Can you believe it? It’s the holiday season again. Is time flying by or is it just me?! It is at this time that we expect to feel happiness and joy, but what are some other things that often happen? We can feel stress, anxiety, depression, and more…. It is for many who have suffered serious losses a time of grieving.
What does the word grieving conjure up for you? For sure it means heart-felt pain and suffering from some sort of loss. Sometimes it’s the loss of a parent or other close family member through separation (think divorce or someone moving away). Probably more often it is a word we use to describe loss through death. We may show our grief outwardly (we go into mourning) and we often wear black clothing to punctuate that. Or we may be inclined to celebrate someone’s life by wearing brightly colored, happy clothes, singing, dancing, playing upbeat music, etc. to focus on more positive aspects of a person’s existence. How we feel and express our grief is probably as individual as each human being is. And that’s just fine.
There are some patterns of grieving that have been observed by professionals. First of all, though, grieving is a universal phenomenon, across the globe. At some point in time, we will all experience a type of grieving. As stated above, it can be a death, a separation of someone meaningful in our lives, the loss of a job, a relationship ending, etc. The list can be endless. Also as stated above, grieving is a very personal thing. People grieve for different periods of time, and you may experience anger, sadness, guilt, you may withdraw and feel empty.
As first defined by Elizabeth Kuebler Ross, there are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. People cycle through these stages in different ways. They are not always experienced linearly. Not everyone goes through all these stages so just consider this a guideline of what may happen.
In any case, there is much one can do to navigate through grieving, especially during the holidays. Experiencing your feelings is important but getting depressed and not functioning is not a good thing. You can do this by allowing yourself some feeling time – alone or with another loved one or within a therapeutic setting – but it is often a good idea to keep yourself occupied part of the time. Understand that the holidays may be tough, and perhaps different from ever before, but your life goes on. Embrace yourself that way. Be positive: believe you can and will adapt. If you are having trouble, you can reach out to a competent healthcare practitioner for extra assistance…no shame…no blame.
You can decide which holiday traditions you want to keep, and which ones you’d like to change. You can create new traditions going forward, and you can even create something in memory of your lost loved one (or situation). If you are part of a group (a family or other group also experiencing this loss), reach out to communicate with them about celebrating the holidays. Be totally honest in these communications. Also remember that everyone feels loss a little differently, so if someone is not showing their grief outwardly or acting as if nothing happened, this person is still dealing with the situation somehow. You might consider writing a letter to your departed loved one expressing your feelings. You can sing, dance, and do art. Anything that feels good to you, as part of a healthy grieving expression, as long as it’s positive, will add some light into an otherwise dark situation.
Be careful during celebrations not to overindulge with food (especially junk food) and alcoholic beverages. While this may numb you out of your grieving momentarily, it will return, and you will likely not feel particularly good physiologically on top of that.
Many people find solace in expressing what they are grateful for, and some people donate holiday meals to a family in need. Be sure that you don’t over-extend yourself with holiday activities; instead, leave some quiet “me” time. In other words, please practice self-care that helps you feel better. And also remember that you will not magically lift up out of depression even though you’re following good advice; grieving takes time. Look instead back a little and notice the smaller improvements before passing judgment and thinking “I’ll never feel better.” Hindsight is better than foresight in this case!
We at Health and Wellness Online would like to wish all of you a very happy holiday season.
Remember – knowledge is power, so take charge of your health.
And as always, please have a holistically healthy day!
Have you ever been one of the people who get the holiday blues toward the end of the year? If so, you’re not alone. Whether you are battling a mental health issue or not, it is easy to succumb to the holiday blues. (Did you know that 64% of people who do have mental health issues report feeling depressed at the holidays?) Although the suicide rates do not spike at the holidays, the holiday blues are very real. It’s been clearly documented that people do feel more stress, anxiety, and especially depression at this time of year. Of course, the majority of people report feeling happy, loving, and generally have high spirits, but at the same time they are also overly tired, still feeling higher levels of stress, irritability, and they report feeling bloated and sad. Some of the reasons for increased stress are time, money, all the commercialism that surrounds the holiday season, feeling pressured to give gifts, and being at family gatherings. Ironically, more people report feeling the added stress at work rather than at home. Please remember that holiday blues end at the close of the holiday season, so if you’re still feeling any of these negative symptoms, it is probably time to look at your diet, and hook up with a professional to help you readjust. The holidays may just be exacerbating a situation that is already there and that needs attention.
So, what can you do to steer clear of the holiday blues?
You can make sure you are not suffering from the blues from not having as much exposure to the sun (and Vitamin D can help with that). This is called Seasonal Affective Disorder. There are various treatments available – in fact, there are specially designed light lamps which are not too expensive to help, among other things. A little counseling wouldn’t hurt anything either!
You can watch your diet and keep your levels of sugar and refined products – especially wheat and other starches – to a minimum. If you happen to be very susceptible to these products, it is likely best to avoid them. Most lower carbohydrate eating plans will be helpful and will have wonderful suggestions for delicious foods and baked goods that do not contain these two mood-destroying food groups!
Watch how much alcohol you are consuming. Keep that to a minimum or avoid it if you are susceptible. Similar drinks can be prepared just without the alcohol or drinking carbonated spring water with a touch of lemon, lime, or berries is frankly refreshing and delicious.
If you have had some serious losses in your lifetime (and most of us have), sometimes the holidays can trigger sad, bittersweet memories. If you find yourself susceptible, make sure your diet is healthy, see a counselor, or talk with a close personal friend. Be careful not to let this sadness develop into a disordered condition, like a serious depression. In other words, be proactive so it doesn’t happen. But if it does, spring into action to conquer so you will be able to also feel happy. (Many of us – in fact, most of us – experience some twinges of sadness, which is normal. But then we are able to continue to feel happy as well.)
