Category Archives for Mindfulness

Bipolar Disorder – Causes & Alternative Treatments

Mental illness is becoming more and more common among all ages. According to the World Health Organization, over 450 million suffer from mental illness worldwide. Suicide rates have increased by 60% in the last 45 years, with 90% having a diagnosable mental disorder. Anxiety disorders, depression and mood disorders like bipolar disorder have similarities, yet require different treatments. A person with depression often has some type of anxiety, while a person with anxiety often shows some symptoms of depression. Brain health plays an integral part in all types of mental disorders. Bipolar disorder in particular, is unique in comparison to anxiety and depression. Manic episodes of bipolar may include high energy, reduced need for sleep, and loss of touch with reality. Depressive episodes of bipolar may include low energy, decreased motivation, and loss of interest in daily activities. Treatment typically is lifelong, involving a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Lets look further at the causes and complexities of this disorder. bipolar disorder

Causes

Most researchers agree there are physical and environmental factors that contribute to bipolar disorder. While a person may have been born with a predisposition, for many a stressful life event or upbringing triggers the illness. Studies show a low or high level of a particular neurotransmitter such as serotonin, norepinephrine or dopamine is involved in mood disorders – affecting the overall balance of how these chemicals work together. Stress levels also play a role with increasing stress causing cortisol levels to rise. In turn, these high cortisol levels alter brain function and communication.

The Prechter Bipolar Research Program at the University of Michigan performed a study which found more people with bipolar disorder have a history of childhood trauma than those without the disorder. These traumas were associated with changes in self-control and attention. Childhood traumas such as emotional abuse or neglect has shown to affect mood, impulse control, cognitive function, and feelings of self-worth – all of which are associated with bipolar disorder. bipolar disorder

Higher levels of saturated fats also showed an association between certain levels of fat molecules in the blood and mood. Patients taking an antipsychotic showed less diversity of microbes in the gastrointestinal tract. Bad microbes in the gut can create gut inflammation, which may cause depression and other brain ailments and imbalances. It has been noted that those who have daily mood swings have food allergies or hypoglycemia. With brain health being so dependent on gut health, it is essential to provide the body with proper nutrients to provide greater harmony between mind and body. Lets look further at some alternative treatments to support mental health and overall brain health. bipolar disorder

Alternative Treatments

Dr. Drew Ramsey, author of “50 Shades of Kale,” says omega 3’s, vitamin D, B vitamins, zinc, iron, and magnesium all play a vital role in brain health. Ramsey notes that kale provides 134% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C, 684% of vitamin K, 206% of vitamin A, and more. It is of utmost importance to eat nutrient rich foods to help support a healthy gut such as, cruciferous vegetables, bananas, beans, artichokes, blueberries, polenta, kimchee, saurkraut and tempeh. Slow digesting foods that are high in fiber such as beans, oats, brown rice, and other fruits and vegetables are all supportive to brain health. Folic acid, B12, and glutathione has shown to be deficient in manic depressive patients. Diet changes, supplementation, and alternative treatments can be used in conjunction with other therapies. Bipolar disorder can be successfully managed through a strong support system, psychotherapy, and lifestyle changes. It is always best to discuss any treatments with your health care provider. Consider further ways to support mental health.

Tips to Support Mental Health

  • Take care of your body – Eat nutrient dense meals, avoid excess alcohol, drink plenty of water, exercise, and get enough sleep.
  • Spend time with others who support you – People who have strong family or social connections are generally happier and healthier.
  • Learn coping skills – Take a walk in nature, journal, and practice self-care by spending time doing something you enjoy.
  • Quiet your mind – Mindfulness and relaxation techniques helps improve your state of mind and promotes a positive outlook on life.
  • Acupuncture – Symptoms of mood swings can be alleviated with acupuncture by helping to balance the energetic qi (chee) within various body systems and minimize the frequency and intensity of mood swings. Medical Wellness Associates offers acupuncture and other homeopathic therapies for a variety of conditions, helping to support balance between mind and body.
  • Aromatherapy – Essential oils promote balance between mind and body. Oils like lavender, bergamot, frankincense, jasmine, and many others can be used to uplift mood. Contact Makin Wellness for a custom blend to support emotional wellness!

If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, depression, or other mood disturbances, contact Makin Wellness today for a free 15 minute consultation! Our services include a holistic approach of cognitive behavioral therapy, nutritional counseling, and life coaching.

