image description

Archive for the ‘Mindfulness’ Category

Why does the Mind/Body connection really matter?

February 16th, 2016 by turnthepage

Balance

By Terry Richardson, MSW LCSW

Mental Health and Relationship Counselor

PinnacleCounselingNWA.com

Feel Better Live Better- Why does the Mind/Body connection really matter?

 

Worried about being worried sick? Is laughter really the best medicine? Your body may know you’re depressed before you do and doing its best to get your attention. There is growing evidence, supported by research, indicating your mental state really influences your body’s ability to protect and heal itself! In fact, your state of mind could be the best tool you have when defending yourself against illness and maximizing treatment of cancer, heart disease, digestive disorders, diabetes and aging. All of your natural defenses are compromised in response to stress (primarily mental).

Most people have at least heard the term “psychosomatic” which quite literally means “mind/body”. Unfortunately, this term was and is commonly misused when someone is thought to have imagined an illness and can then produce symptoms. In confusion, we generally label and dismiss what could be more accurately described as “hypochondria” and have overlooked the power of the psychosomatic process itself. As Woody Allen said “I’m not a hypochondriac, I’m an alarmist”. Ironically, even this rather negative misunderstanding of psychosomatic also confirms the acceptance of the ability of one’s mind to influence a physical condition. Now, scientific research is validating that possibility: we could use the power of the mind (i.e., thinking) to create optimal conditions for becoming and remaining well.

What makes the mind/body perspective worth reconsidering at this juncture? It is the transition which has been occurring, from the realm of “fuzzy logic”, “magical beliefs” and “spiritual eccentricity”, to the realm of solid measurable data. Consider the placebo and nocebo effect. What are the “placebo effect” and the “nocebo effect”? In the simplest terms, it’s the “sugar pill” effect. It’s the uncanny result that is obtained from a substance, or sometimes a behavior, when none of the “treatment” properties are present to create the desired change, and yet, benefit is derived. The nocebo effect accounts for adopting the “belief” that a substance (or change) won’t work, and it doesn’t! The placebo/nocebo effects are so powerful in fact, that all research conducted must allow for the possibility of these effects in their research data. If science is nothing else, it is the domain of measurability, and its primary mantra is “if it cannot be measured, we cannot know it exists”, therefore, thoughts, emotions, feelings, mind and spirit had been relegated into the arena of unscientific observations. Today however, we live in a world of electron microscopes, functional magnetic resonance imaging, and the previously immeasurable can now be measured, observed and replicated.

Mind/Body interaction had been observed and documented by Hans Selye in his work on stress as early as 1946 and the “General Adaptation Syndrome” became popularly known as the Fight-Flight- Freeze response. Of special note regarding mind/body relevance, the stress experience creating the cascade of measurable physiological responses could be triggered consistently, regardless of the threat being real, imagined or perceived (through a mental interpretation) of danger. The body reacts to stimulus by activating the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis. Researchers believe that prolonged exposure to stress (real or imagined) results in suppression of the immune system, wear and tear of several body systems, placing the individual at higher risk of dis-ease. This was the advent of the earliest biofeedback strategies.

Pioneers in the field of mind/body research have expanded on Selye’s work. Researchers and practitioners have emerged from a broad array of disciplines, including cellular biology, neuroimmunology, psychotherapy and spirituality, representing the specific focus of their disciplines, be it mind or body. The unifying premise of these disciplines is an acknowledgement of the fallacy or artificial separation of mind/body interaction.

These individuals have united under a variety of identifying umbrella labels usually incorporating the terms “Holistic or Wholistic”, “Mind/Body” or “Complementary Alternative” Medicine.

So, with an acceptance of the inter-relatedness of the mind/body concept and the availability of sophisticated equipment, it has become possible to identify and measure methods to enhance mind/body interaction. The implications for psychotherapy are obvious and substantiate the value of “talk therapy” as a viable treatment alternative for mental and physical health. The mind/body perspective includes approaches of prevention that are proactive, health maintaining, healing, and driven by the individual. Today, rather than viewing the dis-ease “treatment” as a response, directed toward a passive recipient, we can engage the whole person on a mind/body journey toward wellness. Be well!

Centering Prayer – Christian Mediation

January 1st, 2015 by Pinnacle Counseling

The health benefits of meditation have been well documented. This article, Meditation: A simple, fast way to reduce stress, posted on the Mayo Clinic’s website, recommends mediation as an effective way to reduce stress and anxiety. We teach meditative practices to many of our clients in an effort to help them find greater wholeness, positive energy, integration, balance, and creativity in in their lives.

An unfortunate misconception prevents many individuals from realizing the benefits of meditative practices. Many people believe that meditation is somehow contrary to the Christian faith tradition. This is simply not true. In fact, Christian meditation, sometimes called centering prayer or contemplative prayer, has long and well-documented history.

The video below offers a simple introduction to this type of prayer from the perspective of Thomas Keating, OCSO.

