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By Megan Monique, Special Guest Blogger to The Body Logic

Image via Mohd Khomaini Bin Mohd Sidik/Flickr

 

Well, shit.” I thought as I weighed myself this morning. I had gained a pound from the last time I weighed myself two days before.

I knew what the scale was going to tell me before I even stepped on. My monkeys had already talked to me about before I had a chance to pull the covers off myself and get out of bed earlier that morning.

They sounded something like this:

“Really, Megan? You are going to have ANOTHER chocolate covered graham cracker? Are you sure that is the best idea? I think I saw a new indention of cellulite on your thigh yesterday. That one last graham cracker just might be enough to break the seal. The next thing you know it you will be one giant ball of cellulite. Then who will love you?”

I sat in a pool of pity for a moment until I heard the last part. “Who will love me?!”

I will love me, dammit.

It is time for me to do away with the monkeys in every area of my life. They don’t only show up when I gain a pound. They also show up when I make less money than I want, or when I have a big dream I am working toward. (Lately it’s been becoming a life coach.)

But what purpose do these monkeys serve? They only keep me playing a small game.

I decided to create a mental box. When the monkey chatter starts happening, I mentally duct tape the monkeys mouth and put him in the box. I only let him come out if he is saying things that HELP me in my process of creating the life I love.

So what if I have cellulite. The only way I can rid myself of it is by making healthy choices, one by one. Inch by inch. Meal by meal. Listening, and more so BELIEVING the monkey chatter will only keep me in the same place I have been trying to move away from.

Armed With a Roll of Duct Tape,

Megan Monique

Megan Monique is a writer & Lovemuffin Extraordinaire for Owning Pink and so much more. Her most prized piece is her personal blog entitled If I Were A Rainbow I Would Be Chocolate where she shares personal revelations and life adventures with her audience. Megan is also a life coach who focuses on living life creatively and abundantly with no limitations.

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L’shana tova! Today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. I should be in temple, but Dan and I don’t belong to one, and I have to save my vacation time for, well, vacation. But I plan to observe in my own way, even if it is more of a spiritual, personal observation, as opposed to a getting dressed up and going to listen to a rabbi blow the Shofar-type way.

The holiday has always reminded me of apples and honey (the traditional Rosh Hashanah treat to symbolize a sweet new year, yum) and of course, new beginnings… While I hate to see the summer slip away, I am eager for a fresh start—from cute new fall clothes to new outlets for writing (exciting news next week!) While I’m not sure I want to call them resolutions, there are some things I’d like to work on as we head into the fall… Slash, as I head into my 28th year of life. (Oh boy, that sounds odd. Yeah, side note: I celebrated my 27th b-day on Labor Day.) I figure, I’ll share these goals with you, and then maybe they’ll be more definite just by floating out there in the Universe. I think I’ll employ a format developed by psychotherapy expert Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D. Called sentence completion, the technique works on conscious and subconscious levels to help people come up with insights that bring about meaningful change in their lives. So, here goes.

This fall, I want to…

Advance my career. Professionally, I want to take my writing to another level. Here, on other blogs, in other publications. News and features. Personally, I want to spend time on creative fiction. I miss it, because to me, it’s about being truly imaginative. It’s a high I haven’t felt in awhile.

On my shelf, ready to go! (Photo via raymoynihan.com)

Read more. I’d also like to find the happiest balance between working on my own writing and reading much, much more. There’s nothing like snuggling up with a juicy book that you’ve been just waiting for the right time to read. I have both a non-fiction and a fiction patiently waiting for me to crack their covers.

Find a new way to take better care of my body. Long story, and definitely the subject of an upcoming post, but I recently hit a wall with my wellness regimen. It’s time for a change. My #1 priority is to take care of my body, honor my health and love myself, while minimizing negativity and stress.

