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Kathy Marshack News

Sleeping Too Much? This Could Signal a Health Problem

Thursday, November 21, 2013

sleeping too much can be a symptom of sleep disorderWe often hear of people suffering from sleep deprivation – not getting enough sleep. They struggle through the day bleary-eyed and in a mental fog. Did you know, however, that these could also be the symptoms for those who sleep too much?

Is it really possible to sleep too much?

How much sleep you require depends a great deal on your general health and lifestyle habits. The common recommendation is to get on average seven to nine hours of sleep each night. If you’re recovering from an illness or surgery you will naturally require more sleep. What if you don’t have poor general health but you consistently sleep much more than nine hours every day? Should this be a cause for concern?

In a recent article on CNN, Are You Sleeping Too Much, Dr. Lisa Shives, director of Northshore Sleep Medicine in Evanston, Illinois, was quoted as saying that people who wake up groggy after sleeping a long time are suffering from "sleep drunkenness." If you have slept an appropriate amount of time, you should wake up feeling refreshed not feeling disoriented, anxious, with memory problems, loss of appetite or diminished social skills.

If you or someone you love is experiencing a sleep problem, there may be a condition that needs to be treated by a physician or mental therapist. It may indicate any number of disorders such as hypersomnia, sleep apnea, thyroid disease, kidney disease, liver disease, or even depression. As a psychologist, one of my major concerns about sleep disorders is that they can easily escalate into more severe illnesses, so it’s important to identify the cause of your sleep disorder without delay and then learn how to deal with it.

Getting good sleep is vital to healthy living. It’s the body’s way of healing. One of my clients was experiencing psychosis and when he got help for his sleep apnea, he regained his normal healthy self. As a psychologist I always check the physical health issues of my clients to make sure I am treating the right problem. The mind and body are interconnected and in order to enjoy overall well-being, we must look at the both areas. If you are looking to improve your mental health, don't delay in seeking assistance! Contact my Portland OR/Vancouver, WA office to set up an appointment.

For more information visit my webpage – Overcoming Depression.

Emotional Intelligence Plays a Part in Our Decisions

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Many don't realize that making good decisions is not based on high IQ. Rather it’s based on how perceptive you are with your emotions. Those of us who feel our feelings, interpret them correctly, and then act upon that information, have an advantage over those of us who rely solely on intellect to make decisions.

A recent article in the New York Times by Noreena Hertz, a professor of economics at University College London, caught my attention, Why We Make Bad Decisions. When she was confronted with a debilitating health problem, she became interested in researching through the academic literature in the fields of economic, neuroscience, psychology, sociology, information science, political science and history to discover the various factors that cause us to incorrectly process challenging news.

Research show that there are a number of the factors that influence our decisions such as:

  • Our perception of “expert advice.” A 2009 Emory University experiment showed that when a group of adults was confronted by an expert’s claims, they simply gave in to the advice without any further thought of their own.
  • Anxiety, stress and fear. These negative emotions can make us see only a narrow view of the situation so we become more conservative and less likely to take risks.
  • Natural born optimism. Neuroscientist Tali Sharot conducted a study that showed that people tend to ignore new information if it reveals that events will turn out worse than expected. If people think “it can’t happen to me” even unconsciously, they’ll grasp at information that agrees with the outcome they want. When information supports our hopes apparently we get a dopamine rush similar to when we eat chocolate or fall in love.

This information is empowering. It can help you to avoid mind games or self-told stories to rationalize your decisions. Instead, you can take control of your decision making process by acknowledging your feelings and then ask probing questions as you evaluate the pros and cons involved.

Often it helps to talk things through with another individual. If you’re faced with a life-changing or business decision that has you perplexed, seeking the counsel from a professional will help. A psychologist is skilled at helping you sort out your choices and get clear on your objectives when making big decisions in life. If you’re ready to gain that kind of clarity in your own life, make an appointment with my Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA office.

Learn more on my website: Entrepreneurial Life.

Does What You Read Affect Your Social Skills?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

reading literary fiction is good for your social skillsDo you enjoy reading? Many families like to read together as a way of connecting and spending time with each other. That helps the social skills within the family. Did you know that reading can improve how you interact with others in general? According to a recent study, the benefits depend on what kind of literature you chose to read. It found that social skills are improved by reading literary fiction.

