by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJuly 30, 2019 self care, self care strategies for mental wellbeing0 comments
Self-Care Strategies That Promote Positive Mental Well-Being
It’s safe to say most of us would rather be happy than unhappy. However, sometimes it’s easy to roll through life allowing your attitude to be shaped, rather than taking steps to increase your own happiness. With that in mind, read on for key self-care strategies you can add to your lifestyle that help promote positive mental well-being.
Stay Connected as a Couple
Are you in a long-term relationship? If so, you probably are well aware that all couples go through ups and downs, and sometimes intimacy can suffer during the down cycles. You might not feel very affectionate when times are tough, but Healthline points out that there are worthwhile health benefits associated with intimacy. For instance, hugging someone dear to your heart can lower your blood pressure, and kissing for just 30 seconds can boost dental hygiene. Beyond that, couples who are intimate on a routine basis lower risk for prostate cancer and heart disease, and they give their immune systems a lift.
One of the toughest times in life for many couples is the period following a baby’s birth. New parents are exhausted, and there may be periods when they feel the workload is unbalanced.
To keep things healthy and happy, consider setting aside time for one-on-one, routine date nights. If you can’t get out of the house, simply enjoying a movie and cuddling on the couch with your favorite healthy takeout can help you feel connected and close.
Gut Health for General Health
Are you familiar with the tiny world living inside your digestive tract? There are trillions of microscopic organisms that dwell inside your gut, and how well they are balanced can have a profound impact on your overall wellness.
As such, it’s important to read up on some key players in gut health; for instance, if your Akkermansia is low it can contribute to weight gain. Also, if you’re feeling stressed, more L. helveticus and B. longum might help you feel more relaxed.
Beyond those few, your metabolism, attitude, energy levels, immune function, and general digestion are just a handful of things directly affected by certain gut bacteria. Becoming more familiar with the various key players can help you identify issues and adjust your diet, or you can add a supplement as needed.
If You Don’t Snooze, You Lose
Sleep sometimes gets an undeserved reputation as a lazy, pointless activity. However, getting enough sleep each night can make a big difference in your well-being. There are benefits galore, from raised productivity to improved calorie regulation. It can help you ward off depression, lower your risk of heart disease, and improve your performance in the gym. While you sleep, your mind and body make repairs from the day before and prepare you for the next day, so ensure proper sleep hygiene is part of your self-care plan.
Tuck points out that sleep hygiene begins with a healthy bedtime routine. By doing the same thing to relax each night before bed, and by doing it at the same time, you condition your mind and body to recognize the signs that sleep is coming. Try spending some time meditating, sipping herbal tea, or listening to soothing music.
Also, address any issues with your sleep environment. Keep your room free of noise and distractions, aim for a cool temperature, and ensure the room is dark. Earplugs, adding a room air conditioner, and blackout curtains can make a big difference if you have ongoing issues.
Positive mental well-being is something all of us prefer, yet sometimes we struggle finding it. Staying connected with your partner, tending your gut health, and ensuring sufficient sleep can go a long way toward helping you feel better. Try making these simple self-care strategies part of your routine — you’re worth it!
Brad Krause, Self Caring Strategies.comLearn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJuly 16, 2019 dietitian nutritionist near me, what is an anti diet dietitian0 comments
First let’s talk about what being a dietitian is before what address what being an anti diet dietitian is…. A Registered Dietitian is a food and nutrition expert that has undergone rigorous education. This includes a bachelors or masters degree in an accredited program, about one year of supervised practice, and completion of the national examination. A nutritionist is not a protected title so training varies and is not regulated. Dietitians work to help create a healthy relationship between food, body, and mind. This type of work includes promoting long lasting lifestyle behaviors over the latest fad diet.
Being anti-diet means avoiding diet recommendations purely for weight loss and instead focusing on creating healthy habits such as eating more vegetables, increasing fiber, and balancing meals. Diet culture dictates that you cannot be healthy if you are in a larger body and that size can determine health. The anti-diet approach is inclusive of all body sizes and uses intuitive eating to help create a healthy relationship with food. It means no fad diets, calorie counting, or cleanses. Instead the focus is on wellness over weight loss by utilizing health promoting behaviors. Research shows that diets do not work long term to keep the weight off and can cause more harm than good, as dieting can often be a predictor for disordered eating. Feeling like you “failed” when you “cheat” on your diet is poor for your mental health. Physically, yo-yo dieting can be more harmful that being categorized as overweight or obese.
