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Kathy Marshack News

Entrepreneurs – How to Conquer Your Own Worst Enemy

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Shoe squishing the word impossibleWhat do you consider to be your worst enemy as an entrepreneur? The ever-changing market? Fickle customers? Your competition?
 
What about your own negative attitude?
 
You may have heard that attitude is everything, and indeed it is. The mind and body connection is very real and very powerful. Our emotions affect our bodies and dwelling on negative ones can cause many physical health problems.
 
But did you realize that optimism could also greatly impact the health and wellbeing of your business? Optimists tend to be solution-oriented. When they encounter a setback, instead of throwing their hands up, they continue to search for a way around the problem because they are convinced there is a solution. They are also willing to try new things because they recognize that what looks like failure is really a learning experience.
 
While optimism can positively impact your life and business in a very large way, negativity can quickly tear down what you have worked for. Negativity adds to the normal stress felt by entrepreneurs everywhere. It also has a debilitating effect, sometimes preventing people from moving forward and getting past a situation or starting something new.
 
Do you tend to have a pessimistic attitude about life or your business? Or perhaps all the negativity in the media of late is having an impact on your state of mind?
 
Let’s consider three steps that can help you turn your negative thoughts around:
 
Accept your thoughts and feelings. It is important not to dismiss your negative thoughts and worries. Worrying about worrying is not going to help you! Accept your thoughts and feelings and take time to examine them. When you accept the existence of the negative thought and take ownership of it, you take back power and control. The problem no longer feels so large.
 
I often suggest to my clients that they make the effort to practice mindfulness, a simple form of meditation that helps you get control of your thoughts and behaviors. It is the act of focusing all of your attention on the present. Focus on what you are doing or feeling without thinking about why you’re doing it or feeling that way, what you should do next, or what you think you should be doing. Mindfulness requires that you consider your thoughts and feelings without judgment.
 
Challenge your negative thoughts. Once you accept your negative thoughts, you are in the position to challenge them. Ask yourself: Is there real evidence for your frightening thoughts and predictions? Are they founded in unhelpful beliefs? What are the pros and cons of worrying or avoiding the thing I fear?
 
Replace negative thoughts with realistic thoughts. Once you’ve identified the irrational or negative distortions in your anxious thoughts, replace them with new thoughts that are more realistic and positive. It can be helpful to view your negative thoughts and worries as incentives to search for solutions. Especially in business, solutions do not come from worry or fear. They come from putting our attention on what is good and beneficial.
 
Often, negative thoughts are part of a lifelong pattern of thinking. It takes time and practice to break these habits. To help you adjust your thinking to a more positive perspective, I suggest starting each day with a positive thought. That may sound small, but it will help you set the tone for how you will choose to think for the day. It is also beneficial to practice gratitude every day. People who look for reasons to be grateful experience better mental health, emotional wellbeing and resiliency in the face of difficulties.
 
If you still feel overwhelmed by negative thoughts and you live near Portland OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office to schedule an appointment. I can help you put your negative thoughts into perspective and cultivate a positive attitude that will help you succeed in life and business.

Don’t be a Casualty of Social Isolation!

Friday, February 10, 2017


Don’t be a Casualty of Social Isolation!Ironically, while we now have the ability to connect digitally with millions of people around the globe, the problem of social isolation is growing. More and more people are feeling loneliness. Not only is this emotionally devastating but it creates serious health issues such as:

  • disrupted sleep patterns,
  • altered immune systems,
  • inflammation,
  • obesity,
  • higher levels of stress hormone,
  • increased risk of heart disease by 29 percent,
  • increased risk for stroke by 32 percent,
  • accelerated cognitive decline,
  • and premature death.

A recent NY Times article shares some disturbing statistics on social isolation:

40 percent of American adults say they’re lonely, which has doubled since the 1980’s.

One-third of Americans, older than 65, live alone.

Socially isolated individuals have a 30 percent higher risk of dying in the next seven years, mainly among those who are middle age.

