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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Holidays: Being alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely

What do you mean when you say that being alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely? Loneliness is a choice. Each of us has options and choices by taking risks to become involved in the holiday festivities. Just because you are single during the holidays doesn’t mean you have to be lonely.

The Holiday season is a lonely time for many people in our community. What are some of the common reasons for the loneliness?
• Divorce. Perhaps a divorce has created a situation where a single person is alone during the holidays due to visitation agreements.
• Death. The loss of a spouse can be a terrible time for grief and loneliness, especially if it is the first year that you have not been with your loved one during the holiday
• Past memories. Many people feel lonely or sad because of old memories from their childhoods. Perhaps holidays remind people of times of abandonment, dysfunctional family gatherings, or times in which they felt hurt or abused
• Not being close to family members. Distance from relatives or friends can cause great sadness and loneliness for many people. This may be especially true for people who have just moved away from their support systems or families.

If you feel lonely during the holidays, what are some suggestions for beating depression?
• Do something for someone else. Volunteer. Work at the Salvation Army and serve dinners to the homeless. Do something for a senior and spend time with them during the holidays. Buy gifts for those in need, or make donations to Toys for Tots or the many community charities.
• Look up an old friend and re-establish a relationship. Use this time to rekindle friendships and avoid isolation.
• Accept holiday invitations. It may be difficult to go to parties or get-togethers during the holidays, but being proactive about joining others will help beat depression.
• Attend a holiday group festivity at your church or synagogue. Most religious affiliations have holiday services, gatherings or other activities which foster togetherness.
• Watch the television, read the newspaper, check out church fliers and discover some holiday activities within the community. Go to the group sing-a-longs, go with co-workers to the Festival of Lights, or discover some new activities you can do with others.
• Talk to your support system about feelings of loneliness. Stuffing your feelings and keeping them locked inside will only lead to more depression.
• If you find yourself persistently blue or depressed, contact a licensed mental health counselor for assistance.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

State of Stress

It’s not your imagination—your stress level is going up! A recent survey by the American Psychological Association has confirmed that Americans are in a “state of stress.”

Tell us a little about the findings of the recent survey.
• American’s biggest stressors are money and work, which has increased in ratings from last year
• Rising housing costs rates as a high stressor for 51% of the population
• 32% of American’s report feeling extreme levels of stress on a regular basis. Add to that statistic, the fact that almost 50% of Americans believe their stress is dramatically higher than what it was just five years ago.

Are there any other differences reported in the current survey?
• Residents of the Western states report a higher degree of physical stress and tend to be less effective in managing their stress levels.
• Residents of the West tend to report more headaches, upset stomach and tightness in the chest than those in the Eastern Region of the country
• Residents of the Eastern states are more likely to see work as their main stressor with heavy workloads, choiceless jobs, and inflexible hours.

Are there any trends related to gender?
• 82% of women report experiencing physical symptoms of stress in the last month vs. 71% of males
• Women tend to experience more sleep problems (25% say they lose more than one hour per night) , overeating, & skipping meals
• Women tend to abuse more prescriptions due to stress.

What can we do to minimize our stress?
• Learn to say NO. Don’t take on more than you can handle
• Learn to balance our work, family responsibilities, and personal life
• Consider reaching out to a licensed therapist to assist with techniques that help minimize anxiety and discover methods for lowering stress through stress management techniques.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

What a Success!

Thank you to everyone that made our 2007 Women's Lifestyle Show a grand success. We are estimating there were between 13,000-15,000 women at this year's event. Can you believe it?

We wanted to share some of our staff's better moments as they readied for the show. Yes, these are your therapists in a way you've never seen them before :)

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Women's Lifestyle Show is Almost Here!

The 16th Annual Women's Lifestyle Show is almost here. Join us at the Peoria Civic Center where we've doubled the space, and we are doubling the fun! The Show is Saturday October 27th from 9 am-4pm.

The Joy Miller & Associates booth will be bigger and better and will be located in the location previously used by Methodist Hospital. You'll find we've enlarged the area so you can take part in interactive fun-filled activities in our JOYFUL LIVING area. Participate in our activities and receive a "punch" on your special token card, and when you have earned 3 punches you will win a FREE opportunity to have your picture taken at our own photo booth!

Come early and join the fun!

To see what is offered this year, go to and watch for the Women's Lifestyle Show insert in the PJStar newspaper on Sunday October 21st.

Teens: Are they really as mature as we think?

We’ve taught our kids not to use drugs, to never smoke, and to choose good friends. But, despite our years of preaching, why do they engage in risky behaviors? Some say these decisions are based on the reality of the “teen brain.”

Researchers from around the country are investigating the premise of the “teen brain.” What are they learning?
• Teens may look like adults but the area of their brain that regulates their emotions and their impulses is still developing throughout their teens and not mature.

Can you tell us more about the specifics?
• Teen’s cognitive/thinking areas may be mature, but the area of the pre-frontal cortex that regulates impulses and emotions are not likely to mature until mid-20s.
• Studies show that teens who show resistance to peer pressure have thickened prefrontal areas of the brain with more connections.
• Additionally teens stay up late and many are sleep deprived which leads to poor decision-making and loss of emotional control.

So how can parents use this information in their parenting?

• Realize that your teen make look like an adult, but realize they are still developing and need limits and supervision
• Parents can assist with helping their teen learn life skills in decision making, evaluation consequences, budgeting, and time management
• Teaching our teens to be responsible for their actions and behaviors vs. enabling them to escape life lessons.
• Remember that our teens need adults to mentor, coach and guide them, which are the goals of parenting.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Thought for the Day

Do What Brings You Joy!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

...Before time runs out

Time is ticking, and each day blends into another…or does it for those who are planning their future? There’s a new trend for those who don’t want to lose one second.

Tell us more about this new trend.
• Many people are creating “life lists” which is a contract with yourself outlining goals that you want to accomplish before you die.
• The popularity of life lists is surging with available lists of places to visit, must read books, and things to do before you are 40.
• Media resources are catching the frenzy. There are new movies coming out, and Visa is running a print campaign built around checklists called “Things to do while you are alive.”
• With 79 million baby boomers, they are at the point in their lives where they are taking stock of where they have gone, and what they want to do with the rest of their life.

Why are these “lists” so important to so many?
• These are a perfect way for time-crunched professionals to organize on personal journeys in this quick pace world
• The lists create a road map for the future
• The lists create a mechanism for feeling like people are in control of their destinies and outcomes.
• The list gives people a mechanism for feeling mastery and life accomplishment
• People feel happiest and heightened self-esteem when they are accomplishing goals and working towards an outcome.

How do we create a life list?
• Quite simply… just start to write down anything you’d like to accomplish before you die.
• Make your goals attainable and small do-able tasks (vs. something vague and too general… like creating world peace).
• Compile your list and check off the things you accomplish. Some therapists and motivational coaches suggest starting with 100 goals and add items to your list whenever you’d like.
• Remember life isn’t a dress rehearsal, so use each moment and get moving towards everything you’ve always wanted to do.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Working Dads Want More

A recent survey from reports that dads want more time with their families. Tonight’s segment focuses on current trends related to work and family life.