If you have a tendency to isolate, please check yourself so that you do not find yourself alone too often. Some people who do not have close family and friendship ties can find themselves feeling lost at the holidays. There are ways to ensure that your mood and your holiday season remain happy experiences. Consider inviting someone into your home to help celebrate.
Don’t forget the value of a little exercise to deal with stress and anxiety and depression! Research has shown consistently that even very moderate exercise can help lift you out of the holiday blues (or any other blues at any time of the year). Moving your body physically actually can help your mental health symptoms ease up. Although the mechanism isn't completely understood as to how exercise helps with depression and anxiety especially, we know that it does. When you move your body, you release endorphins, which tend to enhance your sense of well-being. Plus, exercising helps you take your mind off your problems! You don't have to go to a gym to get this benefit - even housework, gardening, dancing, and walking the dog can do the trick. Pick something that is more enjoyable to you - don't punish yourself by doing things you really don't like and that you're unlikely to keep doing.
Do you have trouble with time management? Be sure to get a lead on how your holiday season will go, schedule yourself up on your calendar for all your holiday related activities, and make some wise decisions about what is feasible and what is not, so you don’t end up feeling overly stressed out.
Do you have trouble with a holiday budget? Many people do not even have them and end up feeling stressed out due to feeling like there isn’t enough money to fulfill expectations. Again, be sure to plan ahead, and be realistic about what you can accomplish financially. Homemade gifts are also often popular, and remind yourself, your family, and your friends that holidays are intended to be about love and family time, not about expensive gifts.
We at Health and Wellness Online would like to wish all of you a happy, holistically healthy holiday season!
And, as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
While the holiday season is supposed to be festive, create happy feelings, etc., that doesn’t mean it will automatically enhance our mental health. In fact, as many of us are painfully aware, it is not uncommon for people to feel angry, irritable, stressed out, and depressed at year’s end. Stressors include lack of time, money, too much commercialism, and pressures of giving gifts and being at family gatherings. So, if that happens, let’s find out how to turn it back around again!
Here are a few mental health self-care tips…some of the best self-care tips in fact!
Instead of waiting till the last minute to pull your holiday season and traditions together, if you mark on your calendar to start your prep a couple of months in advance (say no later than September/October) and keep tabs on yourself (create milestones in small steps and mark them on your calendar) – you will probably find yourself feeling more calm. If you have too much to do for the holidays, in addition to working at your job and fulfilling your other customary responsibilities, by all means – find some help! If you cannot find anyone else to assist, perhaps scale down your plans, keeping the most important things (traditions) intact. Develop your skills at kindly but firmly saying no (sometimes). While some feelings may get hurt, your mental health will thank you.
If you plan well, you may even have time to take a mini vacation, like going away for a weekend. In fact, it’s been shown that travel has an incredibly positive effect on health in general, and definitely on relationships. We can think more clearly and are more creative. If your travel involves being physically active, that can also help your mental health, as exercise is great for our bodies and our minds! Before your little break, take a moment to reflect on all that you have already accomplished in having a smoothly running holiday season with friends and family. These mental health benefits can last up to a month after returning home so they may just carry you through the end of the holiday season!
It’s been said many times that the holidays are really about love and gratitude (not food, presents, decorations, etc.). Have you ever tried to list the things/people you love and are grateful for? Meditate on that thought. While we’re thinking about meditating, or mindfulness meditation which it’s sometimes called, that practice is a great way to calm ourselves down, center ourselves, and decide what is really important (and what is not). Use proven methods of accomplishing this – for some it may be relaxing for five minutes, taking a bubble bath, diffusing essential oils, for others, binaural beats (there are many free apps), free meditations, going to the gym, playing music, and more. If need be, seek out some mental health assistance with professionals. Free services are often available if insurance coverage and finances are at issue. Self-help is another great option.
Always remember to eat healthy, nutritious meals and down-play junk food. Although much of junk food is delicious, it is not usually very nutritious and is well known for supporting depression, irritability, anger, and other unhealthy emotions (which also often result in unhealthy behavior, exacerbating the issue even further). Think about how a lot of refined flour products (cakes, breads, pasta, etc.) and sugar-laden goodies can impact your blood sugar. It causes highs and lows, and this wreaks havoc with people with diabetes and others who are just generally not that healthy.
These days, the internet is full of great recipes for delicious foods – holiday recipes included – which are also nutritious. Yes, with careful planning you can make any recipe you love healthier, including those yummy baked goods and even some candy! If you don’t have the time to cook or bake everything you’d like to have, there are companies springing up which prepare food for you in extremely healthy ways and will even deliver to your doorstep. Also, think about including some non-traditional foods which you like for a little variety.
Being a mental health counselor myself, I feel I would be remiss not to mention the benefits of counseling for mental health issues. Mental health counseling makes a great addition to all the tips listed above.
We at Health and Wellness Online would like to wish you a very happy and holistically healthy holiday season!
While the holiday season is supposed to be festive, create happy feelings, etc., that doesn’t mean it will automatically enhance our mental health. In fact, as many of us are painfully aware, it is not uncommon for people to feel angry, irritable, stressed out, and depressed at year’s end. Stressors include lack of time, money, too much commercialism, and pressures of giving gifts and being at family gatherings. Over half of participants in a study who had mental illness of some type stated that holidays make their conditions worse. So, if any of that happens to anyone, whether they have a mental health condition or not, let’s find out how to turn it back around again!
One of the best ways is to eat healthy, nutritious meals and down-play junk food. Although much of junk food is delicious, it is not usually very nutritious and is well known for supporting depression, irritability, anger, and other unhealthy emotions (which also often result in unhealthy behavior, exacerbating the issue even further). Think about how a lot of refined flour products (cakes, breads, pasta, etc.) and sugar-laden goodies can impact your blood sugar. It causes highs and lows, and this wreaks havoc with people with diabetes and others who are just generally not that healthy.
