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How to Decide Which Kind of Therapy Is the Best Option for You

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


If you picture therapy as laying on a couch talking about your feelings, then you need to read up on some of new therapeutic approaches available.What do you envision when you think of going to therapy? Do you picture someone lying on a couch while a psychologist sits next to him with a notepad and pencil in hand? While some approaches do utilize this method, there are numerous types of therapy that can be used to help you overcome challenges. In all cases, the goal of therapy is to provide an environment that allows the client and therapist to work together openly and honestly toward a mutually agreed upon set of goals.

If you are considering starting therapy, know that there are many different types of therapy you can utilize. The success of any therapeutic approach depends on the needs of you as an individual. For this reason, many therapists use elements of several approaches. Your therapy should feel comfortable to you even as it challenges you to progress and develop.

Understanding how different therapies work and operate will help you determine whether your needs are being met, or what type of therapy might give you better results. Here are a few of the many types of therapy available to you that I have found to be particularly effective for many clients:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – This type of therapy addresses the way people think. The techniques are designed to change faulty, irrational thinking into more constructive, solution-oriented thinking.

Often people are stuck because they have a belief from childhood that keeps them from living the way they wished they could. During Cognitive Behavioral Therapy you are confronted with these beliefs and offered a new way of thinking about them. For example, just because your parents were divorced, does not mean you are incapable of learning the tools necessary for maintaining a satisfying relationship.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is usually considered short-term therapy. The reason for this is that the therapist is focusing on a specific problem. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been used successfully with a variety of issues from depression, to low self-esteem, to relationship dysfunction, to phobias, and anxiety. Once that problem is resolved, the therapy is complete unless there are other issues you with to work on.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) – This is a complex model of human communication. Essentially, there is a formula regarding how persons take in sensory impressions, organizes their impressions through memory and decision-making, and then translates those impressions into a response. NLP utilizes specific interventions and communications to change those responses to be more positive.

This system of therapy that enables people to reach more success in their chosen endeavors.  Goal-setting, negotiating, problem-solving, and creating become more streamlined and successful when you are equipped with a structure and formula to follow.

NeuroEmotionalTechnique (NET) – This type of therapy treats behavioral and physical conditions through identifying and removing the neurological imbalances related to the physiology of unresolved stress. Normally we process stress and let it go. Sometimes, however, a disruption and imbalance occurs.

For example, you drive in rush hour traffic daily, automatically taking evasive action or jamming on the brakes when necessary. Your hands may sweat, your heart pumps faster, adrenaline rushes through your body. Your body engages its “fight or flight” response. But after the event ends, you calm down and forget it.

However, when something disrupts this natural letting-go process, your body may produce that same stress reaction when it's triggered by a memory. Often you'll be unaware of the connection. This unresolved stress can cause physiological problems such as pain, allergies, and headaches. It may also cause psychological problems such as anxiety and depression.

A NET practitioner can pinpoint 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). Once the system is brought back into balance, your mind and body can heal, relieving you of the symptoms caused by your unresolved stress.

Clinical hypnosis – This is a process used for treating psychological and physical problems. Through hypnosis a person achieves a relaxed state in which their conscious and unconscious mind become focused and ready to receive therapeutic suggestions. When used professionally, hypnosis is safe, relaxing, and refreshing.

Hypnosis can be used to assist you in resolving smoking and weight control, fears, depression, anxiety, stress, sexual problems, alcoholism, pain control, confidence building, memory and concentration, retrieving repressed memories, even to facilitate physical healing.


The first step is to get in contact with a trained therapist who can help you set goals, pinpoint what you want to work on, and formulate a treatment plan just for you. Please contact my office to set up an appointment. I have an office in Jantzen Beach where we could talk in person. Or take advantage of my online therapy option if that is a better fit for you. I can tailor therapy to your individual needs and goals to help you reach your full potential.

Parents - How Do You Know When Your Teen is Depressed?

Monday, October 09, 2017


1 in 5 teenagers will suffer from depression, so it is vital for parents to stay alert to these signs of depression in their teensDo you have a moody teen at home? With all the pressures and changes teens face as they grow up, it is expected that they will experience intense feelings of frustration, anger, or sadness from time to time. This is a normal part of growing up.

Sometimes, though, their anger or sadness are signs of a bigger problem – depression. While no one wants their child to have to deal with something severe like depression, it is estimated that 1 in 5 teens will suffer from depression at some point during their teen years. It’s so important for parents to stay alert to signs that their teen could be dealing with it.