What does the research indicate?
• 38% of dads say they would take a pay cut to spend more time with their kids
• 24% of dads say working overtime is negatively effecting their relationship with their children
• 48% of dads say they have missed a significant life event at least once due to work obligations

How does work commitments relate to the loss of family time?
• 25% of dads spend less than one hour with their children each day
• 42% of dads spend less than two hours with their children each day
• 27% of dads work more than 50 hrs per week—limiting family time

What are some suggestions for working dads?
• Create a family day. Go for family bike rides, outings, movies, picnics, and enjoy the day free of work, cell phones, computers, and text messaging.
• Talk to your boss about flex-time. Try to work towards flexible hours, job sharing, or creating a means for attending important events.
• Investigate your priorities in life. What is most important? Money? Time with family? You have to have the desire to make changes you want in your life.
• Balance your life by setting limits on the hours you are willing to work, and stick to your commitment
• Keep in touch with your family during work breaks or during lunchtime.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

After a While

After A While
by Veronica A. Shoffstall

After a while you learn
the subtle difference between
holding a hand and chaining a soul
and you learn
that love doesn't mean leaning
and company doesn't always mean security.
And you begin to learn
that kisses aren't contracts
and presents aren't promises
and you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes ahead
with the grace of woman, not the grief of a child
and you learn
to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow's ground is
too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down
in mid-flight.
After a while you learn
that even sunshine burns
if you get too much
so you plant your own garden
and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone
to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure
you really are strong
you really do have worth
and you learn
and you learn
with every goodbye, you learn...

Could living in Peoria be good for your health?

Recent research indicates that suburban life can actually take a toll on Americans, and effect their work, leisure, and relaxation.

How does your location effect your health?
A recent study of over 47,000 Americans has indicated:
o People who work more hours simply get up earlier or go to bed later, which puts them at risk for sleep deprivation.
o Time at work is the biggest risk for our sleep statistics, but a close second is travel time. Those who spent lots of time traveling to work or destinations, or who are stuck in traffic on the way to work, have a higher rate of sleep deprivation.
o People who live in sprawling suburbs make a long workday longer trying to run errands on clogged roads.
o National sleep Foundation says sleep deprived drivers cause more than 100,000 auto crashes a year, and more than 1,500 deaths

How can the loss of sleep or sleep deprivation hurt us?
o Memory loss
o Poor performance on the job
o Loss of attention and concentration
o Fatigue
o Obesity (link now to sleep and obesity)

What are some common suggestions for sleep disturbances?
o Establish a regular time for going to bed--be consistent (this helps stabilize your internal clock--try to go to bed and arise at the same time each day)
o Do not go to bed too early (this sets up a pattern of fragmented sleep--you will also awaken early)
o Healthy maintenance- (Exercise regularly, eat a proper diet, stop smoking, no caffeine 6 hours before sleeping, and take a warm bath before bedtime)
o Deal with stress during waking hours. Enroll in a stress management class, learn some techniques, enlist a support group, see a therapist, etc.
o Develop a ritual, which signals the end of the day (putting the kids to bed, closing up the house, read a book, meditate, herbal tea. This all shifts your thinking from daily stressors.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Multitasking or Mistake?

Think you can answer a cell phone, drive your car, and respond to a text message all at the same time? You may think you are adapt at multi-tasking, but are you?

What are the results of recent research?

• David Meyer, a Michigan psychologist found that people who multi-task don’t accomplish more, they slow down their tasks.
• There is a significant amount of time lost shuffling from one task to another
• Shuffling tasks varying from complex to familiar and back again may add 40% more time to a task
• Meyer says it takes time for the brain to shift gears and move to a different task, no matter what you may think
• Multi-tasking actually increases the chances of mistakes
• Muti-tasking can slow down our response time, and that slowing down can be dangerous when we are doing something like driving

Many people won’t believe this research and believe they really can do it all at any one time. Can they?
• Use this typical example… count from one to ten, and of course that comes very naturally and quickly. But, try to add a task and add one number and then one letter of the alphabet in sequence. Like 1 A 2 B 3 C 4 D--- notice how much more time it takes to work through the two varying tasks and integrate them. This should easily prove my point. You might be able to be efficient in doing the task, but your performance usually suffers.

What are some suggestions for multi-taskers?
• Only check your email once an hour at work. Try to focus on one task for 40 -45 minutes before a break. ((our concentration limit is about that amount of time)
• It usually takes 15-25 minutes to return to a task when interrupted, so turn off distractors, close your office door, or listen to music with no lyrics.
• Take brief breaks during the day which include deep breathing or trying to meditate and being mindless.
• Try to schedule difficult tasks for your most productive part of the day and save routine tasks for times when you might get more interruptions.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Grief And Loss

With the recent deaths of students within our community, we thought it would be helpful to give some mental health tips for helping someone work through grief and loss

Typically there are some common stages of grief. Please explain

The stages of grief are commonly identified through the work of Elisebeth Kubler-Ross who has identified 5 stages of grieving.
o Shock and denial: The inability to feel anything. The mourner may feel numb, overwhelmed, anxious and withdrawn
o Anger: Blaming self or others for the loss
o Bargaining: Trying to ask a Higher Power for a change, or pleading for a different result
o Depression: The feeling of sadness, disturbed sleep, thoughts of suicide, or excessive crying
o Acceptance: Beginning to look for the lessons of the experience and acceptance that you can not change what has happened.

What are some suggestions for working though the grief?

o Accept your grief. It is acceptable to grieve the loss. Grieving is a natural part of healing and it is a self-loving behavior
o Remind yourself that grief stages have a purpose
o Remind yourself that the grief will end
o Take care of your health (eat nutritionally, get sleep, exercise)
o Process the loss with your support network. Talk about the person who is no longer in your life.
o Take time to be alone.
o Remind yourself that grief hurts, but it will not harm you
o Ask for help from others, including a therapist

What are some tips for helping someone who is experiencing a major loss
o allow the mourner to feel whatever they are feeling
o talk openly about the death and have a candid discussion about the consequences of death
o don't push the griever into hiding their feelings or covering up their grief. Be there for them, versus avoiding the mourner.
o Let the mourner tell you about their loss again and again if they need to, andencourage them to seek help if they don't seem to be moving forward in the process.
o Help the griever find a grief support group (at school, in the community, etc)
o Stay involved in the mourners life, and let them know you are available to support them beyond the initial few weeks after the death.

Do Our Friends Effect Our Weight?

Can your social ties affect your weight? Some new research indicates that peers can effect your weight.

Tell us a little bit more about the new research that was just released.
• A study funded by the National Institute on Aging, utilizing over 12,000 participants showed that thinness and obesity are socially contagious. (study collection of data 32 years- multigenerational)
• If a person slims down, the people around them may also lose weight
• There is an acceptable norm for weight and people tend to share the same eating and exercise habits.