Many families have lovely food-related holiday traditions. Some people say that the worst part of being surrounded by delicious, yet unhealthy food is that it is hard to say no! A traditional American Christmas dinner consists of turkey, stuffing made with white, refined, dwarf wheat flour, mashed white potatoes (they have a bad habit of spiking your insulin resulting in mood swings), gravy, made with the drippings from the turkey, but often has white flour in it to thicken it, cranberry sauce, which has a good amount of sugar in it, green bean casserole, also loaded with refined flour to thicken, and then there are all the cookies, fruitcake, pies, gingerbread houses … you get the picture!
Many families have alcoholic beverages as a staple during the holidays. Alcohol is a depressant drug, so while many seem to mellow out, it has a downer effect. Some holiday drink favorites are eggnog (some is made with alcohol), hot buttered rum, wassail (a warm holiday punch), mulled wine, mimosas, etc.
Let’s look at some possibilities for some delicious yet healthy drinks. While you can probably buy them somewhere, you can also consider making them yourself! For instance, ingredients like apples always pair well with cinnamon. Since apples have quite a bit of sugar occurring naturally in them, consider combining cold, pure apple juice with some sparkling spring water. Add a good natural source of cinnamon to it and you can even put a cinnamon stick into the drink because it looks so good! Apples have quercetin, which is an antioxidant that has brain protective properties. Do you want the drink warm? Slightly heat up your drink using regular spring water or add a little real cream or coconut water (or combination according to taste). Apples also have phytochemicals which may help protect against colon cancer, heart disease, plus diabetes. Plus, phytochemicals can protect against infections and other invaders like viruses so they’re good for your immune system. Yum. Also consider sugar-free pomegranate juice (please read the ingredients on the label or just make it yourself from the actual fruit), as well as drinks containing lemons and limes. Berries are lower in sugar and can really sweeten and brighten up a holiday drink. Just be careful with the alcohol – if you use it at all, use very much in moderation. That’s needs no explanation!
Let’s look at making some delicious hot chocolate for the season, but in a healthier way. You can use real cream, or half-and-half, or coconut milk, etc. as the base. Then you can melt some high cacao percentage dark chocolates from either a bar or as chocolate chips (you can buy them in most supermarkets – use at least 60% cacao or higher which is healthier). There is a little sugar in the chocolate to sweeten, but you can also use 100% cacao chocolate from a bar or powder, and use a healthier sweetener like erythritol, or stevia. These ingredients are available for purchase in almost every grocery store. Erythritol behaves just like an antioxidant so it may also be immune-protective. It does not spike the blood sugar or insulin. Stevia leaves are the sweetest part of the plant. Stevia may help lower insulin and blood sugar levels. Be careful about purchasing over-the-counter preparations as some of them are more processed than others and are combined with ingredients that may not be so healthy. Now dark chocolate has many health benefits! It is fiber-rich and provides several minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc, etc. Dark chocolate, while it contains some caffeine, will not keep you up at night because there’s just not that much in there! Dark chocolate also is a terrific source of antioxidants, so it is another boost to the immune system.
Now let’s move onto the food. Basically, you can make any recipes healthy or at least healthier by using the right ingredients. Most of us have heard of mashed cauliflower. Well – it’s delicious when made well. If you consume dairy, add some real butter and cream when mashing. It looks like mashed potatoes and unless you’re really paying attention, you might even assume you are eating mashed potatoes! Cauliflower does not spike your blood sugar, but white potatoes might. Cauliflower contains many minerals and some vitamins, is low in calories (that is until you start adding the cream and butter….), and high in fiber. It is also a great source of antioxidants which is immune system protective and staves off inflammation. You can also prepare mashed sweet potatoes in a similar manner. While this has more starch, it is also a great source of fiber, vitamins (think B and C), and a variety of minerals. They contain beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A (another antioxidant) when you eat them and are thus also good for the immune system. Use your imagination for adding other ingredients, like coconut butter, a tiny touch of maple syrup, etc. In fact, if you use a family recipe, just swap out unhealthy ingredients (like table sugar) and use something healthier. (Do they have to be overly sweet?!)
Do you roast a traditional turkey for the holidays? If so, most likely the only possible unhealthy ingredient is the stuffing, which is usually made with white flour. There are gluten-free options out there, although they are not starch free, but it’s a “cheat” you might consider just this once. You can put the same seasonings and veggies in it. In fact, many people make breads these days out of almond and coconut flour, which have antioxidants, so you might consider making a loaf of bread with these (which are much lower in starch), slicing it, and toasting it. Then cube it to create your stuffing mix, add your favorite seasonings, and prepare as you would any other stuffing mix.
How about healthy dips? First of all, think healthier carbs. You can use split peas for example with onion, garlic, salt, and other ingredients and put it in the food processor. Add a little olive oil and/or lemon juice. Split peas may also help blood sugar levels and are known to be heart health protective. Or you could consider a dip made largely of any combination of veggies, which are of course healthy for the immune system and a lot of other things! Consider serving with rice crackers or raw veggie slices. Consider making an onion dip by sauteing onions, salt, and pepper till browned, and adding it to some Greek yogurt, or sour cream (or a combination). You can put chives on top!
Basically, you can dial back the junk foods, sodas, etc. and create some new and delicious holiday food traditions using real, unadulterated ingredients. These are always healthier, and flavors are also often brighter. Search online for inspirations and recipes – there are many online. While we haven’t gone into healthier baked goods here, there are many recipes to be found online, according to the eating style you are following.
