health

Secrets for a Wellness Inspired Holiday Season

Exercise, health, holiday, mental health, positive thinking, self care, stress, Uncategorized, weight, wellness

‘Tis the season to spend time with friends, family, and loved ones – and to celebrate, indulge, and be merry.

But, the holiday cheer can also invite quite a setback in your mind-body health goals and wellness routine.  To avoid the stress and weight gain of the season – and remain light in your mind and body – follow my guide to indulge, without losing your healthy edge.

Let me show you how to:

  • EAT healthy and in moderation.
  • MOVE your body, stretch, and get your heart rate up.
  • DE-STRESS and balance your emotions during the busy chaos of the holidays.

How do you enjoy the holiday season without falling into the trap of weight gain, sugar crashes, and poor choices?  Sticking to a healthy plan is important.  However, depriving yourself of certain foods can have negative results.  Restrictive eating can lead to binge eating as well as disliking healthy foods by associating them with something you ‘have’ to do.  When it’s time to pile food on your plate, eat what you know you love, guilt free, but keep this advice in mind:

  • If smaller plates are an option, use them. You’ll fill larger plates just because room is available.  Second trips are better than overeating on the first round.
  • If you’re trying something new, only take a bite-size portion.
  • Eat a snack before you arrive so you aren’t at the onset of the feast.
  • You fall in love with your Aunt’s new dessert and even though you’re too full to enjoy it, you’re tempted to have a second portion. Instead of grabbing the last bite in fear of not eating it again until next year, ask her to email the recipe out to the whole family for those who can’t wait another year.

 

Maintain an Exercise Plan

Holiday gatherings often consist of sitting, eating, talking, drinking, and more eating.  We often find ourselves sitting for longer periods of time because we enjoy the conversation.  Your legs want to move, the food is on the counter, and off you go for food you’re not even hungry for.

This year, try some of these actions with the family to reduce the march to the kitchen:

  • Go for a 5-10 minute walk after each meal to aid digestion. Increase that walk to 15 minutes after every meal to help lower blood sugar levels, especially after eating holiday sweets.  You may be surprised at those who will join you for your walk!
  • Run/walk the stairs in your home.
  • Organize a family yoga session, check out YouTube sessions’.
  • Go for a family hike.
  • Bring a board game to the family feast. Although you’re still sitting, this can provide some excitement and victory movement.  Plus, it’ better than just eating.
  • Shovel snow
  • Ice skate
  • Make snow angels
  • Dance to Christmas music
  • Walk the neighborhood or mall to see the holiday decorations.

 

Stress and fatigue are often unwelcome guests during the holiday season.  Stress might join you while cooking a holiday meal, decorating your house in preparation for a party, or shopping at a crowded mall.  It can manifest as aches and pains, prevent you from sleeping through the night, and dampen your spirits during the holidays.  You can beat back stress, and the inevitable fatigue it causes on your body.

Focus on the Positive – bring your attention to the experiences you most enjoy about the holidays.  Try going into each holiday gathering or interaction with a positive and loving intention.  It’s easier to maintain a positive attitude when you arrive in that mental state.

Spend Time Outdoors in Nature – spending time outdoors in nature can help enhance mental clarity, energize your mind and body, and connect you to your loved ones as well as the environment.

Let Go of the Past – pretend you are a newcomer to your own family.  Approach them with curiosity and excitement.  Forget past transgressions, arguments, tears.  You are not condoning past wrongs by letting them go; you are just saying they cannot hurt you anymore.

Take Time for Yourself – the holidays can be a time when we put everyone else’s needs first.  It’s easy to lose yourself in the chaos of the season.  Take some time to reflect on what practices you do to keep you balanced and peaceful throughout the year and make sure to adhere to them when things get crazy.

Stay in the Present – what is the best gift you could give to yourself and others at your holiday gathering?  Being present.  Cultivate appreciation for your friends and family in your life at the moment.

Hold realistic Expectations – if you become frustrated that the holidays aren’t going according to plan, remember there is no such thing as a perfect family or perfect holiday.  What can you learn and how can you grow from your family?

Maintain Your Routine – as much as possible, maintain your typical sleeping, eating, and exercise schedules.  Your vitality can be weakened by changes in routine, which can lead to feelings of anxiety or irritation.