About Makin Wellness

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy & coaching centers located in Downtown Pittsburgh and Downtown New Kensington. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again.  Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, medical marijuana assited treatment and relationship counseling. bipolar disorder

Laura Stewart, BA Makin Wellness

Laura Stewart, BA Makin Wellness

Spa Treatments for Stress Reduction

Imagine yourself walking into an appointment. The atmosphere is peaceful and serene, as you’re warmly greeted and offered a small glass mason jar of strawberry infused water. While you quietly sip your water, the pleasant aroma of essential oils being diffused fills the air. A feeling of calm comes over you without a worry or care on your mind. This doesn’t sound like a visit to the doctor, does it? No. Instead, this is an appointment to receive a relaxing spa treatment. This describes a recent experience at a local spa right here in the Pittsburgh area.

Sage Organic Spa is a modern farmhouse boutique spa located in Upper St. Clair. The owner, Shannon Hindman, loves using all organic products, including therapeutic grade essential oils. She spends much of her time researching ingredients and finding the best products suited to her clients individual needs. Services offered include skincare, massage, body treatments, tinting and lash lifts, and waxing. They are the only spa in Pennsylvania to use the Indie beauty brands, Odacite and LILFOX. Whether you’re interested in a massage, facial, mud wrap, or other body treatment, feelings of renewal and rejuvenation are sure to follow.

Is the spa just a luxury though? You may be surprised to know the benefits go beyond just that of a relaxing atmosphere. Massage and other spa treatments have shown to support both physical and mental health, giving a feeling of overall well-being. Let’s take a closer look at the beneficial effects of spa treatments on the body and mind.

Popular spa treatments include massage, facials, and body wraps with massage being the most popular. According to mayoclinic.org, massage is a powerful tool for a wide range of medical conditions including, anxiety, headaches, fibromyalgia, digestive issues, sports injuries, stress related insomnia and temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ).

Massage improves blood circulation, sending oxygen and nutrients through the body and cells, stimulating the lymphatic system and ridding the body of excess toxins. Thus, lymph flow is increased as toxins are removed, in turn boosting immune function. Massage is excellent in reducing stress, pain, and muscle tension. Studies have also shown massage to improve sleep quality. spa treatments

Facials include massage around the neck, arms, hands, and feet. A facial helps to reduce puffiness and inflammation, promotes skin cell renewal, and reduce stress. Facials can also help reduce headaches by releasing tension from the head and neck. With the skin being the bodies largest organ, using organic products is an essential part of optimum skin health. Skincare products are absorbed into the skin and can get into our organs. The ingredients can either be helpful or harmful to our bodies. For clear, radiant skin, it is recommended to get facials four times a year as the seasons change, along with keeping a good skincare routine. This will help detoxify the skin from built up waste and bacteria, which is essential since the skin is the bodies first line of defense against environmental elements.

Mud wraps are another way to help detoxify the body. Indigenous people all around the world have been using clays and muds, for medicinal and aesthetic benefits as they have an abundance of vitamins and minerals. Mud wraps exfoliate and nourish the skin, help ease inflammation, flush out toxins through sweating, and relax and soothe the muscles. Anti-aging, skin toning, and cellulite reduction are some other noted benefits.

Hormones, pollution, stress, and other elements all impact our bodies and the health of our skin. Taking time to care for your skin and body will help reduce this stress. Regular spa treatments have shown a correlation with better sleep quality, fewer sick days, and an overall sense of well-being. Clearly, it is more than just a simple luxury. A little time at the spa is a perfect way to slow down and reflect, feel renewed, and support mind-body balance. Sage Organic Spa provides top notch services with knowledgeable, caring and professional staff who make you feel at ease and calm enough to fall asleep!

If you’re looking for further support with stress management, contact us today at Makin Wellness for your free initial consultation. Our therapists and coaches can aid you on your journey to wellness through a holistic approach with the use of essential oils as an effective way to reduce stress, improve sleep, and boost immunity. Cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness practices, and other techniques utilized in helping clients heal and become the best version of themselves.

About Makin Wellness :

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy and coaching centers located in Downtown, Pittsburgh and New Kensington, PA. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again. Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction and relationship counseling. Schedule your free consultation with Pittsburgh’s best therapists and coaches to begin your wellness journey today!

spa treatments

Laura Stewart, BA Makin Wellness

Laura Stewart, BA Makin Wellness

 

 

Stress Management

We all have experienced stress in our lives. It not only affects us physically, for example, when we are stressed, we can feel an increased heart and breathing rate, but also psychologically—It can make us listless, disorganized and anxious.

 

So, what is stress?

 

Stanford University professor and Neuroendocrinologist,Robert Sapolsky, puts it this way: “a stressor is anything in the outside world that knocks you out of homeostatic balance.”