With so many sugar-laden goodies all around us at the holiday time, both adults and kids fall prey to its lure! It’s hard to enter an office without bumping into sugary goodies, and it’s hard to pass right by stores, especially bakeries, without wanting to stop in and buy something. It’s hard not to say – just this one time (as if)! And everything is so aromatic. So many traditional recipes are handed down generation to generation, and frankly, the food is just delicious. We know the value of all the good associations we have with food, especially holiday food. But we also know what kind of effect it can have on kids’ overall health, moods, and behavior throughout the holiday season, especially when parents and kids are under a lot of stress.
Aside from general heart health, weight health, etc., scientists have also shown that high levels of sugar negatively impact a child’s brain, inclusive of feelings and thoughts. Also, memory can be impaired from too much sugar in a kid’s diet, as well as helping to create metabolic disturbances (think insulin-resistance and diabetes). Remember too that there is a correlation (if not a causation) between insulin resistance and cancer, heart problems, and dementia. Neurotransmitters, which keep moods stable, are impacted when kids eat a great deal of sugar. So, they may appear to be angry, irritable, unable to focus, tired, and depressed. They may be more prone to starting fights. Sugar may also be implicated in addictive responses in the brain. In a Yale University study, participants’ brains were activated in the reward center, when just seeing a milkshake. This also happens with the drug cocaine by the way!
There is something you can do about this. Take charge of what goes into your kids’ mouths (and yours, too, while you’re at it)! If you decide to avoid typical sweet treats (much easier said than done), try purchasing or baking them yourself. There are many recipes and increasing numbers of products for purchase that are delicious yet do not contain refined wheat flour or sugar, honey, maple syrup, or other types of sweeteners which can spike your insulin. However, it is wise to avoid conventional sweeteners (think pink packets, blue packets, etc.), and instead look for the healthier ones such as stevia, monk fruit, and erythritol, among others. Although they may be an acquired taste, they really do make a great substitute. Try using nut flours like almond flour, or the favored coconut flour. (Basically, think low carb.) Really, the internet is full of wonderful sugar- and flour-free recipes. Some good keywords to use are keto, low carb sweets, keto-friendly desserts, etc.
Think about how wonderful it will be to see your kids in happy anticipation during the holiday festivities without the negative behavior. No sugar-highs … no sugar crashes! Perhaps cooking and baking together, if your kids are interested, is a wonderful way to teach your kids healthier cooking and just to have some high-quality family time. Better, more even moods make for easier, lower-stress, and more cooperative relationships at a time when it really counts … the holidays! But think about this, as well – you can have this year around by making this a more permanent lifestyle change.
Remember to think about the food-mood connection, especially during the holidays. Prepare foods that downplay refined flour and sugar especially (as they are mood killers), and instead prepare delicious recipes with healthier ingredients. Try to minimize traditions around alcoholic beverages. They are dangerous!
Remember, knowledge is power, so take charge of your health.
And, as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
Brrr – winter temperatures are right around the corner! Some of you may be jumping for joy, while others may not be so happy! However, most of us know that moving our body is very important for our mental health, as well as our physical. Hey, it’s even important for our spiritual health when you get right down to it.
Just how does moving help our mental health? When we engage in movement (and by the way, we were really created for it), our body releases endorphins which are hormones in the brain, and we’re in a better mood. If we exercise outside during the day (and I would only recommend short times outdoors, depending on the weather), we are also getting some coveted Vitamin D from the sun. This helps support our bones, muscles, and teeth, to name a few benefits.
In fact, during some highly challenging times in my life when I’ve lost loved ones, I made myself stop by the gym and hop on the treadmill, just for 10 minutes. It made a huge difference in how I felt – my depressed feelings were much less after just those 10 minutes.
We all know how challenging it is to move during the colder weather. It’s tempting to sit by the fireplace and read or watch a good movie. But if you’re health conscious, please try to plan some activity into your days. You’ll thank yourself for it. Think about this: we are warm-blooded creatures, and our body works to keep its temperature stable, so our organs work the right way. During the cold weather, our body tightens the blood vessels, which means they constrict, and circulation decreases plus our blood gets a little thicker. So, our heart works harder.
While our muscles tighten up, it’s very important to stretch first before we work out. This helps warm us up and makes the whole process a little easier.
There are some specific benefits to working out when it’s cold outside. This exercises our body’s thermogenic genes, which means our body burns more calories. While I’m talking about this, remember to stay hydrated during your workouts in the cold weather months because we seem to use up water more in the winter than in the summer while working out…even though it sounds strange.
Also, exercise helps in building endurance, muscle strength, and increases our flexibility which lends help to the joints. Other benefits are getting a boost in our immune response, and we usually see our blood sugar go down and you can make better use of your insulin.
Here are a few ideas of getting in some movement more easily during cold weather months: we can climb staircases, put on some exercise videos and follow along, we can use an indoor swimming pool, and go dancing. There’s always indoor rock climbing. Then there’s kickboxing and jumping rope. Of course, we can always do some yoga.
Also please don’t think that winter is a time when you can just binge on your favorite junk foods! It’s more important than ever to maintain a healthy, yet delicious diet, including plenty of fresh produce, and take a few supplements to augment what your diet may be missing. Winter is a prime time to catch whatever germs may be out there, so be sure to bolster your immune system.
Remember – knowledge is power, so take charge of your health!
And, as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
Perhaps the most common mental health malady across the entire globe is depression. Just about everybody has experienced depression - some less, some more - across their lifespan. Did you also know that, while we have different languages and cultures, people across all the nations show feelings - especially on their faces - in the same manner?
Many people have experienced much more than depression, as there are at least 200 classifications of defined mental health conditions in our diagnostic manuals. Just how does it feel when you’re in the throes of a clinical depression? Does it affect your physical body, your spirit, or just your mood? If you’re paying attention, you’ll find yourself answering “all of the above.” You’re only human! That is why it’s important to have a holistic mental health approach.
