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Kathy Marshack News

How to Get Rid of Your Stress Headaches

Monday, January 26, 2015


how to get rid of stress headachesIs stress good for you? Perhaps you’re initial response was, “No!” We hear so much about the health hazards of stress, yet the stress response can be an asset for raising levels of performance during critical events such as a sports activity, an important meeting, or in situations of actual danger or crisis.

However, when you become addicted to stress and it becomes persistent, all parts of the body's stress apparatus (the brain, heart, lungs, vessels, and muscles) become chronically over or under-activated. This kind of stress can produce physical or psychological damage in time. One common manifestation is the stress headache.

I read an article on WebMD that had some great ideas of how to get rid of stress headaches. (I encourage you to read the whole article to get all of the interesting medical facts.) I’d like to share a brief summary of their suggestions for getting rid of your stress headaches:

Improve your sleep routine – Go to bed and get up at the same times every day, even on weekends.
Improve your exercise routine – Lower your stress hormones and boost endorphins with 20 to 40 minutes of heart pumping exercise three times per week at the minimum.
Improve your eating routine – Don’t skip breakfast or other meals and eat more whole, healthy foods such as dark, leafy greens and whole grains and fish.
Improve your relaxation routine – Use conscientious methods to relax, such as, walking, listening to music, meditation, deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation, and skip the couch potatoing with the TV.
Improve your relationship routine – Actually pull out your calendar and schedule time for people that are important to you.
Improve your posture routine – Become aware of how you stand and sit at all times, so you prevent neck strain caused by slouching and tensing. This includes not clenching your jaw.

Have you heard these suggestions all before? Have you tried them and then reverted back to doing things the same old way? What’s stopping you from putting them into action? Did you notice I called each one a “routine”? These positive changes involve changing your brain and replacing old habits with new ones. Perhaps it’s time to consult a therapist and learn how to retrain your brain to cope with stress. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment, because a few sessions of therapy can help you reclaim a pleasant and peaceful life.

Read more on my website: Managing Stress and Types of Therapy.

How Much Do You Know About Memory?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


how much do you know about memoryMemory is such an important part of our lives. It helps define who we are. It assists us in our relationships with others. And it definitely affects the decisions we make. So much of this is done without our even thinking about it. That is…until we start to lose our ability to remember. Then we wish we could do something to decrease memory loss. The good news is that there are things you can do to support your brain’s memory functions.

First, though, WebMD has a fun and interesting memory quiz to test how much you already know about how memory works and what affect our choices have on the quality of memory. You’ll learn the answers to the following questions:

Can sex trigger amnesia?
Does pregnancy cause “baby brain”?
How long do memory problems due to smoking marijuana last?
How does déjà vu work?
At what age do we start losing brain cells?
Why can you remember a song from your youth, but can’t remember someone’s name?
Why and how does – skipping breakfast, poor eyesight, working crosswords, drinking alcohol, taking statin drugs, antihistamines and sleeping pills – affect your memory?
Why does a sudden, high-stress event boost your memory?
Is the memory loss from perimenopause permanent?
Why does rest or sleep enhance memory?
What foods can boost memory?
Why do some diseases cause “brain fog”?

The function of the brain can be improved by holistic health choices that help you control memory-damaging stress, getting enough exercise, keeping your mind active and improving your concentration. A NET practitioner can help you not only protect your brain but even retrain your brain to cope with the brain fog caused by painful illnesses such as fibromyalgia. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more about memory on Psychology Today and PsychCentral.

Your Thoughts – Are They Making You Healthier or Making You Sicker?

Thursday, December 04, 2014


our thoughts can make us healthier or make us sickerWe know that our thoughts can change the way we feel. Have you ever been so stressed out you got a stomachache or a headache? Your thoughts did that to you. But can your thoughts actually change the brain’s physical make-up?