This is an interesting study. What else did they learn from the study?
• Acceptance: If someone you care about gains weight, your notion of an acceptable body weight may change and you may decide it is okay to go up in weight.
• Gain: When people become obese, the risk of their closest friends becoming obese over the next 2-4 years increases by 171%. Spouses chances are up by 37%
• Loss: When people lose shed pounds, it has a ripple effect and increases similar weight loss in friends, siblings and spouse.
• Gender: Men’s weight effect their male friends and siblings and female weight changes tend to effect their girlfriends or sisters more than brothers or guy friends. Men look to men to vise versa.

If we want to create a change in our lives, what are some healthy tips for those wanting to create a healthier lifestyle

• Exercise 3-5 times a week and include cardiovascular workouts
• Cut portion size and eat a little more often
• Drink plenty of liquids, limit sugars & white flours, and increase your fruits and vegetables.
• Lose weight slowly & focus on realistic goals, and focus on creating a healthier you!

College Transitions

Walking a fine line between interest and intrusion? The coming weeks will mark the transition of college students leaving their homes and moving to college campuses across the country. For many parents this is the first exposure to “letting go” not only psychologically but also physically. It is the time for many of us to learn to guide and support our sons and daughters from a distance.

Recently journalists have focused on some of the concerns parents of college students--and most specifically freshmen. Are there are notable trends? (parents frustration about the lack of being able to gain access to information from college due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of l974)

What are some of the colleges doing about the concerns of parents?
~keeping parents in touch with newsletters
~ sending newspapers to parent's residences
~ trying to get parents involved in college events
~ setting up web sites for commonly asked questions and answers
~having webcams of the campus so parents can get a feel for what's happening on campus

We have talked about tips of getting ready for sending your son or daughter to college-- now that they are on campus any suggestions for parents?
o Help your child with problem solving (now is the time to use key phrases like “it sounds like you have some concerns, what are you going to do about it” “What ideas do you have to address this problem?” “Perhaps you should try working on it for a few days and if you can't find a solution we could talk about it in a couple of days”
o State your concerns (it is important that you be honest and tell your child your concerns, whether it is about their lack of studying, or concerns with them drinking or partying. It is important to make a point without lecturing and state your concerns openly )
o Don't overburden with your emotions (the transition is difficult for them also-- it is important to find someone to discuss your feelings with and let them know you care, but not that you can't survive without them)
o Take advantage of e-mail and text messaging (what a wonderful way to dialogue with your child. You can both connect when you find free time and it is much cheaper than phone service, and of course, much faster than snail-mail)
o Find a time to connect (but for those of us who love hearing our child's voice it is great to find a mutually agreeable night for calls. Many parents typically use Sunday nights as check-in nights)

Monday, August 6, 2007

Real Age... Can We Really Live Longer?

Computer generated programs can easily compact great amounts of information and quickly give us some generalized information for our personal usage. Recently I came upon the site, listed below, that looks at some of our mental health and physical health risks and correlates your responses to your "real age." The online survey looks at important categories that affect your longevity and quality of life.

Take some time and try it yourself:

*Please note this computer program is "Just For Fun" and for your own personal empowerment. You will quickly witness how "poor" lifestyle choices can effect your longevity and well-being.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

A therapist joke for the day!

A therapist asks a colleague: "What time is it?"
The other one answers: "Sorry, don't know, I have no watch."
The first one: "Never mind! The main thing is that we talked about.

*Remember laughter is as essential each day, as breathing!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Looking For A New Job?

Looking for a new job? Are you anxious about what to say, and what you need to do to prepare for the interview? Tonight we’ll give you some tips and some cautions for that big interview day.

Many employers say they make a first impression within 30 seconds. Sometimes those impressions are lasting so what are some keys to a successful first meeting? Here are some great tips from
• Be on time. Being late can be one of the worst errors so allow yourself plenty of time to get to the office. Also give yourself time to relax and get your composure before you walk into the appointment. Ideally, you should show up 5-10 minutes early
• First impressions are based on appearance. We may not like it, but your appearance composes a large part of first impressions. Try to look professional – tailored suits and generally the most appropriate.
• The handshake is important. Offering a limp handshake makes the employer think you are hesitant, and crunching the boss’s hand makes you look aggressive. Shake w/ a medium grip to convey confidence.
• Watch your posture. Your body language sends silent messages, so make sure you sit straight, try not to fidget and maintain eye contact.

What are some other tips for successful interviewing?
• Be prepared. Bring an extra copy of your resume. Research the industry or company so you know how your talents fit into the company
• Show your enthusiasm. It is important to stand out, and being enthusiastic tells the employer you are highly motivated.
• Sell yourself. Create a list of things you want the employer to know about you and be ready to do a good job selling yourself.
• Be honest and ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask about responsibilities of the job or ask about typical projects. It is important to engage the interviewer.

Are there some cautions for interviews?
• Never be rude to the receptionist. Many receptionists are the gatekeepers for the boss and their impressions are valued. Remember if you get the job, you may need the assistance of the receptionist.
• Never trash your former boss. This shows you left on poor terms and you want to keep the interview positive and upbeat.
• Never exaggerate your accomplishments or credentials. A skilled interviewer can see through fabrications and remember they may check out your story if they are interested in you.
• Make sure you always thank the interviewer. Shake hands once again, and be polite and make sure you write a thank you note stating how much you appreciate their time and how you are interested in the job.

Keep these things in mind, and you just might be getting that new job in nothing flat!

Friday, July 20, 2007

~A Blog Tip~

There is additional information located on our Joy Miller & Associates website. You can go straight to our Website by just clicking our logo at the top of the page.

Please feel free to check out our main website, and feel free to comment in a response to this blog entry if you have some ideas of topics to include on this location. We are eager to interact with you and offer tips that may be applicable to your interests.

Are You Burned Out?

The best and the brightest among us are the most vulnerable to this mental health concern. It seems that those who are in danger of this stress-related illness are the dynamic goal-oriented men and women who give 100% to any project. Wonder what we’re describing… it is burnout.

Recent statistics show that 64% of Americans from the ages of 35-64 report burnout in their job setting. This staggering rate of burnout is commonly diagnosed when the employee notes:

• Feeling pressured, trapped or fatigued
• Has difficulty concentrating or remembering tasks
• Has a low tolerance for frustration and is easily angered
• Has feelings of being continually fatigued or is apathetic

But there are some simple solutions to intervene if you feel you are the road to burnout.
• Admit there is a problem. When you realize there is a problem, then you can take action steps to address the concern.
• Reach out and get support. Many companies have employee assistance programs, or seek a licensed mental health professional who works with burnout and stress management.
• Learn relaxation techniques and time management
• Find some balance in your life. Find time for your family and leisure, as well as your job.
• Let go of what’s not yours—set boundaries and stick to those guidelines. Learn to say “no.”
• Be realistic about your goals to assure success.

The key to successful negotiation of job related stress is in your control…you can make a difference.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Start the Journey- Back by Popular Demand

We are offering a one-time coupon for our blog readers only. Many of you have considered therapy, but have not taking the step. Here is something that might help you make that call. Print out this coupon and bring it to your first intake session and you will have $20 taken off your first appointment rate.

We will be your referral connection! Use this gift coupon for yourself, or give it to a friend who might benefit from your kindness.

*This is a one-time only coupon for our dedicated blog readers, and it can only be used for NEW clients making appointments at our office. To make an appointment, please call our office M-Th from 8:30am-5pm and speak to our office manager Sherrill.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

It's Coming!