Make Clear Requests – your friends and family won’t know what’s important to you unless you voice it.  Clearly stating your needs can help to reduce holiday stress and develop closer family ties.

Practice Gratitude – gratitude is a powerful force that you can use to expand your happiness, improve your health, and – you guessed it – help you cope with stress.  Organize a time when your family sits down to share what they love about the holidays, or about individual members of the family.

Say Cheese – no one can deny the mind-body connection.  So, it you’re looking for a way out of stress, you’ll need to smile more.  Organize a family photo shoot or make sure to have your camera on-hand when everyone first arrives to the holiday meal, gathering, or party.  Capture those first hugs, ask for the best grins, and snap all those treasured moments.  You can revisit them mid-year to remember how great the holidays can actually be.

Make Restful Sleep a Priority – good quality rest is one of the pillars of healthy living.  In rhythm with the sun going down and birds flocking to their nests, we should also go to sleep early, ideally before 10pm.  If you are a late riser, try shifting your bedtime closer to 10pm by 15 minutes per night.  This will give you the time to enjoy nature’s early morning calm, ever-more important during the stressful holiday season.

The Secret to making your holiday inspiring is actually quite simple.  Be inspiring yourself.  As with any change, you must be the change you want to see in others.

All of us at ELM Mental Wellness wish you and your family a Safe, Happy, Inspiring Holiday Season!

 

 

 

How to Nourish your body so you can eliminate anxiety.

emotion, health, mental health, nutrition, stress, Uncategorized, wellness

There are many possible causes of anxiety, from trauma to medication side effects.  Many medical conditions also mimic symptoms of anxiety: thyroid disorders, and other hormonal imbalances, diabetes, asthma, epilepsy, and heart conditions.  “Much of our increasing emotional distress stems from easily correctable malfunctions in our brain and body chemistry-malfunctions that are primarily the result of critical, unmet nutritional needs,” The Mood Cure, Julia Ross (2004,3).

Improved nutrition, lifestyle changes, exercise, stress reduction techniques, supplements, and mind-body practices are all part of a natural approach to anxiety and other mood problems.  James Lake, integrative psychiatrist and author of Textbook of Integrative Mental Health (2007), supports these methods for mild to moderate mental health symptoms, as do many other holistic practitioners and researchers.

Why use a natural approach? Perhaps you already feel strongly about taking a natural approach to health whenever possible and want to learn more.  Or maybe your anxiety was so severe and you were so desperate that you turned to medications, but now they aren’t working as well or as expected, or perhaps they do help but you don’t like some of the side effects.  Perhaps you know deep down that addressing the root cause is the way to go.  Whatever the reason, if you’re looking for natural options for combating anxiety, you’ve come to the right place.

Using natural approaches in the form of foods and nutrients can address the root cause of your anxiety, alleviate symptoms, and keep them from returning.  For example, if your anxiety is due to a vitamin B6 deficiency, it makes the most sense to boost your levels of vitamin B6.  This will also help raise your levels of serotonin, which could improve your mood, sleep, cravings, and, for women, PMS symptoms.  It would also be important to look at why your vitamin B6 is low to start with.  Maybe you aren’t getting enough in your diet, aren’t digesting well, are under a great deal of stress, or have depleted levels from taking birth control pills.  This is just one example of a nutrient deficiency that can contribute to anxiety.

Good-quality food is the number one priority.  Taking supplemental nutrients to correct imbalances is ideally a short-term approach.  The exceptions would be if you have an inherited tendency to low levels of some nutrients, or you can’t or won’t take steps to ease high levels of stress.

It’s also important to remember that we are all unique, with individual biochemistry, imbalances, and life circumstances.  There isn’t a one-size-fits-all magic solution, even among natural approaches. By eating better, reducing stress, and addressing any nutritional imbalances, you’ll also see an overall improvement in your general health and well-being.

Eating real, whole, good quality food is the foundation of my work, and any program to prevent and alleviate mental health issues such as anxiety, obsessive tendencies, worry, panic attacks, and depression, as well as maintain optimal mental health. This approach, combined with eating according to your own unique needs, will help calm your anxious mind.

