Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Practice Yoga To Attain Better Mental Health

Good Morning,

Today we want to share an article with you from urbanbalance.com on how practicing yoga can help you achieve not only better physical health, but mental health too! Take a look at the article below and try out some yoga if you haven't already! What would it hurt?

Practice Yoga To Attain Better Mental Health
April 16, 2015 by Meaghan Diaz

It is well-known that yoga is beneficial for your physical health, but how can it benefit your mental health? Urban Balance therapist and Certified Yoga Teacher, Alyssa Yeo, has answered questions about yoga to highlight both the short-term and long-term benefits of yoga that can significantly improve your quality of life.

How can yoga help improve a person’s mental health in day-to-day tasks?

Yoga provides individuals with the opportunity to concentrate on their body and mind through their breath, which can help alleviate tension and stress. The different poses and breathing exercises serve as a tool to regulate emotions and calm the mind, which can strengthen your emotional state throughout the day. Additionally, the practice helps you learn to balance your highs and lows so you are better able to cope with situations as they arise. Yoga can also help you learn how to be more patient and compassionate toward yourself – something that we can all benefit from. Whether you are working on mastering a specific pose, or trying to be more mindful in your practice, yoga helps cultivate self-acceptance and confidence. If you apply that same patience and compassion in other tasks throughout your day you may be better equipped to challenge negative thoughts and feelings.

What are the long-term benefits of yoga on mental health?

Put simply, the long-term benefit of yoga is a higher quality of life. The many tools of yoga, including physical postures, yogic breathing, use of meditation, mantras, and affirmations, help balance the emotional and physical body. This provides individuals with greater awareness so they can better cope with difficult situations and feel more connected to themselves and their surroundings. According to some studies, yoga has also been proven effective at improving your memory and concentration. Yoga encourages participants to find a point of focus and practice concentration, which can help you better recall information and stay attuned to the task at hand.

Can yoga be used to help treat or alleviate symptoms of certain mental health conditions?

While yoga is not used as a primary treatment for mental health disorders, it can help alleviate negative symptoms. Studies have shown that individuals who practice yoga regularly report improvements in perceived stress, depression, anxiety, energy, fatigue, and overall well-being [1]. Yoga has also been shown to help modulate stress response by reducing perceived stress and anxiety [1]. In this respect, yoga can be beneficial alongside other self-soothing techniques, such as meditation and relaxation, to help lower blood pressure and heart rate. Consequently, individuals are better able to cope with feelings of anxiety that manifest in anxiety and mood-related disorders. Additionally, studies show that yogis have better overall sleep quality (especially for those who practice more restorative forms of yoga). Like other forms of exercise, yoga can provide a relief from the stress of everyday life, and because some poses calm the central nervous system, your body can better relax into a good night’s sleep.

How soon can a person notice an improvement in his or her mental health from practicing yoga?

It varies from person to person, but I would say that some people see an improvement almost immediately. The very first time I ever tried yoga, I noticed a difference in my own mood and sleep which is one of the reasons I got hooked. Taking time to dedicate to yourself is beneficial itself, so once you add in some stretching, sweating, and mindfulness – it’s a recipe for success.

How often do you recommend practicing yoga?

As often as you can! The more you practice, the more your body will crave that type of stretching and movement. But you don’t have to practice every day to benefit from it. Just five minutes of sun salutations or stretching in the morning can help get your energy flowing and your blood pumping. The mindfulness/meditation component of yoga is also important to integrate into your everyday if possible. Taking a few minutes to sit in silence and tune into your breath is a simple way to refocus your mind and let go of unhelpful thoughts.

Yoga is a practice of personal growth and self-discovery, and also serves as a lesson in how to be more kind, compassionate, and accepting of one’s self. The integration of the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects make yoga applicable and beneficial to everyone, from all walks of life.

[1] http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/yoga-for-anxiety-and-depression

Monday, May 18, 2015

What to Do When Your Anxiety Won’t Go Away

Good morning,

Today we want to share an article with you from Psychologytoday.com on things to help deal with reoccurring anxiety. Most people have experienced some form of anxiety in their lives, whether situational or not. Take a look below and see if any of these things can help you cope with your anxiety attacks.

What to Do When Your Anxiety Won’t Go Away
How to work your psychological game on the daily. Post published by Linda Esposito LCSW 
on May 18, 2015 in From Anxiety to Zen

From time to time I get email asking for advice on how to make anxiety go away. For some reason I’m reminded of a rude houseguest, or a family member that lingers and looms. Perhaps the connection isn’t completely off base.

For the most part, anxiety is a condition that comes and goes. But for some, anxiety never goes away completely. That’s the bad news. The good news is you can manage the symptoms so they don’t manage you. If it's helpful, consider your anxiety as a chronic condition that needs constant monitoring. Miss a day of treatment and you may throw your system off. Having a plan means your daily To-do list includes anti-anxiety strategies.