Socially isolated children have significantly poorer health 20 years later, even after controlling for other factors.

The article includes this interesting observation:

“New research suggests that loneliness is not necessarily the result of poor social skills or lack of social support, but can be caused in part by unusual sensitivity to social cues. Lonely people are more likely to perceive ambiguous social cues negatively, and enter a self-preservation mind-set — worsening the problem. In this way, loneliness can be contagious: When one person becomes lonely, he withdraws from his social circle and causes others to do the same.”

How well do you recognize social cues, such as facial expressions? Do you tend to jump to negative conclusions? Negative thinking is not incurable. There’s much you can do to improve your life. It’s never too late to develop a warm social network. Depression, anxiety, and stress are all issues that you can overcome with the aid of a professional. Contact my office if you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area to make an appointment.

Click here to read the entire NY Times article and see how some people are trying to solve the problem of social isolation.

5 Ways to Ensure That a Mid-Life Change Doesn’t Turn Into a Crisis

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


Businessman jumping from one rock to anotherWe’ve all heard about the stereotypical “mid-life crisis,” a time when people act out their frustrations with life in seemingly crazy ways. Maybe you know someone who dropped a lot of money on a pricey convertible, had an affair, or walked away from a perfectly good job. Or maybe an entrepreneur who took an uncalculated risk or decided to start three new businesses at once. Perhaps this risky behavior secretly sounds somewhat alluring to you?

What is it about the period of mid-life that causes some people to react so “crazy”?

It ultimately boils down to a feeling of panic when you’re lacking a sense of purpose. It usually takes a while to reach this point. Most people start to suffer from lack of energy and creativity. They think about dreams left behind and start to long for something different. They get anxious and unsettled. Feelings of being unfulfilled and unhappy with their home and business life start to creep in.

The crisis or transformation that is occurring during this stage of life involves reevaluating one’s life and mission. Those pursuits or accomplishments that seemed so important in earlier years are no longer challenging or appealing. At this time, people are looking for new ways to make or find meaning in their lives because they want to make the most of the second half of their life.

A mid-life crisis happens when the different aspects of a person’s life interacts to produce conflict, confusion, change, reorganization, and, ultimately, growth. Their own life, family developments, and entrepreneurial pursuits converge and results in change. To deal with these exterior changes, the entrepreneur in their mid-life must change and grow too.

How can you ensure that this life change doesn’t become a dramatic crisis? Here are 5 ways to make this transition gracefully:

1. It is critical to reclaim your sense of purpose. People with a strong sense of purpose live longer, happier, more fulfilling lives than their peers who feel aimless. Find what brings you joy and gives you a reason to live. Take time to learn new things and start new interests to keep your brain active and interested.

2. Stay connected with your partner, family and friends. If business pursuits have kept you away, or life in general has kept you apart, make the effort to reconnect. These are the people who truly love and support you.

3. Cultivate a grateful attitude. Gratitude has a greater effect on your emotions than you realize. Having a grateful attitude is linked to less stress and anxiety, better physical health, and greater satisfaction in life and relationships. Take note of what you are grateful for and express gratitude when you can.

4. Give back to your community. This can be by donating to charity, getting involved in your church, or volunteering with a non-profit. It helps you regain your sense of purpose when you are part of something bigger than yourself.

5. Take time to exercise and stay healthy. Part of staying healthy is having fun. Don’t take yourself, life, even your business, too seriously. View life with some levity, and it will help you avoid that panicked, crisis feeling.

The mid-life is an exciting time, personally and professionally. It is definitely a transition, but remember that transitions can be good. You just have to be aware of the transition, what to expect, and how to cope. If you need some help with this new stage of your life and business, and you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment.