It’s important to create health habits that are sustainable and are geared towards health not weight loss. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes and the goal should be for wellness. Weight should not be a focus for medical treatment or viewed as a modifiable behavior. When one modifies behaviors towards a more wellness focused approach, weight loss may occur but should not be the primary concern.
Working with an anti-diet dietitian means you won’t be judged by your weight or expected to diet. Client and dietitian will work together to cultivate a personalized plan with realistic goals. The focus will be engaging in specific behavioral changes with measurable goals. These goals will be in pursuit of improving wellness and preventing disease.
In good health and wellness,
To book an appointment with Jessica in our Wexford or Pittsburgh Counseling Centers please call us at 412-322-2129Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJuly 12, 2019 conversations for couples, counseling near me, how to tell that your relationship will lead to marriage, marriage and family statistics, premarital counseling near me0 comments
According to the US National Bureau of Family and Marriage Statistics, in 2017 there were 130 million married couples living in the US. Still, not every relationship is going to make it to the altar, it is even true that not every healthy or compatible relationship will have long term potential. The issue is that everyone is looking for something a little different to inspire them to settle down, even if you and your partner might connect well from your perspective, there are other factors which influence the choice to commit deeper. For instance, your partner may not be ready for that commitment or may have a different vision for the kind of relationship that they want. You are likely feeling anxious and wanting some sign to know which direction your partner sees things headed. Here are 8 ways to tell that your partner isn’t that into you.
- Your partner uses “I” instead of “we.” Generally, there is a lot of use of the word ‘we’ when connected partners talk about their life, their past, and their future. If your partner is still using “I” to talk about their 5 year plan they probably aren’t that into you.
- There is a lot of making up and breaking up, or if your relationship is toxic.
- Doesn’t make plans more than a week or few days in advance. If your partner is fairly last minute and doesn’t talk about your summer vacation or what you might do for holiday’s then they are probably not that into you.
- You haven’t met your partners family. Meeting the family is a signal that your partner is invested in making you a part of their life. If you have been together for 6 months or more and haven’t met their family then this guy isn’t all that into you.
- Do you talk/text/communicate every day? If there isn’t daily communication it is likely that your partner may not be very committal or into you.
- Your partner hasn’t posted any pictures with you on social media. Of course we don’t want to define our relationships by how they measure on social media but we do know that partners who are into you enjoy occasionally sharing a photo of them being together on social media.
- Your partner never talks about your marriage and family or a future together. If your partner were open to the idea of marriage or forever together, you would know it because they would mention it. If they don’t discuss the topic ever its probably because it is the furthest thing from their mind.
- If he has never ask whether you’re seeing other people, it might be because they are not that into you. Genders react differently to love, men are wired to feel a sense of protectiveness from a partner who he shares a sexual bond, if his testosterone is coursing in high volume with you, he will want to know that you are not seeing others and if not, your partner isn’t that into you.
- You are under 27 years old. If you are young, the people you are dating are a little less likely to want to get married or be your forever relationship. The lack of long term potential may have nothing to do with you but merely a reality of the numbers with the national average a man marries is 29.8 and for women 27.8, if you are dating earlier than that you are encountering people who are experimenting with relationships.