How Opposite Day will improve your Health.

creativity, health, learning, mental health, problem solving, self care, stress, therapy, Uncategorized, wellness

Ever feel stuck in a rut–doing the same thing day in and day out? Then, take advice from Seinfeld’s George Costanza and do the opposite of what you normally do. It can be as simple as taking a different route to work or seeing a movie you normally wouldn’t be interested in. Often, we can be too judgmental or too set in our ways to give something new a try. If you tend to jam-pack your schedule with events and activities, try scheduling in some quiet time at home. If you are more of a homebody, try something more adventurous that you normally wouldn’t do. You never know what you might discover if you start making yourself get out of your comfort zone. Intellectual Wellness is achieved through self-directed behavior focused on learning. Any activity that inspires and stimulates your willingness, desire and intent to learn, explore and expand your mind intellectually in any way supports healthy Intellectual Wellness. It also means being free intellectually to learn something new.

Intellectual Wellness is also about your willingness and curiosity to acquire new information, while continuously seeking out new challenges to expand and improve your knowledge and skills. This often develops a sense of awareness and satisfaction. Some people find it gratifying to share their skills and knowledge with others.

Research studies show that maintaining a healthy level of Intellectual Wellness helps keep the brain-mind cognition healthy.

Few Questions to check your intellectual wellness:

  • I am interested in learning new things.
  • I enjoy attending lectures, plays, musical performances, museums, galleries, and/or libraries.
  • I enjoy creative and stimulating mental activities/games.
  • I make an effort to improve my verbal and written skills.
  • I am able to analyze, synthesize, and see more than one side of an issue.

 

Methods to grow your intellectual wellness:

  • Continuously exercise your mind while remaining clam and tranquil.
  • Create development by continuously acquiring, applying, and expressing positive and constructive critical thinking.
  • Keep an active mind through mental activity stimulation.
  • Open to new ideas.
  • Be motivated to master new skills and seeking out new challenges.
  • Develop and maintain a continuous sense of humor, creativity, and curiosity.
  • Reach your own correct decision, make up your own mind, in your own interest when there is a choice or a problem.
  • Reading is one of the great ways to learn.
  • Start a new hobby.

We don’t have to spend hours on our Intellectual Wellness each and every day to reap significant benefits. Just a few minutes a day, several days a week will get the job done. Intellectual Wellness is the wellness aspect that adds extra spark to our lives, and if we take on these projects with a sense of adventure, we’ll notice an amazing difference in no time!

It is better to stretch and challenge our minds with intellectual and creative pursuits than to become self-satisfied and unproductive.  It is better to identify potential problems and choose appropriate courses of action based on available information than to wait, worry, and contend with major concerns later. national wellness institute

Basically, if you’re learning something new, you’re focusing on your Intellectual Wellness!

Traveling the ELM Mental Wellness path, we’ll explore issues related to problem solving, creativity, and learning. As you develop your intellectual curiosity, you’ll actively strive to expand and challenge your mind by learning to value vision, wonder, and lifelong learning.

Spiritual Wellness is a personal matter.

health, mental health, positive thinking, relationships, self care, spirituality, stress, therapy, Uncategorized, wellness

The spiritual dimension recognizes our search for meaning and purpose in human existence. It includes the development of a deep appreciation for the depth and expanse of life and natural forces that exist in the universe. Your search will be characterized by a peaceful harmony between internal personal feelings and emotions and the rough and rugged stretches of your path. While traveling the path, you may experience many feelings of doubt, despair, fear, disappointment and dislocation, as well as feelings of pleasure, joy, happiness and discovery. These are all important experiences and components to your search and will be displayed in the value system you will adapt to bring meaning to your existence. You’ll know you’re becoming spiritually well when your actions become more consistent with your beliefs and values, resulting in a “world view.”

 

Evaluate your own spiritual wellness with this brief quiz.

  • Do I make time for relaxation in my day?
  • Do I make time for meditation and/or prayer?
  • Do my values guide my decisions and actions?
  • Am I accepting of the views of others?

