therapy

Time to Revisit the Greek Concepts of Well Being

health, mental health, self care, spirituality, stress, therapy, wellness

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!

 

Nutrition Counseling is more than What We Eat.

health, nutrition, therapy, weight loss

 

When I reflect about ALL the ‘diets’ I have tried, followed, failed, and succeeded over the years, I realize they’re all the same.  I see how they have come and gone like fads. We hope this will ‘be the one’ to shed the pounds, and quick! They are a place to start, not a place to end.

Much has been made of the recently published results of the DIETFITS (Diet Intervention Examining the Factors Interacting with Treatment Success) study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28027950

Most of the headlines emphasized the fact that the two diets researched, low-fat and low-carb, ended up having the same results across almost all end points studied, from weight loss to lowering blood sugar and cholesterol.

What’s most interesting, however, is how these two diets are similar.

What DIETFITS revealed about weight loss

The study began with 609 relatively healthy overweight and obese people, and 481 completed the whole year. For the first month, everyone did what they usually did. Then, for the next eight weeks, the low-fat group reduced their total fat intake to 20 grams per day, and the low-carb group reduced their total carbohydrate intake to 20 grams per day. These are incredibly restricted amounts, considering that there are 22 grams of carbs in my organic seedtastic whole grain bread I’m enjoying as I write this, and 20 grams of fat in half of the dark chocolate bar I enjoy (I eat one ½ inch by 1 inch square at a time).

That kind of dietary restriction is impossible to maintain over the long term and, as this study showed, unnecessary. Participants were instructed to slowly add back fats or carbs until they reached a level they felt could be maintained for life. In addition, both groups were instructed to

People were not asked to count calories at all. Over the course of a year, both groups attended 22 classes reinforcing these very sound principles — and all participants had access to health educators who guided them in behavioral modification strategies, such as emotional awareness, setting goals, developing self-efficacy (also known as willpower), and utilizing social support networks, all to avoid falling back into unhealthy eating patterns.

Participants in both groups also were encouraged to maintain current US government physical activity recommendations, which are “150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity (2 hours and 30 minutes) each week.”

Get all that? Basically, the differences between groups were minimal. Both lost the same average amount of weight (12 pounds) over the course of a year. Genetic and physical makeups didn’t result in any differences either.

I love this study because it examined a realistic lifestyle change rather than just a fad diet. Both groups, after all, were labeled as healthy diets, and they were, because study investigators encouraged eating high-quality, nutritious whole foods, unlimited vegetables, and avoiding flours, sugars, bad fats, and processed foods. Everyone was encouraged to be physically active at a level most Americans are not. Also, this is a big one, everyone had access to basic behavioral counseling.

This study could have been called a study of sustainable healthy lifestyle change.

The best diet is the one we can maintain for life and is only one piece of a healthy lifestyle. People should aim to eat high-quality, nutritious whole foods, mostly plants (fruits and veggies), and avoid flours, sugars, trans fats, and processed foods (anything in a box). Everyone should try to be physically active, aiming for about two and a half hours of vigorous activity per week. For many people, a healthy lifestyle also means better stress management, and even therapy to address emotional issues that can lead to unhealthy eating patterns.

I don’t diet anymore.  I love food that fuels my body and mind. I have adjusted my habits and routines to manage meal planning, shopping, and cooking so eating doesn’t feel like a chore. Food is on the bottom of my daily priority list, having a healthy body and mind for as long as I can is at the top. Here’s how I do that:

  • I choose to live in harmony with others
  • I choose to stretch and challenge my mind.
  • I choose to be aware of and accept my true feelings.
  • I choose to live each day consistent with my morals and ideals.
  • I choose a work path that is consistent with my values, interests, and beliefs.

 

In addition to ongoing learning about the nutrition of food and the importance of exercise, the most important skill is mastering your mind.  A re-trained attitude is the only map that can get you out of “dietville” once and for all.

