enemy if it lands in the wrong hands. Even if one’s private thoughts are under lock and key, this is not an ironclad guarantee that one’s most personal inner world will be protected.

”’Suzanne J. Gelb, Ph.D., J.D. authors this daily column, Dr. Gelb Says, which answers questions about daily living and behavior issues. Dr. Gelb is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Honolulu. She holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Human Services. Dr. Gelb is also a published author of a book on Overcoming Addictions and a book on Relationships.”’

”’This column is intended for entertainment use only and is not intended for the purpose of psychological diagnosis, treatment or personalized advice. For more about the column’s purpose, see”’ “An Online Intro to Dr. Gelb Says”

”’Email your questions to More information on Dr. Gelb’s services and related resources available at”’