You see the ads on television, and it's coming very soon...

Yes, the Women's Lifestyle Show will be filling the Peoria Civic Center on Saturday October 27th. Expanding our exhibit area by 40,000 square feet, this year's show will cover over 100,000 square feet with exciting stage activities, over 275 interactive exhibits, empowering seminars, free health screenings, freebies, and much much more.

This year Joy Miller & Associates booth space will move over to the area that was occupied by Methodist Hospital. This allows us almost 40% more space to enjoy our interactive activities. As many of you remember, our booth was filled to capacity as participants earned punches by learning biofeedback, enjoying yoga laughter, cooperating in group communication challenges, and doing fun-filled surveys to learn about yourself. Earning four punches enabled participants to have four free fun-filled photos taken in our photo booth located in the middle of our area.

This year we will add some new surprises, and create new interactive activities as you learn a little about personal empowerment and Joy-ful living.

Mark your calendars now and start counting down the days. Bring your sister, mother, daughter, or your best friend and spend a day designed just for you!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Are You Dating A Bully?

Are there really characteristics that suggest you are dating a loser?
Yes, and we will identify some of the potentially emotionally damaging characteristics your partner may possess and why these characteristics can be damaging psychologically and even physically.

Can you give us a few examples of knowing when you are with a loser?

1. Rough treatment. Whether they shove you, break your personal property, slap, kick, bite or harm you in any way—realize you are with a loser and you deserve to find a healthy relationship without that person
2. Put-downs. Are you with someone who is always being critical, putting you down, or constantly correcting you for your mistakes? Do you always feel on-guard? Do they constantly tell you that you are fat? Stupid? Unattractive? These things chip away at your confidence and self-esteem. Get out before you are in a deep psychological depression.
3. Breakup panic. Are you with someone who is always threatening to leave? Someone who threatens to break up unless you do things their way? Do they threaten you by saying they will leave or attempt suicide? These are all examples of means of controlling a relationship through manipulation.
4. No outside interests. Be cautious if your partner has nothing in their life except you, and they want you to drop all your hobbies, friends, activities, and appointments. This encompassing relationship prevents both parties from growing and creates destructive dependency

If you find yourself in one of these relationships, what should you do?

1. Seek counseling from a trained licensed professional
2. Gather a support system
3. Decide if this relationship is healthy for you, and if not, create a plan to end the relationship without blame
4. Be decisive. Too many people vacillate and go in and out of relationships. Be sure to look at all the pros and cons before you decide to remain in a relationship or stay.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Creating A Blended Family

Researchers suggest that almost 1/3 of all children in America will live in a blended family environment by the time they reach the age of 18. Lets look at some of the challenges, as well as some tips for making this transition successful.

One of the greatest challenges is the role of the stepparent in disciplining of children. What do you suggest?
• Let the biological (custodial) parent be the primary disciplinarian and take on more of the parenting responsibilities
• Allow the new stepparent the ability to create a “friend or camp counselor” role vs. disciplinarian.
• Create new house rules, which help everyone get on the same page regarding expectations.
• Be aware that it is natural for the blending process is uncomfortable and rocky. Couples that work together in harmony and are consistent will find the greatest path for success.

Are there typical responses for different aged children?

• Yes, research indicates that young children under 10 generally adjust easier to blending of families.
• Children under 10 are very attentive to feeling abandoned, so it is imperative that the biological parent creates time alone w/ their child.
• Ages 10-14 typically are the most difficult in adjusting to the blended family. Many times this age tends to be oppositional and it is important to adhere to some of the suggestions we talked about.
• Teens 15 and above typically are less involved with the family and the blending and many times prefer to separate from the family and create their own identities outside the new unit. They are less interested in bonding and may show some real discomfort with any romantic or sexual behaviors in their presence.

What are some tips for making this transition less stressful?
• Acknowledge that this process will take time and it will not magically come together overnight
• Realize that as a stepparent you may want a relationship, but the child may not be ready to establish a relationship w/you on your time schedule. Remember not to take rejection personally—it is a reaction to the situation and not you.
• Be realistic about your expectations of the process and look for positive achievements related to friendship and cooperation
• Remember that each child may react differently to the blending and look for individual means for creating harmony and cooperation.
• Allow the opportunity for open discussion of emotions. Create time for sharing and brainstorming.
• Be open to accessing professional counseling to help with the transitional process.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Stress Overload?

Some researchers suggest that between 75-90% of all primary care physician visits are related to STRESS- RELATED complaints! We will investigate some of the signs and symptoms of stress overload, as well as some suggestions for stress management.

First of all… tell us a little bit about stress and stress overload. (Stress is nothing more than an internal or external "load" on our human system. But, the way we react to that load is what determines if the stress or stress reaction is positive or negative. Stress overload occurs when a person does not adequately deal with the dis-stress and they experience some form of symptoms that affect their daily life in a negative way.)

What are some of the symptoms of stress overload?
(There are symptoms, which affect us physically, mentally, or emotionally. Symptoms include lack of concentration, forgetfulness, low self-esteem, elevated heart rate, headaches, backaches, insomnia, depression, anxiety).

Is stress-overload more prevalent to one sex or the other?
(Many researchers believe that women are more prone to stress-overload due to the fact that they take on too much and don't speak out and say 'no' of set limits. Additionally, many women don't ask for help or have to skills to let go of stressors.

What are some ways of coping with stress overload?
1. Talk and share! Learn to ask for help, delegate or negotiate tasks at home and at work.
2. Plan regular leisure-time. Plan down time to go out with friends, enjoy a movie, a hobby, or just kick back and watch television or a warm bath.
3. Say no. Give yourself permission to be assertive with those around you and set boundaries. If you have trouble saying 'no' try saying, 'I’ll think about it' so you have time to consider if you really want to do something or not.
4. Set realistic goals for each day. Try not to over-commit and know your limitations.
5. Change your mind. Remember you do have the ability to change your thinking and put a positive spin on many negative stressors.
6. Watch out for multitasking—it can become over-tasking! Slow down, and do one thing at a time.
7. Learn relaxation techniques. Try deep breathing, stretching, or yoga.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Inspirational Tip

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.

~Albert Einstein

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Can a Vacation Effect Your Mental Health?

American employees are working longer and taking fewer days of vacation, especially compared to our European counterparts. Recent statistics from Expedia Inc. state American's will take 10% less vacation time this year, compared to last year.

How do American's vacation hours compare to European workers?
• In 2003 American's had 16 days of vacation, but in 2007 it is now 14 days
• Brits get 24 days of vacation
• French had 37 days of vacation in 2003, and now it is down to 36
• In 2003 Germans had 35 days of vacation, in 2007 it is 26
• Italians get 42 days of vacation a year
***only 14% of Americans plan to take a two-week vacation, down from 16% in 2006

What are the possible effects of not taking vacations?
• Vacation starvation, as it is called, can lead to workers who are
disgruntled, stress related illnesses such as stomach problems, back aches,
• Other problems include family tension, and an increase in addictions.

