CULTIVATING MENTAL HEALTH

HOPE

As we age, our tendency to experience anxiety or depression might increase.  We may worry about our children, though they may be grown and out on their own.  We may worry about our finances, a sick friend or a loved one and we may worry about our future.

Research does show that one in five older adults experiences mental health issues that are NOT a normal part of aging. More importantly, our mental health greatly impacts our physical health. Diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, weight gain, menopause and erectile dysfunction can worsen depression as we grow older.

Depression not only weakens the immune system, but it may also impact treatment options when we decide to seek help from a professional. We might think depression is “normal” and just an inevitable result of life changes, chronic illness, disability or because “it runs in my family.”

But there is Help! We can learn to recognize the symptoms and seek guidance to move to a healthier lifestyle.

One of my patients was feeling so down about his excess weight and also lonely and dissatisfied in his personal and professional life that he resorted to “self-medicating” with food.  As a result, he had become obese over time and was suffering from other health issues as well.

Once he turned to me for help, my first priority was to guide my patient to uncover the reason why food had become his medicine whenever the going got tough.  Answers surfaced through our therapy sessions that were combined with hypnosis.  We learned that, as a youngster, Mom always advised that ice cream was the answer, because “Ice cream always makes things better.”

My patient had found this “solution” very satisfying and had relied heavily on Mom’s advice.  He had not learned more benign forms of coping with stress.  But once he recognized why he chose food, we were able to discuss alternatives, and the patient is now able to cultivate and apply solid habits of coping with challenging issues as they arise.

In fact, good mental health habits contributes to an overall feeling of well-being, and that is directly related to the health of our immune system.  Solid habits of coping with life’s challenges contribute substantially to quicker physical healing.

I welcome your questions.  Let me know how I can help!

http://www.healthylifestylestampabay.com/

4/1/18

 

HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT

HOW TO LOSE WEIGTH BLOG PIC.jpgHOW TO LOSE WEIGHT

A recent survey found that 40% of people have tried a FAD DIET, at some point, in order to lose weight.  People do look for a “quick fix” for weight issues.  In the great majority of cases, the seekers find that these extreme weight loss options leave them feeling empty and dissatisfied.

WHAT IS A FAD DIET?

They’re everywhere: often widely promoted on social media, on television, billboards, magazines and radio.  Fads boast about their effectiveness as “the solution” to weight issues.  The fad diet promises weight loss with minimal effort and quick results.  Just as quickly as they pop up, these Fad diets fade away because they don’t work and can often result in excess weight gain and/or additional health conditions.  Some folks whose mindset is “I’ve tried everything to lose weight but nothing works” may be tempted to try a fad diet as a last resort.  Unfortunately, such a diet is not sustainable and is not conducive to a healthy lifestyle.

FAD DIET EXAMPLES?

There are endless fad diets being created on a daily basis.  Zone Diet, South Beach, Atkins, Werewolf and the Five-Bite Diet are just a few.  The commonality of all of the above is that they tend to provide short term and sometimes dangerous solutions to a long-term problem.

HOW DO FAD DIETS WORK?

Bottom line: They DO NOT WORK AT ALL, despite an occasional example in which people lose large amounts of weight in a short time.  Unfortunately, most people who use fad diets tend to regain all (and often MORE than) the weight they had lost.  Most doctors and professionals will tell you that losing weight too quickly is dangerous and can lead to increased risks for other health problems.

 

WHY CAN’T FAD DIETS WORK SUCCESSFULLY?

Fad diets are based on a calorie deficiency.  Extreme weight loss diets will have a person eating less than 1,000 calories a day, or even fasting, which will make that person lose water weight and likely even muscle mass, but not fat.  In addition, one’s metabolism slows as a reaction to being in a state of “starvation.” In fact, most people report a fixation” or “obsession with food on these diets.

Their mind becomes preoccupied with thoughts of food and they may increase activities associated with food, such as binging or watching the food channel.  That’s to be expected:  When our bodies are in a state of starvation, our mind becomes hypervigilant in its quest to find food.  As a result, people often report feeling tired, irritable, and agitated! 

Anyone who has spent time around a person on a fad diet knows that it is not hard to notice a change in mood.

 

SOLUTION FOR WEIGHT LOSS

Healthy Lifestyles Tampa Bay integrates emotional, nutritional and physical fitness.    As a clinical psychologist and hypnotherapist, I have successfully treated numerous people trying and failing to sustain weight loss on fad diets.

People who struggle with weight issues also tend to struggle simultaneously with emotional eating, poor food choices and/or not exercising regularly.  Unless these underlying issues are addressed, a person will continue to suffer with weight issues.