How do you know if your teen is depressed? These are some common signs:

  • Irritability, anger, or hostility

  • Sadness, hopelessness, or discouragement

  • Frequent crying

  • Negative thinking and highly critical of self and others

  • Withdrawal from family and friends

  • Loss of interest

  • Poor performance in school

  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits

  • Fatigue or lack of energy

  • Lack of enthusiasm and motivation

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Unexplained aches and pains

It can be hard for parents and other adults to know when a child is depressed. An irritable or angry mood might seem like a bad attitude or disrespect. Low energy and lack of interest might look like not trying. Parents may not realize that these can be signs of depression.

Depression also tends to look different in teens than it does in adults. Irritability is usually the predominant mood in depressed teens, as opposed to sadness with adults. They are also very likely to complain of unexplained pains like a headache or stomachache. Adults will often isolate themselves completely if they are suffering from depression. Teens are more likely to isolate themselves from their parents, but still maintain some of their friendships.

If you see some of these signs in your teen, but are unsure if they really signal depression, think about how long the symptoms have been happening, how severe they are, and how different your teen is acting from his usual self. Continuous unhappiness or irritability, for weeks or months, it is definitely not normal, and should be addressed.

The good news is that depression can get better with the right attention and care. Here are some steps to take if you think your child might be depressed:

  • Talk with your child about depression and their moods. Teens might ignore, hide, or deny how they feel. They might not realize they’re depressed. Even if they act like they don’t want help, talk with them anyway. Listen without judgement. Offer your support. Show them and tell them that they are loved and needed.

  • Schedule a visit to your teen’s doctor. The doctor will probably do a complete physical exam. A full exam lets the doctor check your child for other health conditions that could cause depression-like symptoms.

  • Contact a mental health specialist. A therapist can evaluate your child and recommend treatment. Parental counselling could be part of the treatment, too. It focuses on ways parents can best support and respond to a teen dealing with depression.

As an experienced family therapist, I can help you and your teen get through this difficult time. Please contact my office to set up an appointment. I have an office in Jantzen Beach where we could talk in person. I also offer online therapy if it is more convenient for you.

Expats – Be Prepared for Mental Health Challenges Abroad

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


Along with joy relocating to a new country can bring frustration, anxiety, and depression, so prepare for these mental health challenges before you go.Have you decided to make a move abroad? Maybe you have accepted a job in another country or are moving to participate in volunteer work. An adventure like this is full of excitement and opportunity. But to be successful, you have to prepare yourself for the challenges that can come along with it.
 
Some of the challenges you may face as an expat include:

  • Living in a place where few people speak your language. To be constrained by language barriers is isolating. Even when you have some grasp of your new language, fluency takes time and the process can be frustrating.

  • Adjusting to a new environment. Your new area may not be as safe as your previous neighborhood, limiting mobility and walks alone. Or maybe your spouse is working, leaving you to fend for yourself during the day. Unfamiliar foods and lack of access to the comforts of home can cause stress.

  • Understanding and adapting to new cultures and customs. Learning what is proper and acceptable in another country can be a long process. When you aren’t familiar with local customs it can lead to frustration and embarrassment. 

  • Being separated from family and friends. If you want to grab lunch with your mom or a friend they are all back in your native country, and phone calls can be expensive! It can also be upsetting if you have to miss important life events, milestones or beloved holidays.

This combination can lead to feelings of isolation, frustration, or depression. In fact, expats experience a significantly higher risk for anxiety, depression, and substance abuse problems than their domestic counterparts. This was highlighted in a recent study that showed that expats are at a higher risk for mental health problems.
 
These feelings can quickly derail what should be an exciting, engaging, and interesting chapter of your life. They can lead to poor job performance, marital problems, and physical health issues.
 
What can you do before embarking on your journey to prepare yourself for these challenges? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Identify both the strengths and weakness that change brings out in you. This awareness will help you maximize your strengths and not be blindsided by your weaknesses.

  • Let go of the idea that life has to be a certain way. View change, big and small, as an opportunity to grow. 

  • Do research. Find out as much as you can about the country, city, and neighborhood as you can before you move. If possible, visit before your move so you have some idea of what to expect. Talk to people who have made the same move or a similar one.