Why does literary fiction work this way? Unlike popular fiction that focuses on the plot, literary fiction explores complex personalities and relationships that cause the reader to put him or herself into that person’s shoes and to think, “What would I do in this situation?”

The New York Times recently spoke about this study in their article, For Better Social Skills, Scientists Recommend a Little Chekhov. They reported, “Reading literary fiction enables people to do better on tests measuring empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence.” One of the tests asked the participants to see if they could accurately “read” the expression in the eyes of the people in the photographs. Those who read literary fiction first scored better than the groups who didn’t read anything or who read popular fiction.

The researchers say, “The reason is that literary fiction often leaves more to the imagination, encouraging readers to make inferences about characters and be sensitive to emotional nuance and complexity.” This promotes more empathy. When we are better able to read body language, then our social skills improve.

Could this help someone on the spectrum? Perhaps. Those with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome don’t always respond appropriately in social situations. However, it has been proven that parents can train their children on the spectrum to recognize emotions in pictures and then in people’s faces so they learn how to respond to someone when they see that same expression in real life situations.

There are inseparable connections and complicated interactions that take place between the mind, body and our environment that impact the kind of people we are. If you would like to improve your social skills, therapy can help. Make an appointment in either my Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington office.

Read more about the connection between your mind and body on my website – Mind and Body Health.

When Does Dieting Really Work?

Friday, October 11, 2013

effective weight loss programIf you are an adult, chances are you’ve been on at least one weight loss diet in your lifetime. Unfortunately, the first diet is often the beginning of a roller coaster of weight loss and weight gain. Yes, the weight may come off, but the problem is how to keep it off.

There are many unpleasant side effects from dieting off and on most of your adult life, such as:

  • Dieting causes emotional stress. Constantly having to watch what one eats leads to irritability, headaches, and insomnia.
  • Unsupervised dieting can lead to serious physical complications. That’s why it’s important to get your physician’s approval.
  • Excessive dieting leads to a backlash known as compulsive eating. Because the dieter is depriving him or herself of food that is enjoyed or that the body needs, the tendency is to psychologically crave those foods even more. Often these cravings are satisfied by binging or overeating.

CNN has an interesting story of a man who lost 158 pounds by applying management concepts to his weight loss plan. I found it interesting to see his holistic approach to weight loss. First, he recognized the connection between depression and obesity so he went to therapy to learn to confront his disappointments and learn to love himself for who he is. Then, he researched systems of weight loss to see which one would work best and instead of looking for instant results he realized it would take time and a long-term commitment. Finally, he used what he’s learned to help others. Teaching others the lessons you've learned is one of the best ways to reinforce them in your own mind.

So when does dieting really work? Of course you should start by getting your doctor's approval. However, if you consistently struggle to keep the weight off you should request the assistance of a mental health professional who is trained in methods of permanent weight control. It’s not easy to change an ingrained lifestyle but if you use a psychologist as your coach you can do it. If you live in or near the Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington area please contact us to set up an appointment.

Read more on my website – Weight Control.

Journaling Improves Your Health

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

journaling is good for your healthThere’s a long history of people recording their life events, thoughts and dreams in their diaries. These histories have proved valuable for future generations, but are there any benefits to the writer? Can writing in a journal improve a person’s health? There has been interesting research on this subject recently that I wanted to share with you.

Creative activities like journaling produce a natural “high”. Recent studies are showing that creative activities like journal writing can improve your immune function, raise your energy levels, build self-confidence and reduce stress. When you are creatively engaged in an activity, your body releases a chemical called adrenocorticotropic. This chemical is a neurotransmitter that fosters communication between the two halves of the brain and produces a natural “high” that makes you unconscious of the time passing.

Journaling uses your whole brain. While you’re engaging your left brain in the analytical elements of writing, your right brain is free to be creative. This removes mental blocks and uses your whole brain to better understand yourself, others, events, and problems.

Journaling strengthens the immune system. According to James Pennebaker, PhD, psychologist and researcher at University of Texas at Austin, journaling 20 minutes a day for four days about your deepest feelings concerning an emotional upheaval strengthens your immune cells called T-lymphocytes. In another study conducted, he and Keith Petrie, PhD. and others at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, noted that journaling reduced HIV-related stress and significantly improved the function of the CD4 lymphocytes.

