Wednesday, June 27, 2018

When Crying Feels Good -- 5 Benefits To Tears


I once heard someone say crying is like a celebration of that which you've lost. That was such an amazing revelation to me. That's often exactly how I feel. Like I'm enjoying a piece of history.  Emotions are not as cut and dry as we'd like to think.  Life is fluid why should we expect our emotions to be static as if they are box in neat little packages.  Reality is our lives and our emotions are dynamic and integrated with each other.  We can be happy and cry, sad and laugh, or even bemused and angry, all at the same time.  Embracing this dichotomy is healthy.

Have you ever tried to avoid crying, holding it all back, distracting yourself to keep the tears in, only to feel an immense release once you allowed yourself the freedom to let it all out?   I know I have. In fact, I find from time to time I need a good cry. It's like a cathartic release of stress, grief, anxiety, and in that moment I actually feel good.

Did you know there are benefits to crying.  Here are five:1
  • Part of healthy grieving
  • Helps with emotional balance
  • Restores body balance
  • Improves mood
  • It can dull pain
Crying is part of a healthy grieving process.  I already mentioned it's like a celebration of what you've lost.  That loss can be a person, job, dream, or even goal.  It can be part of life transitions for example your child who is now all grown up. These can be happy celebrations or real struggles. Granted we don't have to cry to grieve, each person has their own unique ways of dealing with loss, but often tears are a catharsis that is beneficial.

"'Crying activates the body in a healthy way,' says Stephen Sideroff, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at UCLA and director of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Ethics. 'Letting down one's guard and one's defenses and [crying] is a very positive, healthy thing. The same thing happens when you watch a movie and it touches you and you cry... That process of opening into yourself... it's like a lock and key'... Stress 'tightens muscles and heightens tension, so when you cry you release some of that,' Sideroff says. '[Crying] activates the parasympathetic nervous system and restores the body to a state of balance.'"2

Not only can crying work with the parasympathetic nervous system, but it can also trigger endorphins like oxytocin and opioids.  These chemicals produce a reaction in the body to produce a sense of calm and ease pain.1   This ability to dull pain might explain why children or even adults cry when injured.  Here you thought it was just to get sympathy.

So, the next time you feel a dampness around your eyes, don't hold back.  It's not only ok to express yourself, but it's healthy!

Next week we'll look at gratitude and the benefits of being thankful.

Sources:

1. “9 Benefits of Crying.” Healthline, Healthline Media, www.healthline.com/health/benefits-of-crying. 

2. Govender, Serusha. “Is Crying Good for You?” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/balance/features/is-crying-good-for-you#1.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The 3 Dangers of Healthy Diets



Let me say right now, a plant based diet is scientifically the most beneficial diet on the plant for your health and the environment and this article is not about changing your mind on eating right.  Last time I did a eye catchy tag line, I was roasted because people didn't even read the article. Read on please because we all know there are factors in all the choices we make that can lead in a wrong direction even when we are walking the right way.

The first danger in keeping any diet, even a healthy one, long term is getting into a rut.  Eating the same foods day after day with limited variety is usually not a safe bet for optimal nutrition.  When we first start a diet, we are excited about the positive change we are making.  We learn all kinds of new recipes, trading them with friends, and posting them on social media.  Then we start to get overwhelmed by all the options or we just get so busy we just recycle a few chosen favourites.  We can avoid this danger by refreshing our recipe box.  Another way to bring newest to life to a diet stuck in a rut is to share it with someone else.  When we share the benefits of a healthy diet, we become rejuvenated ourselves.

The second danger in keeping a diet is the guilt or emotion stress when you make a mistake or if you get bored or tempted to cheat.  One study revealed many vegans return to their old diets. It's not just because they become disenfranchised with it's benefits but rather they feel bad when they fail, they  and eventually just give up all together.  When we put undue restrictions on ourselves and others, we create a poor environment for change.  Some are even mean about those who fall of the diet wagon and criticize them.

That leads me to the third danger in keeping a diet, getting married to the idea of it.  When we make a diet part of who we are, we can becoming pretty critical of others who have a different view. We can find ourselves putting down other healthy diet options that may not be as good but are still better than most. There is NO ONE diet that meets everyone's needs.  When we make food a god, we are in real danger of hurting those we love and even ourselves.

The best way to deal with the last two dangers, is to keep the long term objective in focus. Why did you start the diet in the first place?  What benefits does it have? Are you eating it in the best way, i.e. with variety, proper calorie intake, etc.?

I fell into all three of these traps.  I am refocusing and recommitting myself to eating a plant based diet.  Many of my long term viewers know I've been a flexitarian for a couple years, but today I am renewing my resolve to finding more variety in my low FODMAP diet while keeping it plant based.

Cheers,
Angela Poch

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

5 Secrets of Self-Awareness and Why It's Important To Be Mindful















Of course I'm aware of myself.  Are you sure?  Often life gets so busy we run around making decisions, trying to get one last thing accomplished before the next thing on the agenda, that we really don't realize what is going on inside.  We go and go until all of a sudden we notice we are anxious, worried, stressed, hurt, frustrated, upset, or even angry, Then we either blame the last thing that happen or the last person who was in our path.  We wrongly assume it's our bad day and all the things that went wrong that are making our lives miserable.