A person’s health starts in the mind.  Our thoughts, feelings, and motivation are deeply rooted in our psyche and fad diets are not a solution. 

Optimal health and weight are achieved through a combination of emotional, nutritional and physical fitness.  That route to a healthy sustainable weight is best discovered through establishing a healthy lifestyle.                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Call me if you have questions or are interested in finding a successful route for yourself or someone you love.

 Dr Q (727) 906-6185

http://www.healthylifestylestampabay.com

 

 

 

 

TURN YOUR DREAMS INTO REALITY!

dreams

Did you ever have a really great idea?  Of course you did!  You thought of some “thing” that would be so helpful for the world to have, so you started to dream, to think about how to make your idea a reality.

Many of us have thoughts like that at one time or another.  We may even dream of getting a patent and developing that product.  The wheels start turning, but then, just as quickly, life takes over.

We get busy, so it’s back to the old grind.  Soon we even forget about the smart idea we had.  That idea just might be resurrected at a later date (sometimes years later), when we hear about a new invention… by someone else.  Turns out, that was YOUR IDEA!  Oh, shucks!  That’s called a missed opportunity!

Sometimes the neat ideas we have are not for an invention, but still are life-changing.  When we think about selecting a career or a career change, for example, we need to proceed with deliberation.  Explore various avenues to see what might interest you.  Talk to a career counselor, do some reading and talk to people in various professions to learn more about what they do.

Ask a lot of questions so that you get a better idea about where you would be best suited and most useful.  After all, it’s not just about money.  Do your homework!  Having a vision is an important companion to our efforts, yes, but it can’t accomplish anything by itself.  Many people have insightful dreams that never come to fruition, mostly because they don’t take the time to research.  They just want to hurry up and decide.

Write down all your ideas, your goals, your thoughts.  The more you write down, the better you can follow through as you do your research and eliminate some paths that are no longer of interest.  Don’t rush.  Time does bring clarity.

Most professionals advise a person to WRITE DOWN their ideas, their goals and the steps needed to succeed. This list needs to be exhaustive as well as flexible, as some ideas evolve or are flushed in the investigative process.

Too often we are fearful to take those initial steps. Some are discouraged by others’ negative energy, e.g., (A friend says: “You don’t want to do THAT!”) whereas others struggle with how to get started.  There are times in life for inaction, but that phase eventually must give way to action if we are to realize our dreams.

Change can be scary; we may struggle and fail at first, but that’s normal. Waiting for everything to be perfect leads nowhere.  The best thing we can do for ourselves is to get out there and explore, to research.  It’s a PROCESS!

One of the most difficult parts about having a dream is that we think we know how it will evolve.  Truth is, the reality might look quite different from how we imagined it in the first place.  By developing such an idea, we must think in greater detail.   There will likely be some adjustment involved.

Persistence is key.  Rethink the steps you took:  Be flexible.  Step back to reevaluate your dreams.  You will eventually find the right path for you! There are countless life stories of people who overcame “insurmountable” challenges in pursuit of their goals.  These people all had moments when they wanted to quit, but by believing in their dreams, they eventually found the best path to succeed through patience, persistence, hard work and action.

SO CAN YOU, SO BELIEVE AND TAKE ACTION!  MAKE YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE!

 

Friendship

 

Teenager-boy-and-girl-friends-holding-hands

 

One of the most valuable treasures a person can have is a great friendship:  where two people can talk to each other and feel listened to and understood.  No one’s judging!  Such a relationship is very special.

In today’s world, we oftentimes are so busy talking about ourselves or others that we leave little room for listening.  And when I say listening, I mean opening one’s ears to hear, understand and empathize, not to “fix” a friend’s problem.  There’s a trap that’s easy to fall into:  the urge to jump in and tell a person how to correct a complicated situation.

It’s important to know when to just listen…to really grasp what’s being said.  It’s OK to ask questions when there are pauses.  Verify what you understood, so your friend can tell you if that’s really what he/she was trying to say.  Sometimes, a person just needs a listening ear, someone who takes care to verify that he or she correctly understands the situation.

Don’t be too surprised if, when you try this, the other person expresses the situation more clearly the second time…or the third time.  Sometimes the speaker comes up with a potential resolution to the situation without your even having made suggestions!  If not, then you may try seeking a resolution that involves your friend’s participation and is fair to you both.

A close relationship like that above allows a person to share his/her most intimate selves with another, someone who allows you to be open, to feel free to express thoughts, to really be understood without judgment.  Such relationships, which thrive on open communication, can make the difference between existential loneliness and a deep sense of belonging.  Many of my patients express the genuine need to feel heard, understood, and loved, and clear communication makes this possible.  We all need a caring atmosphere to help us think things through more calmly.