If you are noticing these signs, the best thing to do is to talk to your partner about them and ask what they think, a good opener is, ‘I have been thinking about you and I and its hard for me to tell where this is going, do you see long term potential between us?’ This might lead to a deep conversation about your partners perspective and take some of the guess work out of your future together. Read here for more premarital questions for couples and intimate questions and conversations.Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJuly 10, 2019 why its important to take care of your mental health0 comments
This Is Why its important to take care of your mental health
By: Melissa Howard
One in five American adults experiences some form of a mental disorder each year, yet only 25 percent feel that others show them any compassion due to the negative stereotypes often associated with mental health disorders. Sadly, this can prevent individuals from getting proper treatment, or disclosing their condition in the workplace for fear of losing their job. Matters can become even more complicated if someone is dealing with persistent and irrational fears, otherwise known as paranoia, or general anxiety disorder (GAD). GAD is like a proverbial vice in that it causes stress and prevents one from carrying on with daily activities. To an outsider, these individuals appear high-strung, neurotic, and perfectionist because of their anxious personalities. Researchers have concluded that this behavior is caused by a dysfunction in parts of the brain responsible for dealing with fear, emotion, and memory.
While medication and psychotherapy are two of the top ways to control the side effects, self-care is equally as important for maintaining mental and physical health in the present and in the future. Here are some ways to make conscious, daily efforts to nurture your own well-being.
Banish Any Bad Habits
Whether it’s cigarettes, binge drinking, or experimenting with drugs, your entire being is compromised by bad habits. It’s only logical, as when you’re feeling poor physically, it’s going to affect the way you feel mentally, too. First, determine whether the monkey on your back is too heavy for you to lift off on your own. If so, seek the necessary treatment, such as rehab or a nicotine patch. Of course, this is easier said than done, but in many cases, it’s a matter of life or death. Consider confiding in a trusted friend or family member if you’re scared about next steps — it’s likely that they’ve already noticed something is wrong.
Learn To Become More Present
Being paranoid can conjure up irrational thoughts like thinking about dying in a natural disaster or losing a job. Taking up yoga can help you be more present while feeling grounded and getting a grasp on reality. In fact, doctors are actually recommending it as a complementary, holistic therapy. The gentle poses and breathwork from a vinyassa yoga class have been known to improve sleep, and reduce panic attacks and overall anxiety levels, not to mention it’s a great practice for building strength, increasing flexibility, and improving balance. The average cost of a yoga class ranges from $12 to $16, but prices go down if you pay for multiple sessions.
Set Aside Time to Get Organized
Getting organized and keeping your house clean, believe it or not, can go a long way toward improving your mental health. Not only can organizing your possessions help reduce stress and improve the quality of sleep you get each night, but it can also reduce the symptoms of depression and help you become more productive. Once you have everything organized, consider bringing in a maid service to give your home a good deep cleaning, which is a surprisingly affordable option. For example, in Pittsburgh, a one-time cleaning will run you between $93 and $204, depending on the size of your property.
Embrace Alone Time
While you don’t want to isolate yourself, taking advantage of having ‘alone time’ can be beneficial for one’s mental health. Not only can it help you to focus on self-help, but it also boosts creativity, increases productivity, allows you to explore personal interests, and provides a sense of empowerment. Taking time for yourself also makes it easier to take care of yourself by getting enough sleep, preparing a healthy meal, and exercising. When you learn how to be comfortable with yourself, the easier it is to be confident in social situations.
Don’t worry about the stigmas surrounding mental illness. Instead, establish a supportive network who understands that life can sometimes be challenging for you. For some, family and friends are enough of a support system, but others may be more comfortable adding a network of like-minded individuals into the mix. Talk to your doctor about getting a referral for a local support group in your area — you may need to try a couple of different ones out to find the right fit. You need not feel the pressure to participate. Sometimes, just listening to others share similar stories, concerns, and successes are enough.