Scientists, who are studying the neuroplasticity of the brain, are discovering how much our thoughts really do shape our brain and our health. In an earlier article, I shared how different forms of meditation change the structure of the brain. This isn’t surprising because thoughts have physical properties. Every thought sends electrical signals through your brain, which in turn influences every cell of the body. Learning to control negative thinking is one of the most effective ways to have better health.

What health benefits may positive thinking provide?

  • Increase your life span
  • Lessen depression
  • Lessen distress
  • Gain a greater resistance to the common cold
  • Create better psychological and physical well-being
  • Reduce risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Improve coping skills during times of stress

But why exactly does positive thinking cause these improvements? Science is still researching this question, yet we do know that there are a number of reasons…

  • Positive people take better care of themselves – they eat a healthier diet, exercise regularly and get plenty of rest.
  • They avoid unhealthy behaviors such as overeating, smoking, and risky sex, which protects the body from debilitating diseases. 
  • An optimistic outlook lowers the level of cortisol associated with inflammation and raises the chemical that fosters communication between the two halves of the brain.
  • A can-do attitude generates a sense of empowerment and confidence in your abilities in contrast to the self-defeating I-can’t attitude.
  • The qualities of forgiveness, resilience, commitment, challenge, and control combat the harmful feelings of hopelessness, bitterness, resentment, anger and cynicism.
  • Optimistic people are more fun to be around, so they have better relationships with friends and family.

Positive thinking often starts with how you talk to yourself. The best advice is to only say things to yourself that you would say to a dear friend. When a negative thought enters your head, use positive affirmation to replace it. This will keep your brain chemistry in balance.

If you find you’re being controlled by habitually negative patterns of thinking, it’s time to seek professional help. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office and schedule an appointment. Healing everyday thought patterns is crucial to gaining optimum health.

A Holiday Wrap Up to Help You De-Stress this Holiday Season

Wednesday, December 03, 2014


stressed and worried about what will happen this holiday seasonAre you looking forward to spending more time with your family? Because of school break and holidays, December gives you that opportunity. If your initial reaction to that question was not joyful, it may be that the pressures of the season are getting out of control. The pressures to get more done, to spend more money, or to confront family issues that are generally ignored the rest of the year all contribute to stress overload.

You know it’s coming, so instead of turning to destructive and unproductive behaviors, why not plan this year to handle it differently? There are healthy means of relieving stress even during this stressful time of year.

Here is a holiday wrap up of a few of my past articles and tips that have proven helpful during stressful holiday times:


There are many holistic health treatments for stress including psychotherapy treatment and dietary supplementation. Read more on my website under: Managing Stress.

As a reminder: We will not have an official Asperger Syndrome Meetup during the busy month of December, I encourage all of you to still chat with your friends on this forum. We all know that December can be one crazy, stressful month with our Aspie loved ones. Share your stories, get inspiration, offer support, or gain whatever you need from our worldwide membership. We’ll meet again in January.

Workaholics - Do You Have to be Desperate before Seeking Help?

Monday, September 29, 2014


you don't have to be sick to get better“I don’t have time to be sick!” If you’re like many today, especially entrepreneurial couples who are running a demanding business, you’ve probably said this yourself. As a result, you may put off going to a doctor until the symptoms progress to an extreme point, maybe even to the point of irreparable damage. We’ve all heard stories of how people could be alive today if they had only visited a doctor at the beginning of the symptoms of heart disease, cancer or diabetes.

The same can be said about mental health. At times, in our busy lives, the symptoms gradually creep up until it’s impossible to ignore the feelings of overwhelming anxiety or depression. Then a person is forced into dealing with crises rather than having the choice to live purposefully.

What are some symptoms that a mental health crisis is looming on your horizon? Do you find yourself thinking thoughts like these?