 

Communication While in Conflict

January 1st, 2015 by Pinnacle Counseling

Couple being mad at each other

When in the midst of conflict with a friend, family member, or loved one, inability to communicate can cause frustration, anxiety and even depression for everyone involved. Communication is essential to effectively resolving relational conflict, but how can one make sure good communication happens? Here are some questions that might help you as you attempt to communicate during conflict:

1. Are you prepared?
Chances are, during a conflict, you have some words that you want to say to the other person involved. However, in the heat of the moment, you may say things you don’t actually mean and cause more damage to the relationship. Before confronting the individual about an issue, spend time preparing what you might want to say. You may even want to write an outline, if the conflict is complicated and emotionally charged.

2. Is this the right time?
Part of the preparation process involves choosing a good time and place to communicate about the conflict. If your spouse is having a busy day at work or at home, don’t confront them as they are going into a meeting or cleaning up a massive mess made by the kids at home. If possible, agree upon a particular time or place to talk about the issue, when other tasks can be laid aside.

3. Are you focused?
As much as possible, remove all distractions that could hinder effective communication. Turn off the TV, shut the door, put your phone on silent, and focus solely on the person with whom you want to communicate. This will show that you are invested in finding a solution.

4. What is your body language saying?
Your body posture says a lot about your attitude during communication. If you want someone to know that you are listening, look at them while they’re talking, and not somewhere else. Don’t hover over the person angrily, or walk away as they are talking. Try your best to sit calmly and make eye-to-eye contact.

5. Are you using “I” statements?
Instead of saying “You make me feel ________,” say, “When you do this, I feel ________.” The latter shows that you are taking responsibility for your feelings, while still acknowledging the behavior of the other person

6. Are you making global accusations?
When trying to prove a point, it’s easy to say things like “You always ignore me!” or “You are just an irresponsible person!” Work to make more fair evaluations of the individual. You might say, “When you do _____, I feel like you are ignoring me,” or “There are times that you behave irresponsibly.” These types of statements indicate that, while at times the person may behave in ways that are hurtful, there are also times when they do not.

7. Are you showing appreciation?
Lastly, thank the listener for agreeing to speak with you about the conflict, and thank them for listening to you as you communicate. A little appreciation can go a long way in encouraging effective communication!

Kalli Hendren

Stress and the Brain

January 1st, 2015 by Pinnacle Counseling

Stressful events such as the death of a loved one, divorce, loss of job or home, or serious/chronic illness can actually affect the grey matter in the prefrontal cortex of the brain.  This region of the brain is responsible for self-control, emotions and physiological functions such as proper glucose and insulin levels.  Stressors can affect our mood centers and skew our ability to regulate pleasure and reward.  Prolonged exposure to stress can actually shrink the brain.  Brain volumes in the mood centers are linked to depression and anxiety.  People who have brain shrinkage seem to be more vulnerable when faced with a life trauma or sudden adverse event as the effects are magnified and their ability to cope is compromised.

Brain-enhancing activities to combat stress and make our brains more resilient to stress are recommended to diffuse some of the potentially harmful effects stress can have on the brain.  Some valuable stress relievers include exercise, meditation, taking a daily dose of DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid-an Omega 3 fatty acid) and maintaining strong emotional relationships.

The Impact of Bullying

January 1st, 2015 by Pinnacle Counseling

Female Student Being Bullied By Classmates

 

Bullying is not only in the school system. It lives on long past the days of homeroom classes and lunch with friends. It lives on in the memory and creates an impact on your self-esteem, self-worth, and how you interact with those around you. Undoubtedly, bullying in some shape or form affects everyone on a variety of levels, whether the victim, perpetrator, or bystander. Employees at Disneyland, known as ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’, shared a video titled “It Gets Better”, about personal stories of bullying and feelings of being alone that were caused by bullying. The video is a tribute to the Trevor project (http://www.thetrevorproject.org/), a national anti-bullying campaign for LGBTQ youth, going strong since its founding in 1998. The strong message of hope after there seemed to be nothing but darkness and depression shines through in the people who bring joy on the job every single day. Each and every person carries their story and truth and no matter the struggle…

 

“No life is a one person show. You need to surround yourself with the people who love you for who you are and encourage you to share with the world the unique gifts that you have to offer.”

 

Next time you are feeling alone, reach out and always remember that it gets better.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCSUfFStTQE

 

Erika McCaghren

It’s a beautiful morning somewhere

January 1st, 2015 by Pinnacle Counseling

Running on my lunch break yesterday, I passed a young man walking in the opposite direction. His reply to my smile of greeting was sincere. A statement of fact. An honest wish. “Good morning,” he said. Did he misspeak? It was nearly 1:00 PM. Is my early afternoon his morning? Late shift worker or late night lurker?

My thoughts drifted as I ran.

He was right. He is right.