Entrepreneurs – Reduce Stress by Caring for Your Mind, Body and Spirit

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Man standing on cliff with arms outstretchedWhile entrepreneurs are good at accomplishing goals, they're usually not very good at establishing healthy habits. You probably work tirelessly building your business, working long hours while simultaneously caring for your family. It’s no wonder that self-care quickly takes a backseat to more immediate priorities. With what result? A lot of built-up stress with no relief in sight.

What can you do to minimize the amount of stress in your busy entrepreneurial life? Stress comes when the different aspects of your life fall out of alignment. In order to keep all parts of your life in healthy productive alignment, you must attend to the whole person. That means caring for your mind, body and spirit.

Care for your mind. Take time to refocus and recharge. One way to do this is through the practice of mindfulness, a simple form of meditation that helps you get control of your thoughts and behaviors. It is the act of focusing all of your attention on the present. Focus on what you are doing or feeling without thinking about why you’re doing it or feeling that way, what you should do next, or what you think you should be doing. Mindfulness requires that you objectively consider your thoughts and feelings, a process that helps you be truly present and live in the moment.

The benefits of practicing mindfulness extend beyond the initial session of meditation. People who practice mindfulness experience greater focus and decreased stress, even beyond the meditation session. It keeps you from jumping from one thought to the next or dwelling on negative thoughts. Even just a few minutes can quiet your mind and reduce stress.

Care for your body. Physical needs are some of the first things left behind when entrepreneurs really get busy. But caring for your body is necessary for staying healthy and keeping your stress levels in check. Get some sleep. This is easier said than done, but it is important. Take time to prepare and eat nourishing foods. The vitamins and minerals in healthy foods keep your body working properly, enabling you to power through the daily demands of entrepreneurial life.

Also, move your body more. Exercise reduces stress, increases your energy levels, and helps you sleep better. Even small amounts of exercise can make a big difference. The mind and body are in state of constant communication. What the mind thinks and experiences is sent from the brain to the rest of the body. This is why you can often physically feel the effects of stress. The good news is that our bodies are also sending messages to the brain so exercise can help calm the mind.

Care for your spirit. The spirit is that part of each human that makes us a distinctive personality. It is the part of a person that defines us and yet connects us to others. Keeping our spirit healthy is essential to the process of achieving healthy balance in life. Some feed their spirit through belief in God and the practice of religion. Others maintain a spiritual connection in some other way. Find your sense of self that extends beyond the boundaries of this life and commit to it.

Stress is a part of life, especially for entrepreneurs. However, it can be managed by taking care of your entire being. When you balance your mind, body, and spirit, you will be able to have a more meaningful, and less stressful, life to share with the ones you love. If you’d like to achieve balance again and live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

How Negative Thinking Fans the Flames of Anxiety

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Negative thoughts fuel the feelings of fear and anxiety, so when you suffer from OCD or panic, change your thought patterns and you change the way you feel.Negative thoughts are like pouring gasoline on a smoldering fire. Normally, anxiety, like the smoldering fire, will die down as you complete the letting go process. However, people who have developed anxiety disorders, such as panic attacks, phobias, or obsessive compulsions, have trouble processing things. In fact, their negative thoughts add fuel to their anxiety as they tend to jump to wrong conclusions or predict the worst case scenario.

However, if you suffer from an anxiety disorder, be assured you can identify and correct these negative thoughts and beliefs. You can change the way you think, thereby changing the way you feel. You’ll finally be able to douse and extinguish the fear and anxiety you feel.

How can you stop negative thoughts?

Identify negative thoughts. Do you perceive situations as more dangerous than they really are? It may not be so easy to see negative patterns in yourself, so one strategy is to ask yourself what you’re thinking when you start feeling anxious. Often it helps to have a mental health professional assist you in identifying your specific anxieties and negative thought patterns.

Challenge negative thoughts
. Evaluate these anxiety-provoking thoughts by asking yourself: Is there real evidence for your frightening thoughts and predictions? Are they founded in unhelpful beliefs? What are the pros and cons of worrying or avoiding the thing I fear?