 

Different people handle stress differently, so different people define stress in a different way, as you can tell, the meaning of stress can be really subjective. https://healthypsych.com/stress-management-101/

 

A certain level of stress can be beneficial. It enhances our awareness and ensures that our body is readily prepared to face danger. “Fight or flight” is one of our body’s response to danger which basically means that our body is getting ready to either depart as quickly as possible or stay and fight. It is essential to survival and we all have this mechanism since we born. stress

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/145855.php/

 

Some amount of stress can also motivate us to achieve the goal we want. However, a lot of people now are not in a normal level of stress. According to American Psychology association, in 2015, in the U.S., average stress levels grew from 4.9 in 2016 to 5.1 on a 10-point stress scale. Additionally, there is a big jump in the number of people who have experienced “extreme stress”. 24% of people claim that they have suffered from “extreme stress” in 2014, while in 2013, this number was only 18%.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/stress-levels-in-the-u-s-continue-to-increase/

 

We all know that excessive amount of stress can affect our health negatively, but how exactly it is going to affect our body. Let us take a closer look through this diagram.

https://www.healthline.com/health/stress/effects-on-body#1

 

As you can tell, stress can affect nearly every part of our body ranging from central nervous systems to digestive systems. What makes it worse is that stress is everywhere in our lives: work, relationships, or even just when you are daydreaming. Therefore, it is crucial that we have some coping skills in mind so that when stressors come, we are able to manage it. stress

 

Here are some coping tips.

 

— Exercise. Exercise is the number one recommended coping mechanisms by health care professions. Even though it is understandable that when you are stressed, all you want to do is lying down and do nothing. Nevertheless, exercise is indeed a good stress releaser. When you exercise, your body will release a chemical called endorphin which kills pain and induces a positive feeling. And you do not have to engage in very intense exercise, small exercise like walking a dog can make a difference.

https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/stress/physical-activity-reduces-st

https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/exercise-depression

 

—Talk. When you are connecting with people, you feel like being understood and supported and this feeling will calm you down and make you feel relaxed. What’s more, you do not necessarily have to talk to someone you know or you do not even need to talk about the things that are bothering you. For example, you can sign up for a volunteer work, and the simple fact that you are making new friends and engaging in new conversation will make you feel much better. stress

 

—Adjust. Adjusting yourself to a way that makes you feel comfortable and in control. Starting to say “no” to things that will push you beyond your limit. Avoiding people and things that make you feel stressed. These are unnecessary stresses that can haunt you for a long time. Keep in mind that you are the one who needs to make sure that you are having a balanced lifestyle.

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-management.htm

About Makin Wellness :

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy and coaching centers located in Downtown , Pittsburgh and New Kensington, PA. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again. Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction and relationship counseling .

Contact us to schedule a free consultation and learn highly effective stress relieving techniques!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Xinyu Lu (Lydia)

 

How to Communicate Effectively in Relationships

Communication is essential in a relationship because it can either hinder the relationship or make the relationship stronger. However, most people actually do not know how to communicate effectively. A lot of people confuse communication for chatting or just simply getting ideas across. In fact, communication in relationships is about connecting, letting your significant other know that you care, forming a stronger bond and fulfilling each others physical and psychological needs. (https://www.tonyrobbins.com/ultimate-relationship-guide/key-communication-relationships/) communication

Before talking about tips on how to build a satisfying relationship between you and your partner, let’s first take a look at what unhealthy communication looks like: full of negative thoughts and difficult emotion; bad listening skills; lack of understanding of what is going on in your partner’s life. And these poor communication skills can lead to break down of intimacy and trust. It usually happens when all the passion between each other has gone away and you start to pick at their mistakes, which you likely already know. Some harmful communication also happens when you expect your partner to change and they are hoping the same as well. However, these are all better than zero communication. Silence kills whatever relationships it wants, because how can you know what your partner is thinking about when you are not even trying to talk to him or her? https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/communication-in-relationships/#improve communication

 

So, how can you foster healthy communication in your relationship? Here is some advice: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-couch/201501/6-surprising-ways-communicate-better-your-partner

 

➜ Let your partner know that you care about what he or she has to say, which means that you have to put your whole mind into the conversation and listen actively. Listening actively is more than listening with concentration, it actually means interacting and clarifying without acting rude or judgemental.

 

➜ Make sure both sides get a chance to talk. You want to make sure you are not the one who dominates the conversation. Trying to find a balance between talking and listening can ensure a healthy relationship.

 

➜ Share some common memories. Study has showed that couples actually feel closer to each other when they are talking about their common experiences. So, talk about some pleasant or lovey moments you have with you partner and enjoy that moment.