 

9 Ways To Improve Your Spiritual Wellness:

  • Explore you spirituality – When you are examining the core set of your beliefs and principles, you should put forward questions like: Do I know myself? What do I have to realize in my life? If you are persistent you will find the puzzles of your life and realize your innermost goal.
  • Pray – All you need to do is find a neat and comfortable place to send your prayers.
  • Clear out the mind garbage – Consider writing down, at the end of the day, your thoughts; the things you wanted to say but didn’t have the chance or simply write down how your day passed. Sharing will give you a sense of relievement and calmness will take you from there.
  • Yoga – It will relief the physical and emotional tension. All the things like bad emotions and feelings that interrupt your wellbeing will leave permanently.
  • Finding the purpose – There is saying: The most precious lessons in life aren’t learned in school. And it’s true. In every failure, there is a hidden lesson we must learn. This is how we evolve spiritually. We shouldn’t run away from obstacles and evade them as they will ruin us. They have come to pass.
  • Think positively – People complain all the time. What they do is stuffing their mind with limiting thoughts that ruin their life eventually. Being concentrated on the positive side of life, you will be a step closer to happiness. It will flourish your growth and make you forget the worries.
  • Go incognito – When you are incognito, it’s that special time when you can analyze the situation. You can practice it whenever you feel like it. When you are incognito, you can meditate, practice yoga or apply other useful activities.
  • Travel – Visiting other places is beneficial for your mind. Being all by yourself in a quiet and peaceful surrounding helps you increase the connection with your inner self. Try one of your local parks!

These activities will make sure you are on the right track in improving your spiritual wellness.

ELM Mental Wellness can help guide your spiritual wellness through exploration of readiness, identifying resources, your strengths and solutions. We will explore your willingness and ability to transcend yourself in order to question the meaning and purpose in your life and the lives of others.

How I quit the donut, 24 years and counting.

health, nutrition, self care, sugar, Uncategorized, weight, weight loss, wellness

Consistently I am asked this question, so I decided to write about it.  24 years ago I recognized I ‘really’ liked donuts, and I could eat a lot of them.  When the morning arrived I stood in front of my closet trying to find something to wear to work, then realizing nothing fit anymore.  I called in sick to work because I felt and was sick.  After crying for a few minutes, it came over me like a storm.  This was it, this was my last straw moment, and today was the day to do something!  So I dried my tears, put on my big girl panties and sought help.

I had to realize that donuts were not my friend, they were not my therapist, and they certainly weren’t helping anything.  I began to dig deep, “what benefit am I receiving from this sugary delight?”  I began to journal about when and where I would eat donuts, along with my emotions.   I recognized boredom and stress were fuel to my donut fire. I stopped eating them immediately, because I was ready to.

The longer I did without them, the better I felt.  My motivation machine was ON and there was no turning it off now.  It was all about action.

Almost 20 years ago, two well-known alcoholism researchers, Carlo C. DiClemente and J. O. Prochaska, introduced a five-stage model of change to help professionals understand their clients with addiction problems and motivate them to change. Their model is based not on abstract theories but on their personal observations of how people went about modifying problem behaviors such as smoking, overeating and problem drinking.

The six stages of the model are:

  • precontemplation
  • contemplation
  • determination
  • action
  • maintenance
  • termination

Gold, M. (2016). Stages of Change. Psych Central

Understanding your readiness to change by being familiar with the six-stage model of change can help you choose treatments that are right for you.

Nothing succeeds like success. I implemented a good plan, I was beginning to see it work and experiencing it working over time, as well as making adjustments along the way. The many things that hiding in a donut may have taken from me began to be restored, along with hope and self-confidence and continued determination not to eat one.

Today I understand when we eat something loaded with sugar; your taste buds, your gut and your brain all take notice.  This activation of your reward system is not unlike how bodies process addictive substances such as alcohol or nicotine.  An overload of sugar spikes dopamine levels and leaves you craving more.

So what’s the magic potion you ask?

This is my recipe:

  • My last straw moment prompted determination and plan preparation.
  • Commitment to change with appropriate skills.
  • Success reducing my sugar urge propelled continued achievement.
  • Continuing to educate myself and adjust plans to maintain long term sustained change, bye bye donut.

Here are some Tips:

  • Out of sight is usually not out of mind
  • Make lower calorie choices when possible
  • Our environment is toxic – unhealthy food is highly accessible
  • Don’t let yourself get too hungry
  • Try a cravings journal
  • Smart carbs to the rescue – whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables
  • Take care of yourself, in a non-food way

I have successfully managed my weight health and sugar craving for almost 25 years now.