Why losing weight is so hard and gaining weight is so easy.

health, nutrition, self care, therapy, Uncategorized, weight, wellness

You just enjoyed the holidays and come to find out that you gained 5 pounds. In your disbelief, you quickly curse the Weight Gods for being so cruel. Sound familiar? This was me the last couple of months. A little cookie baking, eating the holiday yummies, packed it on quick. This inspired me to discuss the seemingly unbalanced equation of weight gain vs. weight loss, the facts that surround the issue and how losing the 5 pounds feels so much harder than gaining them:

FACT 1 – It is Simple Math: To maintain your ideal weight, you need to eat as many calories as you burn in one day. The balanced equation looks like this:

Calories Eaten = Basal Metabolic Rate + Physical Activity

If what you eat equals more than what your body uses, you will gain weight. In the situation of a holiday, it is likely that you eat more unhealthy food than normal and possibly get less exercise, resulting in an imbalanced equation, with a higher number of calories on the eaten side than on the burned side. That imbalance over the course of a few days can easily represent a few pounds.

FACT 2 – A Pound is a Pound is a Pound: One pound of body mass represents 3,500 calories. Regardless, if you are trying to lose a pound or gain a pound, the pound will always represent 3,500 calories. So, if you eat 3,500 calories more than your body requires, you will gain 1 pound. Similarly, if you eat 3,500 calories less than your body requires, you will lose 1 pound.

FACT 3 – Exercise is Weight Discriminating: Whether you are 120 pounds or 175 pounds, you will gain one pound from eating 3,500 calories more than you need. Unfortunately, this doesn’t hold true for burning calories. How much you weigh actually dictates how many calories you burn per hour. The more you weigh, the more you burn, and as a result, the easier it is to lose the pound…sound crazy? It is true.

FACT 4 – Aging Contributes to Weight Gain: As if aging doesn’t contribute enough to unfavorable things, it also contributes to weight gain. As we get older, our metabolism slows down, requiring us to need less food and calories. If you don’t modify your caloric intake as you get older to reflect this change in metabolism, you will start to see weight gain.

The Bad News: Unfortunately, eating an extra couple of unhealthy snacks or drinking a few extra glasses of wine can happen in a blink of an eye. However, the time and energy required to burn off those calories takes a lot more effort. We have provided a chart on what 1,000 calories looks like on both sides in the chart below (remember, it is 3,500 calories that make up a pound).

The Good News: Whether it is rapid or slow weight gain that you have experienced, losing the extra weight can be tackled through two avenues (and should be): calorie reduction and exercise. Choosing to lose weight through both calorie reduction and exercise will accelerate the process. If for seven days you burn 200 extra calories through exercise and reduce your food intake by 300 calories each day, you will lose that extra pound. Further, it is a lot easier than trying to either reduce your caloric intake by 3,500 calories (which is physically impossible) or burning an extra 3,500 calories during exercise (which takes a ridiculous amount of time and energy).

What you Can Do: Assess whether your weight gain was a rapid gain due to atypical behavior (E.g., vacationing) or a longer-term gain. If it was a rapid gain, there is a good chance you will lose the weight by returning to your normal habits. You might have to be a little strict for a day or two, but you shouldn’t feel like a major overhaul is in order. If, however, you have gained the weight over a period of time, assess your habits and think about what has changed in your life. Have you stopped exercising? Have you let your eating habits go? Have you hit a milestone birthday? Once you can assess the reality of your situation, remember the equation: to maintain balance, burn the calories you eat.

 

ELM Mental Wellness Nutrition Counseling is in depth and lifelong. It begins with multiple assessments including family history of eating patterns and health risk, habits-routines-rituals, emotional connection with food. Changing our dietary patterns is grueling. I help clients with meal planning and shopping, self monitoring, goal setting, stimulus control, problem solving, cognitive restructuring, and relapse prevention to move toward a state of lifetime optimal health.

 

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.

How to use Emotions to your advantage.

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

Do you feel like you can handle whatever life throws at you?