  • I’m so tired.
  • I don’t care.
  • I don’t enjoy doing the things I once did.
  • I’m not happy.
  • Nothing I do turns out right.
  • Why should I even try.
  • I’m not good enough.
  • I’m bored.
  • I can’t focus or concentrate. I feel so disconnected.
  • I don’t want to think about it…I just want to stay busy.
  • My life isn’t as bad as that guy’s life, so I don’t deserve help.
  • Just suck it up and keep pushing through it.
  • It’s not my fault. You made me do it.

There are also physical symptoms that your mental health needs attention. While this list isn’t comprehensive, it illustrates the body’s reaction to mental distress:

  • Tight muscles - body pains
  • Headaches
  • Stomach aches
  • TMJ- Grinding your teeth
  • Clenched fists
  • Insomnia
  • Weight gain/weight loss
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sweating palms
  • Self medicating with drugs or alcohol
  • Frequent anger and irritation
  • Throwing or breaking things
  • Road Rage
  • Mood swings

On the other hand, what can you gain by courageously committing to good mental health?

It improves your sense of personal well-being. When you catch problems early on, you recover more quickly, without lasting emotional and psychological scars. Utilizing the full range of your conscious and unconscious talents, unburdened by neurotic hang-ups, creates opportunities that you never knew were there before. A healthy mind also draws to you other healthy people. In a family business or any endeavor for that matter, having mentally healthy employees, coworkers and family members can only improve business functioning. It will keep your business competitive and successful.

People who regularly attend to their psychological health are not only stronger emotionally, but they require less physical health care, even reducing medical and surgical costs.

Don’t wait another day. YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE SICK TO GET BETTER. Just as many find that a physical fitness trainer is beneficial for keeping them on track; a mental health professional can provide the support and objective eye to help you achieve optimal mental health. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA and would like to increase your sense of well being, please contact my office and set up an appointment.

Muse Headband – New Technology Could Help Us Stay on Top of Mental Health

Friday, September 26, 2014


new technology - muse headband- could help us stay on top of mental healthFor a number of years, people have been able to travel to brain scanning facilities and find out how their brains respond to stimulation in a clinical setting. It hasn’t been possible for everyone to see how the brain is really responding to situations in every day life. 

Wouldn’t it be helpful if you could monitor your brain activity at home, at work, or at the shopping center? If you found that something was bothering you more than you really expected, then you could focus on changing your responses and gain greater control of your life immediately. The idea of everyone being able to do this isn’t as farfetched as it sounds. 

Ariel Garten CEO of interaXon, was interviewed by CNN about a computer headband they’ve developed that tracks the brain’s electro-signals. It’s called Muse. She said,We're very interested in creating solutions that help you calm yourself; that can help you stay grounded, choose what to focus your attention on, and understanding and managing your own mind and response to the world so that people can be more productive in life.” 

While Muse isn’t a medical device, it has fantastic possibilities for controlling stress, helping those with ADHD to increase their abilities to focus, and providing cognitive recognition of negative thinking patterns so you can turn them into positive ones. It tracks your brain activity and then sends that information to your computer, smart phone or tablet, giving you real time feedback. 

While I haven’t tried this product out myself, I’m interested in the possibilities that a product like this could have for helping people gain greater control of their emotions, thoughts, and activities. I’m happy to keep you current on the latest technological advances that could contribute to greater physical and mental health. 

Being able to identify your self-condemning internal dialogue and self-defeating attitudes and actions in the instance of them occurring doesn’t give you the skill to automatically overcome them. It’s helpful to seek the guidance of a psychotherapist who can help you learn the skills to deal with the frustration and anger from years of unresolved emotions and to feel better about yourself. A psychotherapist can also build on the strengths you have so you can cope with daily problems and learn alternative ways to handle your emotions.

Are you ready to gain control of your life with the help of a trained psychotherapist? If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, contact my office to make an appointment. 

For more information read on my website: Psychotherapy Options.

Caring for Someone with Autism? Make Time for Yourself

Friday, September 05, 2014


Out of Mind Out of Sight Parenting with a Partner with Asperger ASDHow do you blunt the stress of parenting a child with disabilities? Do you feel like you can’t take time for yourself? A recent NY Times article, When the Caregivers Need Healing, reminds us all that it’s vital for caregivers to make time for themselves so they have enough emotional and physical strength to continue to care for others.