Organize. Right now, my desk at home is… well, you could say it looks like Tropical Storm Maressa had her way with it. I could really stand to stay more on top of filing all of my papers/bills, etc. Not only will it give me better peace of mind, but I really think Dan would be relieved, too. (It drives him nuts.)

De-clutter. Dear Clothes/Shoes I Haven’t Worn/Makeup I Haven’t Used/Purses I Will Never Carry Again, etc., it has been nice knowing you. Now off with you to Good Will.

You don’t have to be celebrating Rosh Hashanah to channel a fresh start for the fall. What do you want to do differently this season?

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Last night, my boyfriend turned to me as we were falling asleep and said, “I think I’m going to pass a stone tonight.” Not your average pillow talk, right? I asked, “How do you know?” He alluded to the fact that not only could he could feel it physically, but he also sensed it—he knew it.

Dan suffers from a condition called Cystinuria, which is marked by an genetic abnormality that causes him to produce too much of an amino acid called cystine. The cystine builds up and forms chronic kidney stones. What we know right now is that one of the best ways to keep the stones at bay is to hydrate like crazy. But given a particularly difficult season of high temperatures and exhaustive outdoor work (he’s a movie electrician), that hasn’t been easy. In turn, stone incidences have become frequent. But as a result of this, Dan has become adept at reading his body’s signals and I think, without really meaning to, more intuitive about his health. And by extension, I think he’s on his way to being a proactive, empowered and self-aware patient.

Until recently, our first line of defense against a health concern was a visit to the doctor, who we hoped would offer us a diagnosis and treatment. Now, we’re all leaning more on WebMD and self-care. Only sometimes, after an Internet-induced hypochondriac rampage, will we (if we’re lucky enough to have health insurance) consult a real MD for a fix. In either case, we’re often leaving out a crucial step: tapping into health intuition. In fact, we can usually get some of the most accurate preliminary info about our problem just by stepping back and tuning into what our body is telling us.

(Book art via Karen Grace Kassy)

I became familiar with the term health intuition when I wrote a short piece for my job on the subject. I interviewed Karen Grace Kassy, a life and health intuitive who wrote the book Health Intuition: A Simple Guide to Greater Well-Being (Hazelden). She explained how intuition can offer vital clues and serve as a great jumping off point for patients to discuss their concerns with their health practitioners.

So, you want to know why you’re exhausted all of the time or why your head feels like its pounding every day around 11 a.m.? Ask an open-ended question, in your mind or aloud to yourself. Try something like, How can I stop these chronic headaches? Kassy says that the answer can come in many ways—you could visualize it (maybe it’s that they’re actually hunger headaches, so you see an apple) or you could just sense it (a feeling that the answer lies in the kitchen).

She also noted that there are various “hallmarks” of an intuitive message:

– First impressions are usually right.

Go with your gut. When I first started experiencing back problems, I had a feeling that the root cause wasn’t just something superficial—like a pulled muscle from an overambitious yoga workout. When I saw a general practitioner, he shrugged it off as “tweaking something,” and he sent me home with ibuprofen and a worksheet of stretches. Weeks later, an MRI showed that I had a severely herniated disc in my lumbar spine. In a way, I had known the source of my pain was something like that all along.

– It keeps knocking on your door.

Sure, your lethargy could be tied to lack of sleep. Or it could be something else. If you have a recurring thought, like, “Huh, that article I once read in a women’s magazine about hypothyroidism causing tiredness, weight gain and mood swings seemed really spot on” or “I’ve been so stressed and tense while I’m falling asleep,” don’t brush it aside. That nagging little voice in the back of your head is likely your intuition clueing you in to the problem.

(photo via soulfulcoach.com)

It comes out of the blue.

Even when you’re not consciously seeking a response, intuitive information can suddenly float into your consciousness—for example, in the form of a thought that cautions, All that sugar is making you sick. Or you could have a meaningful dream. “I’ve worked with women who went for mammograms after having a ‘breast dream’ and received a life-saving diagnosis of early breast cancer,” says Kassy.