This means that you will get support that considers more than just your emotional state. A competent practitioner will also look at your thoughts, physiology, spirituality, corresponding behavior, as well as your emotions. In other words, we look at the entire person. So, the term holistic health doesn’t just apply to conditions of the physical body, it means mental holistic health, too.
What is Holistic Mental Health?
The word holistic can mean many things to many people. In terms of holistic mental health care, we focus on aspects of the entire person, not just feelings, thoughts, and behavior as is done in more conventional approaches. We look at a person’s physical, spiritual, and social health. Did you know that what you eat can also make a huge difference in how you feel, think, and otherwise function in daily life? It’s true! Also, we put the person seeking treatment at the center of their time in treatment, not just their symptoms and diagnoses. While we may use medications, we also use supplements as holistic medicine for mental health, which will support a person’s overall health, and that includes, of course, their mental health. Other types of approaches which will enhance a person’s mental health holistically may include mindfulness practices, like meditation (that’s just one example of many), artistic expression, music expression, hypnotherapy, energetic approaches to building healthy mental health holistically, and even equine therapy, working with horses for the purpose of building self-esteem, for example.
So holistic mental health is when all aspects of a person’s very existence are in good working order!
What is a Holistic Approach to Mental Health?
While I touched upon this topic a little bit in the above section, basically a holistic approach means looking at the whole, not just some of its parts. A human being is so beautifully complex, and certain aspects of our mental health, like our mood, may just be a reflection of many things working together, like a nutritionally poor diet, stress, our genetic makeup, etc. So, you can see it is a very good idea to explore all possible avenues of different elements that can affect our mental health.
If I tell you that what you eat may help alter your moods – make you depressed, angry, sad, or even happy and energetic (depending on what and how you’re eating) – why would you believe me?! But it’s true. There is plenty of science out there including case studies that prove it can be a major factor in making or breaking your sanity. Sometimes people become lazy or maybe they just don’t know how to take care of their mental health holistically. After all, we’re used to going to the conventional doctor and getting a prescription of pills to take even for mental health.
Some people might even think that they don’t need to seek holistic mental health counseling, but that would probably not be in their best interests. Creating a healthy body and a healthy mind sets up the foundation for great mental health but also engaging in counseling speeds up the mental health growth process exponentially. So holistic mental health treatment needs to include many things.
What is a Holistic Approach to Treating Mental Health Issues?
In addition to seeking and partaking in holistic mental health therapy, it is a good idea to have a qualified nutritional professional evaluate your dietary patterns, a qualified person who works in tandem with a holistic mental health therapist. This nutritional professional will also evaluate what supplements may be beneficial to your overall health and wellbeing and will specifically also support your mental health. For example, amino acid therapy, administered by qualified professionals, are a great alternative to mental health medications, as the side effects are minimal, if at all, and they actually repair the neurotransmitters and other elements found in your brain chemistry. They can be invaluable in improving your moods, which disorders are among the most common. Medications cannot do this, although they can provide support. In fact, amino acid therapy is also very valuable overall in holistic approaches to mental health and drug addiction, since when a person is in withdrawal, amino acid therapy can help minimize those symptoms.
Other approaches may include getting acupuncture treatments, massage therapy, engaging in fitness activities, and mindfulness practices, such as yoga or transcendental meditation. In fact, there are many benefits of using a holistic approach to mental health. You will learn new social and overall coping skills that are much healthier, you will be able to relax more, and holistic means are usually less costly than conventional approaches. Consider one of the growing numbers of holistic mental health treatment facilities which have been gaining in popularity over the last years. In fact, for more serious cases of people needing more intensive yet holistic treatment, consider checking into a holistic residential mental health center. Or, if you don’t need residential treatment, any qualified holistic mental health center will do nicely!
Most people may not think about their mental care as holistic, since we usually only think about how we feel. But as explained above, mental holistic health is so much more! A good example of this is when a person comes into a dual diagnosis treatment facility for drug addiction. While the staff must first see that this person gets off the drugs safely, medical attention is often called for during the detoxification phase. Just about everyone who has been using drugs for some time has suffered damage to their physical bodies due to the deleterious effects of the drugs. So, while they are detoxing, they may need amino acid therapy to minimize the withdrawal symptoms while it repairs their biochemical processes in the brain and improves moods, thus making it easier to work on mental health issues. These individuals also need to get counseling, usually both individual and group, and since their health has been so compromised, a good nutritional program should be put in place to help speed up recovery and form the foundation for healthy, holistic mental health.
Holistic mental health coaching is also becoming increasingly available. Sometimes they are called health and wellness coaches. It is similar to holistic therapy for mental health, but sometimes they differ in that coaches really focus on getting their clients to take initiative in their own healing and future. Of course, counselors and other therapists also do this, but coaches tend to ask more powerful questions than suggesting that a client do certain things. Also, counseling may focus more on a person’s past and dealing with emotional pain, while coaches focus more on the present, identifying and setting goals, and strategies to do this. (A counselor may also do this as part of the approach.)
As we all know, there is more to good health than that. So, we also look at mindfulness practices to determine what will work best for a client. That would be where yoga or meditation comes in. Perhaps for some it could be a nice, soothing bubble bath, or reading a good book, away from the stressors in daily life! Some holistic mental health facilities even offer a farm-to-table approach as holistic healing for mental health, as growing one’s own food, harvesting it, cooking it, and then enjoying eating it is very healing. It forms a strong bond with nature and helps create a type of mindfulness.
In fact, mindfulness is often defined as a state of being conscious or aware of something in the moment. You focus your attention on the present second in time, you can acknowledge what you are feeling, accept it – without recrimination or self-recrimination – and this helps you be able to move forward. So often daily life goes by so quickly that we are either reflecting on our past or thinking about the future. Have you ever been driving home from a day’s work, thinking about how tired you are, yet you have to go home, greet your kids, see that they do their homework, get them bathed, cook for them, etc.? Many of us have gone through this. Or perhaps you are ruminating on some theme or issue at your job. While these things are good and even necessary, if we do this to the exclusion of being able to be present in the moment, savoring life, this can and often does have a negative outcome.