  • Learn some basic phrases in the new language. Having a greeting and some basic sentences you’ll need on a regular basis memorized before you go will help you feel more comfortable in your new environment. It will also make it easier to pick up the language.

  • Plan ahead to see family and friends. Plan a definite time to come back to your home country for a visit or have loved ones come visit you. Schedule phone calls and video chat sessions. 

  • Find a therapist. You may come to realize that you could really use the help of a therapist to navigate your transition to a new life in a new country. 

On the point of finding a therapist, how you do you find one in a new country? It can definitely be a challenge. Depending on where you are going, there may not be that many qualified therapists in your area. The local therapists may not speak your language. And in a small community, the local therapist could be someone you interact with in other circles. It can be uncomfortable to open up to someone who has connections to your outside life.
 
What if you could have a qualified therapist who speaks your language, and who is available at the touch of a button? I offer a service that provides exactly that! My Remote Counselling Services for Expats utilizes a HIPPA compliant, online video program to connect us, no matter where you are in the world via video conferences, I can help you navigate the unique situations that you face and find a healthy way to cope with your new challenges. Please take advantage of this unique service so you can get the most of your international experience and your life!

What is Anxiety Costing Your Business?

Monday, September 18, 2017


Anxiety can cost you your business so it is important to find out what you can do to combat negative thinking.Anxiety is costly. It costs you emotionally, mentally and physically. The mind-body connection is very real and very powerful. Our emotions affect our bodies and anxious feelings can cause many physical health problems.
 
What about the financial cost of dealing with anxiety? Doctor’s visits and medications are expensive. Personal steps taken to prevent anxiety, such as supplements or private forms of transportation to avoid crowds, can add up quickly. There is also the cost of re-doing a project or an activity if it has been disrupted by an anxiety attack, which was illustrated in a recent story in the NY Times of a woman whose panic attack cost her $1000.
 
Then there is the burden put on your business. Persons who suffer with anxiety take more time off work than their less-anxious counterparts. And if you own a business, your anxiety will eventually affect your bottom line. How?
 
Here are just a few ways anxiety can cost your business:

  • Anxiety can make you less solution-oriented. When you encounter a setback, you are likely to give up quickly instead of continuing to search for a way around the problem. It can prevent you from moving forward and persevering. 

  • Anxiety can prevent you from trying new things and expanding your business. Anxious persons are afraid of change and failure. Instead of looking at a new experience as an opportunity to learn, you look at it as a chance of failing.

  • Anxiety affects your employees. Your anxiety can rub off on the people who are around you, thus reducing their efficiency and even their attendance at work. It can also lead your employees to feel like they have to walk on eggshells around you, hindering communication which is a vital part of managing a successful business.

  • Anxiety can cost you clients. Clients are more likely to work with you if they sense you are confident in your product and relaxed. They, too, can pick up on your anxiety, and it could prevent them from doing business with you.

To clarify, the type of anxiety I am discussing here isn’t the “normal” feelings of nervousness, fear, or apprehension caused by new experiences, high-pressure situations, or stressful events. This type of anxiety usually goes as quickly as it comes. Once the anxiety-inducing event is over, feelings normalize.
 
The type of anxiety I’m talking about is the kind that nags at you on a daily basis. It is the type of anxiety that can sometimes be pushed out of mind enough to get through the day, but that eventually starts to affect your business, relationships, and health. This anxiety becomes controlling, debilitating, and may even feel inescapable.
 
If these are symptoms you deal with, you may have developed an anxiety disorder. In this case, help is needed to manage the mental and physical discomfort, and learn how to cope. If you do suffer from an anxiety disorder, be assured you can identify and correct your negative thoughts and beliefs. You can change the way you think, thereby changing the way you feel.
 
How can you do this? I encourage my clients to Identify, Challenge, and Replace their negative, anxious thoughts.

  • Identify what you’re thinking when you start feeling anxious.

  • Challenge those thoughts and ask yourself if your fears and concerns are legitimate and warranted.

  • Then Replace your negative thoughts with new thoughts that are more realistic and positive.

It’s simple but it can be far from easy! In many cases, if you’re dealing with an anxiety disorder you will need the guidance and support of a doctor. Anxiety disorders are not all treated the same, and it’s important to determine the specific problem before embarking on a course of treatment.
 
Please contact my office in Jantzen Beach to schedule an appointment, or try online therapy if that is best for you. I will conduct a careful diagnostic evaluation to determine what type of anxiety you are truly dealing with and establish a plan of treatment to get you back to feeling and working at your best.

