Category Archives: Uncategorized

Connect with Yourself in Order to Connect with Others

May Blog Num 2                                      It’s probably no surprise to anyone when science shows us that having friends increases wellness and quality of life. However, in an increasingly complex and busy life, it can be hard to make meaningful connections and lasting friendships. While people may be quick to offer advice: “just get out there and talk to people!” “Join a group!” “Try speed dating!”, anyone who struggles to make friends knows that it’s not quite that simple. If this is you, may we suggest the following starting points instead:

Start by knowing yourself. Oftentimes, our struggle to make friends starts with a lack of confidence and low self-esteem, two prerequisites to connecting with others. If you don’t feel like “getting out there” right away, don’t force yourself. Instead, focus on changing your internal view of yourself. Avoid negative self-talk and focus on your positive qualities. Regular moderate exercise can also help build your self-esteem.

Find your passions. Just ‘talking to people’ doesn’t work because it presumes people are the prize to be won. The real prize is the connection you feel when sharing a passion or interest. Taking a class or volunteering for a cause are excellent opportunities to explore your interests. Do so with gusto and rewards will follow.

Invite people into your life: As you develop a strong self-image and interests in your world, you will gradually start to feel ready to connect and reach out. It’s at this point when getting out there, joining a group, or dating feel more natural and doable.

Above all, remember this is a process that takes time. Give yourself the breathing room and flexibility to evolve as you do. If you find that your feelings need more immediate attention  Beck Psychotherapy  offers  a screening at  http://www.beckpsychotherapy.com/Screenings.html .

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Mindfulness – A Tune-up for Your Mind and Body

Experts recommend mindfulness for everything from  maximizing workouts to managing anxiety. But, you may wonder, what exactly  is mindfulness and how does one practice it?

Like a car that needs regular maintenance to run well, the mind works better with regular mindfulness maintenance. The vast majority of us hurdle through our days on cruise control, constantly bombarded by stressful thoughts and innumerable distractions. By taking just a few minutes each day in mindfulness, we can reset the mind’s electrical circuits, gain insight into why our engines are sputtering, and apply small mental tune-ups that increase health and happiness.

The practice of mindfulness involves maintaining a moment-to-moment awareness of your thoughts, feelings and physical experiences. It can be done lying down, seated or even moving. For example, when walking mindfully, you focus on the feeling of your feet  touching the ground, the air on your face, the sights  around  you, and the sounds you hear. You notice thoughts that come and let them pass. You notice the emotions that arise, and let them pass.

Mindfulness can be a good way for someone to begin exploration of meditation, as it does not require that you completely “clear” the mind. Instead, you focus more carefully on whatever you are doing,  and that focus can take you out of feelings of anxiety and put you in a calmer state. With long-term practice, you can learn to dis-identify with your thoughts and worries and find a more consistent sense of peace.

If your negative feelings seem beyond what mindfulness has to offer,  Beck Psychotherapy  offers a screening  at  http://screening.mentalhealthscreening.org/beckpsych.

Four Simple Ways to Reduce Stress

Whether from work, parenting or other responsibilities, stress will always be a part of our lives. While stress is not universally bad, research shows that too much stress over time can harm our immune systems, raise blood pressure, increase the risk of heart disease, increase vulnerability to anxiety and depression, and hasten the aging process.

It’s important to learn ways to cope with stress. The following are four simple techniques you can employ to reduce the negative impact of stress, and increase your health and enjoyment of life.

Physical activity
Physical activity can restore your body and mind to a calmer, more relaxed state. Try to incorporate some physical activity into your daily routine on a regular basis. Just five minutes of brisk walking at a decent pace releases endorphins into your body, and neurotransmitters release chemicals into your brain that tell your body that things are good. Regular physical activity will also improve the quality of your sleep.

Relaxation Techniques
Each day, try to relax with a stress reduction technique. For example, find a quiet space, close your eyes, focus your breathing and transport yourself to your happy place for a few minutes. Research shows your body actually produces less of the stress hormone cortisol when engaged in meditation. There are many relaxation techniques to reduce stress so try a few and see what works best for you.

Healthy Eating
Choosing healthy foods when you’re stressed can have a positive impact on your mood, helping to relieve tension, stabilize blood sugar, and send your stress packing. Some of the best foods to eat for stress include dark leafy greens, turkey breast, wild-caught Alaskan salmon, fermented foods, and blueberries, and carrots.

A Good Night’s Sleep
A regular sleeping pattern is vital for managing stress. Experts tell us that we should be getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Rather than relying on medication, aim to maximize your relaxation before going to sleep.  Make sure that your bedroom is a tranquil oasis with no reminders of the things that cause you stress.  Avoid caffeine during the evening, as well as excessive alcohol if you know that this leads to disturbed sleep. Stop doing any mentally demanding work for as long as possible before going to bed so that you give your brain time to calm down. Going to bed at roughly the same time each day gives your mind and body the opportunity to get used to a predictable bedtime routine.

