As a therapist and one of the few Wellness Counselor’s in Cincinnati, I often hear clients that I work with say I’ve tried everything, I need something new and different, and I’ve got to find an approach I can live with.
People contact me to master disordered eating and weight health, calm the anxiety storm, and relieve symptoms of depression and sadness. They also are searching for a new approach beyond the conventional methods.
My approach to therapy is integrative which means I design a treatment plan just for you utilizing the various types of therapy I am trained in. I assist clients to resolve current problems and long-standing patterns. My certification as a wellness counselor allows me to collaborate with you to create your personalized, preventative, proactive wellness plan that combines the best of conventional and alternative therapy. People are much better equipped to deal with the struggles and changes we encounter if we feel whole and healthy in our body, mind and spirit. We become more resilient to life’s challenges.
With sensitivity, gentle humor (I love to laugh with clients about how silly life can be) and compassion, clients find solutions to a wide range of life challenges and psychological issues.
I am “not your ordinary therapist.” Well, it is because that is the mostly commonly said remark I received from client’s feedback forms. Clients reported that the practical feedback and session assignments were more than the “how do you feel?” they expected or had from prior therapists.
Hi, I’m Kelle, a Psychotherapist and Certified Wellness Counselor. I am a licensed therapist with an additional certification in wellness counseling. I offer general therapy to treat diagnosable mental health disorders, blended with strategies to start developing healthy habits that can have a positive impact on your physical and mental health.
I provide ways out of your current struggle. In the beginning I will be your guide helping you open your awareness of the path you’re on, then side by side walking the path exploring and matching methods to your needs, finally watching you move down the path to independent mental wellness.
Mental wellness is the degree to which one feels positive and enthusiastic about life. And, the capacity to live a full, creative life with flexibility to deal with life’s challenges.
Just a walk in the woods or a stroll by the beach on a sunny morning can awaken the innermost feelings of happiness and peace, and Environmental Psychology has gone a long way proving this fact (Bell, Fisher, Baum, Greene, 1996).
Our affinity toward nature is genetic and deep-rooted in evolution. For example, have you ever wondered why most people prefer to book accommodations that have a great view from the balcony or the terrace? Why patients who get a natural view from their hospital bed recover sooner than others? Or why does it happen that when stress takes a toll on our mind, we crave for time to figure out things amidst nature?
Frank Lloyd Wright had said, “Study Nature, love Nature, stay close to Nature. It will never fail you.”
Nature Improves Psychological Well-Being
- Nature helps in emotional regulation and improves memory functions. A study on the cognitive benefits of nature found that subjects who took a nature walk did better on a memory test than the subjects who walked down the urban streets (Berman, Jonides, Kaplan, 2008).
- Nature walks benefit people suffering from depression (Shern et al., 2014). Studies had shown that people suffering from mild to major depressive disorders showed significant mood upliftments when exposed to nature. Not only that, but they also felt more motivated and energized to recover and get back to normalcy (Berman, Kross, Kaplan, 2012).
- Recent investigations revealed that being outdoor reduces stress by lowering the stress hormone cortisol. Besides that, it also makes us immune to allied problems like hypertension and tachycardia (Lee J, 2011).
- Nature walks and other outdoor activities build attention and focus (Hartig, 1991). There are pieces of evidence that indicate strong environmental connections to be related to better performance, heightened concentration, and reduced chances of developing Attention Deficit Disorder.
- A study at the University of Kansas found that spending more time outdoors and less time with our electronic devices can increase our problem-solving skills and improve creative abilities.
The Importance of Nature to Well-Being
A 30-days campaign was run by the Wildlife Trusts of the University of Derby, with the prime focus on uncovering the crucial role nature plays in our overall eudaemonia. The study revealed that subjective feelings of happiness and wellbeing were positively correlated with natural activities such as gardening, animal feeding, bird watching, and bushwalking.
Dr. Miles Richardson, the face of this research, cited valuable evidence on how proximity to the nature improved mood, enhanced respiratory functioning, regulated hormonal malfunctions, and impacted on the thought structure of individuals as a whole.
Just by being outdoors and using all our senses to appreciate nature, we can be more mindful of the present, gain emotional resilience, and combat stress with more vitality.
We become naturally immune to anxiety, emotional ups and downs, and thought blocks, thereby feel more lively and energetic than before.
The survey further pointed that people who lived close to natural wilderness like the beach, mountains, or parklands, had better mental health and reported of falling sick lesser than those living in congested urban settings (Kuo and Coley, 2016).