Guidelines to Help Your Children Adapt to Change

Monday, August 21, 2017


Mother talking to her daughterOne of the best parts of life is change. One of the worst parts of life is change. How is that? As exciting as change can be, it can also be daunting, even frightening. Even a person who generally adapts well to change will experience apprehension about some of life’s changes at some point.

If we experience fear of change sometimes, what about our children?

Their lives are in a constant state of change. Just think about the physical changes they go through from infancy to adulthood. They’re also processing enormous amounts of new information and learning at a rapid pace. As a parent, you no doubt work hard to build in your children the resilience they will need to cope with these changes.

There are bigger changes that our children must adapt to. What about the loss of a parent or grandparent? Divorce? A parent remarrying? How can you help your children adapt to changes of this magnitude?

As a child, your son or daughter depends on you to help them make sense of major changes in their life. You must take the time to help them understand what is going on and adjust. The guiding principle here is to slow down and communicate.

Here are some key communication guidelines for parents:

Like all people, children need to know they are loved and cared for. It is also important for them to believe that someone needs and relies on them. They want to know their existence and presence makes a difference to other people. Listen to your children and support them. As kids navigate new situations and inevitable disappointments, they need to know that they’re not alone. Cultivate a warm, strong relationship.


Talk to them openly about what is happening, and give them opportunities to tell you how they feel, without criticism. Regardless of how you feel about the changes and how you are ready to proceed, you need to know what your child is thinking and feeling.


Be in tune with how each child is dealing with the changes in their life. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to children. Each child is unique and has different strengths and weaknesses. Some can handle more than others. This means spending time with each of your children individually and allowing them to share their own feelings on the matter, separate from the rest of the family.


A key part of developing resilience and dealing with change is emotional management. Teach your kids that emotions are okay! It’s okay to feel. And it’s okay to feel differently than their parents about a situation. They need to know that what they share will be respected and safe.


Answer your child’s questions. Some of them may be painful. You may think your child isn’t old enough to understand. But honesty is vital when helping your children adapt to big changes in their lives. If they can’t get a straight answer from you, who can they turn to?


Be honest about your mistakes. Some big changes come because of mistakes made. Making mistakes is a part of life. Life is about learning something new every day. Sometimes those lessons cause pain, or even permanent scars. It is natural to not want your children to see those mistakes or experience any of the pain associated with them. But know this: whatever stress you are feeling as a parent, your children are feeling it as well.


Use the situation as a teaching tool. Demonstrate to your children that failure is not the end of the world. Show them that it is absolutely possible to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on. Be honest with them about what is happening and why. If you are honest, it not only teaches your children a lesson, but it also helps them forgive and start to heal.


Even if you are doing the best you can to communicate with your child, there are times when he or she may need professional help to deal with big changes and stress in their life. Or perhaps you could use some support as you lead your family through life’s ups and downs. Please contact my office to set up an appointment. I have an office in Jantzen Beach where we could talk in person. I also offer online therapy if it is more convenient for you.

How to Change the Conversation at Work to be More Positive

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Two coworkers looking at a computer, shocked at the newsWe live in an increasingly negative world. Many people have told me they’ve stopped watching the news because they’re tired of all the negativity. Yet there are others who seem to thrive on the negative. It’s like they can’t wait for Monday to rehash all the bad news at work or to complain about their life to anyone who will listen. This negative outlook can be contagious and before you know it the entire workplace is infected!
 
The good news is that you can change the conversation at work to be more positive. And it’s worth the effort!
 
Positive thinking is linked to better health. In addition to better physical and emotional health, positivity can also impact your workplace for the better, whether you are a business owner or an employee. Optimism helps you to be solution-oriented. When you encounter a bump in the road, you don’t give up. Instead, you continue to search for a way around the problem, convinced that there is a solution.
 
No matter what your role in the business is, positivity in the workplace begins with how you choose to communicate. How can you cultivate a more positive way of speaking in the workplace? Take a look at these ideas:

  • Be aware of the way you describe certain situations and make a conscious effort to turn those comments into something more optimistic.

  • Focus less on the problem, and more on the solution. If no solution is obvious, focus on the fact there must be a solution somewhere and that you and your team are capable of discovering it.

  • Discuss the smaller, more manageable steps, you can take to solve a problem. What can you do right now, in this moment? It helps you and those you work with focus on what they can accomplish without getting overwhelmed.