As you travel the ELM path, I will join with you to explore your challenges and cravings.  We will discover your strengths for determination and preparation, as well as what might get in the way.  We will create an action plan with small, sustainable goals, and prepare for long term maintained change.

I look forward to hearing about your donut!

Be well!

Kelle Greeson, LPCC CWC

ELM Mental Wellness, owner

 

 

How social connections support your health?

emotion, health, mental health, positive thinking, relationships, stress, therapy, Uncategorized, wellness

Are we losing our ability to connect?

Quite simple, Social Wellness refers to your relationships with others.

It encompasses the idea of having positive interactions with others since we are all social beings. It involves developing and building close bonds of friendship and intimacy, practicing empathy and effective listening, as well as caring for others and for the common good.

While we have numerous technologies connecting us to friends, family and people across the country, we find ourselves more and more alone and lonely. Take a moment to observe people in coffee shops or restaurants.  Many times conversations are happening over cell phones, between one person who is present and another at the other end of the phone, rather than among the people sitting together. Our behaviors suggest using the technology is primary and having the conversation is secondary.  These observations are not intended to criticize technology, but rather to suggest a more mindful use of this tool.  Important connections happen electronically and technology can be very useful.  It is remarkable the power of a few characters to make you feel connected.  Technology isn’t the only force contributing to a disconnection among people.  Our culture encourages individualism and distraction from the present moment, materialism, and results rather than progress.  We seem to be focused on the relatively insignificant aspects of our lives rather than our happiness, relationships, and well being.

Our social health is affected by social history, cultural values, open-mindedness, and knowledge of healthy relationships.

Social Wellness Facts

  • Socially isolated people are more susceptible to illness and have a death rate two to three times higher than those who are not socially isolated.
  • People who maintain their social network and support systems do better under stress.
  • Approximately 20 percent of Americans feel lonely and isolated during their free time.
  • Touching, stroking, and hugging can improve health.
  • Laughter really is good medicine.
  • Cholesterol levels go up when human companionship is lacking.
  • Warm, close friendships cause higher levels of immunoglobulin A (an antibody that helps keep away respiratory infections and cavities).
  • A strong social network can create a good mood and enhance self-esteem.

 

Social support is thought to impact physical and mental well being in several different ways.  Social support provides an individual with a route to receiving psychological and material resources.  These resources exist in three categories: instrumental (money or services), informational (advice or important information), and emotional (empathy, caring, trust, and reassurance).  Being a part of a community offers various social relationships that provide many different emotional benefits, i.e. experiencing stress-buffering due to sense of belonging.  Relationships provide identification with social roles, promote positive psychological conditions such as purpose, meaning, a sense of identity and self-worth.

In my profession of counseling, I work with individuals on a daily basis struggling to connect with others and have meaningful relationships.  Here are some guidelines:

Social Wellness Tips

1.Articulate your thoughts both in public and personal conversations.

2.Think before you speak.

3.Volunteer in your community.

4.Make others feel important, while being genuine.

5.Get to know your personal needs and pursue things and people who nurture those needs.

6.Join a club or organization that interests you.

7.Visit neighbors and friends.

8.Contact and make a specific effort to talk to the people who are supportive in your life.

9.Ask questions, and refrain from doing all the talking.

10.Send “Thank You” notes for kind deeds done in your favor.

11.Allow others to care for you.

12.Balance your social life with your personal life.

 

 

As you travel the ELM Mental Wellness path, you’ll become more aware of your importance in society as well as the impact you have on multiple environments. You’ll take an active part in improving our world by encouraging healthier living and initiating better communication with those around you.You’ll actively seek ways to preserve the beauty and balance of nature along the pathway as you discover the power to make willful choices to enhance personal relationships and important friendships, and build a better living space and community.

I can help you grow your social wellness by developing:

  • comfort with expressing yourself
  • supportive and fulfilling relationships
  • Attitude towards your relationships (and your willingness to ask for help)
  • Peer acceptance, close bonds and social skills (like assertiveness or conflict resolution)
  • The ability to accept others for being different

 

It is better to contribute to the common welfare of our

community than to think only of ourselves.

 

It is better to live in harmony with others and our

environment than to live in conflict with them.