 

➜Give your partner more appreciation, value, and love. Tell them they look pretty and compliment some nice little things they have done for you. Who does not like being respected and praised? But do not overdo it, otherwise you may lose trust from your partner and be labeled as a hypocrite.

https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/communication-in-relationships/#improve

 

➜ Pay attention to your pitch and volume. High pitch sounds anxious and immature and loud volume may scare your partner away, especially in an argument. So, next time, try to talk calmly and be mindful of your pitch and volume.

https://www.tonyrobbins.com/ultimate-relationship-guide/key-communication-relationships/ communication

 

➜ Touch. A study conducted by Alberto Gallace and Charles Spence (2010) have found that touching can make people feel being loved and wanted and bring more positive outcomes. That is to say, while communicating with your partner, having some physical contact can sometimes ease the argument and send positive signals.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-the-name-love/201405/why-lovers-touch-is-so-powerful

 

Finally, let me end this with a quote from Shannon L. Alder: “When you give yourself permission to communicate what matters to you in every situation you will have peace despite rejection or disapproval. Putting a voice to your soul helps you to let go of the negative energy of fear and regret.”

communication

Xinyu (Lydia) Lu

Women and Depression ~ Pittsburgh

Depression is a serious medical condition that can range from mild to severe and is associated with feelings of melancholy, loss of pleasure, low energy, difficulty concentrating, and suicidal thoughts. It is both a brain disorder and a state of mind. How though, can you tell if you’re just feeling sad, or if it’s something more? Depression is more than sad feelings once in a while. It’s when feeling “down” doesn’t go away after a few days, likely interfering with daily activities and interpersonal relationships. It can last weeks, months, or even years. Other signs and symptoms include aches and pains, headaches, cramps, digestive troubles, and difficulty sleeping. More than 19 million people experience depression each year, with the majority being women. Women and depression seem to go hand in hand since women are twice as likely as men to experience depression.  Why is this? Consider the following contributing factors. women and depression

Contributing Factors

There are psychological, genetic, social, and hormonal factors that can all play a part in depression in women. Women experience many hormonal changes throughout their lifetime which can effect mood (see previous post on “Women & Mental Health”). The many roles women take on can also contribute to an imbalance between the mind and body, causing increased stress levels, which may lead to depression if left unchecked.

Hormonal imbalance is usually associated with pregnancy and menopause, but can also be caused by toxins in the body. The foods we eat, the toxins we absorb, and overall stress levels affect body toxicity and hormone balance. Mental and physical health is affected by these toxins. Talking to your doctor or health care provider can rule out other factors, such as medications and medical conditions, like viruses and thyroid issues, that can cause the same symptoms as depression.

Social factors such as work related stress, family responsibilities, societal expectations, and increased rates of sexual abuse and poverty may also contribute to depression in women. Loss of a loved one, loss of  a job, financial struggles, and marital issues are other factors affecting emotional well-being. In the previous post it was mentioned that women are more likely to rehash events in their minds and discuss concerns with others, whereas men are less likely to openly talk about their problems as much. Revisiting negative emotions too often can be harmful due to excessive stress hormones being released. A build up of these hormones can become toxic to the body, both physically and psychologically.

Types of Depression

Women can experience different types of depression in relation to their individual circumstances. Major depression is a severe type of depression where a woman may experience difficulty enjoying things she used to, trouble performing daily tasks, and may have issues with engaging in normal social relationships. It may be accompanied with low self-esteem.

Postpartum depression (PPD) otherwise known as the “baby blues” is typically experienced after pregnancy. Due to a change in hormones and changing responsibilities, a woman may experience postpartum depression.

Persistent depressive disorder  (PDD) is a milder form of depression that extends for a longer period of time, usually lasting a couple years. It can cause difficulty functioning at home and with women being at higher risk for developing it. Brain chemicals like serotonin may be part of the cause as well persistent life stress.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is a type of depression around the time of a woman’s menstrual cycle. A woman may experience severe mood swings, anxiety, and negative thoughts, which usually takes place a week before menstruation. women and depression

Prevention

Healthy family relationships and a strong support system through friends and community is of vital importance in prevention. Even women who are prone to depression can find increased resilience and positive coping skills with the proper amount of support and resources.

Eating a healthy diet and getting enough exercise is an absolute must. Taking a 20 minute walk outside can greatly help to improve mood. Please contact us if you are interested in support with lifestyle and diet changes for a free initial consultation with our Holistic Health Coach!

When offering emotional support to someone, it is important to not dismiss their feelings. Instead, show understanding and patience, and encourage them to seek the necessary help, reminding them that with time and treatment they can feel better!

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of depression and would like professional support, please contact us for a free initial consultation today to begin your journey to healing with Pittsburgh’s best therapists!