A journey to better overall health starts with less stress and improving your mental state. Find a confidential online assessment at http://www.BeckPsychotherapy.com to evaluate your mental health.

Bipolar Disorder

College can a time of exciting changes and new experiences. It’s also a time when those at risk are likely to experience a first episode of bipolar disorder.
This relatively common mental disorder is associated with severe mood swings, difficulty sleeping and loss of touch with reality. But, because episodes are not predictable and there are many symptoms that are connected to bipolar disorder, it can be challenging to recognize bipolar disorder in oneself and others. Accurate diagnosis is an important step to finding the right treatment.
While the cause of bipolar disorder is not fully understood, stress, substance abuse, biological conditions and genetics may all play a role in its development.
The experience of bipolar disorder can be lonely and frightening, but mental disorders in college students are not as uncommon as you might think. Studies show that one in three college students report having prolonged experiences of depression, and one in four students have suicidal thoughts or feelings.
Though only about half of those with bipolar disorder receive treatment for their condition, help and effective treatment is available. So, this March 30, World Bipolar Day, why not take a free, brief online screening to learn if symptoms you or someone you care about may be consistent with bipolar disorder and find some resources where you may be able to get treatment. Beck Psychotherapy offers the screenings at http://www.BeckPsychotherapy.com.

It’s 3 a.m. and You’re Wide Awake. Is it Insomnia or Something Else?

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Getting enough sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Yet, experts estimate as many as 68 percent of adults experience insomnia, which means they either can’t get to sleep, can’t stay asleep, or the quality of their sleep is poor.

Excess stress and lack of exercise are two common contributors to insomnia, so finding effective methods to manage stress and get more exercise are often key to reducing insomnia. Other tips to help you get a better night’s sleep include:

1. Go to bed at a consistent time every night, even on weekends, and avoid day-time naps.
2. Practice simple relaxation-inducing stretches shortly before bedtime.
3. Take a hot bath or shower 30 minutes before bed.
1. Practice prayer or meditation.
2. Eat foods that have a calming and cooling effect, such as chamomile tea, peppermint, pears, and watermelon.
3. Check with your doctor to make sure you are getting enough vitamins D, B12 and iron. Insufficient amounts of these nutrients are associated with poor sleep.

For convenience, many people turn to sleep medications. But sleeping pills can have side effects that may be just as bad as insomnia. Therefore, over the long term you may find it much more effective to change your lifestyle habits than to turn to medications.

If you are suffering from insomnia and think it may be related to a common and treatable mental health disorder such as depression or generalized anxiety disorder, you can take a free and anonymous mental health self-assessment at http://www.BeckPsychotherapy.com.

Be Kind — It’s Good for You!

February 17 is Random Act of Kindness Day. What does being kind mean to you? Perhaps it is helping a stranger carry a heavy bag. Or, maybe you define it as making sure you call family members who want to hear from you. No matter what act of kindness you perform, you’ll be making someone feel good and doing something good for yourself, too.

Studies show that the simple act of showing another person that you care about them makes you feel emotional warmth, which releases oxytocin, the body’s “feel good chemical.” Research has also shown that performing acts of kindness can lower your blood pressure and be good for your heart.

Some days, performing a kind act can seem like a monumental challenge. If you are feeling so emotionally taxed that you can’t be kind to anyone, be kind to yourself by checking in on your mental health. Beck Psychotherapy free and anonymous mental health screenings at http://www.BeckPsychotherapy.com. Take one today.

Are My Eating Habits Healthy?

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Managing work, family and other obligations can make maintaining a healthy weight particularly challenging. Sometimes, the effort to lose weight, maintain weight, or meet some standard of ideal weight can lead to eating disorders.
The most common eating disorders are the following:
• Anorexia nervosa, characterized by someone seeing themselves as overweight, even when they are dangerously underweight. People with anorexia nervosa typically weigh themselves often, severely restrict the amount of food they eat, and eat very small quantities of only certain foods. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
• Bulimia nervosa is characterized by someone who, while often maintaining relatively normal weight, practices ‘binging and purging’, where they frequently eat unusually large amounts of food followed by forced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics, fasting, excessive exercise, or a combination of these behaviors.
• Binge-eating disorder occurs when a person goes through periods of binge-eating but does not purge afterwards.
A commonly held view is that eating disorders are a lifestyle choice. They are actually serious mental illnesses that can seriously compromise a person’s health, including lowering the heart rate, causing muscle weakness, loss of bone density, and – too often- death.
While untreated eating disorders can be tragic, the good news is that they are treatable. If you or someone you know is preoccupied with food and weight, you may have the symptoms of an eating disorder. Take a free and anonymous self-assessment at http://www.BeckPsychotherapy.com and find local resources. February is Eating Disorders Awareness Month, so share the news about this free resource with friends and loved ones.