Photo Credit: PixabayLearn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJuly 8, 2019 meaning of rituals, rituals for self care, rituals for tranformation, rituals to reduce stress0 comments
Rituals, reducing stress and adding joyful meaning to life
5 Rituals You Should Try For transformation and wellness
Ever wonder why Michael Jordan wore his North Carolina shorts under his Chicago Bulls shorts every game? Rituals have enormous power to sooth and inspire as well as bring back balance to mental health by reducing anxiety and increasing confidence. According to the National Institute of Health, there are 3 primary functions of rituals, to manage emotions, to work towards goals, and to connect with others. From an evolutionary perspective we are creatures who have evolved to perform rituals including those of meditation or contemplation and group rituals. Have you ever knocked over a salt shaker and thrown some over your back? Do you attend church on Sunday? Do you pray? Have feast for the Easter holiday? These are all rituals. Flashback to the biblical era everything from attending Sunday worship, to praying for rain and lighting candles for the deceased, its clear that having a close relationship to spiritual rituals is very much a part of our cultural history. Still, whether we are referring to managing the emotional impact of times of stress, to ignite our faith, or to enhance wellness, many successful and happy people rely on rituals. The science behind why rituals work is compelling according to Scientific America. With some many different kinds of rituals we should really define that there is a difference in the Sunday beer drinking ritual, an obsessive hand washing ritual, versus a morning meditation ritual or a communication ritual with our partner. A ritual should be one that we complete with full attention and the deliberate effort to set an intention, reduce stress, or experience a divine aspect to ourselves, or foster our relationship to the spiritual realm.
Rituals can become a reliable tool for manifesting of our goal’s and enhancing our wonder, rituals have deeper embedded meaning. A beneficial ritual should be life sustaining and it is also true that the repetitive behavior of addiction and psychiatric obsessive-compulsive disorder both have the component of rituals built into them. When performing a ritual we are completing an act that becomes instinctive, our brains go into a flow state that doesn’t require higher order processing, the automatic nature of this state which can reduce our anxiety and promote calm. When we examine singing a hymn in a church, this is group ritual that can promote a sense of unity or connection among group members and with a deeper feeling of connection, these emotional components have clinically been show to reduced expression of aggression.
With so much to gain from incorporating rituals into your life, we are brought to the great burning questions, how do we incorporate more of them into our life? Start small and incrementally by adding a ritual component to something you already do, if you have never prayed or meditated it might be a large leap to attempt that everyday. A more manageable step might is to create a weekly goal. Some couples have a weekly ritual around problem solving and talking through emotional issues at the end of the week. Even meal-time can be a ritual when we bless our food or offer a moment of gratitude for the abundance on our plate. Others find that monthly rituals that set an intention with the full or new moon are the perfect time and space to set a goal for the month. Ultimately, we need to create rituals that are meaningful and manageable for you as an individual.
Meditation Ritual- whether daily, weekly, or monthly, meditation has a massive impact on wellbeing, stress reduction, and positive mood. Even 5 to 10 minutes daily makes a difference.
Love Ritual- Happy Couples have ways to celebrate the passage of time, they have yearly traditions that allow them to connect with the growth and change of their relationship over the years. It is also recommended that couples have a weekly communication ritual to release any residual emotional reactions and better connect.
Meal time ritual- Nourishing our bodies with life sustaining foods in a quiet and comfortable distraction free zone is a great way to enjoy eating. Eating has historically been an activity that is a part of ritual, think of the foods that surround every major holiday. It is also a time where families can connect to each other.
Self Care ritual- Whether it is journaling, fitness, using essential oils, or gardening, doing small things daily is important for your vitality and stress management.
Full Moon ritual- The full moon is the perfect time to release negative thought patterns and the new moon is a time for us to create new goals. Making time for a meditation under the moon light syncs us in to time and space and the greater cosmos. Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, there is something sacred that we experience when we cast out focus on something as grand and magical as the world around us.Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJuly 4, 2019 cbd, cbd pittsburgh, hemp, herbalism, herbalist pittsburgh, holistic medicine0 comments
Cannabidiols or CBD, are currently gaining a lot of traction in the health and wellness world. From grandmothers to beloved pets, many are jumping on board to see how CBD can enhance their health. According to the World Health Organization, ‘there are no known harmful side effects from taking CBD.’ Some people do report a feeling of drowsiness so there may be implications for operating heavy machinery or driving. Whether you are reaching out to your local clinical herbalist or not, we can now find CBD in the gas station, the grocery store, as an add on to your favorite smoothie and seemingly everywhere in between.
What is CBD?