The emotional dimension of wellness recognizes awareness and acceptance of one’s feelings. Emotional wellness includes the range we feel positive and enthusiastic about our self and our life. It includes the capacity to manage feelings and related behaviors including knowing our limits, development of independence, and ability to cope effectively with stress.

Emotions are a part of who we are and how we are perceived by others.  Your mood can affect your thoughts and behaviors.  Your emotions are affected by certain events like thinking about friends and family and past and future events.  Good emotions can motivate and excite us to look forward to new things and activities.  When we feel unpleasant emotions, it can be a sign that we don’t want a certain activity or event to occur or continue.

There are good types of stress that make you feel energized, and there are bad types of stress that can have a negative impact on us – not only emotionally but physically as well.

How to deal with situations that cause bad stress: The FOUR A’s

  1. Accept situations that you can not change.
  2. Avoid things and people who cause you stress.
  3. Alter the situations you can change by communicating more effectively,
  4. Adapt to the situation with an open mind and focus on the positive.

(Ideas from http//:www.helpguide.org)

 

For many of us, it’s not a great disaster that weakens our health but instead how we handle the more frequent everyday stresses of life.  So like a rock in a stream, if we do not cope well with daily life our health is slowly worn away until it is time for a significant health effect like a heart attack. P. Granello from Wellness Counseling, 2013.

On the ELM Mental Wellness path, you’ll be able to express feelings freely and manage feelings effectively. You’ll be able to form relationships with others based upon a foundation of mutual commitment, trust, and respect. You’ll take on challenges, take risks, and recognize conflict as being potentially healthy. Managing your life in personally rewarding ways, and taking responsibility for your actions, will help you see life as an exciting, hopeful adventure.

 

It is better to be aware of and accept our feelings than to deny them. It is better to be optimistic in our approach to life than pessimistic.

 Be Well,

Kelle Greeson, LPCC CWC

Owner, ELM Mental Wellness

What Physical Wellness Can Teach You about Quality and Longevity of Life

Exercise, health, mental health, therapy, weight, wellness

 

Have you tried all the diets, does activity sound and feel like work, do you know your health risks?

The physical dimension of wellness recognizes the need for physical development. Improvement includes learning about diet and nutrition, incorporating regular physical activity, discouraging the use of addictive substances, and medical self care.

The most important contributor to a person’s wellness is nutrition.  Nutrition is responsible for fueling all of life’s processes.  The atoms, molecules, and cells of your body continually move and change, even though the arrangement of your tissues and organs seems to remain constant.  All of the energy you need and all of the pieces of your body come from the nutrients you derive from foods (Whitney & Rolfes, 1993).

Eat meals regularly and include a variety of healthful foods for a balanced diet.  Drink plenty of fluids, preferably water.  Drink alcohol in moderation.

We all know the benefits of regular physical activity: disease risk reduction, helps control weight, maintains bones, muscles, and joints, and reduces feelings of anxiety and depression.  Theory and research tell us the amount of pleasure or displeasure one experiences during exercise may influence the likelihood that he or she subsequently adopts or maintains regular participation.  So the most important thing is to exercise often and have fun doing activities you enjoy.  Someone asked me “How long do I have to exercise?”  I replied, “How long do you want the benefits?”

I have 20+ years experience successfully maintaining a healthy weight through continually evolving and changing my nutrition and my activity. I limit my alcohol, and try to adhere to health assessment according to age markers. I do things to take care of my body. I am mindful of my body’s health, and how it responds to stress and setbacks. I’ve learned planning, setting small goals, and making it fun determine my success.

Kelle Greeson, Owner ELM Mental Wellness.


By traveling the ELM Mental Wellness path, you’ll be able to plan, set reasonable goals, and measure your success and obstacles. You’ll understand and appreciate the relationship between sound nutrition and how your body performs. The physical benefits of looking good and feeling terrific most often lead to the psychological benefits of enhanced self-esteem, self-control, determination and a sense of direction.

Our Physical Body is the home we will live in forever.  Take Good Care.

Click to download Physical Wellness Prescription