Replace negative thoughts with realistic thoughts. Once you’ve identified the irrational or negative distortions in your anxious thoughts, replace them with new thoughts that are more realistic and positive, which is easier said than done. Often, negative thoughts are part of a lifelong pattern of thinking. It takes time and practice to break these habits. So don’t expect instant results, but be kind and patient with yourself.

Anxiety disorders are not all treated the same, and it’s important to determine the specific problem before embarking on a course of treatment. Your doctor will conduct a careful diagnostic evaluation to determine whether your symptoms are due to an anxiety disorder, which anxiety disorder(s) you may have, and what coexisting conditions, perhaps alcoholism, may be present. The coexisting condition will need to be treated at the same time or before treating the anxiety disorder. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more on my website: Coping with Anxiety Disorders.
 

Exposure Therapy vs. NET – Which Produces Better Results for Anxiety?

Monday, October 17, 2016


Exposure Therapy vs. NET – Which Produces Better Results for Anxiety?Recently I mentioned exposure therapy as a treatment for PTSD, and some of you have been wondering what exposure therapy is and how it works. Here’s a summary of how exposure therapy works, plus an explanation of why I prefer NET (neuro emotional technique).

Fear and anxiety are debilitating states of mind. It causes a person to react in ways that they don’t want to. Often it causes the sufferers to avoid situations, even important events, if they know it will trigger these strong reactions. The problem with avoiding your fears is that you won’t have the opportunity to overcome them. To the contrary, it often makes them stronger.

Exposure therapy makes you confront the situations or objects you fear. A mental health professional will either ask you to imagine a situation that causes you anxiety, or you may literally confront it in real life. Of course, facing your biggest fear right away would only add to your trauma, so exposure therapy starts with a situation that’s only mildly threatening and works up from there. This step-by-step approach is called systematic desensitization. The idea is that through repeated exposures, you’ll gradually challenge your fears, build your confidence, and learn how to control the panic and anxiety.

NET has longer lasting benefits and is a much gentler approach.

First, it’s important to understand how your body reacts to stress. When something disrupts the natural letting go process, the mind and body holds onto this unresolved stress and continues to reproduce the same stress reaction when it's triggered by a stimulus or memory. Then the person experiences real physiological problems such as chronic pain, organ dysfunctions, neurological problems, musculoskeletal and immunological conditions, allergies, and headaches. It may also cause psychological problems such as phobias, depression, anxieties, ADD / ADHD, nightmares, disruptive behavior, fear of public speaking and more.

A NET practitioner treats the disruption with a homeopathic remedy that uses the verified law of pharmacology Law of Similars – or like cures like. For example, a large dose of ipecac will induce vomiting. However, minute particles in a homeopathic remedy will stop vomiting. Once the system is brought back into balance, your body and mind can heal itself relieving you of the headaches, chronic pain, phobia or whatever symptom is caused by this unresolved stress.

NET helps you re-engage the physiological response and complete the unresolved mind/body pattern of stress and extinguish it. Rather than making you relive the experience, N.E.T utilizing Manual Muscle Testing, which pinpoints your very real physiological response (such as a racing heart and profuse sweating) to a stimulus (a situation that brings up the unresolved stress reaction memory). This accesses how emotions affect the way your body works and helps identify the best way to resolve the issue.

In order to help my clients obtain lasting relief, I’ve trained to be a Level 2 Certified NET Practitioner. If you’re ready to get your life back, please seriously consider NET as a highly effective alternative treatment for PTSD and anxiety. And if you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please feel free to contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more on my website: Coping with Anxiety Disorders.

Alternative Therapies for PTSD – Which Are Effective?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Alternative Therapies for PTSD – Which Are Effective?Do you remember when you first heard about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? It wasn’t formally recognized until 1980. That really wasn’t long ago, so therapies for treating PTSD are still in their infancy.