When honing intuition, it’s also possible—and likely—that you’ll get in your own way. “What can interfere is not being really comfortable with the truth,” says Kassy. “You can choose to block out the truth and not listen to your intuition, because you want something else so badly.” The solution? Make sure you really want to know the answer to your question. Feel at peace with it, even if it isn’t what you want to hear. Stay open-minded.

Think about it: Who knows more about your body and your health than you do? By tapping into that knowledge, we can be empowered to heal whatever ails us. “If intuition works for you, it can have life-enhancing qualities,” says Kassy.

Get this—Albert Einstein agreed. As spiritual as he was scientifically-gifted, the physicist/philosopher found great value in intuition. He once said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” For the sake of our own well-being, we should all try to remember.

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(Graphic via mysanantonio.com)

My mom likes to laugh at me sometimes, when I’m freaking out about something. She’ll tell me that I’m driving myself nuts. I don’t know about nuts, but I certainly do drive myself sick. How? I’ll worry…about everything, either situations that have already occurred or that I am convincing myself will occur. Such as, I didn’t call my friend back when I had hoped to; I want to be two places at once in order to visit with family and also go out with friends; I’m convinced I’ll miss a deadline; I fail Weight Watchers by going a week or two without journaling or exercising, etc., etc. In all of these cases, it boils down to a common theme: I’m afraid of letting others down. I am a social perfectionist, or someone who has really high expectations of herself and her success. I put myself under pressure to achieve this success, which some may argue as a good thing (I’m motivated, right?), but I definitely also believe consciously and subconsciously that my family and friends expect SuperDuperAmazingAndNothingLess! achievement from me.

I’m working on this, by first of all, setting realistic goals. But I still end up really stressed. Then, laid up with back pain, stomach pain, headaches (once, an out-of-the-blue migraine that lasted for approx. 12 hours). There’s no doubt in my mind that emotions are inextricably linked to physical ailments. My friend Carey and I talk about falling down the Stress-Sick rabbit hole all the time — she swears by acupuncture and homeopathic cures. I’m not adverse to trying those, but I’m always looking for nutrition/exercise or 10 minute strategies that I can implement easily throughout my day. That may be why I was drawn immediately to a book called So Stressed: The Ultimate Relief Plan for Women by Stephanie McClellan, M.D. and Beth Hamilton, M.D. with Diane Reverand (Free Press, 2010).

Having read it, I can’t recommend it enough to women who wonder why they’re always tired, why they’ve lost their libido, why they can’t lose weight no matter what they do or even to friends who feel fine—but would like to feel better. Because I’m currently stressed—I’ll take the opportunity to open the floor the authors, who in the below video, explain what their book is all about:

Of the four types represented in the book, I identify the most with “Hypo-S,” which McClellan and Hamilton describe as “the most common type of stress response in women.” Hypo-S is calm on the surface but easily reacts to even a small amount of stress. Hypo-S’s stress manifests in aches and pains, PMS, asthma, weight gain, lethargy. The good news is that there are lifestyle management techniques that help.

For instance, I was thrilled to read that the Exercise recommended for a Hypo-S is low-impact, rhythmically paced exercise like walking or a graduated weight resistance program (which boosts endorphins, which lead to an increased sense of well-being). Not that the Stress Docs are excusing me from high-impact aerobic exercise, but they do explain how lower impact activities may come more naturally to me, reduce pain, boost energy and improve mood and memory. Oh yes, the icing: They recommend that Hypo-S types eat a small piece of dark chocolate (70 percent or more cacao) for pain relief! Score!