What are some of the reasons for American's taking less vacation time?
1. Overwork ethic- Americans define themselves by their job and our 24/7
technology keeps us tied to our jobs.
2. Guilt and fear-American's tend to fear guilty about leaving their jobs,
especially when times are tough in the economy. Other's fear they might lose
their job if they take time off, or perhaps lose a promotion.
3. Cost of travel is noted by many workers who are deciding to opt for shorter,
closer to home getaways.
4. Dual income couples have trouble coordinating long stretches of time away
from the office
5. Statistics show that 23% of small business owners have not planned a vacation
that lasts over a week in more than 4 yrs.

What are some means of coping with vacation starvation?
1. Take frequent, but shorter vacations ( 4 day weekends)
2. Trade vacation time for pay decreases (29% of American's say they'd trade a
pay raise for more vacation time)
3. Use your weekends as time for yourself and family vs. spending the weekend
working on things from the office.
4. Learn some stress management techniques from a mental health professional.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Preparing for a new job?

Most people would agree that going to a job interview can be one of the most intimidating and anxiety ridden events in their life. Tonight we will look at some tips for those of you who might be preparing for a job change and tips for attaining that new position.

Career coaches talk about the importance of “preparing” for an interview. What does that mean?
1. Experts suggest that you spend 3 hours preparing for an interview
2. Draft answers to the most common interview questions and practice answering
them aloud
3. Read up on the company and their mission
4. Make a dry run drive to the interview site so you know exactly how long it
takes, the just where the company is located.

What are some of the typical questions asked by interviewers?

1. Why should we hire you? (sell your qualifications and what you bring to the
2. Why do you want to work here? (here’s where you talk about what you know
about the company and how you can fit in)
3. What is your greatest weakness (talk about a weakness and how you have worked
to improve that weakness to make it more of a strength)
4. What accomplishment are you most proud of ? (try to find something that
relates to the job position or something that demonstrates you can meet the
company’s needs)

What are the most common mistakes a candidate makes?
1. Answering questions with one-word answers or sounding like they are reading
from a script.
2. Being unprepared and not knowing about the company
3. Attending the interview improperly groomed
4. Being dishonest about your achievements or expertise

~Remember there are trained career counselors who can help you prepare for job interviews… but the most important element is to show your passion to work hard and be dedicated to giving all you have to a company.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

The Importance of Laughter

It has been said “By the time a child reaches nursery school, he or she will laugh 300 times a day. Adults laugh an average of 17 times a day.” (Discovery Health). Tonight we will look at the importance of humor and laughter and how it affects our physical and mental health.

What are the benefits of laughter?
• Reduces stress. Laughter stimulates both sides of our brain and eases muscle
• Lowers our blood pressure
• Elevates our mood (and gives our body a good workout)
• Boosts our immune system (releases antibodies)
• Improves our brain functioning
• Helps us connect with others
• Fosters relaxation

Why do we need humor and laughter?
• Replaces negative emotions with pleasurable feelings
• It changes behavior. We talk more, make more eye contact, touch more
• It increases our energy level
• It makes us feel good and heals our pain
• It is a safe way to introduce ourselves to others (connect)

How can you expand your sense of humor?

• Look for everyday humor. Look for absurd, silly or funny things that happen
around you
• Watch children. Observe how they delight in light things
• Increase your exposure to humor (comedies, joke books, listen to joke tapes,
joke a day online)
• Hang around with funny friends
• If you hear a joke you like write it down (make sure you tell someone else
and brighten their day).


"When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace." 

~The Dalai Lama ~

Thursday, June 7, 2007

A Good Night's Sleep is Essential for Managing Your Stress

Sleep is essential just as essential as food, air and water. But, some people have difficulty attaining the sleep they need. Statistics indicate that one in three adults have difficulty with sleep or insomnia in their lifetime. Tonight we will focus on some information to help you get a good night’s sleep.

What typically keeps us from sleeping?
• Body noise. Side effects of medications, stimulants, caffeine, alcohol
• Mind noise. Anxiety or repressed emotions from the day
• Bed noise. Environmental noise from outside, feeling hot, uncomfortable.

What are the five basic strategies for preventing insomnia?
1. Never oversleep. Get up at the same time every day even after you have lost
sleep. Sleeping late just resets your body clock to a different cycle.
2. Set your body clock. Light helps restart your body clock to its daytime
phase. When you get up get some sunlight or turn on all the lights in your
room. Make sure you walk around to get oxygen to your brain.
3. Exercise. Keep active during the day—especially after a bad night’s sleep.
When you sleep less you should be more active the next day. Try strenuous
exercise in late afternoon.
4. Don’t nap. When you feel sleepy go take a walk or do errands.
5. Set a bedtime schedule. Try to go to bed at the same time each night. If
you have lost sleep the night before, go to bed a little later not earlier
and then move it back to its original time.

Are there any other tips for non-sleepers?
• Take a warm bath and never a shower before bed
• Dim the lights an hour before bedtime to stimulate dusk.
• Try to stretch and relax—read a boring book or watch a boring show.
• Make sure you don’t eat right before you sleep—try to eat 4 hours before you
go to sleep
• Try warm milk at bedtime, which stimulates the serotonin in your body. Try a
piece of whole-wheat bread or other carbohydrates.
• Avoid coffee, colas, tea, chocolate and fermented cheese cheddar cheese,
avocados and red wines
• Don’t watch anything disturbing before bed—horror movies, shooting/dramas or
anything that will keep your mind going overtime.

Lastly do you have some suggestions for enhancing sleep environments?
• Keep the room at around 60 degrees and pile on another blanket
• Keep humidity in the room
• Try to have white noise or a fan running or music to block out disruptive
• Keep the room as dark as possible. Light suggests it is time to wake up.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Start the Journey

We are offering a one-time coupon for our blog readers only. Many of you have considered therapy, but have not taking the step. Here is something that might help you make that call. Print out this coupon and bring it to your first intake session and you will have $20 taken off your first appointment rate.

We will to be your referral connection, so you can use this gift coupon for yourself, or give it to a friend who might benefit from your kindness.

*This is a one-time only coupon for our dedicated blog readers, and it can only be used for NEW clients making appointments at our office. To make an appointment, please call our office M-Th from 8:30am-5pm and speak to our office manager Sherrill.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Man's (or Woman's) Best Friend

Can pets really have an effect on our mental health? The answer is a strong resounding… YES! In fact, research shows that pets affects their owner’s depression level, life expectancy, and physical health.

Let’s look at some of the recent studies related to pets and blood pressure. A current study investigated a group of patients who owned an animal versus those who did not own a pet. The findings were dramatic! The research documented that pet owners had lower blood pressure compared to those patients who did not own a pet. In fact, another study discovered the act of talking to a pet can actually decreases blood pressure.

What are some of the benefits of owning a pet?