How Can You Attain Holistic Health in Mental Health?
Actually, it can be pretty easy to do, if you’re ready to make some serious lifestyle changes, or it can be easier said than done! It’s getting to that right state of mind first that will propel you forward and make it easier. However, you don’t need to wait for that state of mind. You can do something I call “mind over matter” – which means that you know you need to make some significant changes and it might be a matter of life or death, but in your heart and soul, you’re not quite there yet. Mind over matter means that you use sheer self-discipline to incorporate healthy changes on a daily basis, and it might seem like it goes against your will. Think about whether you’re a smoker, and you know you need to quit because your health is seriously compromised. But the desire to continue smoking is so strong, that you make an attempt and fall right back into that bad habit. Mind over matter gives you discipline to keep your actions going in the right direction, even when everything else in you is screaming for the behavior that is making you sick.
Think about it this way – everything healthy you do for your physical body, your spirituality or mindfulness beliefs and practices, your social life, etc. – contributes meaningfully to your mental health. A holistic state of health means you have a holistic state of mental health as well.
Here are a few suggestions to get a start on your own.
• Make sure you spend time with other human beings (and pets too). Did you know that the human body has hundreds of thousands of receptors for physical touching? We were created to be with each other!
• Keep your physical body moving – it can help get you up out of a bad mood and enhances all your functions which are necessary even for good mental health.
• Start working on your diet in terms of minimizing all processed foods, especially sugars and white flour products, and start including more healthful foods like fresh produce, quality proteins, etc.
• Self-care is something that enhances mindfulness. So, take good care of yourself. Take a few minutes each day just for yourself and do something that is pleasing and relaxing to you.
• Spend some time in the sunshine. Second to that is to take some supplemental Vitamin D. Your mind and body really need this!
How to Find a Holistic Mental Health Counselor.
As I previously noted, health and wellness coaches may seem to support holistic mental health, and experiences with them can be very rewarding and healing. Holistic mental health counselors are out there, so doing an online search for those in your area may bring multiple choices. The organization called GoodTherapy can also help you find a good therapist. And remember that there is a great deal of tele-therapy going on today so you can basically work with anyone that is not in your local area using confidential virtual sessions.
You might also express your desire to a counselor who is included in your health care plan that you’d like to include other types of approaches into your healing experience besides doing talk therapy, and they may be able to recommend other types of practitioners in your area.
Most holistic health counselors hold licenses in the delivery of mental health services, so they have completed a great deal of education and have even done interning in the process of earning their licensures. Holistic practitioners may also have training in other types of approaches, like massage therapy, nutrition, acupuncture, etc. SO, ASK QUESTIONS!!! There are many schools that teach people to become holistic mental health counselors, so you might also contact them for referrals.
What is Holistic Mental Health Care?
As stated above, holistic mental health care puts the person at the center of treatment, not symptoms. It takes a whole body approach which encompasses thoughts, feelings, behavior, the physical body, soul, and spirituality (which is different for each person). So, a holistic practitioner will look not only at your diagnosis and symptoms, but everything else at the same time.
People are different. We have our own unique genetic makeup and our own unique interpretations of experiences we make during our lifetimes. That’s why holistic mental health care is so important. There is no one, prescribed method of treatment that will work for everyone. Instead, it’s very important to tailor treatment modalities so that a person will receive what they, as individuals, need at this point in their life. One good example is that of a young girl who was from a country and culture different from the one she was living in. She had lost her mother at a fairly young age and was inconsolable. Traditional mental health approaches simply weren’t working for her. She was referred to a music therapist, who researched how people from her home country and culture grieved. This rather talented music therapist learned the music used in grieving ceremonies in her homeland and was able to help the girl when conventional approaches failed.
Why We Should Use Holistic Health to Treat Mental Illness.
It’s simple. Holistic health works at least as well as conventional approaches and can also be interwoven into conventional treatment. Holistic health approaches flex with an individual’s whole life needs at a given time. Human beings are constantly growing and evolving over time, so any approach needs to accommodate this growth. What might work well at age 25 would likely not work quite as well at age 50! While all approaches can flex and bend, in my opinion – holistic health does it best!
Remember – knowledge is power so take charge of your health!
And, as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day.
Many people have heard of this – seasonal affective disorder – but for those who haven’t, I’ll describe it here. Seasonal affective disorder (yes, and its nickname or acronym is really SAD!) is thought to be a depressive state but related to the changing of the seasons. Mostly people who are diagnosed with this disorder find that symptoms start around the fall and go through winter into early spring. Your energy is low, and you feel kind of moody. Then suddenly when spring is in full mode and into summer, those symptoms seem to go away.
That’s one way you can tell if it’s a depression due to other things (like school starting for kids?!), or the one really connected to the seasons. There is light therapy available, and purchasing a specialized lamp is not very expensive. Of course, there are medications available too. And you might find that a little Vitamin D supplementation can be of some significant help.
Some other symptoms are having trouble sleeping, maybe you’re not as hungry and have experienced a little weight loss (although some people have the opposite reaction and eat due to their moods so they can actually gain weight), and you might also feel irritable and/or anxious.
It seems that people who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder have a high risk of SAD, and manic episodes can be linked to spring and summer, for example. If you are having symptoms, please by all means reach out to a competent, qualified health care professional and seek out help. You’re not alone, and help is definitely available.
If you’re seeking holistic help, I’d definitely recommend light therapy. I have tried it and it definitely helped me out, although I didn’t actually have SAD. The light from these special lamps is about 20 times brighter than other indoor lights. You can use it for about a half hour, preferably in the morning.