Besides the free pass on my chocolate fix, I got a slew of Nutrition advice, which makes a lot of sense—like eating low-glycemic foods (to avoid my arch-nemesis, The Blood Sugar Spike-Then-Crash) and being sure to time meals to a tee (to entrain the rhythm of the stress hormone, cortisol). One piece of advice that stood out in particular: Eating a lunch that is packed with protein and complex carbs. We know that’s just healthy eating anyway, but the So Stressed Docs explain why it’s especially crucial for Hypo-S types like me: Steering clear of a lunch that is too carb-heavy hinders 2-3 p.m. konk-outage. (Used to happen to me all the time my junior year of high school. To this day, I’m amazed that Mr. O’Rourke never shoved me away in the middle of our group reading of “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.”)

Then, there are “Restoration” techniques for each stress type. As a Hypo-S, I should focus on diaphragmatic breathing, cognitive therapy and aromatherapy (I learned that it’s helpful that I’m already a fan of “parasympathetic activity-boosting” lavender oil).

Overall, So Stressed arms its readers with advice that is tailored, interesting, logical and easy to act on. That’s why I really have to remind myself to refer back to it, as if it’s a genuine prescription. Because taking care of myself in this completely whole way is not just about stress-relief—it’s about avoiding sickness and attaining true vitality. Neither of which are unrealistic goals, if you ask me.

In high school, I was attending a straight-edge, Kumbaya, leadership, “let’s do crafts and talk about our feelings” retreat called Operation Snowball. We did an exercise where some of us were blindfolded and guided by another group member through a maze made of yarn. One by one, others who were blindfolded made their way out of the maze. After what seemed like forever, I was the only one left. I was really frustrated that I couldn’t figure out how to get out of the maze. I remember sighing exasperatedly and throwing up my hands and uttering something along the lines of, “Just help me!” And like magic, I was out of the maze and un-blindfolded. The key to getting out of the maze? Asking for help.

We all need it sometimes.

I recalled that experience when I read a recent study, brought to my attention by a friend and fellow perfectionist Virgo Libra, Marisa.

When researchers at Trinity Western University examined the relationship between perfectionism and the risk of death, they found that those with high perfectionism scores had a 51% increased risk of earlier death when compared to volunteers who had low perfectionism scores. The researchers theorize that high levels of anxiety and stress (you know, caused by frustration when things doing turn out as planned or ahem, not asking for help) may contribute to a reduced lifespan.

Now, I’m not of the impression that living longer equals wheelchairs, loneliness, dependence on children and caretakers, etc.  Probably because I’ve seen my Grandma E and Papa live quite contentedly into their 90s, I not only aspire to, but I believe that I am capable of living a long and healthy and happy life. But apparently, my chances of doing so will be greatly diminished by not asking for help, stressing out about every stupid slowpoke or overly aggressive tailgater I encounter on Route 4 or overanalyzing the minutiae of every day life.

Sometimes I’m stressed, because I don’t want to let someone else down. Or I don’t want to let myself down. Mostly, I want so badly to succeed at something that I freak out about the possibility of failure. Classic “Straight A Student” Syndrome, right? I also attribute my propensity for doing these things to my genes, my personality, my astrology (yes, laugh all you want, but in many ways I am a crazy worrisome, type-A Virgo), and it’s certainly environmental. Simply living anywhere adjacent to Manhattan is very stressful. But, this whole picture just means more than ever that I have no choice but to de-stress (with yoga, reading, walking leisurely in the park with Dan) and make a conscious effort to prevent perfectionism from taking over. Let me tell you, it is not easy.

Illustrated example. Last week, at the Lady Gaga concert, when little monsters were blocking my view and spilling beer on me, I could have made a greater effort to be less of an agitated control freak. I probably should have done some deep breathing during “Speechless” (I did take the ballad as an opportunity to sway), loosened up, let it go altogether, and I wouldn’t have pissed off Emmie so much. Don’t get me wrong, we still had an awesome time. But the fact is, I’m easily stressed out. I’m a work in progress. Aren’t we all?

Making it easier is the fact that it’s summer. And it’s Friday. That means two whole chill days to look forward to, filled with carefree time. I’m going to do my best—OK, maybe it doesn’t have to be my ultimate best!—to make the most of it. How about you?

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