When there’s no one who will listen, one can feel very alone, not knowing where to turn when feeling stressed, frustrated and isolated.  Personal feelings can be very difficult to share; sometimes our attempts can serve only to confuse a listener, further complicating the situation.

Many of us do not have that treasured friend with whom we feel comfortable sharing our innermost thoughts.  There is always risk involved in seeking that atmosphere of acceptance and empathy, but expressing oneself honestly and clearly is an essential starting point toward developing a healthier lifestyle.

In helping others express themselves more fully, I will often have the client express thoughts in writing in order to get a clear and concise understanding of what he/she wants to say.  We role play in our sessions, each playing the “other” role in order to gain further insight into clear expression. The focus of the exercise is to create a comfortable environment with open communication and understanding.  That can mean the difference between existential loneliness versus that deep sense of belonging that we all need.

I’m here for you if you need me.

 

Fools Cannot Keep New Year’s Resolutions

NEW-YEARS-RESOLUTIONS-calendar

 

How many people out there make New Year’s Resolutions, only to slip up and resume their old habits within days, weeks, or sometimes much sooner?  Has that happened to you?  If so, how solid was your plan to help you succeed?

 

Yes, you really do need a plan in order to break old habits and successfully form new ones.  Without getting organized, your chances of failure are just about 100%!   That means that the likelihood that you will succeed are about as slim as the likelihood of your seeing a rare African swallow carrying a coconut.

 

In my practice, I see people who come in with the idea that January 1st will be the perfect time to stop smoking, lose weight, end a bad relationship, change jobs, move to a new town or make any other major life change.…  The aspirations are endless.  Don’t get me wrong.  I do believe that January 1st is as good a time as any to initiate positive life changes and those changes listed above are admiral goals for many people.  I think the foolish aspect lies in the typical approach to reaching for and achieving the desired success.

 

First, most people tend to expect too much when they form a resolution.  Let’s face it:  If you’ve been smoking a carton of non-filter Camel cigarettes for 30 years, it’s hardly likely that on January 1 you will magically go (and stay) cold turkey….  Or, if you’ve been carrying an adult goat around your waistline for 10 years, it is highly unlikely that you will become vegetarian by the next day or hit the gym 5 days a week and join a cycling club and stick to it.  Let’s face it, most people start off with the greatest intentions, then soon realize that their lofty goals were quickly abandoned at the temptation of an All You Can Eat Buffet and/or the urge for “just one” quick smoke.

 

Over the years, I have identified three main reasons that people do not accomplish their New Year’s Resolutions.

 

First, people tend to bite off more than they can chew (Please excuse the pun). If you are going to succeed in losing weight or conquering your smoking habit, build your chances for success by starting with a step-by-step plan.

 

Start in small increments.  Chart your progress.  If you smoke a pack a day, for example, start by smoking one cigarette less per day.  Set up a chart where you can note what time of day you are most tempted, with whom you are more likely to smoke, and what factors might trigger your desire for a cigarette and how you feel when the craving strikes.  Learn about yourself and your reactions so you can plan how to change those habits.  Talk to your counselor or to someone you can trust to hold you accountable as well.

 

Sometimes we all need to regroup.  That’s why you will do better if you have someone to keep you accountable, to encourage and support you.  That person needs to be someone who cares about you and understands that changing personal habits takes time.  You will see more forward steps than backward steps as time passes.  Baby steps do develop into giant steps.

 

Perhaps you are someone who wants to lose weight.  Ignore those fad diets that come and go. If this is your area of need, don’t fall for the latest craze by going on a fad diet.  Simply, chart what you are eating on a daily basis and make modest changes each meal, then before you know it, you will be making healthier choices.

 

Second, do not do it alone.  Birds of a feather do flock together.  Everyone has a friend, maybe two, who struggle with the same issues.  Get such a friend involved, share your goals with this someone you trust and who shares your conviction to change.  Support and hold one another accountable.  Research suggests people who work collaboratively are more likely to succeed.

 

Lastly, be realistic regarding how long it will take for new habits to develop; realize that things are not going to change overnight.  On average, it takes a person approximately 66 days to make significant lifestyle changes.  The more realistic you can be regarding how long it will take for small changes to become lifelong habits, the more psychological endurance you will develop to accomplish your goals.  Don’t be like the fool who rushes in because he wants to experience immediate success with a New Year’s Resolution.

 

Anyone who is planning to make a New Year’s Resolution, remember three things:

1)  Start Slow and take realistic steps

2)  Find a friend to help and

3)  Plan for a marathon (not a sprint) for making lifestyle changes.

Be wise concerning your New Year’s Resolution and you will succeed beyond your wildest dreams.  It’s a commitment that will pay lifelong dividends!