One traditional medical approach involves using medication and controlled re-experiencing of trauma, called exposure therapy. However, veterans aren’t finding this as helpful as hoped. Rehashing the event, without giving them coping skills, leaves them feeling helpless, which compounds the problem.

As a result, many alternative therapies are springing up. According to a recent New York Times article, some of them are: “therapeutic fishing, rafting and backpacking trips, horse riding, combat yoga, dogs, art collectives, dolphin swims, sweat lodge vision quests and parrot husbandry centers, among many, many others.”

Are these viable options or are they just ways to avoid the issue?

Some of these therapies challenge veterans to overcome fears and build new experiences that put traumatic memories into perspective, which can be helpful.

However, the overall effectiveness of alternative therapies is hard to assess, beyond anecdotal evidence. Yet I believe that a combination of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Neuro-Emotional Technique, Yoga, meditation or pet therapy can help PTSD sufferers maintain lasting gains. I’ve seen it reduce PTSD symptoms of depression and anxiety without any side effects, plus there’s no stigma attached to it.

I’m by no means alone in believing this. For example, in 2006, Dr. van der Kolk published one of the first studies about the effects of yoga on PTSD. He said that even “after six months the positive effects of yoga are still there.”

If you are a veteran or are experiencing PTSD for another reason, you deserve these life-empowering skills. You don’t have to settle for feeling broken, helpless and hopeless for the rest of your life. With patience and the help of a professional, you can get your life back. Please contact a qualified health care specialist in your area as soon as possible to discuss your options. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment so we can determine and get started on the best therapy for you.

Read more on my website: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Letting Go to Achieve Greater Happiness and Health

Wednesday, October 05, 2016


There isn’t anything you can’t learn to gracefully surrender to and let go of as you become okay with the situation and experience greater health and calm.Many people today are dealing with chronic problems – mental issues, broken relationships and ongoing pain, to name just a few. An important phase of healing is to quit fighting it and begin surrendering to it.

Surrendering or “letting go” doesn’t mean you’re giving up on yourself, that you start self-medicating to forget, or that you’re practicing avoidance behavior. It simply means that accept the way things really are. Rather than continually knocking your head against the proverbial wall, you’ll be able to move in a better direction. When you come to terms with your situation in life, your happiness and health will improve.

One of the most powerful things you can do is to become congruent with your present-day situations. Yes, some of the life challenges in the following list can be really tough to handle. But with the right tools and support there isn’t anything you can’t learn to gracefully surrender to and let go of in time. A few of the difficult life situations we face are and need to become okay with might include:
  • Your current health level.
  • Your current level of pain.
  • Your limitations.
  • The death of a loved one.
  • Being lonely.
  • Your body image.
  • Who you are.
  • Your single or marital status.

It’s important to note that being okay with something doesn’t mean you like it. Many of life challenges require that we practice self-compassion when addressing a chronic negative reality. Be patient with yourself as you process it and learn to live with it.

Never give up on finding a treatment that works for you. One type of treatment may work for one person, whereas a different treatment will help another person better. As a qualified psychologist and N.E.T practitioner, I’ve seen many clients respond well to alternative, holistic treatments. These include dietary supplements, mind-body therapies, chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, massage, movement therapies, specialized diets, and neuro-emotional technique.

There are ups and downs in the process of living. Sometimes our problems turn out to be gifts that provide us opportunities to grow as individuals. If you’d like to explore your options and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more on my website: Holistic Health.

The Psychological Toll of Entrepreneurship

Monday, September 19, 2016


When you think of a successful entrepreneur that you admire, what traits come to mind? Creative, strategic or tenacious? How about depressed or anxious? 

Successful entrepreneurs are often viewed as heroes. We marvel at the speed at which they grow their businesses. They push themselves beyond physical and emotional limits. However, this can be a problem, because before they make it big, many experience periods of deep anxiety and despair.
This issue is thoroughly examined in an article by Inc. Magazine. If you are thinking of starting a business or are currently a business owner, I encourage you to read the article. It revealed the hidden, internal struggles of entrepreneurs because of something called “impression management” or the idea of “fake it till you make it.” Business leaders avoid showing any sort of vulnerability. That is, until recently. More and more entrepreneurs have begun speaking out about their feelings and experiences in order to combat the stigma surrounding depression and anxiety.