  • In a study of over 1000 Medicare patients, dog owners in the study had 21% fewer physician contacts than non-dog owners.
  • Research indicates that our blood pressure is lower if we own a pet, vs those who do not own a pet
Why are pets so helpful in treating depression?
  • Pets give unconditional love and support; undivided loyalty and devotion; total acceptance and nurturing. They make us feel appreciated and seem to increase our sense of self-esteem and worth
What are 5 major reasons to have pets?
• Pets provide a sense of security and protection ( someone is always around, which gives us
the sense of safety and being part of something larger)
• Pets are friends (helps with loneliness)
• Pets ease loss ( people with pets are less likely to experience deterioration in health
following stressful events)
• Pets encourage us to become more active (we go for more walks and generally are
more active than those without pets)
• Pets encourage us to take better care of themselves (generally we take better care of
their pet and themselves because they have something to love and nurture)

* Note: Last night we lost one of our beloved labs who had graced our lives for almost 13 years. She provided so much love, laughter, and comfort to us, and we know the power that pets hold in changing our lives in such a powerful way. This entry to a dedication to our little Dakota who taught us how to love unconditionally and always have a loving disposition to all we meet.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Kokology defines graduation

You've enjoyed the Kokology here is another one in honor of graduation.

Think back on your graduation and what do you remember the most?

  1. The face of your principal giving you the diploma and shaking your hand
  2. The banner reading "Congratulations to the class of XXXX"
  3. Your graduation class standing in their caps and gowns
  4. Listening to the graduation march.
Here's the evaluations ala' Kokology
1. If you picked this option, you have a great aptitude for remembering names and faces. Your ability to remember people makes people around you feel valued and important in your life.
2. You have a head for numbers, birthdays, and phone numbers. These powers make you serious and dependable and of course, you never forget an appointment.
3. You love to reminisce about things. Not only do you have the ability to remember a scene, but the emotions that it aroused in you. But, you also may have difficulty forgiving and forgetting when you have been hurt.
4. Visual images fade quickly, but what people say and what you hear holds an important place in your experiences. Hearing a special word, or a bit of a melody can bring back the power of a moment and all that it holds.
~Kokology 2: Tadahiko Nagao & Isamu Saito~

Friday, May 18, 2007

The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them
into the impossible.

~Arthur C. Clarke

Ways to Ease Your Anxiety

Terrorism, the war in Iraq, Hurricanes, global warming, higher prices at the gas pump, crime in the streets… it all ads up to increased anxiety and worry for many Americans.

What are some simple techniques for lowering your anxiety level?
• Learn breathing techniques. When we become anxious our breathing quickens and our breaths become shallow. Practice relaxation breathing by inhaling through your nose and count to 4, hold for the count of 6 and then exhale through your mouth for the count of 8. This will calm your system and lower your anxiety
• Become active. We always talk about exercise and it’s powerful effects on reducing anxiety. Try walking, swimming, or riding a bike. These activities and others will increase your serotonin “feel good” endorphins and reduce our stress levels.
• Learn meditation. Quieting the mind can help you reduce anxiety. Research shows that people who join stress reduction classes and learn meditation and mindfulness experience lower anxiety levels.

You always tell us to seek the help of a professional counselor. What do counselors generally do to help us minimize our anxiety?
• Break our negative thoughts. Therapists help people identity how our thoughts shape our anxiety and fears. Therapists are trained to assist in breaking negative thought patterns that are destructive.
• Break distorted thoughts. Many of our thoughts are unrealistic, or filled with beliefs that might not be realistic. Therapists teach us how to balance our thoughts with positive realistic ones.
• Stress reduction. Therapists teach us techniques for managing our anxiety and skills to monitor our anxiety through increased awareness.

Are there any other things that will help us minimize our anxiety?
• Talk to someone in your support network
• Use visual distractions (TV, movies, video games)
• Use sensory-motor distractions (gardening, crafts, etc)
• Find an alternative positive obsession (crossword or jigsaw puzzle)
• Practice positive affirmations

Saturday, May 12, 2007

We are optimistic about losing weight

Recent statistics have shown that dieters are very optimistic about their ability to lose weight. But, is the optimistic viewpoint just hopeful thinking, or reality?

Tell us more about recent statistics.
~In a Consumer’s Report survey of over 2000 Americans, 75% of people say believe they will be successful in losing weight and meeting their goal. 19% are unsure if they can accomplish the goal, and 6% are pessimistic.

Do we know how people are trying to lose weight?
~ 67% are trying to do it alone
~16% are using free programs
~8 % are paying for weight loss programs
~ But what we do know for sure is that within each of these groups, most are watching their food intake in combination w/ exercise.

And what are American’s reasons for dieting?
~44% want to improve their health
~20% say they just want to feel better about themselves
~13% say they want to look better
~12% want to improve their fitness and endurance
~6% are losing weight because of a MD’s recommendation

What are some suggestions for being more successful as a dieter?
~Be realistic about your weight goals
~Set small steps for yourself, so you can measure success
~Find a program that works for you, and is healthy and not based on starvation or deprivation.
~Do it for yourself… no one loses weight unless they are really motivated to change.
~If you find yourself unsuccessful, seek the assistance of a trained nutritionist, integrative or traditional physician, or eating disorder specialist. Sometimes there are other reasons why people can’t lose weight other than determination and hard work.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Lower Your Stress Level

May is mental health month, and we are taking a serious look at stress and ways to keep our lives in balance. A certain amount of stress can make life more interesting or challenge us to think creatively about solutions. But, when we have more stress in our lives than we can handle effectively, then we can experience stress overload.
What are some of the most common sources of stress in our lives?
• Changes in the environment (examples: moving, graduation, weddings, holidays)
• Conflicts with relationships (examples: with boss, spouse, children, significant others)
• Internal emotional pressure (examples: projects, expectations, self criticism, insecurity, feeling powerless)

If we have persistent or chronic stress, can this affect us?
• There is a strong link between stress and heart disease. This correlation was discovered over 25 years ago, and it turns out that stress induced inflammation may cause 1/3 of the cases of heart disease (if no other major factors such as obesity, etc).
• Stress causes weakened immune function. Studies have shown that emotional stress can reduce your ability to protect you from infection.
• Stress can cause memory loss and mental impairment. This one is easy to understand… just remember high school and when you knew the answers but forgot it during a test. This is caused by high cortisol levels, which interfere with memory.
• Insomnia. When you have stress, worry and anxiety, the cortisol levels in your body increase, and sleep is deteriorated.
• Abdominal fat. We may not like this one, but higher cortisol levels due to stress can cause an accumulation of belly fat.
• Stress can cause many symptoms we’ve talked about before like depression, heartburn, and sexual concerns. It can also relate to irritable bowel syndrome, hives, ulcers and many other physical concerns.

What can we do to lower our stress?
• Exercise
• Learn stress reduction techniques such as meditation, visualization, breathing techniques.
• Gain and support system and talk about your stressors with others
• Get the proper nutrition and adequate sleep
• Seek the expertise of a professional counselor to gain stress management skills

Sunday, May 6, 2007

The art of relaxation

If you feel like it's hard to relax, then join the club. A Family Circle survey of 2000 people reports that Americans are struggling to find ways to relax.

  • 85% of Americans say they wish they had more time to relax
  • 15% are happy with their relaxation level.
  • The survey reports that television is American's number one form of relaxation followed by reading, and then by listening to music.
If Americans could change other aspects of their lives, the survey found they would change their salary (24%), their weight (21%), and their health (14%).