Journaling relieves some of the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.The American Psychological Association reports that Joshua Smyth, PhD, of Syracuse University studied the effect of journaling on the immune system and discovered that writing “helped the subjects to get better and keep from getting worse.” A report in the Journal of the American Medical Association confirms that there are definite health benefits to those who suffer from asthma and rheumatoid arthritis when the subjects of the study wrote in their journals.

Researchers agree that there is much to be learned about why journaling helps. They also agree that success depends on the way people use journaling to not only vent but to interpret and learn how to work through the feelings expressed. If you’d like to learn how to get the most benefit from journaling, especially if you're coping with a difficult situation, you can contact my Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA office for an appointment.

The Key to Making Mistakes Work for You

Thursday, September 19, 2013

make mistakes work for youYou ate too much junk food while watching TV last night. You were late picking your daughter up from gymnastics. You hit the delete button when you meant to save the document you’ve just spent hours on… Everybody makes mistakes every day of their lives. Some can turn out well; others turn out badly. The important thing is how you handle them when they happen.

What makes it difficult is that we live in a society that is not tolerant of mistakes. It criticizes and punishes mistakes. There’s a constant pressure to do more and be better. As a consequence, it may become very difficult to accept the mistakes made by self or others. Mistakes often cause a person to become ashamed, defensive or angry. When a person’s view of mistakes become distorted, it can lead to social phobias, fearing you won’t be liked by others or striving to be perfect, which is an impossible and exhausting endeavor.

Rather than focusing on all the ways you failed in a situation, think about all the things you did right. For example, perhaps you lost your temper with your partner and said things you wish you hadn’t BUT then you cooled down and apologized and began a conversation that resulted in each of you understanding the other better. For every one mistake you make that really bothers you, list at least two things that you do right in the circumstances.

This exercise will remind you that you are not defined by your mistakes. It will boost your confidence to meet your mistakes head on, do what you can to fix them, or accept them and learn to laugh at yourself. See if it doesn’t give you a more positive frame of mind the next time you make a mistake.

If you find yourself worrying too much over what other people think of you, and fear of humiliation in front of others causes you to avoid situations where you are the center of attention, think seriously about consulting with a trained mental health professional so you can get realistic feedback about yourself. If you live near Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington, contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more about it on my website – Overcoming Social Phobia.

Can Any Good Come from Suffering?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

morpho butterflyWe try to shield the ones we love from all struggle and suffering. Parents especially do this for their children, trying to make their lives easier than their own. But can this become a misplaced sentiment? Is it an attempt to make ourselves feel better rather than doing something that actually helps the situation? Haven’t we all heard about the parent that shields a child from the consequences of their actions until the child becomes hardened in a self-centered way of living?

Take the story of a butterfly as an example. A little boy collects a chrysalis and puts it in a jar so he can watch it hatch. As it goes from the stage of pupa to butterfly, it emerges from it chrysalis and crawls up the twig. But because the jar is too small it unsuccessfully tries to pump the fluid from its body into the wings. It just can’t do it. It doesn’t have enough room to expand its wings. They harden in their shriveled state and this butterfly will never fly.

Throughout history and across different cultures, people have long struggled and coped with immense suffering in different ways. The New York Times has a story, The Value of Suffering, that is truly thought provoking. It points out the obvious – that we all suffer – but the important point is how we choose to react to it.

Parroting platitudes like “look at the bright side" or “time heals all wounds” does little more than irritate. We can, however, take bad situations and expand or grow by looking for ways to help others, and in the process help ourselves. Never should we keep our views so small that we are afraid to say a word of comfort, give hope and extend an act of kindness. Looking for the positive in the situation, in other people and in ourselves will keep us from spiraling into bitterness and anger.

When you’re confronted with a person who is suffering from clinical depression, it requires special consideration and treatment. It would be insensitive to say, “Get over it. Buck up.” However you don't want to be an enabler to their depression as they sink deeper and deeper. Encourage the depressed individual to seek help with a mental health professional. Or if you’re living with a depressed individual and don’t know how to cope and you live nearby, contact my Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington office and make an appointment soon. There is help available for you and your loved one.

Read more about this on my website – Overcoming Depression.