All parents experience stress-filled moments when raising their children. However, parents of children with autism often experience more stress, depression and anxiety. That’s in part because the care for their autistic child is relentless – day in and day out for the rest of their lives. Plus there are the worries over how to pay for the necessary therapies.

Dr. Fred R. Volkmar, the director of Child Study Center at Yale University School of Medicine sums the situation up, “Having a child that has a disability is all-encompassing. You can see how people would lose themselves.” The article reports that researchers at Vanderbilt University tested the effectiveness of mindfulness training and positive adult development as solutions for the stress of being a caregiver.

The study did not focus on sharpening parental skills, but rather on teaching parents to tackle their stress in positive ways that helped them accept life as it is. Both methods resulted in significant reductions in stress, depression, insomnia and anxiety. Which method worked best?

The ones in the mindfulness treatment group who practiced meditation, breathing exercises, and qigong saw greater improvement than those who received positive adult development training on curbing negative thoughts, practicing gratitude and reclaiming life as an adult.

What solution is best for your specific circumstances? Enlist the help of a trained psychologist to help you create a strategy for managing the stress you deal with daily. I also share in both of my books invaluable, practical tips that I’ve drawn from years of experience helping families to thrive despite the affects of Asperger’s. If you haven’t grabbed your copies yet, now would be a very good time to do so.

Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge? is available on Amazon and AAPC Publishing.

Out of Mind – Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD) is available in Kindle edition and paperback.

Read more on my website: Depression and Stress.

Can Bipolar Disorder Be Treated?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


hope for those who suffer with bipolar disorderOur hearts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Robin Williams as they suffer such a terrible loss. It’s heart breaking that anyone, whether famous or not, suffers so much emotional and mental pain such as he did.

What especially concerns me right now is that some who suffer might to be frightened that they too could reach a point where they feel there is no hope. It is important for anyone, whether you have severe depression, bipolar disorder or a serious health condition such as Parkinson’s, to know that you can get treatment that will help you cope. Suicide is never the right option.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health “about 2.4% of people around the world have had a diagnosis of bipolar disorder at some point in their lifetime. The United States has the highest lifetime rate of bipolar disorder at 4.4% (more than 10 million people).”

The Mayo Clinic lists the following symptoms for bipolar disorder. The manic phase can include:

  • Euphoria
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Poor judgment
  • Rapid speech
  • Racing thoughts
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Agitation or irritation
  • Increased physical activity
  • Risky behavior
  • Spending sprees or unwise financial choices
  • Increased drive to perform or achieve goals
  • Increased sex drive
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Easily distracted
  • Careless or dangerous use of drugs or alcohol
  • Frequent absences from work or school
  • Delusions or a break from reality (psychosis)
  • Poor performance at work or school

Symptoms of the depressive phase of bipolar disorder can include:

  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Guilt
  • Sleep problems
  • Low appetite or increased appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of interest in activities once considered enjoyable
  • Problems concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Chronic pain without a known cause
  • Frequent absences from work or school
  • Poor performance at work or school

The sypmtoms in children are much harder to diagnose and needs immediate attention from a doctor trained to recognize both bipolar disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome. Why these two disorders in particular?

Did you know Asperger’s Syndrome often displays the same symptoms as bipolar disorder? Oftentimes people with Asperger’s are misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder, which can lead to the wrong treatment.

If you struggle with any of the above mental health issues or feel like life isn’t worth living, please don’t wait another moment to get help. Talk with someone you trust and consult a doctor trained in Bipolar Therapy and Asperger Syndrome. You deserve to receive an accurate diagnosis. If you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area please contact my office to set up an appointment.

For more information, visit Overcoming Depression.

Does Trying to Converse with your Aspie Partner Wear You Out?