Friday, May 4, 2007

Graduation Stressors

It’s time for graduation. Within the next few weeks high schools and colleges around the Tri-County area will celebrate this joyous ceremony. Unfortunately, this life passage is rarely addressed in mental health literature, leaving families and graduates unprepared for the emotions involved in the transition. It is certain that both the graduate and the graduation family face new challenges, as well as anxiety and fears.

What are some of the common concerns of graduating seniors?
• Seniors face long term consequences are related to choices concerning college, career decisions, and making it on their own in an uncertain world.
• Seniors worry about parent’s expectations, picking a college major or choosing the “right” job, financing college expenses.
• Seniors have concerns about losing close friends who are vital connections.
• Seniors have a generalized anxiety about the unknown after leaving the safety of the home environment.

What are some of the common concerns of the graduating family?
• Parents struggle with being “empty-nesters” and wonder what life will be like without focusing on their child.
• Many parents have financial concerns regarding the high cost of college in the 90’s, as well as struggling with the complexities of applying for scholarships and financial aid.
• Parents report that they fear not “being there” to assist their children, noting safety concerns, and lack of input into their student’s life in a culture, which is unpredictable.

What are some suggestions to ease this time period and the adjustment process?
• Realize it is a natural life passage as well as a grieving passage (from childhood into adulthood)
• Discuss fears and concerns with your child. Open the door to meaningful discussion
• Speak openly about finances and budgets. It is important that everyone understands the limitations of the availability of money.
• College discussions should include safety/self care issues. Discuss safety concerns such as walking alone at night, protective skills for self-care, and issues of alcohol and drug abuse. It is essential that discussion center around daily life management skills such as time management, budgeting checkbooks, overspending, nutrition and health, and the importance of attending classes.
• Focus on the “challenge” and realize this is an opportunity for everyone to learn new life skill lessons. Focus on the positive and the possibilities for personal growth.
• Express that you will “still be there” for each other, but in new ways
• Reach out and talk to others about this transition--gather support from other people who have experienced this transition.
• Be open with your heart. Express your appreciation and your sentimental side. Share feelings of pride and gratitude. Unfortunately, many of us are still waiting to hear those words of encouragement in our adulthood. This is a chance to give your children what you may not have received from your own parents.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Humor Helps Us Heal

Just a little joke to make your day...

How many therapists does it take to change a light bulb?

~Just one, but the light bulb has to
really want to change~

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Future: A Kokology Prediction

Many of you told us that you like the little Japanese self discovery games called Kokology. So responding to your requests, we are sharing another little example and see how closely it defines your personality.

The doorbell rings at your house and to your surprise two animals are standing at the door (just go with me on this one). These animal messengers are predictors of your future. One of the animals has a letter that foretells your life of happiness and peace, and the other animal brings a message about crisis and despair. Which animal brings the glad tidings, and which animal brings the omen of doom? (pick different animals for each).

1. Tiger 2. Dog 3. Sheep 4. Parrot 5. Tortoise

Kokology tells us that our future is influenced by our selection of mates or life partners. The animal messengers corresponds to our perception of people that bring us joy and pain. In this example, the animal you choose as the bearer of good tidings represents your ideal spouse, while the bearer of bad tidings animal is the kind of partner that would pull you down.

1. The tiger:
glad tidings: You see yourself happiest with someone ambitious and powerful, with the desire to rule.
gloom and doom: You dread a tyrannical partner who acts like king of the jungle and growls at any request to be involved in doing shared tasks.
2. The Dog:
glad tidings: You unquestionably want someone who is loyal and gives you absolute devotion
gloom and doom: You are not compatible with those who try to please everyone and are people pleasers by nature.
3. The Sheep:
glad tidings: You'd love a warmhearted, nurturing spouse
doom and gloom: You fear winding up with a boring homebody and someone who rarely likes to do anything new or unusual.
4. The Parrot:
glad tidings: You'd love a talkative partner who is fun-loving and can make you laugh
doom and gloom: Living with a chattering partner who lays around would drive you to insanity.
5. The Tortoise:
glad tidings: Your perfect match would be serious, dependable and there at a time of need.
doom and gloom: You'd despise living with a slow-moving, slow-witted partner.

~ So how close was this prediction? We'd love to hear your response to this discovery game~

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Are You Impatient?

Are we a nation of impatient Americans? Have we really become a nation that wants everything right now and is unwilling to wait for anything?

What are the typical symptoms of someone who is impatient?
• Cutting people off mid-sentence
• Making quick decisions (without investigating all the options)
• Snapping at others in response to questions or requests
• High stress levels that tend to lead to impulsivity in actions
• Physilogical changes such as higher blood pressure, increase breathing rates, anxiety

What are the recent statistics on our nation’s impatience?
• Nervousness: American’s get antsy on the phone after five minutes of being on hold
• Waiting: ¼ people say their highest impatience level is found in the grocery checkout lane
• Time poor: The typical shopper who spends 25 minutes in a store believe it has been an hour
• Age: Older people are more impatient than younger people
• Location: City inhabitants have less patience than those in the suburbs
• Revenge: American’s tend to refuse shopping in a store that makes them wait
• Rudeness: 20% of people speak rudely to someone when they weren’t waited on efficiently

What are some tips for enhancing our impatience response?
• If you become impatient, remove yourself from the situation physically or emotionally.
• Count to ten. This may be an old adage, but there is something to counting and taking deep relaxing breaths
• Practice active listening. Give someone your full attention and allow someone to fully finish their sentences
• Slow down your responses. Force yourself to speak at a lower octave, slow down your speed of your words
• Reward yourself for patient responses (not with caffeine)
• Lower your caffeine intake and see if it makes a difference
• Look for the positives in every situation as well as the opportunities for growth

"We must be the change we wish to see in the world."

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Newlywed Quiz: How much do you know?

More women than men claim that they fell in love at first sight with their mate?
False. Actally two times as many men report falling in love at first sight.

On an average how often do newlyweds call each other during the work day?
Reports indicate that 33% call their partner once a day; 26% call their partner twice a
day;18% call three times a day. The most talkative are the couples with age ranges of

• What percentage of men do not wear their wedding rings?
Actually 26% of men report not wearing their ring while only 7% of women report not wearing the ring. The culprits are typically men over 40, earning large incomes, and
more than once.

• A woman typically says “I’m sorry” first after a fight?
False. It is usually the male who breaks down and says I’m sorry, and generally take the blame, while women will say it is both parties fault.

Most newlyweds say that they would rather go out with another couple than going out alone as a couple?
False. 78% say that that they would like to go out alone.

THE AGE OLD QUESTION: Will men ask for directions if they are lost?
85% of men report that they would ask for directions if lost--- but the women note that
only 23% of them actually do ask for assistance. The battle of the genders still wages on...

*Research from Just Married by Sinrod & Grey)

Eating disorders: A rising concern

Our society greatly value thinness, even though Americans are heavier than ever before. Today we are also seeing a higher rate of eating disorders with our adolescents and young women—and men.