3 Tips for Making Lasting Changes in Life

Thursday, September 05, 2013

freedom from bad habitsPerhaps you’ve heard people say… “It’s easy to quit smoking (drinking, gambling, etc). I should know I’ve done it thousands of times.”

Every year people resolve to improve their lives by changing something such as, stop smoking, lose weight, get more exercise, be more tolerant, drink less alcohol, and the list goes endlessly on. Yet that resolve lasts for only a week or so before reverting back into the same old pattern. Why is that? It’s because only the first step - making the decision - has been taken. It’s important to be prepared to break an established pattern and replace it with a new one.

Significantly, attitudes and behaviors need to change. It’s necessary to re-educate your habits, redirect your thinking. Psychotherapist Thomas Szasz said, “People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates.” Essentially, in order to change anything in life, you need to begin thinking and acting like the kind of person you want to be.

One thing that makes it hard for people to do this is that they try to change too much all at once. If you can concentrate on changing only one thing at a time, then other improvements can follow. Your body is a sophisticated system that is capable of miraculous functions. But your body can’t think. You are the thinker and planner. You are in control of your personal growth.

What will help you take control and create the changes you want? Here are three tips:

First: Create a strong desire to change so that when you begin sabotaging yourself you have a back up plan for staying on track.

Second: Change your environment at work and at home to support the new habit you desire.

Third: When you desire to return to the old pattern, ask yourself, “What do I really want instead?” Then take care of the real need. Turn it around into something that you enjoy doing.

If these generic tips aren’t enough for you and you want in-depth personal consultation to change some deeply ingrained behavior, please make an appointment in my Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington office.

Learn more on my website – Mind and Body Health

Is Your Bucket List Half Empty or Half Full?

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

things to doWhat’s in your “Bucket List”? That term has become synonymous with the list of things you’d like to accomplish in life before it’s too late. It refers to choosing to live in a way now so you have no regrets later.

What are some of the things that people regret the most? An Australian nurse who cared for the dying noticed 5 recurring regrets her patients had:

  • Not living a life true to self, but doing what others expect
  • Not taking time to enjoy life because of working too much
  • Not having the courage to say what you feel
  • Not staying in touch with friends
  • Not letting yourself be happy

All of these regrets involve the choices we make. It’s never too late to make your life richer and more meaningful. It all boils down to your attitude and the choices you make. If you don’t take yourself too seriously and do more to get involved in life and with people, you won’t have regrets over the “I wish I’d done” list.

Some look at life with a glass half empty attitude, which is the negative way of thinking. Others choose to look at life with a glass half full attitude – positively working toward filling their lives with meaning.

I was honored to have an essay included in the book, Sixty Things to Do When You Turn Sixty. It helps Baby Boomers who are approaching their sixties to see the positive as you purposefully choose to make the best out of your life. My own experience taught me that even the trying circumstances in life can be turned into something positive.

How Does Neuro Emotional Technique Work?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

NET lets your body release the stressPerhaps you’re driving in rush hour traffic and someone swerves into your lane. You immediately take evasive action or jam on the breaks. Your hands sweat, your heart pumps faster, adrenaline rushes through your body. Your cells told your body to get ready. It’s triggering the fight or flight response. This same process can also occur when a person is simply recalling that stressful event weeks or years later. Your body replicates the same response just from the memory.

Take another example…visualize biting into a lemon. Think about its bright yellow color, its fragrance, and its sharp flavor. Doesn’t just thinking about it make your mouth water? The memory of your previous taste of a lemon replicates the same response in your body today even though you don’t have a lemon near you. 

The body’s response to stress works the same way. Emotional responses are made up of neuropeptides (amino acid chains) that attach to their receptors on your tissue cells. Stressful situations cause the part of the cell called the neuron to eject these amino acid chains so that they carry their “message” to other parts of your body where they become attached to their neuroreceptors.
Normally we deal with a stressful situation and move on. But sometimes, our system is out of balance and won’t let go of it. That’s where NET (Neuro Emotional Technique) helps. NET helps you find and remove these unresolved stress patterns, then your body and mind can heal itself relieving you of the headaches, chronic pain, phobia or whatever symptom that is caused by this unresolved stress.

Do you find that situations from your past still cause you great discomfort today? Perhaps it’s time to consult with a NET practitioner. If you are near Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington,contact my office and set up an appointment.

For more information read my website – Depression and Stress.

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