Sunday, July 06, 2014


difficult talking with asperger partnerPleasant conversation is governed by unspoken rules. We listen carefully, ask relevant questions, make eye contact, show genuine interest in the one we’re conversing with and we don’t interrupt or go off on unrelated tangents. All of this social give-and-take is very difficult for someone with Asperger’s Syndrome. Their lack of social awareness and empathy allows them do insensitive things or blurt out inappropriate comments.

Because of not knowing or understanding the rules, our Aspies tend to either control or avoid the conversation or the situation. Because they don't really understand where their partner is coming from, they feel really anxious, and they conclude that the best solutions to their discomfort is to dominate the conversation or avoid the subject entirely.

Often those with Asperger’s find it impossible to say “No”. If they receive an invitation and they want to participate, they can easily say “Yes”. However, they resort to the avoidance mechanism rather than actually decline an invitation. It’s just too much to acknowledge the person and say "No". So they avoid the person that invites them until it all blows over.

Another social norm that Aspies struggle with is saying “Thank you”. You might ask him if he would like a cup of coffee. Rather than answering, the Aspie just talks on about something that interests him. When he gets the cup of coffee, he takes it and happily drinks the beverage, but acknowledging it is just too personal for him.

How can it be that these simple interchanges are so difficult for our Aspie loved ones? The simple empathic process that Neuro-typicals use daily to acknowledge the other person is lost on Aspies. Why is that?

More importantly, are these simple not-so-ordinary moments wearing you down?

Join us Saturday, July 19, 2014 at 1:00pm PST at our next Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup in Vancouver, Washington as we discuss the topic, Aspies Tend to Avoid or Control. We’ll discuss the reasons behind this behavior and the best ways to cope. Sign up to learn more about this group and find the details for the location. If unable to attend in person, you can also join our teleconference Meetup on the same topic on Friday, July 25, 2014 at 2:30pm PST and connect with our international group of supporters.

Notice: This is the last Meetup until October 2014 due to a very busy summer schedule. I will continue to check in daily with our Meetup postings, so let’s keep the spirit and conversation alive.

Read a free chapter of “Our of Mind – Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD)”. This book discusses the science behind Aspie behavior and how you can initiate the rules of engagement that help your Aspie give you the emotional support that you need.

How Does Meditation Affect the Brain?

Friday, July 04, 2014


meditations affect on the brainMeditation is a relaxation method that many use today for managing stress, however, new research is showing that there may be many more benefits of meditating. Recent studies are showing that it makes the brain stronger and allows a person to process thoughts and feelings. But what kind of meditation works best for this?

A recent study by a team of researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), the University of Oslo and the University of Sydney learned that the brain works differently during various forms of meditation. They divided meditation techniques into two groups, Concentrative (focusing on breathing or on specific thoughts while suppressing other thoughts) and Nondirective (effortlessly focusing on breathing or meditative sound, and allowing the mind to wander).

The results were unexpected…

One of the researchers, physician Jian Xu said, “I was surprised that the activity of the brain was greatest when the person’s thoughts wandered freely on their own, rather than when the brain worked to be more strongly focused. When the subjects stopped doing a specific task and were not really doing anything special, there was an increase in activity in the area of the brain where we process thoughts and feelings. It is described as a kind of resting network. And it was this area that was most active during nondirective meditation.

Another researcher, Svend Davanger, a neuroscientist at the University of Oslo, commented, “The study indicates that nondirective meditation allows for more room to process memories and emotions than during concentrated meditation.”

Previous studies conducted by researchers at UCLA showed that years of meditating thickens the brain in a healthy way and strengthens the connections between brain cells. A more recent study found that the more years a person meditates the brain’s cortex "folds"(gyrification), which may allow the brain to process information faster.

There are so many forms of meditation practiced by millions of people. Would you like to explore the benefits? A mental health professional can assist you or see if you would also benefit from cognitive-behavioral therapy. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office to schedule an appointment.



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