A better way is to recognized what is going on before our minds retaliate from the pressure with an emotional outburst. There are 5 secrets to self-awareness, each with a particular purpose to guide you to be intune with your own thoughts and what is going on around you to affect how you feel. They are:
  1. Learn your symptoms.
  2. Know your triggers.
  3. Be conscious of your physical health.
  4. Pause for cause or mindfulness. 
  5. Analyze your thoughts.
Learn your symptoms when you are feeling overwhelmed or not coping well with what life is throwing at you.  What are the warning signs you notice? We each have different ones, but some of the common ones friends have shared with me are: 
  • feeling rushed or actually rushing around.
  • self-talk such as "I can't take one more thing", "How many things will go wrong today", "I can't believe this keeps happening to me", "It's so unfair", or other messages you tell yourself.
  • pre-emotions or the start of negative emotions slowly creeping in.
Know your triggers. What tends to get your goat? What makes you less likely to cope? What sets you off? Again, these will vary from person to person.  For me, it's little things that I do wrong or forget to do.  As a recovering perfectionist, I am very hard on myself and when the cake is not as fluffy as I like, then the vegan butter is gone and I only have regular so I have to invite a substitute, then the dog tracks mud onto the floor I just washed and I don't have time to fix it, then... you get the idea. For others it's when a certain person repeatedly does or says a particular thing, or when the boss asks for a particular task to be done.  Think about what are your triggers? 

Be conscious of your physical health.  Are you hungry, tired, or hurting?  Adding a negative physical symptom can push us over the edge sooner than at times where we are feeling on top of the world.  Sometimes physical symptoms warn us we are doing too much or we are not coping well with life events. Do you get headaches, stomach aches, muscle pain?  Are you tired today, or more tired than usual?  Have you skipped a meal?  Being aware of your physical body helps to be aware of what is going on in your mind.

You may have heard the term 'mindfulness' around these days.  This is a state of being mindful or aware of what is going on right now.  When you notice you are not coping well, or you see a trigger coming, pause to see how it's affecting you. You can even pause for cause.  Just take a time out once in awhile through the day to check in with yourself. Is anything causing you to be thinking negatively, do you have any physical symptoms, are you starting to feel one of your symptoms.  Taking 30 seconds will not affect your schedule.  Well, actually maybe it will. Maybe if you take that 30 seconds now you'll prevent an emotional system crash that will ruin an hour or two, or even the rest of your day.

Analyze your thoughts is our last of the 5 secrets of self-awareness. Just like it takes time to get to know a new person, we need time to learn about ourselves.  In fact, meeting a new person is sometimes easier because we have questions we often ask to get to know them, where are you from, how long have you lived here, etc.  We can also ask ourselves questions to know what state we are in right now. How am I feeling right now? Is there something I need to let go of or deal with?  What am I thinking about? The more you talk to yourself, the more you get to know yourself. 

Being self-aware can prevent you from having a meltdown or getting burned out.  It can help you to see the bus coming before you get run over so you can get out of your own way and have a happy day.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Secret Behind Which is Healthier, Worry or Concern

Worry is defined as: allowing one's mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles, a state of anxiety and uncertainty over potential or future problems.  Anxiety is fast becoming a major risk factor for health problems.  Over 30% of Americans and Canadians will experience more than just worry, they will have an anxiety disorder. One study claims 86% of Brits are worriers, worrying about something almost 2 hours every day. Ok, we worry, so what?

Flight, Fight, or Freeze. Worry harms your body. by increasing stress hormones that have nowhere to go because you really don't need them. You generally don't need to run from a flash flood, freeze to avoid getting attacked by a bear, or fight off an attacker.  These hormones, such as cortisol, wreak havoc in the body when they are not put to work.  This can cause: 
  • Suppression of the immune system
  • Digestive disorders
  • Muscle tension
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Premature coronary artery disease
  • Heart attack
So, what if you have nothing to worry about.  Just image it right now.  Not a care in the world. No more worries.  Sounds great? Sure it would. What if you never had to worry again, what would that look like?

  • Peaceful
  • Restful
  • Wonderful?

Maybe...maybe not.  If you had nothing to worry about what would that say about you? Indifferent, uncaring?  If you didn't worry about your kids would that be good parenting? So, what's the answer?  Find less things to worry about? That would be nice and even possible depending on your circumstances.  But there is a way to show we love others, be caring, and deal with life's ups and downs without so much worry.  What's the secret?

Redefining how we label it.  What?!  How will that help?  For a minute think about these two statements: "I care about my kids." vs "I worry about my kids."  As you ponder these, do they give you a different feeling?  Words matter.  Words bring up various emotions in us.  We can be concerned about important things in our lives without worrying about the things we can't control.

Worry and anxiety are about future events.  I don't know about you, but I can't control the future.  I'm mean, I've tried.  All I can do is make decisions based on current information and projected risk/rewards.  My concern for the value of certain people or things in my life factor into those decisions, but I need not worry about the things beyond my choices.
Matt 6:25-27 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?"
If you need help reframing things that cause you worry, I highly recommend the book "When Panic Attacks" by Dr. David Burns.  Available at most bookstores.  We also offer one-on-one CBT coaching that can help you reduce worry and turn the rest into a more productive and healthy form of concern. Visit our website for details.


References:

“Any Anxiety Disorder.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/any-anxiety-disorder.shtml.

Marie Claire. “Why Adults Worry; Anxiety Statistics In Adults.” Marie Claire, Marie Claire, 3 Sept. 2015, www.marieclaire.co.uk/life/health-fitness/86-per-cent-of-adults-are-worriers-51597.

“What Worrying Does to Your Health.” Daily Mail Online, Associated Newspapers, 26 Apr. 2002, www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-97853/What-worrying-does-health.html.

“How Worrying Affects the Body.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/balance/guide/how-worrying-affects-your-body#1.

The Most Important Benefit of Gratitude

I missed posting last week because I was at the 4-Day TEAM CBT Intensive in Whistler with Dr. David Burns.  It was an amazing event, learn...