Start Fresh in the New Year

Carol A. Gooch, M.S., LPC, LCDC, LMFT As a mental health professional, I can tell you that some people have difficulty coping with holiday stress and depression, so as soon as the holidays are over, they start to reflect on what they can change for the next year. 2017 can be a great year for you, if you begin thinking about ways to improve your life. A new year is a fresh start and provides the psychological boost needed to set and meet your goals. Many people would benefit by making a few changes to improve their fitness level, diet, weight or general well-being. One or two small changes can make a difference in a person’s health. Health screenings can save lives. Early detection for diseases, such as colon, breast and cervical cancer can improve prognosis dramatically. Screenings to test for diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease should also all be considered. The type of screening needed is based on your age, gender and risk factors for certain conditions. Talk with your doctor to determine what is recommended and make this the year to get screened. Fiber rich foods, such as oatmeal, leafy green vegetables and beans help you feel full longer, decreases the risk of colon cancer and helps keep things moving through the digestive system. Increasing calcium in your diet can help prevent osteoporosis. Good sources of calcium include yogurt, milk, bok choy, broccoli and baked beans. Most people know that exercise can improve their health, but they may not know just how beneficial it can be. Exercise can help lower blood pressure...

Back to School and Mental Health

School starting in the next couple of weeks can be stressful for both kids and parents. Transitioning from the relaxed summer schedule into the hectic, activity filled school year can bring out a variety of emotions ranging from anxiety to excitement. With some planning and insight, easing back into the routine of school does not have to be a stressful time for your family. First, change can be a trigger. Change of routine and environment can bring about anxiety and nervousness in children. In some cases, the change can be substantial enough to bring out the first signs of a mental health condition or amplify existing symptoms. Help your child find healthy ways to manage their emotions surrounding the new school year. You are your child’s first resource Be and stay available for your children. Try to incorporate uninterrupted time where you are free from distractions to be both physically and emotionally available to your child. Your child knows when you are distracted and they will appreciate having your genuine interest with an open ear at the end of each school day. In the car or over dinner are great times to communicate and bond. Additionally general observations, expressing curiosity or concern is a great way to start the conversation: “I’ve noticed that you have been quiet lately… You can talk to me about anything, I am here to listen.” Remember do not assume you know your child’s thoughts or struggles before you ask them. Even if your assumptions are correct, the act of asking shows that you are genially interested and open to talk. One of the hardest...

Stress Management

By Carol Gooch, M.S., LPC, LCDC, LMFT Managing stress is about taking charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems. The ultimate goal is a balanced life around personal and professional responsibilities. At times, some stress can be beneficial because it produces a boost that gives you energy to get through tough situations. But, an extreme amount of stress can be harmful to your health. As a mental health professional, I see people who are anxious, have insomnia, depression and suicidal thoughts due to stress related situations. My medical colleagues see people with muscle pain, high blood pressure, a weakened immune system and other major illnesses like heart disease and obesity all due to years of stress. Stress management starts with identifying the sources of stress in your life. To identify your sources of stress, look closely at your habits, attitude, and excuses. Explaining away stress can lead to problems because you are not dealing with the situation. Defining stress as just a part of your life or personality can lead to physical and emotional issues if not handled properly. Blaming your stress on other people or outside events will only prolong the stress in your life. You must take responsibility for the role you play in creating and maintaining your stress level or else it will continually remain outside your control. Writing down what caused your stress, how you felt, both physically and emotionally, how you reacted and how you made yourself feel better will help you identify stress patterns. Then you can start working on coping strategies. Certain...

The Benefits of Exercise

Exercise is Beneficial Today, thoughts of aging gracefully have been replaced by efforts to age successfully. As we age and look forward to longer life expectancies than past generations, we strive to age with good health. We try to eat healthy, limit our alcohol intake, stay physically active, stay connected with our friends and family and seek medical treatment when necessary. These are the right steps toward healthy aging. With good health, we can enjoy life and pursue new dreams and endeavors as we age. Good health includes both physical and mental well-being. A healthy mind contributes to a healthy body. The mind, like the body, benefits from low blood pressure, low cholesterol, nourishing food, a healthy weight, and physical activity. Regular physical activity helps to: Maintain and improve memory Maintain and improve mental ability Prevent dementia (impaired intellectual functioning) including Alzheimer’s disease Make us happy and prevent and alleviate depression Improve energy levels How does exercise do all that? Physical activity—whether it’s walking, running, swimming, dancing (we have a lot of choices)—helps to: Decrease heart rate Decrease blood pressure Decrease blood cholesterol Strengthen the heart and increase the flow of oxygen to the brain Improve reaction time Improve mobility If you are thinking about starting an exercise program, talk first with your doctor. Start slowly, take proper precautions (for example, walk in well-lit areas in sturdy shoes), and have fun. Remember, you don’t have to be athletic to benefit from regular physical activity.       The type of exercising you should do depends on your fitness level, age, etc. Again, you should always consult with your doctor...

A New Year, A New You

  The start of a new year is often the time for people to begin thinking about ways to improve their lives. A new year is a fresh start and provides the psychological boost needed to set and meet your goals. Many people would benefit by making a few changes to improve their fitness level, diet, weight or general well-being. One or two small changes can make a difference in a person’s health. Health screenings can save lives. Early detection for diseases, such as colon, breast and cervical cancer can improve prognosis dramatically. Screenings to test for diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease should also all be considered. The type of screening needed is based on your age, gender and risk factors for certain conditions. Talk with your doctor to determine what is recommended and make this the year to get screened. Fiber rich foods, such as oatmeal, leafy green vegetables and beans help you feel full longer, decreases the risk of colon cancer and helps keep things moving through the digestive system. Increasing calcium in your diet can help prevent osteoporosis. Good sources of calcium include yogurt, milk, bok choy, broccoli and baked beans. Most people know that exercise can improve your health, but they may not know just how beneficial it can be. Exercise can help lower blood pressure and raise levels of good cholesterol in the body. It can also improve circulation and cut the risk of medical conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes. Participate in exercises you enjoy, set short-term goals and rewards, and exercise with a buddy or group...

How to Beat the Holiday Blues

The holidays are supposed to be a time of cheer and joy, but for some of us, it can be quite a different story. The holidays can be a stressful, chaotic time with lots of shopping, cooking, and parties, which can cause some to become very overwhelmed, anxious, or even depressed. Others may get the holiday blues because they are lonely and miss their loved ones who are no longer with them. Some may get down because they don’t have a lot of money to spend on presents or decorations. Fortunately, there are many ways to lift your spirits and help you cope with the stress and anxiety of the holiday season. Forget the “Ideal Christmas” – Many people create a picture in their minds of what the “ideal Christmas” should look like – you know, the Norman Rockwell picture of the perfect family gathered around the wonderfully decorated Christmas tree, opening lots of presents, and their faces are full of laughter and cheer. Give yourself a break and realize nobody is perfect – it’s okay that you aren’t perfect and your family isn’t perfect. Sometimes we try to do too much during the holidays and that can overwhelm us: Don’t commit to cooking that seven-course holiday dinner. Don’t invite a million people over to your home for this year’s holiday party, or better yet, don’t have one at all. Tell your children instead of buying a ton of Christmas presents this year, you’re only going to purchase a few items. Start a new tradition and exchange homemade gifts. Christmas should be about spending time with our loved ones...