About Makin Wellness :

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy and coaching centers located in Downtown , Pittsburgh and New Kensington, PA. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again. Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction and relationship counseling.

women and depression

 

 

 

Professional Women & Mental Health

Professional women hold more roles than meets the eye. Mother. Wife. Caretaker. Laundress. Cook. Housekeeper. Nurse. Car detailer. Teacher. Counselor. And the list goes on. Women wear many hats indeed. Whether a parent or not, women take on many tasks unrelated to work. Adding a part time or full time job to parenting will leave you feeling like a juggler in no time. It’s been said that, “A woman’s work is never done.” Work life balance can become a particular challenge for women. This is especially true if caring for children along with elderly parents. women

Women not only struggle to balance work and family life, they also have additional pressure to prove they’re as good as men in the workplace. According to theguardian.com, due to cultural and societal traditions and expectations, women may face discrimination and harassment. Women’s mental health and well-being may also be affected by lower income, lower status, insufficient benefits, or childcare concerns. While mental health is important for overall health in men and women, mental health conditions like anxiety and depression are shown to be higher in women than men.

A long day of work is physically and mentally draining for anyone. With the extra pressures women encounter, it’s no wonder they’re left feeling drained by the end of the day. There are other issues that are specific to women and their mental health. Things like physical changes and the way women process events compared to men are important when considering how their mental health is affected. women

Physical Changes

Women experience many physical changes throughout life, which has a large impact on their mental health. Hormonal changes, pregnancy, and menopause are all contributing factors that affect a woman’s mental health. The changes a woman’s body goes through may cause many discomforts. Pregnancy or other hormonal changes may cause things such as headaches, tiredness, mood swings, irritability, forgetfulness, or difficulty focusing. Fatigue and stress may increase these symptoms. Finding ways to balance hormones is key to minimizing these health concerns, as hormonal issues can affect physical and mental health.

Eating disorders are also shown to be common in young women due to societal pressures such as body image. This not only may cause a number of serious physical problems, but can also contribute to anxiety and depression.

The Way Women Process Emotions

Women have been shown to dwell on stressful events and remember details more vividly than men. This may be due to the fact that women’s limbic systems are larger than men’s. It makes sense that women are known to be more in touch with and expressive of emotions, since the limbic system is the center for emotional responsiveness, motivation, memory, formation and integration, and olfaction (sense of smell). It’s the limbic system that is responsible for emotional memory, causing us to connect a certain smell with a past memory.

The limbic system is closely connected to the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for planning complex cognitive behavior, personality expression, decision making, and moderating social behavior. This prefrontal-limbic connection is said to be strengthened by practicing mindfulness. These particular systems are of clinical relevance to a psychotherapist; therefore a professional counselor can be helpful in providing support through cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness practices.

Due to having a larger limbic system, women may spend more time discussing a stressful event in more detail, thinking about it longer, and quite possibly making it more difficult to let go of negative emotions due to revisiting emotional memories more than males. According to psychologytoday.com, females are said to “absorb more sensorial and emotive information than males.” Meaning, women sense information from all five senses of what is going on around them, while also retaining that information more than males.

What Can Be Done to Support Women’s Mental Health in the Workplace?

Managers and other leaders can take some of the pressure off by being open about the issue of mental health. Hence, creating a culture where it is acceptable to communicate openly about it and provide resources to find the needed help. Employees who feel comfortable talking about it are less likely to wait until they are in a mental health crisis.

Mental health should be as much of a priority as physical health, having it checked regularly. Corporate health programs help employees by assessing and finding resources to support mental health; thus benefitting both the organization and the well-being of employees. women

Tips to Minimize Anxiety and Stress to Restore Mind-Body Balance:

  • Share responsibilities – Whether at work or home, delegate some responsibility where you’re able to. It can help to lighten your load and ease some stress.
  • Make connections with like-minded, supportive individuals – Positive minded people help to relieve stress while making circumstances seem less challenging.
  • Tune in to and be true to yourself – Taking time to do the things you enjoy with friends and family can improve self-esteem, helping you to tune into yourself and be your best self.
  • Get enough sleep – Sleep is vital to performing at your best and is essential for mental health. It is best to wind down an hour before bedtime, turning of all electronics. Perhaps try reading a good book with a cup of chamomile tea. Lavender oil can also be used to promote restful sleep.
  • Eat a balanced diet – Avoid too much caffeine or sugar during the day and close to bedtime, as these can increase anxious feelings. Eating nutrient dense foods will keep your physical and mental health more in balance.
  • Get outdoors/Exercise – Making it a priority to get outside each day for 20-30 minutes. Take a short mid-day break or go for a walk. Sunlight provides vitamin D, supporting physical and mental health.

If you are having difficulty managing work-life balance and want to process the underlying reasons with a trustworthy professional, schedule a free initial consultation  with us to get connected with Pittsburgh’s best therapists!

About Makin Wellness :

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy and coaching centers located in Downtown , Pittsburgh and New Kensington, PA. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again. Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction and relationship counseling.

 

Sleep and Mental Health

Sleep and Mental Health

According to the American Sleep Association, 50-70 million adults have a sleep disorder. Among the most common are insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and restless leg syndrome, but simply the absence of a diagnosed disorder does not imply that an individual is experiencing healthy and regular sleep patterns.