Exercise is another way you can help yourself if you think you have SAD. It has a ton of health benefits as most of us already know! I always recommend doing something you enjoy so it won’t feel like “work.” Exercise is being researched as an adjunctive therapy for SAD.
As I just stated, Vitamin D is also indicated, as it can bolster your “feel good” neurotransmitter, serotonin. If you have the opportunity to do so, you could plan a vacation in a warm, sunny place in fall and/or winter.
Research is beginning to demonstrate that when people opt for healthier diets, this can have a dampening effect on symptoms of SAD, both in reducing the severity of the symptoms, and can perhaps even ward it off. As always, avoid overly processed foods, eat healthy veggies like broccoli and brussel sprouts (they contain folate which, when low, helps to produce depression). Dial white flour goods like bread and pasta down, as well as sugar.
Some herbs may be helpful, like St. John’s wort, known for lifting moods, as well as anything containing omega-3s, like walnuts and salmon. Mimosa flower can help elevate your mood, and lemon balm and lavender are known for their calming effect.
Also, anything in the realm of mindfulness practices helps reduce stress which positively impacts symptoms. Think about taking nice leisurely walks, meditating, doing yoga, etc. … whatever you enjoy doing.
Not everything works equally well for everyone, so try things out to find out what helps you, an individual, the most.
Remember this: knowledge is power so take charge of your health!
And as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
Have you ever heard this before? Did you know that stress can break down your immune system and make you more vulnerable to getting sick? Even the American Psychological Association says that long-term stress can do this. Sick, right?! To make matters worse, if you’re under a lot of stress, you’re probably not eating right anyway….
So how does this happen? Stress creates the hormone called cortisol, which can suppress your immune system by lowering the lymphocytes in the blood and this also interferes with the white blood cell communication. White cells, to review, come along when something invades our body and threatens it. So, we’re left without this vital defense, or at least, we’re weakening it.
Who is not under stress most of the time? Our bodies think this is our norm and continue to pour out the stress hormone, even after we’ve calmed down. If you are experiencing this, you’re liable to be irritable, angry, anxious, or even have thoughts that don’t want to quit.
Other signs of a weak immune system are that your wounds take longer to heal, you may have skin infections, you’re very tired, you have autoimmune disease, and so on. Some people have digestive problems, and lose their appetites, they’re nauseous, or they experience cramping.
If you have a chronic cold or cough, or if you catch cold easily, or have a chronic infection or your immune system is compromised, this makes it harder to overcome – but certainly not impossible.
Did you also realize that people with ongoing mental health disorders tend to be more susceptible to infection and disease? It’s a common occurrence, for example, when people are in a state of depression, or they have a poor diet from a nutritional standpoint, or they’re not sleeping well, or they feel alone.
By the way, this is why we have had to create mindfulness techniques, so we can relearn to be calm, cool, and collected – and teach our bodies how to do this again.
Here’s what you can do about this.
*First of all, eat well. Lay low on the junk foods, sodas, anything that contains refined flour and sugar. Make sure you eat fresh foods, especially veggies and a few fruits, and good, healthy proteins.
*Get some moderate physical activity – anything that works for you, that you preferably enjoy, and that doesn’t steal too much time out of your day. Do this at least a few times per week.
*If you’re not sleeping well, make your room dark, and make sure all computer equipment is turned off or even removed from where you sleep. You can take melatonin or something else that is calming to help you fall asleep; I like to diffuse essential oils – it relaxes me.
*If you’re smoking, please enter the battle of trying to quit!
*If you’re drinking alcoholic beverages, you may want to cut way down in amount and frequency, and if you have a problem with it, it may be time to call it quits.
Okay, I know – easier said than done. And Rome wasn’t built in a day. So, if you start and fall off course, just forgive yourself and make a new start. Nobody’s perfect.
NO SHAME – NO BLAME!
Remember this: knowledge is power so take charge of your health!
And, as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
Oh no – those temperatures (not to mention humidity) are going down, and we finally are getting some relief from the heat. For those of us who are happy to see summer in the rearview mirror, it’s good news. However, it’s also typically the season where we can start to get sick. This year we have a bit more to be concerned about – we not only have colds and the flu, but we’re also watching out for that old coronavirus, COVID. (By the way, did you know that the common cold is also a coronavirus? It’s just a name for the type of virus, of which there are many strains.)
If you frequently get sick around this time of year, you may want to pay extra attention to these tips which can help you avoid getting sick, or at least not getting sick as severely. Most of these tips can fall under the category of common sense, although it’s not common sense for many people who have never been exposed to these maxims.
For those of you who know what I write about, it won’t be any surprise that I will start with nutrition! First of all, make sure you eat plenty of green leafy vegetables, because they have a ton of vitamins which help support your immune system. By the way, about 2/3 of your immunity lies within your gut, so digestion is a critical piece of building up your reserves to fight off incoming germs!
Drinking green tea has many benefits, among which are the antioxidants (flavonoids) they contain in abundance. Green tea has the power to reduce your blood pressure and overall reduce the risk of getting cardiovascular issues.
Eat and/or cook with citrus fruits, as they have lots of Vitamin C. If you cook with (and make salads with) varied colors of veggies, you will get a wider range of vitamins like Vitamin C. Of course, it never hurts to take a supplement as well. Red bell peppers are especially rich in Vitamin C.
Broccoli is one of the healthiest veggies you can eat, either raw or lightly steamed. It’s jam-packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber.
Garlic is another superfood for your immunity. It fights infections and might also be good for your arteries and blood pressure. It’s the allicin in garlic (and other veggies in this class) that is known for immunity. And it tastes so good (at least for most of us)!
Ginger is another superfood which fights inflammation; it may also be good for helping with pain and cholesterol. It’s wonderful gut-healthy food!
Assuming you eat dairy, yogurts that have live cultures are also very gut healthy. So, choose the types that do not have a lot of sugar in them.