Such families had fewer instances of domestic violence, said of feeling less fatigued, and showed increased productivity at the professional front
5 Ways to Apply the Positive Effects of Nature in Our Life
1. Walk more
We know walking is good for the heart, muscles, and the overall metabolism rate. And now scientists have proved that walking in the natural environment improves our emotional health too.
A study conducted and published by Stanford University, California revealed that participants who walked in the green parklands showed increased attention and focus, more so than participants who walked in closed urban settings or on a treadmill.
Not only that, but the former group also showed less engagement in negative thinking and felt more confident about themselves than the other group.
2. Keep a nature journal
A nature journal is a creative and unique way of imbibing the positive vibes of nature into our everyday lives. Many people who encourage this habit express feelings of inner peace and joy. In a nature journal, we can collect and note everything about our encounters with the outer world.
For example, after a walk by the beach on a cloudy evening, we can sketch some clouds in the journal or draw the sea and write how we felt when we were walking through the breezy shore. Many people collect small things like a pebble, flowers, feathers, or leaves, and glue them in the nature journal with their thoughts poured into it. A great way to spend some quality ‘me-time,’ nature journaling inevitably brings a part of nature in our usual lives.
3. Spend some working hours outside
Most working professionals today have the flexibility to access daily tasks outside (thanks to technology). We can choose to spend a part of our working day out to avoid the monotony of the cubicle and the same old office space.
It may be one conference in the garden or lunch at the local park, anything that can logically amalgamates with nature. Spending some time outside alone or with co-workers gives an instant boost of freshness to the mind, thereby reducing the stress and frustration that comes from working tonelessly for hours at a stretch.
4. Plant at home
Growing plants at home not just add aesthetic beauty to your space, it also contributes to purifying the air you breathe in.
Having plants at home balances and soothes the home ambiance and aids in respiration and breathing. Studies have proved that indoor plants or a garden are beneficial for the mental health of the people who live there. They help in improving sensory awareness, cognitive functions, and enhances focus.
Indoor plants reconnect us to nature, please our senses, and brings a serene feeling when we stay close to them.
5. Balance the diet with more natural elements
Diet is undoubtedly a great way of establishing a strong connection to Mother Nature. By consuming more plant-based proteins, vitamins, and minerals, we can help our body maintain its optimal state of functioning and homeostasis level.
Recent healthcare research proved that the consumption of plant-based protein is correlated to lower mortality rates as opposed to animal-based proteins. It is not a bad idea, after all, to replace meat with vegetables and grains – if that brings good health and long life to us!
A Take-Home Message:
“All the trees are losing their leaves, and not one of them is worried”
Why does our brain needs at least 8 hugs a day: Hugging is a particularly intimate and intense way to express emotions. Through a hug we can convey joy or sorrow, we can say to a person that can count on us unconditionally and understand his state of mind without speaking. But the fact is that embraces not only help us connect with others and express what we feel, also have a very positive effect on the emotional balance and brain health.
What happens when someone hugs us? When someone hugs us, the physical contact activates the pressure receptors that we have in our skin, which are also known as Pacinian corpuscles, and respond mainly to deep pressure. These receptors immediately send signals to the vagus nerve. At that point, we begin to feel good because that nerve is connected with nerve fibers that reach different cranial nerves and play an important role in the regulation of most of the key functions of the body, including blood pressure. Therefore, as a result of a hug and vagus nerve stimulation, the heart rate and blood pressure decrease. Actually, the vagus nerve plays an important role in the parasympathetic system, which represents a kind of handbrake when we are under stress or overexcited.
Another important change takes place directly in the brain. A hug stimulates the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter known as the “pleasure’s hormone” because it creates a feeling of satisfaction that relieves stress and tension. It is also appreciated that a simple hug increases the production of oxytocin, known as the “love’s hormone” which allows us to emotionally connect with others and trust them. And the most important fact is that the effects of a hug are immediate. A study conducted at the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International in Kyoto organized a conversation of about 15 minutes between some people and their partners. After, some of them received a hug and some not. Assessing the physiological parameters, the researchers appreciated that those who received the hug showed a significant reduction in the level of cortisol in blood, the stress hormone that causes so much damage.