Effects of Inadequate Sleep

Because our sleep needs change with age, people require different amounts of sleep at different points in their lives. Generally, children aged 6 through 12 require 9-12 hours of sleep, teenagers require 8-10 hours, and adults require 7-9 hours. Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2016) report that over a third of adults in the United States are not receiving adequate sleep on a regular basis. sleepandmentalhealth

Sleep deprivation has implications for your entire well-being. Cognitively, it inhibits your ability to act quickly, concentrate, and remember things. Physically, it increases your risk of conditions and diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. Further, one study found that sleep deprived individuals (those receiving five hours of sleep per night or less) had higher rates of mortality by approximately 15% (University of Harvard Medical School, Division of Sleep Medicine, 2007). Finally, sleep largely influences our mood and psychological functioning. Conversely, those aspects impact your sleep as well. Lack of sleep can put you at a higher risk of developing anxiety or mood disorders, and increases negative feelings such as anger, sadness, distress, and exhaustion (Dinges D. et al., 1997; Neckelmann, D. et al., 2007. Consider the following tips to improve sleep and mental health.

Things Anyone Can Do to Improve Sleep

  • Maintain a consistent routine – Try to wake up and go to sleep at the same times each day, including weekends. This will regulate your circadian rhythm, helping your body become accustomed to regular sleeping and waking times.
  • Limit cell-phone and computer use before bed – Research shows that the light emitted from our electronic devices reduces the production of melatonin, one of our natural hormones that tells your body that it’s time to sleep.
  • Incorporate exercise into your daily routine – Particularly in the afternoon and early evening, exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality. One study found that 150 minutes of exercise each week improved participants sleep quality by 65%, leading to less feelings of tiredness throughout the day (Loprinzi & Cardinal, 2011)
  • Limit your consumption of alcohol – Although drinking may make you feel like you’re sleeping more soundly, it prohibits REM sleep, which decreases the amount of restorative sleep you get. In short, you may fall asleep faster, but you will likely wake up still feeling tired.
  • Journal – If you find yourself up at night with racing thoughts, find ways to process those thoughts during the day to allow yourself calmness when it’s time to rest.
  • Yoga and Meditation – Amongst improvements in stress reduction, body awareness, and mindfulness, practicing yoga and meditation has been shown to help many people with insomnia, including pregnant women, cancer patients, and the elderly.
  • Contact a therapist – Sometimes, sleep problems can lead to or stem from other issues, so it’s important to involve a professional if you are having a significant amount of trouble sleeping. Some professionals use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help restructure your though processes and maintain better sleep hygiene.

If you are having trouble falling or staying asleep and want to process the underlying reasons with a trustworthy professional, schedule a free initial consultation  with us to get connected with Pittsburgh’s best therapists!

About Makin Wellness :

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy and coaching centers located in Downtown , Pittsburgh and New Kensington, PA. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again. Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction and relationship counseling .

sleepandmentalhealth

What We Believe, We Become

The very interesting thing about believing certain things, is that it takes almost constant reminding that you believe those things as you’re just living your life. I’ve read books several times that echo the belief that what you think is what will become. I’ve listened to speakers say it. I’ve said to people. I’ve written it. I know that it’s true but what happens when we’re believing and thinking for something we wish to see materialize in our lives and that thing is looking just as distant as when we first realized we wanted it? What do we do when we’ve toiled, pedaled, ached and ached again as we’ve journeyed toward a certain something that we’ve long-desired, and yet seem to be further away than closer to? psychologyofabeli

What do we do in that desperation-moment of letting go or continuing on? What do we do when we hear the thing we’ve been holding onto and our stomach turns? Tears fill our eyes because we’re more than doubting the validity of the belief? “As you think, so you will become.” Well how long do I have to sit in that thought, because my car is being repossessed. My wife and kids are looking at me with something less than loving eyes. Even if I finally achieved what I continually have been thinking I’ll become, will I even want it at this point? Faith… faith has long left me…

Well… that’s just how it feels…

But aren’t the things we feel truth?

There is a truth that lies deeper than that which you feel. Buried beneath tears, fear and doubt there lies an unbreakable, unmovable, and immutable truth. The truth is simply, you’re not meant to be forever lost to the realm of hopelessness. You’re also not meant to be forever dazzled by the realm of jubilation. Our universe is perfectly balanced. The presence of fear and fearless, hope and hopeless exist together. As for the life to come, well hopefully that’s the one filled entirely with perfect jubilation that won’t make us insane.
psychologyofabelief
If you’re interested in discovering ways to turn your thoughts into more positive ones, contact us at makinwellness.com. We can help you find new perspective while developing coping skills. Schedule your free consulation today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Craven iammarkcraven.com

