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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.