 

I wish you well, my friends.

HEALTHY HOLIDAY HABITS

The holidays can be some of the most exciting and stressful times of the year.  I have patients that come to me during this time and tell me “I am so stressed out I cannot even have fun” or “I cannot wait until the holidays are over!”.  I find these statements to be concerning and sad, because the holidays are supposed to be fun, relaxing and full of joy and love.

So, how do people get so far off track for the holidays?  I think there are three main reasons:

  1. The preoccupation with trying to ‘buy’ gifts and the financial stress that the holidays can place upon people.

 

  1. Unresolved interpersonal relationships: for some reason the holidays are a great time for conflict.

 

  1. People take on too much and feel “obligated” to others.

 

First, the financial side of the holidays can evoke stress for many individuals and families.  Let’s face it, times are hard and the pressure to “show love and appreciation” through gifts can be overwhelming.  I recommend that people discuss the issue of spending too much money on gifts with one another.  In most cases, other people will feel this same stress and will appreciate an open and honest discussion about spending or not spending money during the holidays.  There are many ways to show appreciation and love without spending money.  For example, give “Time Vouchers” to people you love.  They can use a voucher to spend special time together going for a walk, having dinner together, or attending a play or movie.  The time spent together will be far more cherished than buying a token gift that will soon be forgotten.  This time of the season is supposed to be fun and relaxing! Don’t overextend yourself financially, or this will always make the holidays stressful.

Second, there is an old saying “Families are a mixed blessing.”  There is nothing that can increase stress, anxiety and depression more during the holidays than difficult relationships.  The holidays tend to bring families together even if they prefer not to be together.  One of the things that I encourage people to do is to have an exit plan.  If things start to make you feel uncomfortable, take a walk, excuse yourself and talk with a favorite cousin, uncle, aunt or play with the kids at the party or simply leave.  Adults have the option to excuse themselves and leave a difficult situation.  In addition, talk about the situation with your spouse or loved ones and come up with a plan before attending any party.  Have a “Code” word or sign which indicates to the other person that “It is time to go!”  That way everyone will be aware of the exit plan and can act accordingly.  This can make a stressful situation inherently less stressful.

Lastly, people tend to over-commit during the holidays.  This is especially true for young adults and new parents.  Everyone wants you to stop by their house, bring over the new baby, come to the party or stop over for dinner etc.  Limit the number of visits on any particular day or night.  The stress of trying to run over to Mom’s, Dad’s, Grandmas and friends’ houses can be overwhelming.  If you cannot attend a particular party, ask the host if you can stop by or have them over another time, when things are not so hectic.  They may appreciate the ability to spend more quality time together.  By planning a special time to spend with that person or persons, people will help them feel better about your absence and more appreciative of the one-on-one time you can give them.

Remember, the holidays are a stressful time for EVERYONE.  Do not be afraid to set limits on money, gifts, relationships and engagements.  Most of the time the way you feel is exactly the way others feel at this time of year.  By following these simple guidelines your holidays will be less stressful! Then you can enjoy better time well spent, time for Fun, Relaxation, Peace, Joy and Love!

Happy Holidays and have a wonderful and safe New Year!

Dr Q

EATING YOUR WAY THROUGH EMOTIONS

emotional-eating

Emotional eating is defined as overeating to relieve negative emotions caused by tough situations.  It’s considered a “maladaptive” strategy, or more simply, it’s a choice that feels good for the moment, but does not lead to healing.  It often becomes addictive.

While you’re eating, your treat of choice tastes yummy, feels good.  You relax and take a deep breath.  Your issues don’t control you.  Or do they?  You secretly hope that your troubles are gone for good.  But do you really believe it?

Eating is a great pleasure and consuming food we love is extra special, but, guess what!  If we don’t focus on WHY we STARTED overeating, how will life improve?  Sadly, without introspection, the cycle just repeats itself.

How well I remember one patient that I treated for his repetitive behavior.  Whenever an upsetting work issue arose, he sought solace in vanilla ice cream.  Yes, he kept containers in the break room freezer and would run to that source whenever he got upset and needed to settle himself.  He quickly consumed ½ gallon at a time.

Unfortunately, he got upset more and more easily and so often that he gained 70 pounds before he sought help!

Fortunately, in his case, our exploration guided him to search deep into the past and identify the childhood source of his stress solution of choice.  Next, this awareness helped us explore and cultivate a much more positive lifestyle for him.

I’d be happy to help you explore your concerns and cultivate a path to a better life for you also.  Call me anytime!

Dr Q Cares for You (727) 906-6185

DrQ@heatlhylifestylestampabay.com

http://www.healthylifestylestampabay.com/