  • Cultivate a more positive, meaningful start to conversations. If someone asks how you are, don’t lead with the negative (i.e. “I’m tired/hungry/anxious”). Tell them something good that has happened.

  • Show gratitude. Discuss things you are thankful for, big and small.

Interestingly, as you make the effort to make your conversations at work more positive, others will follow. We are often told to not bother trying to change people because it can’t be done. But that is far from the truth! We are changing people every day just as other people are changing us. As humans, we are constantly influenced by those around us. So don't get discouraged and think that your contribution of positivity isn't going to change the dynamics at work. You are more influential than you may think! Take the lead in conversations and guide them into positive territory.

 

Most of us have heard of how one small act of kindness can trigger a chain reaction. A similar thing happens when you choose to inject positivity into your daily conversations. It also triggers a chain reaction. You lead a conversation in a positive direction and the person you spoke with will be left with a positive feeling. It may take awhile and you won’t have 100% success, but if you stick with it you’ll see a shift towards more positive conversations in your workplace. Don’t give up!
 
Each day you experience hundreds of moments where you can choose to react in a positive way. It isn’t a matter of ignoring the negative in your life or work. It comes down to making a choice to not get stuck on the negative. Focus on the good in your life, and help those around you to choose to appreciate the good as well!
 
Are you convinced that you can change the dynamic in your workplace by being positive? Sometimes it can be challenging to be positive if you are dealing with a lot of internal or external stress. If you could use some help, please contact my office to set up an appointment.  I have an office in Jantzen Beach where we can meet in person or I offer online therapy if that’s a better fit for you.

Avoid a Crisis – How Entrepreneurs Can Be Proactive About Mental Health

Monday, August 14, 2017


Man in suit holding happy face signWhat kinds of qualities come to mind when you think of a successful entrepreneur? Are they creative, tenacious, self-sacrificing? What about depressed, anxious, or obsessive?

The same qualities that make a person a successful entrepreneur can also make them vulnerable to a host of mental health issues. Some issues like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) can, in the beginning, propel an entrepreneur to success. But there is a fine line between healthy and harmful.

Depression, anxiety, feelings of worthlessness, and a lack of motivation can arise and develop when entrepreneurs are overly focused on their business. 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.

Do you find yourself paying little attention to the effect your schedule and lifestyle may be having on your mental health?

When you put your mental health on the back burner, you set yourself up for a mental health crisis later. If you neglect your physical health, you run the risk of disease, injury, or a traumatic event like a heart attack. Similarly, if you neglect your mental health, your brain and body will force you to slow down and take a break, but not in a manner that feels good for you or helps your business.

Wouldn’t it be better to be proactive about your mental health, caring for it before you experience a crisis? They key is to not wait until you’re broken. By waiting too long to take care of yourself, you’ll make it much harder to get back to where you want to be.

The good news is that you don’t have to be sick to get better. Here are four things you can do now to maintain good mental health and avoid a crisis later on:

  1. Care for your basic needs. As an entrepreneur, you work long hours. That’s a given. But prioritize sleep, healthy eating, exercise, and time with friends and family. Adequate sleep is absolutely vital to function at optimum levels. Eating good food gives your mind the nutrients it needs to make brilliant business decisions. Exercise relieves stress. Time spent with those you love keeps you balanced
  2. Simplify your life. The life of an entrepreneur is full of activity and decisions. Don’t make things harder than they need to be. Where you can simplify, do it. For you that may mean using a grocery delivery service or having limited wardrobe options to sort through each morning. Simplify as many things in your life as you can so that you can focus on the areas that will benefit most from your attention and creativity.
  3. Get help with the details. To make your vision succeed, there are a lot of teeny-tiny details to work out. Hire someone to help you. You have skills, but you are not skilled at everything. So outsource the things you need to. Let other people care for the details while you continue focusing on what you are best at.
  4. Hire a psychologist. People who regularly attend to their psychological health are not only stronger emotionally, but they are less prone to illness and experience a better sense of personal well-being. Engaging in psychotherapy enhances your analytical and intuitive abilities by utilizing the full range of your conscious and unconscious talents. It helps you take charge of your life.