CBD is the resin from the marijuana plant which has been isolated from the many of the compounds within the plant such as THC. CBD should be differentiated from THC which is the hallucinogenic substance which is known to intoxicate marijuana users. In fact, the absence of the THC is one of the things that attracts some people to try CBD in their attempt to find organic and holistic options to manage their emotional and physical health that medical marijuana is reported to have. Lets look at the different forms of CBD and some of the most common ailments and health issues that some are reporting that it can help. Additionally, because CBD is completely legal in Pennsylvania, it is not necessary for one to have a medical marijuana card in order to use it.
CBD is found in the form of Oils, Tinctures and Salves, Gummy’s and/or Edibles, there are even smokeable hemp flowers. Whatever your favorite route of administration, you will be able to find something for you. CBD Oils are used on topically to manage issues like inflammation and chronic pain disorders. As an oil, CD or a balm it is applied to the skin on a pain point and allowed to absorb. Tinctures and salves are applied the same way and are used to treat the same issues. Others report that they use CBD to manage their stress and anxiety and to promote feelings of calm and increase rest. CBD is also at times added to other herbal supplements such as melatonin for more complete rest. I have also seen it added to coffee beans for increased energy and potentially combat the sleepiness it is known to cause it some. Many tests have been conducted which find that CBD may work and does not have any known side effects so with something to potentially gain and nothing to lose, CBD is here to stay, it has quickly become the most widely available and used herbal product to hit the markets and from most perspectives that is a great thing.Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJuly 1, 2019 anticipatory grief, burn out, caregiver fatigue, grieving the loss of a parent, self care during grief, terminally ill0 comments
12 Ways to Take Care of Yourself when your Parent is Terminally Ill
If your parent is facing terminal illness, you as their child may be encountering some of the greatest stress of your life. The mounds of grief will have presented themselves long before the end of their life comes and while caring for yourself is likely the last thing on your mind, it is the most important thing you should do in these days, weeks, and even years. Here are 12 ways to care for yourself when your parent is terminally ill.
- Be aware of your own guilt, guilt has a way of creeping into everything that surrounds illness, death, and even contributes to complicated grief. If your parent is in the hospital very ill, you may feel guilty to do anything other than sit by their side so compulsively you will stay with them to avoid the burden of your guilt. The thing is with this kind of irrational guilt, nothing you do will ever be enough to stop it from effecting you. You must label your feeling as irrational guilt and accept your need for some balance and self-care in the rush of your parent’s illness.
- Practice mindfulness. One of the ways that our emotions become very unmanageable is the we often want to repress or avoid them. We become so busy with the act of doing that we dismiss the great segment of our humanness that is always feeling. Noticing our feelings and the way the effect our bodies, our breathing, our thinking, is a huge asset especially in difficult moments. Even as simple as observing, “I am angry, I am sad’ can help to reinforce our wellness and prevent us from acting out unconsciously.
- Become versed in grief and learn about anticipatory grief, the actual human tendency to begin grieving the loss of someone we love long before their life reaches its end. Anticipatory grief is one of many kinds of grief that you may notice if caring for a terminally ill loved one.
- Sadness related to bereavement and grief has a way of reordering our priorities to be more aware of what is important. Take advantage of this tendency to make use of it, for instance, the petty grievances that you might feel for a loved one fade aware in the dusk of their mortality and what remains is often love. Trimming the lawn to perfection or finishing the next race may seem less important and what takes center stage is often being with and appreciating others.
- Make sleep a priority, even when your schedule is crumbling and your heart is heavy having good sleep hygiene and making it to your own bed to rest will always be one of the best ways to keep yourself strong, healthy, and emotionally balanced.
- Understand what compassion fatigue, caregiver fatigue and burnout are and how they may be effecting you greatly in this time of immense hurt and stress.
- Eat a balanced diet, if you are rushing around in the hospital or caring for your parent in your home you may not feel you have the time to prepare healthy meals. Make time for them anyways, by fueling your body with nourishing foods you will be stronger and more vital to care for those around you in this difficult time.
- Find acceptance, it is sometimes hard to see that your parent is in the process of dying, instead we may react with denial and anger which make the emotional toll even harder on you as the individual. By stating to yourself that this is in fact the final process of your parent’s life you will be better able to readjust your approach to be sensible and supportive.