Hugs help us feel good about ourselves: It was found that a hug, or a loving caress, affect the brain’s ability to imagine the body, even in adults. This kind of physical contact is also essential to develop and maintain an adequate perception of our body. According to a study conducted at the University College London, the key lies in the fact that this type of body contact offers pleasant tactile sensations that generate a series of proprioceptive signals, that help us feel better about our bodies. In practice, a touch or a hug, don’t send only the proprioceptive signals to our brain that allow us to be more aware of our bodies, but also say to it that we are worthy of being loved. And these feelings make us feel very good. In fact, according to these researchers, the lack of hugs and caresses could be a triggering or aggravating factor of body image disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.
How many hugs we need every day? Actually we could live without hugs, but it would be like dying slowly, a little every day. About this, family therapist Virginia Satir said: “We need four hugs a day to survive, eight hugs to keep us as we are and 12 hugs to grow”. In fact, during a study conducted by researchers at UCLA it were scanned the brains of participants while they were subjected to electric shocks. Their partners accompanied them during the test and, in some cases, were allowed to hold their hands. Thus it was found that physical contact was helping to deal with the stress of the experience and that in these cases were activated brain areas responsible for mitigating fear. These studies show that hugs have a very powerful effect on our brains and help us achieve a state of relaxation and comfort, while allowing us to better deal with stress and fear. Therefore, even if not 8, you still need to guarantee you a daily dose of hugs.
Sources: Sumioka, H. et. Al. (2013) Huggable communication medium decreases cortisol levels. Nature; 3: 3024. Crucianelli, L. et. Al. (2013) Bodily Pleasure Matters: Velocity of Touch Modulates Body Ownership During the Rubber Hand Illusion. Frontiers in Psychology; 4: 703. Inagaki, T. K. & Eisenberger, N. I. (2012) Neural correlates of giving support to a loved one. Psychosom Med; 74(1): 3-7. Holt-Lunstad, J. et. Al. (2008) Influence of a “warm touch” support enhancement intervention among married couples on ambulatory blood pressure, oxytocin, alpha amylase, and cortisol. Psychosom. Med; 70: 976–985.
INSPIRING ACTION To start integrating sustainability efforts, join forces. Many organizations have a task force overseeing and implementing reduce/reuse/recycle strategies. Team up to share ideas, expand reach, and amplify efforts with consistent messaging. If there isn’t a green team — which may be housed under the umbrella of corporate social responsibility, launch one.
Reaching the Hard to Reach
Concerned about reactions from people who don’t understand or believe the facts? A report by the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED) at Columbia University states the most effective approach is to frame sustainable living messages in terms of personal benefits like having clean air and water, being healthier, and saving money. Learn more: connectingonclimate.org.
Meanwhile, here’s a way to press the easy button and start influencing change: Add trackable sustainability activities to your next well-being challenge; come up with your own to match workforce needs and interests. Before long, participants will expect to see earth-friendly activities alongside step tracking and medita¬tion as habits equally vital to well-being.
A few examples:
• Slash use of plastics/disposables. People can pack their own bamboo, metal, or other reusable utensils, dishes, and straws. Reusable grocery bags, cloth napkins, and washable paper towel alternatives eliminate a lot of household waste. And food storage is a cinch with glass containers, silicone bags, and wax-coated cloth wraps.
• Shrink your carbon footprint. Share a tool like the EPA’s Carbon Footprint Calculator (epa.gov/carbon-footprint-calculator); challenge participants and their families to make everyday choices that reduce carbon output.
• Get outside and play. When people spend time enjoying nature — from hiking in a national park to fishing and camping with their families — they’re more likely to have a heart for protecting it. Time in natural surroundings also offers unique physical and mental health benefits. Learn more in The Nature Fix by Florence Williams and A Healthy Dose of Nature Is Good for Business — Promoting Green Exercise for Employee Well-Being (hesonline.com/white-papers).
• Use alternative transportation. Distribute bike commuting details and discounted or free passes to make public transit benefits evident and linked to your wellness program.
“When people spend time enjoying nature — from hiking in a national park to fishing and camping with their families — they’re more likely to have a heart for protecting it.”
• Act on Climate Change Yale Program on Climate Change Communication: climatecommunication.yale.edu/news-events/act-on-climate-change
• Tips to Use Less Plastic Green Education Foundation greeneducationfoundation.org/nationalgreenweeksub/waste-reduction-tips/tips-to-use-less-plastic.html
• Top 20 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint GlobalStewards.org globalstewards.org/reduce-carbon-footprint.htm
National Food Day is observed annually on October 24. One of the targets that Food Day aims to help people is to “Eat Real,” which is defined by them as “cutting back on sugar drinks, overly salted packaged foods and fatty, factory-farmed meats in favor of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and sustainably raised protein.” National Food Day involves some of the country’s most prominent food activists, united by a vision of food that can be healthy, affordable and produced with care for the environment, farm animals and the people who grow, harvest and serve it.