Mindful Eating to Improve Mental Health

There are various sources of stress whether it be work related, relational issues, health concerns, or other daily worries. Things like exercise and time outside are encouraged as a way to positively affect our mood and reduce stress. When it comes to our eating habits, we often hear about particular foods linked to increased energy levels and improved physical health. What about mental health though? What does our mood have to do with our food? Surely, it’s unlikely to hear someone say, “My food is really stressing me out.” But it turns out, the old saying “you are what you eat” is ringing true in more ways than one. Consider further evidence of the link between food and its affects on mental health. Mindful eating

An expecting mother will carefully choose what she eats to ensure her developing baby is getting needed nutrients and “brain food” for the brain of her developing fetus. According to nutritionist Elizabeth Somer, “Antioxidants protect the baby’s brain tissue from damage” (S. Kuzemchak, 2018). Dark leafy greens, blueberries, and other dark colored fruits and vegetables provide the most antioxidants. Like a developing fetus, our brains need antioxidants for protection from free radicals – waste produced when the body uses oxygen, which can cause damage to the cells. Eating nutrient rich foods containing vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourishes the brain, while protecting it from damaging free radicals, or oxidative damage. Poor nutrition is taxing to the immune system putting one at risk for free radical damage, premature aging, among other health risks.Mindful eating

Think of when you let a cut up apple sit out. It becomes brown from oxidation. That is exactly what we don’t want to happen to our brains. Just as we fuel our vehicles to keep them properly running, we want to fuel our brains. Choosing high quality fuel will produce the best results. Speaking of apples and brains, eating “an apple a day” may actually help “keep the doctor away” since it contains powerful and beneficial antioxidants. A study at Cornell found apples to protect brain cells against oxidative stress, since they contain high levels of quercetin (G, Stemilt. 2016). It is recommended to eat the entire apple, including the skin, to reap all of the benefits. So why not try out the old saying and give your brain a boost by eating an apple a day!Mindful eating

In seeing the positive effects healthy eating has on our brains, naturally we have to question “how does food actually affect our mood?” Often times we are looking for a quick fix in this fast paced world when it comes to meal time. With fast food restaurants being readily available, it has become even easier to grab something to eat without really considering nutritional benefits. Our enteric nervous system (ENS) which directly controls our gastrointestinal system is said to be our “second brain,” with 95% of serotonin being produced in the intestinal tract. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep and appetite, mediate moods, and inhibit pain (E, Selhub, 2018). Since our GI tract is lined with a hundred million nerve cells, it makes sense that our digestive system guides our emotions. Researchers believe that serotonin (also called “the happiness hormone”) imbalance influences mood which may influence anxiety and depression. Production of neurotransmitters like serotonin is highly influenced by the good bacteria in our gut. Probiotics have been shown to be beneficial in this regard.

Finding ways to balance serotonin and other neurotransmitters like dopamine and oxytocin, is key to maintaining wellness and improving mental health. One essential way is to be mindful of what foods we’re eating since it directly effects the health of our GI tract, which is so closely linked to our emotions. The process our body goes through when breaking down foods and using them for fuel is a very extensive one. Thus, eating high quality foods is vital to getting the best quality of fuel for our bodies. Below are some tips to boost serotonin, which in turn reduces stress and improves overall well-being.Mindful eating

Tips for improving serotonin levels to improve mental health:Mindful eating

• Take good quality probiotics – Probiotics are the good bacteria found in the gut, which can increase serotonin levels. Dr. David Williams explains the     benefits of probiotics and the connection between gut health and mental health at drdavidwilliams.com. He is known as a pioneer in the field of           probiotics.
• Exercise – Exercise is known for releasing endorphins, but did you know taking a walk or exercising for just 20 minutes can boost serotonin levels? A     little fresh air and sunlight can do wonders.
• Practice Mindfulness – taking time to be present prevents anxious thoughts, allowing one to enjoy the moment and make more meaningful                  connections with others. This includes being mindful of what we’re eating, thinking, and saying.
• Positive affirmations – We are what we think. Positive thinking improves our overall state of mind, promoting harmony between the mind and body.    “I am” statements gives greater opportunity for positive outcomes through a more positive outlook and approach.
• Eat nutrient dense foods – Healthier (mindful) eating habits provides benefits to the brain, which effects our mood and mental health. High quality      foods will give you a higher quality of life, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Remember, don’t drink your calories with thinks like soda or other      drinks with high sugar content.
• Eliminate or reduce sugar intake – Too much sugar is taxing to the body. Try replacing sugary snacks with healthier options like fresh fruit or trail          mix.
• Get a massage – Massage is a perfect way to remove toxins, promote restful sleep, and relieve stress. Essential oils like lavender can be used to aid      in relaxation during massage, which has also been shown to increase serotonin levels. Treat yourself to a little relaxation. It just might do you a lot        of good!
• Get enough rest – Adequate sleep helps reduce stress and produce serotonin, which improves mood and helps control appetite (healthy eating +        restful sleep = improved serotonin levels and improved mental health!)