It is a good morning. Somewhere. In fact, somewhere the sun is rising over misty mountains, filling the valley below with light and warmth and promise. Somewhere the sun is rising. For someone the sun rises today to bring the most important day of his life. Someone today is going to make a decision. A life changing decision. Big or small, things are going to happen today. Somebody somewhere is going to stop hurting someone they love. For good. Someone somewhere else is going to finally clean out that closet. Maybe keep it clean. Someone is going to decide to go back to school. Someone is going to pay off a loan.

Somewhere the sun is rising. That means that life is happening.

Good morning.

Relationships are like a Garden (part 1)

January 1st, 2015 by Pinnacle Counseling

iStock_000001519833Medium

“Without hard work, nothing grows but weeds”. Quote by Gordon Hinckley
Relationships are like a garden. They need careful tending or they don’t produce the harvest. As a relationship and mental health counselor, it’s been my privilege to walk the most intimate journey of people’s lives with them. Through my learning from others, my study and education along with my personal growth through 37 years of marriage, there are 6 skills I’ve found in common with healthy relationships. In healthy relationships it’s important to:

Build confidence in your partner;
Couples that seem to grow strong find themselves purposely lifting up their partner in private and public. They say sincere compliments and act proud to be their friend. Good practice: try several times a day to surprise your spouse with a special act or word or gesture of appreciation. Begin sentences with I’m thankful for..; I appreciate it that..; I’m excited about…; I was impressed that…; The garden analogy may be the trellis. Without a trellis many plants fall over on themselves and eventually break or stop giving.

Be credible;
Secrets or lies by omission are culprits of healthy relationships. In this era of technology, it’s easy to leave spouses out of the loop and create insecurity. Healthy relationships are open about their electronics, phones, and schedules. Good practice: Ask your spouse what one or two gestures would build trust and credibility. Be proactive about honoring their requests. Garden analogy: It’s more than frustrating to think you are planting corn and instead have melons.

Please check back next week to read part two of our three part series on more ways to “grow” your relationships.
Sharon Nelson, LCSW

Dealing with Change

January 1st, 2015 by Pinnacle Counseling

Changes occur all day long.  An appointment gets cancelled, you encounter a detour on the way home, you were anticipating roast beef for dinner and you got chicken.  It’s what life is and while you might get a bit frustrated, you learn to roll with it.  But what about the big changes?  Job transfers, marriage, divorce, children, medical changes and the death of someone you love.  How do you learn to adapt with the changes that will affect the rest of your life?

Whether you’re leaving the community that you’ve built strong relations with or having to bury a loved one, you will feel anger because it wasn’t your choice for this to happen to you.  Healthy coping skills result in better emotional stability.  Poor coping skills result in anger and resentment.

First, it is helpful to recognize that you are in the midst of change and that change is part of you.  Instead of thinking about all the negative issues, try making a list of all the positive benefits of this change.  Visualize all the possibilities and write them down.  Make up a “to do” list if there are things you need to accomplish before the change happens.  Call a friend and discuss your fears and ask for their advice.  If you feel that you can’t get past your fear, anger and resentment you may need to talk to a professional.  In talking with a therapist you will get an unbiased opinion and they will be able to give you some insight and the coping tools so that you can move on and embrace your changes.

“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” ~ Jim Rohn

Have the Courage to be Your True Self

January 1st, 2015 by Pinnacle Counseling

loveyourself_post 3-20-14

“Loving ourselves through the process of owning our own story is the bravest thing we will ever do.”

-Brene Brown

Vulnerability is scary.  It is so often avoided.  It means to show the parts of ourselves that we are afraid aren’t “good enough”.  But you know what?  Everyone has the same fear of not being good enough.  When we are held hostage by that fear, we miss out on our true happiness.  You live a life that you think others want you to live.

No one is perfect.  Perfectionism is a cruel joke.  Perfectionism makes us wake up every day feeling like we failed yesterday.  There is no joy in that life.  Dare to practice loving yourself for who you really are.

For more on this, watch this clip of Dr. Brene Brown on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YeulUgWNp8

or the full  TED talk:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCvmsMzlF7o

Rachael Nachtigal, LPC

Top Five Regrets of the Dying

January 1st, 2015 by Pinnacle Counseling

Bronnie Ware, a palliative nurse who specializes in care are counsel for the dying, identified the following five regrets as those most commonly expressed by the terminally ill in their last twelve weeks of life. Her findings, based on interviews, were published in a book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying – A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing. The top five regrets expressed by her patients are a little surprising:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Each of the above statements is worthy of exploration and reflection. I’ll address each one in a future post. As the posts are published, the hyperlinks below will become active. I’ll reframe the statements, though, to state them positively. The top five joys of the living:

1. Courage to be True

2. Work

3. Courage to Feel

4. Friends

5. Happiness

  • Posted in Mindfulness
  • Comments Off on Top Five Regrets of the Dying