In 2012, there were 3,200 events taking place from community festivals to a national conference in Washington, D.C. to thousands of school activities.
HOW TO OBSERVE
Enjoy some of your favorite healthy foods and use #NationalFoodDay to post on social media.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) initiated National Food Day 2011. It is a nationwide celebration of healthy, affordable and sustainably produced food and a grassroots campaign for better food policies. This project builds throughout the year and culminates on October 24 of each year.
What we find fascinating is that the ancient Greeks were leaders in holistic thinking – viewing the world from an integrated point of view, not just looking at the parts or events of our lives as being separate. They believed that nothing and no one was separate, that everything was connected. They were ahead of their time with their insights into the integration of body, mind, and spirit. (Much later, the body and mind were viewed as separate entities, leading to what we believe are many of the issues we face in the pursuit of well-being today.)
CONNECT MEANINGFULLY WITH OTHERS
“Man is a social animal.” – Aristotle
Aristotle believed that we are gregarious beings who flourish in groups or communities. Importantly, it is our nature to belong. Today, we live in a global world but, despite our social media connectivity, our emailing and our texting, research has shown that many people feel increasingly alienated. Depression, anxiety, and addiction are all on the rise, leading to a general decline in well-being.
A related challenge we face today is that, instead of relying on those we know for the necessities of life, we’re dependent on strangers and institutions for our survival. We don’t barter with neighbors, or even know where our food comes from; instead, we shop at supermarkets. We don’t depend on others for information or advice; we turn to the Internet. At the same time, we’re also more independent; rather than borrow things from our neighbors, we simply buy our own. Instead of asking others to help us, we do the chore ourselves or hire professionals. What have we lost? Have we tried so hard to be self-sufficient that we have cut ourselves off from each other?
Ancient and modern Greeks have much to share about connecting meaningfully with others. They teach us that we’re all important participants in the different “villages” in our lives, whether that village is our family, our friends or coworkers, or a larger organization. Greeks teach us to extend hospitality to others and always include them – “there is always room for one more.”
SHARING AND CARING
“We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink.” – Epicurus
Throughout Greece, building relationships through conversation is an integral part of daily activity. Stopping to greet others acknowledges their presence – their human existence – and tells them they’re an important part of the “village.”
It’s about the conversation and the connection. The cashier in the local grocery store in the town of Chania, Crete, engaged in a long conversation with a young woman in front of us in line; she takes an interest in her customers as people, not just as business transactions.
Every interaction is an opportunity to strengthen or weaken connections with others. In no small way, the depth of our lives depends on the depth of our relationships with others. This is an important part of the Greek way of living.
EMBRACE LIFE WITH ZEST
“The sun is new each day.” – Heraclitus
The ancient Greeks taught us that life is short and ever-changing. Importantly, the need to embrace the fullness of life – all its ups and downs, joys and sorrows – with gusto and an appreciation for being alive is built into the Greek DNA. Indeed, to be “enthusiastic” about life means, literally, to manifest the spirit within!
Greece could lead the world in teaching a holistic approach to well-being. Taking good care of spirit, mind, and body is ingrained in the culture. Greeks know that life is about energy, and well-being is about keeping this important life energy flowing. We can all adopt the essence of the Hippocratic Oath, to “do no harm,” by replacing inactivity, excessive stress, overeating and eating poor quality foods, with healthier choices.
In times of crisis and undue stress, where we are struggling or lacking fulfillment, we need to go back to the basics in life and search for sources of true meaning and well-being. As Heraclitus taught us, the sun is new each day. Every day is a new chance to connect meaningfully with others, find a deeper purpose, and embrace life fully. It’s a new opportunity to follow the Greek path to well-being.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
“I am not alone in my fear, nor alone in my hope, nor alone in my shouting.” – Nikos Kazantzakis (author, Zorba the Greek)
The famous Greek saying “Know thyself” is inscribed on a plaque above the entrance to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, a sacred place where ancient Greeks came to seek guidance. Their questions were answered by Pythia, the priestess of the Greek god Apollo, but her answers were usually cryptic and open to interpretation. Once the visitor received an answer from Pythia, the challenge was what to do with the answer. Should they blindly follow her advice, believing they had received “the answer,” or was the inscription “Know thyself” a warning to decide the validity of the answer for oneself?