Because anxiety can occur at three levels: brain, behavior and subjective experience, it makes sense to tackle numerous fronts.

Here are 9 things you can do on any given day to get on the right side of calm.

I. Outsmart Your Brooding Ways

1. Fire the “What-ifs Committee” inside your brain. One of the most difficult tasks is talking yourself out of the foreboding and menacing danger which (you think) threatens you. In reality, your fear is not menacing, and may not even exist. Anxiety is not actually fear, because fear is based on something right in front of you, a real and objective danger. Becoming aware of defaulting to worst-case scenarios will help you avoid being trapped in an endless loop of what-ifs.

2. Control your inner dialogue. Check your vocabulary for unhealthy words such as hate, stupid, always, never, ugly, unlovable, defective, and broken. Replace black-or-white language with more neutral terms.

3. Fall in love with the Cognitive-Behavioral Triangle. Anxious people often feel “attacked” by their feelings. In reality, feelings come after a thought. Being aware of your thought process is crucial, especially because some thoughts are core beliefs, or internalized scripts that are ingrained and automatic. If you struggle with overreacting in the heat of the moment, it’s likely because unhealthy feelings lead to the same ol’ unhealthy behaviors. Remember the following diagram:

Thoughts —> Feelings —> Behaviors

II. Behavioral Strategies

1. Meditate to promote mindfulness. Your mind simply cannot become calm, confident and clear, if you do not pay attention to paying attention:

You can’t stop boredom from bothering you if you don’t realize you’re checking out in the first place
You can’t overcome avoidance if you don’t recognize you’re dreading reality this very moment
You can’t practice steps to feel calm if you don’t listen to your body’s stress signals
This short video offers beginner tips on meditation. (link is external)

2. Be where you are. One of my favorite anxiety hacks is giving 100% of my attention to the task at hand. For example, if I’m helping my son with his homework, I put everything else aside and focus my attention on quizzing him on vocabulary words. I don’t try and cook dinner or check email during this time because multi-tasking is bad for the brain. According to a recent time.com (link is external) article:

“Every time you switch your focus from one thing to another, there’s something called a switch-cost,” says Dr. Earl Miller, a professor of neuroscience at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Your brain stumbles a bit, and it requires time to get back to where it was before it was distracted.

One recent study found it can take your brain 15 to 25 minutes to get back to where it was after stopping to check an email.”

3. Work faster. I know, this seems downright counterintuitive to all the anxiety advice about slowing down and paying attention. But working more quickly and efficiently saves time because trusting your skills and talents means you don't get sucked into the perfectionist trap.

III. Healthy Lifestyle Habits

1. Breathe. Slow and deep breathing is the cornerstone of calm. Start by breathing in and out slowly. After a few seconds practice the 4-4-4: Inhale for a count of four, hold for a count of four, then exhale for a count of four. Let the breath flow in and out effortlessly. Repeat four times.

2. Drink more water. Dehydration may affect anxiety in a variety of ways. One sign is that your body starts to function improperly: Hormone distribution is impacted because of poor blood flow, muscles may tense up, and your brain may weaken or change as a result of water loss.

3. Make sleep a priority. Our culture celebrates those who work hard and play hard, but there’s a price. If you’re irritable, sluggish and drained, chances are you’re sleep deprived.

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF), along with a multi-disciplinary expert panel, issued its new recommendations for appropriate sleep duration. Here are the adult recommendations:                                              
Younger adults (18-25): 7-9 hours
Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours
Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours

In short, seeing your own worry list as a problem to be solved each and every day means minimizing unnecessary anxiety. Best of all, you’re harnessing your excess energy to get things done.

Copyright 2015 Linda Esposito, LCSW

To view the original article, click here.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Humans and our need to connect

Good afternoon,

Today we want to share with you a very interesting article from the Huffington Post earlier this year. The article talks about drug addicts and the possible cause of addiction, but it brings up many other valid points that go beyond just addicts, and more about humans as a whole.

"This isn't only relevant to the addicts I love. It is relevant to all of us, because it forces us to think differently about ourselves. Human beings are bonding animals. We need to connect and love. The wisest sentence of the twentieth century was E.M. Forster's -- "only connect." But we have created an environment and a culture that cut us off from connection, or offer only the parody of it offered by the Internet. The rise of addiction is a symptom of a deeper sickness in the way we live -- constantly directing our gaze towards the next shiny object we should buy, rather than the human beings all around us."

To read this interesting article, you can visit the link here.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Eight Mental Health Benefits of Regular Exercise

Good Morning Bloggers,

Today we are sharing an article from http://strongmedicine.dragondoor.com/ that talks a little bit about how regular exercise leads to mental health benefits. We don't share articles from fitness sites often, but this one is great in that it brings up many valid points about making regular exercise as part of your mental health plan. Soon, Inner Passages Therapy will be integrating yoga classes into our offering for clients and this articles touches on some of the reasons why we are excited to offer yoga and feel it's important. Enjoy!