Almonds are also very gut-healthy; it has Vitamin E, which is a wonderful, powerful antioxidant.
Vitamin D is also critical at this time of year because we’re no longer outside so much, getting exposure to the sun, which is how we can build up our reserves otherwise. So, taking a vitamin D supplement is likely a good idea for most of us. You can also focus on eating egg yolks, mushrooms, salmon, canned tuna, and beef liver if you want to get a nice supply from your food intake.
Exercise, or activity, is also especially important, especially as it gets colder and you’re indoors more. So, if you have a gym membership, by all means use it! You can also take walks in parks (bundle up please), or even walks through larger buildings like grocery stores can improve your daily step count. Exercise, or any other activity, like dancing, helps tamp down inflammation within the body and is a great tool for chronic disease. It reduces stress (and related hormones), revs up your white blood cells which are involved in fighting disease, even as innocuous as the common cold!
I don’t have to remind you to get both enough sleep and good quality sleep – it helps keep up your resistance to viral infections especially. During sleep time, cytokines are released which help your immune system.
If you’re using alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, or other types of drugs, dial it down as this pounds away at the immune system. Did I really need to say this?! While you’re at it, dial back anything with sugar and refined wheat flour, as these will have a negative effect on our overall health, especially our immune response.
Also, use mindfulness activities – what works for you the best – to calm yourself down. There is a very succinct connection between chronic stress and physiological illness.
I could go on and on, but I know you get the picture. Love yourself and your loved ones enough to take excellent care of yourself so you can stay fit and healthy.
And, as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
Certainly, I think nearly everybody would agree that these are trying times. It’s been about two and a half years since this pandemic was proclaimed … worldwide.
Many of us don’t know what to think or do. Should we be worried or not so much? What are we to think when there is so much contradictory information coming down the pike, right?!
First of all, our beautifully crafted human bodies are designed to fight off marauding invaders successfully. This means anything from a virus (as is the case here) or a bacterial growth, a bite from a predator in nature, etc. (We do this through our immune system.)
Our bodies are so wondrously designed that even if we are genetically programmed for certain weaknesses (and we are), there are more natural ways to quell the expression of those adverse gene combinations which leaves us feeling, well … pretty darned good!
I’m living proof of that. If you haven’t been following my writings, then I’m here to tell you I conquered debilitating and lethal autoimmune disease, plus a host of other undesirable (potential) conditions.
I would have to say that for the past 25 or so years I have been studying and working directly with people in various capacities (like counseling, teaching, and consulting), and for those who have followed holistic ways of living, supervised by competent professionals, I haven’t seen them fail.
So, how do you do it?
Holistic means that you look at something as interconnected parts of a whole. In the health arena, it means that you learn and implement multiple lifestyle changes to create a healthy, resistant, resilient new you!
Okay – easier said than done!
One of the most important changes you can make to improve immunity is by changing your diet. In broad, general terms, you do this through lowering or eliminating your junk food habits (eating junk foods only if they’re made in a truly healthy manner).
Unfortunately, this includes so many foods we just love, like soda (both those with sugar and with sweeteners), cakes, other baked goods, pizza, chips, and more. But remember that most of these foods and drinks can be made in a healthy way, so don’t despair … completely! LOL!
The two main dietary culprits are wheat (and other starches) and sugar. If something says sugar free on the label, check it out to see if it has other forms of sugar that our government says we can term “sugar free.” This is important, especially if you are really vulnerable to these so-called foods. Most of us are.
It is important to start adding healthier foods – whole foods, like meats, cheeses, lots of low- to no-starch veggies, salads, lightly steamed, stir-fried, etc. I hated this when I first started but my taste buds changed so now, I actually crave these foods.
Please know that everyone’s body is different, plus our needs change, so there is no one-size-fits-all diet approach to good health.
Veggies and a little fruit (they have sugar) are very immune-friendly. So are foods that are fermented. Do you like miso soup? Enjoy it – it’s fermented! I like mine with a touch of sesame oil in it.
Kimchi is also fermented, and sauerkraut, and even pickles (make them yourself without sugar and chemicals please).
Eat healthy yogurt with lots of probiotics, healthy fat, and other nutrients. A prebiotic food is something like a piece of green banana or a small piece of a raw white potato! These work in tandem with probiotics.
Avoid foods and products that have been more than minimally processed. Start cooking more! And please try to avoid foods with chemicals in them, as they are not healthy.
There are basic supplements that are always good to take, like a good multiple (I’m not thinking of those overly processed ones in the conventional arena), antioxidants (I’m thinking about Vitamins C and more), but a great multi vitamin should have lots of these included, so READ LABELS!
Working with a competent health practitioner will enhance your body’s ability to absorb the nutrients that are so desperately needed. I can’t recommend this enough. But, having said that, there are so many excellent sources of information available online. You just have to know which ones are better in general and specifically for you. Some might be excellent for some, but your body doesn’t absorb them!
Now, if your immune health needs work, it might be a good idea to take extra precautions while you’re building up your own body’s ability to fight. If you’ve had an organ transplant, or if you’re on multiple medications, then err on the side of caution.
Even if you can’t be (professionally) weaned from your medications, eating a diet full of foods that are healthy for you will still make you stronger and healthier!
I always prefer to lay the foundation of diet and supplementation first, because therein lies about ¾ of your total health, including your immune system.
Other things you can do for your immune health are taking time for self-care, especially in the form of mindfulness activities. This can be different for each person, so experiment! For some it is meditation. For others it’s listening to music, taking a bubble bath, or turning on binaural beats (sound waves).
Do you have too much stress in your life? It’s time to change that as well! Too much negative stress overtaxes the body, and the immune system can easily take a hit. Time management is a great skill to hone or build.
Remember – you have to be the one to take good care of yourself!
And as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.