Why is it that some of the most creative, energetic, driven people suffer with these debilitating issues? The article pointed out something I’ve observed for years as a psychologist, the very qualities that make someone a successful entrepreneur can also make them vulnerable to mood swings and high emotional states. Those states can include depression, anxiety, feelings of worthlessness, and lack of motivation. Also, because entrepreneurs are driven to succeed, it is easy for them to push through tough times without pausing to evaluate if their negative feelings are part of a bigger issue that needs attention.

Additionally, the uncertainty of running a business can lead to trouble. Startups face a high risk of failure. Entrepreneurs also must wear many hats, playing different roles within the company. Often they deal with setbacks as they try to compete in an increasingly crowded market. The demands of owning a business can lead some entrepreneurs to neglect their physical health as well. Not exercising, eating too much or too little, and not getting enough sleep are common issues.

Even though entrepreneurship can be a stressful, wild ride, you can maintain a healthy balance! Here’s what I recommend to my entrepreneurial clients – stop and honestly evaluate how you are feeling. Do you sense an imbalance? Then it is time to take a timeout. Take time for a hobby, your friends, and especially your family. Perhaps take a vacation, or even just a long weekend. Whatever you need to do, do it immediately. Business success is wonderful, but not at the expense of your mental and physical health.

Stress (and the accompanying negative symptoms) comes when you allow any part of your life to become out of alignment. If left unchecked, other areas of your life are affected, producing more stress. In order to keep all parts of your life in healthy productive alignment, you must attend to, and take care of, the whole person. That means caring for your mind, body, and spirit.

Do not let your work define who you are. It is something you do, not your identity. It is important to feel successful in areas outside of work. Don't let a business failure define you either. Life is a constant process of trial and error. Don’t exaggerate and become overwhelmed by a “failure.” Instead of focusing on what’s wrong in your life, pay attention to what is good.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or depressed as you navigate the complexities of entrepreneurship, and you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment.

Yoga PLUS Exercise Improves Mood Faster than Exercise Alone

Monday, July 11, 2016


Yoga plus Exercise Improves Mood Faster than Exercise AloneHave you noticed that familiar words and names elude you sometimes? If you’re over 40 be assured that this is a common occurrence. While some memory decline is inevitable over time, there’s much we can do to slow it down by how we live and move our bodies.

We’ve known for some time that staying physically active is crucial to mental wellbeing. Interestingly, a New York Times article recently reported on how you can intensify the effect of exercise by adding yoga and meditation to your weekly routine.

In one study, people suffering from depression were asked to meditate before they went for a run. In an amazingly short period of time, they showed greater improvements in their mood than those who did either running or meditation alone.

Another study
, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, showed that all participants performed significantly better on their cognitive-thinking tests after increasing their exercise. However, only after adding yoga to the 12-week exercise routine, did the mood of the participants significantly improve. Exercise alone was not as affective in altering moods.

They also did brain scans on both groups (only exercise v. exercise plus yoga), which showed improved communication between the brains areas involved in memory and language skills. People who practiced yoga had developed more communication between parts of the brain that control attention, suggesting a greater ability to focus.

Dr. Helen Lavretsky, a professor of psychiatry at U.C.L.A. who oversaw the study noted that the reduction in stress hormones and anxiety likely played a substantial role in the improvement, as well as, an increased level of biochemicals in the muscles. I encourage you to read the entire article here.

If you have severe depression or trauma-induced depression, yoga in conjunction with working with a professional who has special trauma therapy training might be a better treatment for you. Sometimes yoga brings up too much painful stuff to be handled without therapy. If you’re ready to try this treatment and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.




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