- Spend some time in nature. The outdoors from the trees to the grass and the leaves are wonderful teachers when it comes to the spectrum of life, ever watch a small bud unfurl from the soil and see a dry crumbled leaf next to it? That is everything we ever need to know about life.
- Anticipate that stress and sickness often bring out the worst in families, if there are at least a couple of people in your family tree who are notorious for being aggressive, addicted, selfish, or any other socially uncomfortable thing, this will likely present in heightened state. Armor yourself with anticipation and your best efforts for detachment as they visit your parent’s bedside.
- Activate your social supports, let people know what is happening in your life so that they can help. Sometimes we fear burdening other’s so we become silent in our grief. You might find that if you talk to others about what is happening and how you are feeling you will be supported and the sense of connection will help you.
- Make time for exercise, even if you are not a fitness guru, it is a great time to start walking or jogging. Exercise is an immediate help in releasing stress. You will benefit from better sleep and calmer mood if you activate this wellness skill.
Remember that the most important time for self care isn’t when you are bored but when you are busiest and feel that you can’t possibly find a minute in your day as these our the times when we need care the most.Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJuly 1, 2019 Uncategorized, ways to incorporate mindfulness into daily life0 comments
Mindfulness and Meditation for Everyday Life The most beautiful thing about mindfulness is that we can practice it anywhere and anytime not just while we are in the middle of our downward facing dog or seated lotus position. Here are 6 ways to practice mindfulness that you probably never thought of! Let’s face it, being seated is not the ideal way to cultivate clarity of consciousness for all people, this is what makes mindfulness more accessible that meditation, it can be practiced while you’re moving, working, walking, and relating.
Mindful Gardening– To some it is pulling a weed and to others it is an act of meditation. Think about the great Japanese bonsai masters! The science backs us up here as we note that pulling weeds and being close to the earth have very potent health enhancing benefits. Feel the sensation of the plant in your fingers, contemplate its origin, and allow yourself to feel the texture of it between your fingers, breath deeply and notice the plants scent as the air passes through your nostrils.
Mindfulness in Motion– A mindful hike or walk, wondering how a normal hike or walk differs from a mindful one? Mindfulness is anytime we tune into our experience and allow all of our senses to become activated, notice the way your feet feel as they are making contact with the earth, be conscious of your breathing and the way that the air feels on your skin, listen to the sounds of the outdoors around you. Mindfulness is when we are perceiving deeply.
Mindful cooking – To some cooking is a burden to bare, as we activate our potential to be mindful, we can become enlightened through our cooking too. Use you hands when you cook! Tactile experiences easily lend themselves to being potentially mindful. When we bake cookies and knead the dough, we can hone in on the temperature of the dough, the way it feels on our skin and squishes between our fingers! Breath in the scents around you and notice how the foods you are cooking change in scent from raw to cooked. When you are mindful, you are aware and present to everything your senses perceive.
Mindful Eating– Luckily the mindful opportunity doesn’t need to end when the food is done cooking! There are many mindful eating exercises, that start by touching the food and considering its source. For instance an orange, where did it come from, how did it get to you. Then touching it with awareness and noticing its exteriors texture. Slowly, opening and peeling the different layers, when on the inside you can smell its juicy sweetness and then move to tasting. Try to take each bite and chew it for 10 bites, notice the way that the texture and flavor changes with each bite.
Mindful Shower- Showering is a great time to be mindful because it is usually uninterrupted time, away from the kids, the boss, or your partner. Some people enjoy keeping aromatherapy diffusers in their showers and making a meditative haven with deep breathes as each shower drop warms our skin. By being aware of our bodies, the soup that we use to clean ourselves, and taking many full slow inhalations we make the most of this time.
Mindful Loving Mindfulness doesn’t need to be what we do when we are alone, mindfulness can be used to enhance our relationships. There is something that we call beginners mind, when we first get to know a partner we ask many interested questions about who they are and what they like. Yet with time, we assume to have those answers. Unfortunately, with our assumptions we fail to take advantage of coming to know the great changes that happen for all of us through time. When we use beginners mind and interact with our partner as though they are a new person who we do not know all of the answers to, we are naturally more curious and tuned in.Learn More