Hello Sequoia Counseling community! I have seriously been missing in action from blogging the past few weeks (months?!) as things have become rather busy. Today I wanted to be a little more simple and less academic in my post. Here are two personal reflections or lessons that I would like to share at this time.
From the moment I became an independent adult, it seemed like time was flying by- with each year passing faster than the last. I began to reflect on how to make time slow down for the enjoyable moments and how to lengthen and create times for relaxation and renewal. On this note, researchers are studying how people spend their free time and how it affects their sense of well being and enjoyment in life. How can we take care of the things that matter and still have time to enjoy our lives?
In their research, Sharif, Mogilner, and Hershfield (2021) discuss how many people experience this idea of “time poverty” and a sense of unhappiness due to stress and having too many things to do and not enough time. They wanted to study if having a significant amount of time to do whatever we wished would actually result in greater happiness and wellbeing.
Are You Thinking About Stopping Your Antidepressant Use?
Approximately 13% of Americans 18 years and older reported taking antidepressant medication in the past month (NCHS Data Brief, August 2017). Antidepressants (commonly referred to as SSRIs or SNRIs) are typically prescribed for the management and treatment of depression and anxiety disorders. Depending on the type of healthcare professional and their experience, the first line of treatment for depression and anxiety is psychotherapy, medication, or some combination. Approximately 40% or more of persons using antidepressants in one study discontinued their antidepressant medication too soon (Olfson et al, 2006). A successful treatment response includes improvements in duration, frequency, and intensity of symptoms; relationship satisfaction; initiation and completion of important daily activities; and improved physical health such as diabetes control, sleep quality, and pain perception. As depression and/or anxiety symptoms improve, patients start thinking about weaning off antidepressant medication.
What’s going on, Sequoia Counseling community! I am in a great mood today because it is the 4th of July holiday weekend ! This is a time to celebrate our country and the freedoms and gift we have to live here. As I think about the concept of independence, I also think about our ability to live independently, without relying upon the care of others. What can we do to live our best lives and prevent future health/mental health issues? The answer is to develop lifestyle habits that target your whole person health!
A 2009 study of 23,000 adults found that basic life habits such as eating healthy, not smoking, exercising 3.5 hours a week, and maintaining a healthy weight resulted in an 80% reduction in chronic disease! Specifically, the researchers concluded that 93% of diabetes, 81% of heart attacks, 50% of strokes, and 36% of cancers would be prevented! That is amazing news!
According to the most recent APA Stress in America Study, 66% of people reported sleeping more or less than they wanted to since the pandemic started. Previously, I've written blogs (click here or here) about causes and remedies for insomnia. In this interview with psychologist Dr. Jennifer Martin (conducted by the American Psychological Association), additional insights and tips relevant to "coronasomnia" are discussed. This super informative interview is full of great information for those that are struggling with sleep. If you prefer to read, a transcription of the interview is also posted.
One of the most common emotions we experience as we emerge from the pandemic is anxiety. Psychologist Dr. Ellen Hendriksen comments that anxiety is particularly triggered by the high levels of uncertainty we face- uncertainty about vaccines, society reopening, new normal workplace, and the COVID-19 virus and variants.
I also believe that a high level of anxiety comes with the unfinished business that we had pre-pandemic. What goals, decisions, or projects were put on hold? What conversations and relationship growth were avoided, stunted, hindered, or forgotten due to relational distancing? Perhaps old depression or anxiety symptoms are re-surfacing with thoughts of returning to pre-pandemic living. To be certain, the pandemic and its effects had a depressing and anxiety provoking effect on some level for everyone. How can we best thrive in this new phase?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic gastro-intestinal disorder that occurs most commonly in women (it has also been diagnosed in children). People who suffer from IBS experience multiple episodes of stomach pain associated with bowel movements and changes in toileting habits. People with IBS also have increased rates of depression (7-25%) and anxiety symptoms (12-63%).
If you or someone you know suffer from IBS or if you work with the IBS patient population, there are two **free** webinars on "Myths and Misconceptions" this month. The expert led panel will address topics such as causes/how it works, diagnosing the condition, and treatment options. The patient session is on April 19 and session for healthcare providers is on April 26. If you aren't able to attend, you can still register as many of these webinars will let you know when the recording is available online for viewing. For information and to register, here's the link --
<3 Be well !
Eating is a common coping strategy in response to negative emotions such as sadness and stress. Many times we choose foods that are high in sugars, salts, or saturated fats. Emotional eating can become a habit whenever life gets tough. In the chapter, “Eat, Drink, and Be Sedentary,” Epel and others (2018) ask the question, “Does eating behavior have consistent effects on changing emotional experience?” In this blog post, I will review their findings and offer comments and recommendations.
Sleep deprivation over time can result in physical and psychological conditions. In “Eat, Drink, and Be Sedentary”, the authors share what they learned after reviewing research on how these behaviors influence our moods and coping. This post will review their findings on the effects of sleeplessness upon mood. I will discuss the short-term risks and consequences and explore at what point sleep problems become “real problems.”
We are familiar with the idea that emotions (such as stress) can influence our behaviors, such as leading to an increase in eating junk food or binge watching shows on Netflix. But how do health-related behaviors such as physical activity, eating, and sleep impact our emotions? In “Eat, Drink, and Be Sedentary”, the authors share what they learned after reviewing research on how these behaviors influence our moods and coping. I hope this blog post will share new information that will help readers be more self-aware and encourage healthy habits.