In my practice, I use a biofeedback device that helps patients learn to regulate heart rate and breath so as to achieve what the HeartMath institute calls "Coherence". Research has shown that this meditation practice helps increase calmness in the body, changes respiratory gas exchange and can even improve pain management. For more information on the research, and a brief introduction to the practice, take a look at this ITunes University video, Psychiatry Grand Rounds, 9.24.2014 titled Heart Rhythm Meditation as Medicine for Patients and Providers. Episode 30.
Are you feeling sad, irritable, or extra tired right now? Have you noticed that you feel this way every time Fall rolls around and the leaves start to drift onto the lawn and days start to get shorter? You may have Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. Remember that all psychological conditions occur on a continuum and are changeable. You may have just a little bit of feeling down, or you may find it impossible to get out of bed! However it hits you, if it does, there are some things you can do to make yourself feel better.
First of all, educate yourself about SAD. It's a real condition, caused by an impact on our circadian rhythms due to the change in sunlight (something similar can occur for shift workers who are always awake during the dark and sleeping during the daylight hours). We are animals, naturally attuned to the seasons that we live in. There's nothing surprising about having some feelings of depression in the Fall. Our bodies are gearing down for the Winter, expecting to spend a lot of time sleeping and conserving energy. Except we aren't cave-men and cave-women any more and we still have to get up and go about our lives! (Thanks, lightbulbs!)
Secondly, keep moving! Schedule exercise into your day and get support for doing it. Get a buddy who will help encourage you to do it. Reward yourself. Research has proven that exercise is right up there with medication in terms of helping depression. It doesn't have to be a marathon. A half hour walk will do it. So, walk to the coffee shop and reward yourself with a nice cup of coffee (caffeine helps too).
Third, get a little extra sunshine. There are two really good tools for this. One is a light box that you look directly into for about 15 minutes a day. Another is a sunlight simulation alarm that is creates an artificial sunrise in your bedroom when it is time to wake up. It's particularly helpful for people who have to get up before the natural light comes in the window. I have both of these and they are worth the money! Or, maybe a trip to a tropical island?
Fourth, go see a therapist. Of course you knew that was coming! (smile)
Finally, get medication if you need it. You can take it for a short period of time to get through the season change. Other great options are homeopathy (my favorite) or naturopathic solutions.
Hang On. Everything changes. Enjoy what you can out of this time of year: the beautiful colors, the crisp leaves underfoot, breaking out those warm sweaters and boots. And enjoy those Saturday mornings when you can snuggle in your warm bed a little longer.
(photo by Alycia Hendrickson)
Here's a very short, cute and informative video that explains how to meditate. Meditation is very effective for calming anger, anxiety and increasing focus, for folks who have problems with distraction or attention. It's also important to note that it only takes 5 or 10 minutes a day to make a difference! The only thing I would disagree with in this video is that I don't think you have to be sitting a certain way. You can do little meditations any time you have 5 minutes or even 1 minute! Take a look.
In our American society right now, we are chasing happiness. Other cultures think we are ridiculous! Why in the world would be expect to be happy so much of the time?!
Instead of pursing chronic happiness, I think we are better served by noticing how often we are content.
The dictionary describes the word content as "
Just in time for Valentine's Day (or Single Awareness Day, depending on your point of view) here is a link to a great Ted Talk by Esther Perel on desire in long-term relationships.
You may be surprised by what she says. This talk is packed with interesting information and may help you take another look at some of the relationships in your life! http://video.ted.com/talk/podcast/2013S/None/EstherPerel_2013S-480p.mp4
Emotional regulation is the solution to many of life's problems...even for the Seahawks. When you are losing, it can be easy to get caught up in the downward spiral of negative emotions, and that can effect your performance. This is true of football, but it's also true for all the rest of us too. When we are feeling sad or angry or ashamed, it is easy to let those emotions take us over and expand into other parts of our lives, usually causing more problems! However, if we can be MINDFUL for a moment, pause, take a few breaths and really look at our situation in a non-judgmental way, we can usually find a way out of the negative spiral. That's exactly what the Seahawks do! They train with a sports psychologist, Michael Gervais, who teaches many of the same techniques (cognitive behavioral training, visualizing, breathing, mindfulness) that we use in counseling sessions.
Here's an excerpt from the article:
"Gervais uses tactical breathing, visualization, and mental-imaging techniques to cultivate “full presence and conviction in the moment.”
"Gervais teaches players meditation, which he calls tactical breathing, as well as a broad range of visualization and mental-imaging techniques. He also helps them balance the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of sports and make mindfulness an integral part of their daily lives. While other sports psychologists focus on training players pre-performance rituals, Gervais uses a sophisticated blend of mindfulness and cognitive behavioral training to cultivate what he describes as “full presence and conviction in the moment.”
Click HERE for the online article and video clip.
Do you have a child with learning or attention issues? Here is a great resource for advice and information from experts!
Take a look: www.Understood.org.
We all experience stress.
There's a reason for that: it's good for us. At least, it is good for us sometimes and to a certain degree.
This article does an excellent job of explaining how some stress is actually healthy for us and also how to manage our reactions to stress so that it stays in the "healthy zone" and doesn't turn into anxiety or depression.
Click here for the article from Forbes: How Successful People Stay Calm.
Here is a good article from Scientific America that describes research about mindfulness and how helpful it is for depression.
Mindfulness is the practice of breathing and paying attention to what is happening right now, as opposed to worrying about the future or the past! If you have come to my office, we've probably done a little mindfulness practice together. Take a look at this article; I think you will enjoy it.
Cathy Jenner, Mental Health Therapist and Learning Specialist serving North Bend, Snoqualmie, Fall City, Carnation and other East Side Communities