Practicing these tips can help bring your mind and body into greater balance, improving mental health and overall wellness. If you would like additional support please schedule a free consultation today to get connected with Pittsburgh’s best therapists & coaches!

About Makin Wellness :

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy and coaching centers located in Downtown , Pittsburgh and New Kensington, PA. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again. Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction, relationship counseling & more . mindful eating

mindful eating Laura Stewart, BA Makin Wellness

Laura Stewart, B.A.

Pittsburgh Anxiety Therapy

Anxiety has a way of affecting the body and mind. It sends our thoughts into spirals of worry that may never even come true. Our body tells us there is trouble as our heart rate quickens, palms sweat, and it gets hard to breathe, sometimes in the absence of threat. Further, nervous thoughts race through our minds hindering focus and sleep. These common symptoms of anxiety are extremely uncomfortable and can interfere with our daily lives.Pittsburgh Anxiety Therapy

Anxious thoughts can stem from many different areas of life, such as stress faced at home, school, or work; worries about finances, relationships, or illness; or traumatic experiences we have been through in the past, in combination with our genetic makeup. It can manifest itself in many different forms. Among the most common are panic attacks, specific phobias, obsessions, compulsions, and social and generalized anxiety disorders. These types each have unique criteria, and their symptoms can affect your mental state, physical body, and cognitive abilities.Pittsburgh Anxiety Therapy

In the Moment:

When encountering symptoms of anxiety, it is important to treat yourself with acceptance and kindness. Understand that your anxiety is not something to be ashamed of but something to work through. Try to meet your racing thoughts with reason and reassurance. Sometimes, we have a habit of being too harsh with ourselves, so it helps to remember to talk to yourself as you would talk to a friend.Pittsburgh Anxiety Therapy
You can pair these changes in mindset with deep, controlled breathing exercises to calm down your physical symptoms. This technique is effective because slowing down your breathing calls on the parasympathetic nervous system, which has the job of “undoing” the fight-or-flight response we often feel in the face of stressful situations.Anxiety

When to Get Help:

If your anxiety is intense, persistent, or enduring, or if it regularly causes you distress or hinders your day-to-day activities, reach out to a counselor for support. During your time with them, they can help you recognize the situations that trigger your anxiety and come up with skills and techniques you can use to remedy your symptoms whenever they may occur.Pittsburgh Anxiety Therapy

Different Forms of Therapy and Treatment:

Bear in mind that today’s therapy takes on many different forms. You can take part in group sessions, individual therapy, and even e-therapies via phone calls, emails, and text messages, thanks to advances in technology, so assess your own needs and preferences when deciding which route to take.
One of the most common and effective methods of treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), allows people to maintain control and self-confidence in their practice. CBT operates on the assumption that people react not to the situations they are in but their perceptions of those situations, so it works to adjust the often-automatic negative thoughts that pop up when we’re in stressful situations, thus leading to positive changes in how we feel. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), most people who are treated with cognitive behavioral therapy see progress in 12 to 16 weeks, though this varies by individual.Pittsburgh Anxiety Therapy

Conversely, behavior therapy focuses on changing your behaviors in order to produce changes in thought processes. A natural way that people approach anxiety is to avoid the situations that trigger it, but the problem with this is that it reinforces the fear you feel and limits your chance of overcoming it. Exposure therapy is a behavioral method used by therapists to help clients overcome anxiety through facing their fears. In a practice called systematic desensitization, you can confront your fears in gradual stages while learning relaxation techniques to lessen your physical response to them. This has been found most effective in people dealing with specific phobias and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Group psychotherapy has also been very effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety. People dealing with the same types of feelings can come together and offer one another support and suggestions under the supervision of a therapist. Benefits include destigmatizing and normalizing the way you feel and providing a platform for sharing experiences and techniques.

In conclusion, anxiety can sometimes feel overpowering as it takes a toll on you physically and emotionally, but there are many diverse ways to treat and overcome it. Use compassion as you deal with your symptoms and remind yourself that over 40 million adults in the United States are facing anxiety disorders too, and you are in no way alone (adaa.org).Pittsburgh Anxiety Therapy

If you are feeling overwhelmed due to symptoms of anxiety, please schedule a free consultation now to get connected with Pittsburgh’s best therapists!Pittsburgh Anxiety Therapy

About Makin Wellness :

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy and coaching centers located in Downtown , Pittsburgh and New Kensington, PA. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again. Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction and relationship counseling . MStress Management Pittsburgh

Sara Makin Makin Wellness

Sara Makin, M.S.Ed, LPC, NCC