In his speech defending himself at his trial, Socrates described how he would, like Heraclitus, go within and listen to his inner voice to discover the “right” thing to do. His approach was clearly metaphysical; he combined logic and reason with intuition, consulting what we refer to as his “inner oracle.” Like Socrates, the challenge for many of us is whether to trust our inner oracle, our sense of inner knowing, or whether to allow ourselves to be swayed by others.
BE TRUE TO YOURSELF
“There is one life for each of us: our own.” – Euripides
The ancient Greeks taught us to always act in accordance with our true nature. In the final analysis, the greatest challenge in our life is to discover and embrace our core essence. Many people tend to focus on what job or career they think they should have, or how they might define their overall purpose in life. However, in actuality, a truly meaningful life starts from, remains engaged with, and, ultimately, returns to one’s core essence … awakening our true selves by connecting with whom we really are.
The Greeks taught us that if we drift away from our authentic selves, perhaps by focusing on achieving or acquiring “external things” instead of focusing on our true purpose, we will never realize our highest potential. They believed that the end goal of life is evdemonia, a concept involving deep fulfillment, inner and outer prosperity, and being of service to others. Alex Pattakos, Ph.D., and Elaine Dundon;
In chasing “the good life,” many of us sacrifice our relationships, our health and our sanity, and still find ourselves with lives and work that bring us little fulfillment. But while our lives may seem complex, the solution to this challenge is actually quite simple. We just need to follow the path the ancient Greeks have laid out for us!
Why is it that despite so many interesting foods in the world, we sometimes fall into a dietary rut? My family recognized how busy we all are and our health was suffering. We constantly passed each other coming and going, rarely joined together for a meal, and the grocery list was non existent. I found myself stopping at the grocery sporadically picking up what I could remember, and noticed I was buying the same things. For busy working families, lapsing into a boring menu routine may be due to a lack of time, planning, or know-how. Unfortunately, a lack of variety and a reliance on convenience foods come with unappetizing pitfalls.
The risks of a dietary rut
Eating the same foods frequently deprives you of the flavors and textures that make meals adventures and help you be a healthy eater. It also limits nutrient intake. “You need a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. In order to get them, you need to eat different types of fresh foods every day,” says Teresa Fung, adjunct professor in the nutrition department at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Those nutrients should come from fresh vegetables and fruits, lean proteins, legumes (beans and lentils), nuts and seeds, healthy fats (avocados, olive oil), and low-fat dairy products.
Relying on prepackaged food or takeout meals can subject you to unhealthy ingredients like refined carbohydrates; saturated or trans fats; high amounts of salt; and lots of calories, preservatives, and additives. An unhealthy diet is associated with an increased risk for many chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and cancer.
Easy ways to bust the dietary rut
Fortunately, breaking out of a dietary rut isn’t hard.
- Get variety elsewhere. A lot of grocery stores have a good number of healthy, prepared foods, and you can pay by the ounce. Prepare the protein at home (like fish or chicken) and buying the side dishes — vegetables, whole grains, or salads — to bring home. Make it something you wouldn’t normally eat.
- Be adventurous. Try something unusual at least every other week. Make it yourself or get it from a restaurant. Caution: focus on vegetables or protein, and avoid anything with a lot of butter or cream. Need ideas? Pick a country and look up traditional dishes and recipes on the Internet.
- Try a subscription meal kit. You choose the menu on a website, and the premeasured, fresh ingredients arrive at your door. Go for something with lots of vegetables and whole grains, and a chunk of protein. There are many meal kit services. Two of the biggest are Hello Fresh and Blue Apron. Prices per person, per meal, range from $10 to $12.
- Cook in batches. Cook once or twice a week and eat leftovers in between. Make a large entree (like white bean soup), broil several chicken breasts, or cook a few side dishes (like brown rice, quinoa, or cooked spinach) that can be eaten throughout the week. It’s easier to cook 14 carrots in one day than two carrots per day for seven days in a row.
- Get your kids in on it. They’ll be more inclined to eat it if they helped prepare it.
A few more tips
We finally realized that the key to variety in our family meals was planning and shared responsibility. Now, in about half an hour on the weekend, we come up with healthy, interesting menus and shopping lists for the week.
We take turns or work together making dinner, and we batch-cook a lot of meals.
We recognized our challenges and agreed to try making changes, together. I’m not the only one planning meals and grocery shopping, we agreed to eat together at least once per week and get back on the health track!