Eight Mental Health Benefits of Regular Exercise
by BRADLEY SADLER, M.D. on APRIL 23, 2015

I’m a psychiatrist and a huge fitness enthusiast. It is gratifying to be able to incorporate exercise, something that I am passionate about in my personal life, as a powerful component in the treatment of my patients with depression.

Depression is a disease of the brain. It affects around 20 per cent of people men and women in their lifetime. It’s associated with a significant reduction in functioning and provides a large economic burden on society.

Most treatment consists of a combination of medicines and therapy. In addition to this conventional approach to depression, treatment can be supplemented or augmented with physical exercise with significant benefits. This is supported by my experience as a doctor treating depression and some evidence from scientific studies. The benefits of exercise in the treatment for depression are many:

Stress reduction: It’s been well documented in science that exercise improves the ability of the body to handle stress. Exercise acts to reset and strengthen the body’s ability to handle stress. In addition, I find personally that after a stressful day, fully immersing myself in a workout tends to bring me out of my head. While I’m working out I actually don’t even think about everything that was on my mind earlier in the day. After the workout, I use the calm to think through some of the problems that may have seemed without solution earlier in the day.

Improved self esteem: Many of my patients often have a negative view of themselves. They feel that they can’t do anything right. Regular exercise brings about improvements fairly rapidly. There are mental benefits of calm and stress reduction. Often there are improvements in body image or the joy of working through a progression and achieving a skill. Nothing boosts self esteem like being able to accomplish a goal through regular training.

 Socialization: My depressed patients tell me they find it hard to leave the house. Some of them have significant social anxiety. Their world becomes closed in. Workouts rarely happen alone. Generally, people are going to the gym to begin to workout. Interaction with other people can occur at the gym. There are trainers who can provide help, group classes, and friends that can improve socialization. Even if the workouts are happening at home, often people will post their workouts on social media drawing support and encouragement through social media.

Improved Sleep: My depressed patients often have trouble falling asleep, or they wake up in the middle of the night and find it difficult to get back to sleep. It’s well known that regular exercise improves sleep hygiene. People begin to know and understand their bodies. If they stay up late watching TV, they won’t be able to perform optimally during their workouts the next day.

Elevated energy: It may seem backwards that you have to expend energy to get energy. In depression, patients have lost energy and motivation. The anergia (lack of energy) of depression kills motivation and people find themselves sleeping all day, staying up all night. Regular exercise improves the production of catecholamines (energy producers) in the body that help sustain energy throughout the day.

Mobility/Pain Reduction: Depression kills energy. Loss of energy leads to less movement. Once you stop moving, joints become stiff. Muscles ache. This leads to less movement and more pain. Movement loss leads to weight gain. The additional weight and pressure on the joints in the body, the low back, the knees, the hips compound pain. As you begin to exercise, mobility increases, reducing joint pain. As weight drops, pressure on the joints diminishes further reducing pain.

Improved eating habits: My depressed patients tell me they aren’t hungry, yet many of 
them are overweight or have gained weight. In a misguided attempt to improve mood, patients often turn to the wrong types of food: foods laden in sugar, salt and fat. The result is weight gain and further reduction in self-esteem. The journey to physical fitness is often accompanied by a change in diet. Very often people get interested in a diet that compliments their fitness regimen. Foods that fuel exercise are often healthier: fruits, vegetables and protein. Many of my patients cannot treat their depression strictly through exercise alone. Depression is a disease and many of my patients will need medicine in order to feel better. Unfortunately, a side effect of many of the medicines I prescribe for depression is weight gain. Some of the stronger medicines worsen glucose tolerance and can lead to problems in metabolism of fats leading to elevated cholesterol. If I could add exercise to their prescription I know I could lessen this effect.

Joy : Accompanying depression is something called anhedonia. Anhedonia is the inability to feel joy. It’s one of the core symptoms of depression. Depression not only saps your motivation but it also saps your ability to feel happiness. My patients often look at me incredulously when I encourage them to engage in more activities. The act of engaging in activities may be difficult at first, but as they begin to consistently add activity like exercise back into their lives, the emotional shackle of anhedonia starts to disappear. Regular exercise will aid in reclaiming the joy in life.

There are different levels and severity of depression. It is important to understand that exercise tends to work best in patients with mild to moderate depression. Severe depression is a very serious condition and should be treated under the care of a mental health professional. There is not much evidence to suggest that exercise is beneficial to patients in the midst of a severe depression.

Depression is a disease and while exercise can be a very effective treatment, it has its best effect when used as an addition to traditional treatments such as medicine and therapy.

The benefits of exercise listed above are not just seen in people in the grip of mild to moderate depression. Exercise is a powerful preventive strategy for mental health. It’s well known that regular exercisers are happier, have more energy, sleep better, have more sex and are better socialized then non-exercisers. We often focus on the physical transformation that exercise can bring – the mind and the body are connected and as the body improves so does the mind.

Exercise is good for the brain!

To view the original article, click here.