If you’re ready to take a proactive stance, I can help you achieve strong mental health so you can grow your business and succeed as an entrepreneur. Please contact my office. I have an office in Jantzen Beach, and I also offer online therapy if that works best for your lifestyle

What Scientists Are Learning About Exercise and Your Brain

Monday, July 17, 2017


Older couple riding bikesDo you exercise regularly? No doubt you’ve heard of all the benefits. Exercise is good for all kinds of things like lowering your risk of heart disease, helping you lose weight, and maintaining your overall health. It also helps you emotionally by releasing endorphins that help regulate your mood.
 
Exercise also helps protect your memory and thinking ability. How? By literally changing your brain!
 
Researchers have found that exercise can change the size of your brain. Regular exercise has been found to boost the size of the hippocampus, the area of the brain that plays an important role in memory and learning. It does this via a process called neurogenesis, or the birth of new brain cells. Exercise can double or triple the number of new cells in the hippocampus. These new cells translate to a significantly better ability to learn new things and remember experiences.
 
A better memory and learning ability is beneficial for your life now, but it is also helpful over the long-term. In Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, the hippocampus is one of the first parts of the brain to suffer damage. A larger hippocampus can help delay the symptoms of these diseases as you get older.
 
It is of note that research finds aerobic exercise to be the most beneficial form of exercise to boost the size of the hippocampus. This is exercise that gets your heart pumping, your blood flowing, and the sweat running. Resistance training and balance exercises did not produce the same results.
 
Exercise also helps you sleep better. A number of chronic physical and mental health problems are caused by insufficient sleep, one of which is poor memory. Your brain cleans up while you sleep. There are studies that show that during sleep, the space between brain cells enlarge, allowing toxins to flush out. This research suggests that not sleeping allows toxins to build up, possibly ultimately triggering brain diseases like Alzheimer’s.
 
Have you noticed that your thinking ability is negatively affected when you are feeling stressed or anxious? Exercise is a huge help in improving your mood, and reducing stress and anxiety. When your stress levels are under control, your cognitive abilities greatly improve.
 
Hopefully you already have a healthy routine that incorporates regular exercise. The recommendation for exercise is 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. That is just 30 minutes, 5 days a week. Moderate exercise includes walking, swimming, biking, or a sport like tennis.
 
If you are having trouble motivating yourself to keep up an exercise routine, or even start one, then try getting your spouse or a friend involved. Ask them to go with you. It will hold you accountable and make the experience fun! Also, start small. Try a 20-minute walk around the neighborhood at first. Then add more time and distance.
 
Schedule exercise like you would a business meeting. You don’t cancel on your colleagues or clients, so don’t cancel on yourself. Make it a priority, and your brain will benefit!
 
Exercise is only one part of staying healthy and balanced. Make sure to sign-up for my newsletter, Enriching Your Life, to stay up-to-date on new findings that impact your health and wellness. Simply enter your information in the box on the left to start receiving your copy.

Read more on my website: Holistic Health.

Take a Deep Breath – You’ll Feel Better

Monday, July 10, 2017


Woman sitting on park bench relaxingWhen you were a kid, did your parents tell you to take long, deep breaths to help calm you down when you were upset?  As an adult, you may have noticed that popular practices like meditation, yoga and mindfulness, incorporate deep breathing. Even if you’ve never consciously thought about it, do you find yourself controlling your breathing when trying to combat anger or anxiety?

Why is concentrated deep breathing such a big deal? Our breathing patterns do much more than simply keep us alive. Here are just a few of the things deep breathing can do for you:

  • Strengthen the immune system and detoxify the body

  • Relieve pain

  • Reduce stress and blood pressure

  • Strengthen abdominal and intestinal muscles

  • Aid in healthy sleep patterns

  • Increase energy levels

It is fascinating to see how the different systems in our minds and bodies are so intertwined. Deep breathing releases endorphins, those feel-good, natural painkillers created by your own body. When practicing deep breathing, the movement of the diaphragm helps remove toxins from the organs, promoting better blood flow. Better blood flow and deeper breaths mean more oxygen coursing through the body. Oxygen provides energy, so that increase in oxygen in your body equates to a higher energy level for you!

Why is it that taking a deep breath is so effective in relieving stress and anxiety? Researchers recently conducted a study on mice (check out the New York Times write-up on the research study) that showed taking deep breaths is calming because it doesn’t activate the neurons that communicate with the brain’s arousal center. In contrast, shorter, shallower breaths activate neurons that throw the brain into a state of anxiety.