What are the major types of eating disorders?
1. Anorexia nervosa- people with this disorder have distorted body image believing they are obesity overweight, even when they are dangerously thin. Many times they refuse to eat, exercise compulsively and utilize unusual habits about their eating.
2. Bulimia nervosa-people eat excessive quantities of food and then purge their bodies of the food and calories they fear by using laxatives, enemas, diuretics, vomiting or exercising. Acting in secrecy, they have high emotional shame.
3. Binge eater or compulsive over-eaters experience frequent episodes of out-of-control eating. These groups don't purge their bodies.

Who suffers from eating disorders?
According to the national Institute of Mental Health, 90% of the cases are related to adolescent and young women. But eating disorders are not limited just to young girls—men and boys also develop eating disorders and we are also seeing an increase in ethnic minorities falling prey to this illness. People with eating disorders tend to begin to withdraw from social contact, and hid and deny their problems.

What causes Eating disorders?
Dysfunctional families and relationships are one factor, and many with these disorders suffer from low self-esteem, feelings of helplessness and intense unhappiness about how they look. Anorexics tend to be perfectionists and bulimics tend to be impulsive. Family situations can perceptual the problems in homes where people tease someone about weight, eating, or their body image. Traumas such as rape, abuse, and death of a loved one can also trigger the disorder.

Why seek treatment?
ED doesn't go away on its own, there can be serious consequences. 1 in 10 anorexics die from starvation, suicide, or medical complications. ED devastates the body including anemia, heart palpitations, hair and bone loss, tooth decay, and cessation of menstruation. Also related is high blood pressure, diabetes and depression. As you can see this is a serious concern… if you or anyone you love suffers with ED it is imperative they seek an evaluation from a licensed mental health professional counselor or their family doctor.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Getting ahead at work

Is there really a gender gap as it relates to paychecks?
• The US Census Bureau reports that women make 25% less than men, and that Caucasian women make just 72% of Caucasian male coworkers.
• Black women make 82% of black male counterparts
• Hispanic women make 82% of their male counterparts

Does your occupation make a difference in the salary gender gap?
Yes, research indicates that women in the medical and health field make only 63% of what males earn. But, the counterpart is that women earn almost the same amount as men in engineering, police work, or legal assistants.

What are some Careerbuilder suggestions for winning a promotion?
1. Assess your potential. Do a self-assessment of your positives and weaknesses. Are there some areas that you might enhance to help you win that raise or promotion? Look at your abilities and increase your knowledge base
2. Step up. Volunteer for new assignments. Showcase your abilities and demonstrate your ability to take on a new challenge and meet the needs of the company
3. Be assertive. Show your enthusiasm, energy and passion for what you do. Look for opportunities to showcase your expertise.
4. Show your confidence. One way to do this is to speak positively about your accomplishments. There is a difference between bragging and gently blowing your own horn. Detail your accomplishments and pass it on to your boss in a weekly email.
5. Accept compliments gracefully. Don’t ignore compliments, but instead say thank you and that you are glad your dedication and hard work paid off.
6. Learn to just make small talk. Go to company picnics, get-togethers, and little informal things at the office. These are great ways to be seen, and to present yourself in a positive light.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

For The Love Of Harry

I admit it. I AM one of “those” people. I’m an adult who loves Harry Potter and is counting the days until movie #5 debuts on the big screen. And yes, I’m also the one who has a giant mark on my calendar awaiting our long promised finale book publication in July. Now, you might not understand, but that means you just haven’t picked up a copy and started to read…because if you did, you too would LOVE Harry!

When I explain my obsession with Harry to other “muggle” (if you don’t read Harry you might not get that one) adults, I tell them it is because of the magnificent writing style. I wave my hands and my face lights up talking about the creative characters that are almost alive as you read each and every page. Boosting about Harry Potter, I tell people it is the Wizard of Oz of our time. I tell my associates that it helps me create a connection with the children who come into my office for therapy.

But, I know those are all rationalizations. I love Harry because he is empowering. Harry faces his fears and goes for it, no matter what the cost. He believes in his friends, and his friends believe in him…and together they can triumph over any challenge. Harry doesn’t ever give up and always finds a means to achieve his goals, despite the obstacles.

No wonder I love Harry. He is the part of us, which is buried deep inside locked deep inside our soul. Harry is the child in us that holds the power…the potential…the purpose…the passion! Harry is the part of us that doesn’t fear what others will think. Harry is the part of us that believes we can do anything and trusts we hold the magic to make it happen. Harry sees himself as capable, as trustworthy, as honorable, as dedicated, as intelligent, as athletic, as scholarly, and worthy of being a wizard.

Isn’t it a shame that we have allowed our Harry to slip away and become unbelieving in our power, untrusting of our abilities, scared, fearful, lacking confidence and self esteem? But wait… you can find your Harry!
Here are some suggestions:
1. Write down all your positives on a sheet a paper (and ignore all the chatter in your head that judges what you write down).
2. Make a list of the amazing things you have accomplished
3. Make a list of the “monsters” (the adversity and challenges) you have conquered.
4. Create a list of the magical things you have created in your life… the people you have helped… the ways you have made a difference.
5. Become your own cheerleader. Speak of your accomplishments and
talk yourself “up” instead of tearing yourself down.
6. Investigate your positives, search out your talents, reach for your dreams, trust your heart, believe your brain, and make decisions that make your soul sing.

Do this and you too will be able to face any challenge, conquer adversity, and perform magical feats by just believing in yourself and trusting you can do whatever comes your way, just like Harry Potter!

Working in Tight Quarters at Work?

What are the most common annoying concerns of co-workers towards others in their group?
• Having a “know it all” attitude turns people off, and does nothing to bring people closer to you. It didn’t work for Cheers “Cliff Clavin, and it won’t work for you.
• Workaholic Wannabee. Do you show up late, take two- hour lunch hours, and then not get started really working until close to 3 pm? Workers who don’t pull their weight don’t make good co-workers
• The devil’s advocate. Do you always take the other side of every argument? Co-workers get tired of always having to deal with the challenge of working with you.
• The brown-noser. Laughing at the boss’s jokes, sucking up, and standing for nothing might seem to be appropriate, but it doesn’t help healthy work relationships.

Are there any general courtesy rules for creating a healthy work environment in close quarters?
• Never barge in unannounced. Pretend that cubicles have doors and signal or ask if you can disturb your co-worker (or should you come back?)
• Use your quiet voice. It’s hard enough to work in a close environment, and there is nothing more annoying than trying to work around someone who is distracting you with their loud voice.
• Ask before borrowing. Respect people’s areas and ask before you borrow a stapler, or take someone’s supply of paper clips. And remember, just because they have food on their desk, it doesn’t mean it is open game for everyone’s indulgence.
• Watch your conversations. Not everyone wants to hear about your fight with your significant other, your sex life, or your frustration with your children. Keep private phone conversations away from the office. If you must make a private call, take a break and take your personal call out in the hall.
• Cell phone interruptions. If you keep your cell phone with you, make sure your ring tone isn’t playing a whole refrain of a song every twenty minutes. If you keep your phone in your pocket, turn it to vibrate so you don’t disturb others
• Remember that being a good neighbor at work is just as important as being a good neighbor at home. These tips will help create and enhance a healthy working environment.