Breathing slowly and mindfully, activates the hypothalamus, connected to the pituitary gland in the brain, to send out chemicals that inhibit stress-producing hormones and trigger a relaxation response in the body. Hormones are also secreted that decrease blood pressure and heart rate.

Are you ready to start breathing deeply now? As simple as it sounds, breathing mindfully takes practice. When under stress, we often take shallow breaths, not using our full lung capacity.

You want to breathe from your diaphragm. Try this exercise:

Sit up straight and place your hands on your belly, just above your belly button. Let your fingertips touch lightly. Exhale fully through your mouth. Breath in deeply through your nose and into your belly, so your fingertips start to spread apart. Hold your breath for two to five seconds. Exhale slowly through your mouth. Match the length of the inhale with the length of the exhale. Continue breathing in this manner for five to ten minutes.


Try to practice your breathing technique daily. The secret is simply to breathe, deeply and often. In addition, focusing on your breathing during physical activities, such as exercise, can help you become more mindful of your body.

Sometimes you need more than deep breathing to combat your anxiety. I can work with you to reduce your anxiety and get the most out of your life! Please contact my office to set up an appointment.  I have an office in Jantzen Beach where we can meet in person or I offer online therapy for those residing in Oregon or Washington states if that is more convenient for you.

Look on the Bright Side - You Can Do It Even If You're a Natural Pessimist

Monday, June 19, 2017


Arrow and sign saying positive thinkingDoesn’t it seem like most people fall into one of two groups? There are the upbeat optimists who see the good in situations and then there are negative pessimists who tend to expect the worst. Which group are you in? If you tend toward the negative, then this article is for you!
 
There are certainly times and situations that bring negative emotions. Processing those negative feelings is a necessary part of the healing process. What I’m talking about here, doesn’t apply to a fairly short-lived sad, angry, or negative period in your life. I’m referring to overall perspective on life – the way you view your life, your future, even the people in your life.
 
Chronic pessimism inhibits your ability to bounce back from disappointments and life’s inevitable stresses. It can also strain relationships at home and at the workplace. But your perspective on life affects more than just how other people relate to you – it actually influences your health.
 
Recent studies are finding that optimistic people have better heart health than their pessimistic counterparts. (Read more about these studies in this NY Times article.) Optimists are more likely to eat a healthy diet, avoid smoking and overdrinking, and prioritize regular exercise than pessimists. As a result, they maintain healthier blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels. Optimism helps patients heal faster from illness or injury and boosts the immune system to prevent colds and flu.
 
The good news is that, with a little practice, you can become more positive. This isn’t a fake optimism. “Putting on a show” to look like you are feeling upbeat about life isn’t going to help. But you really can train yourself to feel optimistic from the inside out.
 
This is done by re-training your brain to think positively. There are neural pathways in your brain that control emotion. If you tend toward negative thinking, the neural pathways for negativity become stronger, kind of like a beaten down path through the forest. A lifetime of pessimistic thinking can produce some beaten down negative pathways! Negativity becomes your brain’s go-to emotion.
 
On the up side, your brain is capable of generating new pathways, and it’s possible to train the circuitry in your brain to promote positive responses. When you look for the good, you activate different neural circuits in your brain. Dopamine and serotonin production is increased, soothing and calming you. The more you stimulate these circuits in your brain, the stronger they become. Positivity will become a more automatic response.
 
It’s not a matter of making one, huge change. There are small things you can do every day to progressively strengthen your positive neural pathways. Here are four suggestions:
 
  1. Begin each day with a positive thought. It will help you set the tone for how you will choose to think for the day.
  2. Live one moment at a time. Stop worrying about the past and the future. Focus on the present and making that day the best it can be. The practice of mindfulness helps many of my clients to focus and see the good in their day.
  3. Practice gratitude. Having a grateful attitude is linked to everything from better mental and physical health to greater satisfaction in life and relationships. Look for the moments, big and small, that you are thankful for.
  4. Do good for others. If you focus on thinking about other people and working to make their life better, you think about your own problems and worries less. This, in turn, keeps you from dwelling on the negative and moves you to focus on the positive.

If your negative feelings run too deep, there may be something else in your life that needs attention. Stress comes when the different aspects of your life fall out alignment. I can help you identify where you are out of balance and guide you back into a healthy, productive alignment. Please contact my office to set up an appointment.  I have an office in Jantzen Beach where we can meet in person or I offer online therapy if that’s a better fit for you.


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