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Kathy Marshack News

Are New Year’s Resolutions Too Superficial?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Every year you resolve to lose weight, quit drinking, or spend more time with family, yet the resolve fades, so why are New Year’s Resolutions so hard to keep? Every year you may resolve, “I want to lose weight” or “I want to quit drinking so much”, or “I want to spend more time with my family.” Yet as January fades away so does your resolve. Why is it that we can’t accomplish what we want? Because all too often we apply a band-aid when surgery is needed. We end up trying to fix the symptom or signal without addressing the real problem.

When problem solving the first question to ask yourself is, "Is this thing I’m observing the signal or the problem?" Recognizing and interpreting the signals is quite a complex process, but you can improve your skills.

However, there are two common mistakes people make when trying to solve a problem or create real change in their lives…

1. Ignoring signals until they grow into serious problems. For example, I often hear that people too busy to attend to themselves or their personal relationships. Too busy doing what? Working? You need to ask yourself why are you working so hard? Is that your goal? Most people want a close-knit family who enjoys being together. But if you’re too busy managing the nuts and bolts of a business or career and have no time to enjoy and communicate with your family, aren't you overriding one of the reasons why you working in the first place?

2. Mistaking signals for the problem. When a person is angry or aggressive, we tend to listen, but when a person is quiet or passive, we tend to ignore them. Actually, those behaviors are signals of something. Discovering the meaning of the signals takes digger deeper.

The bottom line is that all human behavior is meaningful. But the meaning may come disguised as signals that look like problems themselves. For example, alcoholism is a signal of a pervasive illness. Alcohol abuse, on the other hand, may be a sign of overwork, too much stress, a lack of parental guidance, or even confusion in the work place. If you try to solve the problem of alcoholism by reducing the person's stress at work, the alcoholic may just have more time to drink. Likewise, if you recommend alcohol treatment for the person who is abusing alcohol, they may stop drinking but find other self-destructive methods to cope with problems at work.

Many New Year’s resolutions are superficial but the underlying problems most likely require deeper probing. So if there’s something about your life that isn’t working don’t just settle with a quickly forgotten resolution. Instead dig in, assess, diagnose and search out the meaning. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment to figure out what the signals are telling you. I’ll help you tap into all the strengths at your disposal to create workable solutions.

Eight Ways to Meditate Your Way to Peaceful Relaxation and Renewed Purpose

Monday, January 11, 2016


eight ways to meditate your way to peaceful relaxation and renewalIn a too-busy lifestyle, you can begin to feel like you’re on a hamster wheel going round and round and round and not getting anywhere. Over time this can damage you emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. So it’s good to incorporate a meditation practice in your life that causes you to pause regularly and take stock of where you’re at in life and where you want to be.

Here are eight ways to add meditation to your life that will help you slow down and live more purposefully and intentionally.

1. Scan Your Body. Progressive muscle relaxation allows you to get in touch with parts of your body you might typically neglect. Lie on your back with your eyes closed. Starting with your toes, tense and then relax each muscle. One area at a time, move your focus to your calves, upper legs, pelvis, and slowly up to the top of your head. Feel the sensation of each individual body part along the way.

2. Walk a Labyrinth. Walking meditations can be a great way for fidgety people to meditate. You keep your body moving while you clear your mind. Unlike a maze, a labyrinth has no dead ends or decisions to make – you simply follow the loops and circles and focus on putting one foot in front of the other.

3. Draw a Line. A zen board teaches you the art of living in the moment. Each brush stroke appears black against the white board but vanishes after a few minutes.


4. Try Biofeedback. It helps you train your mind to relax on cue. A trained practitioner hooks you up to a machine and monitors your brain-wave activity to help you learn what thoughts or actions make your brain reach total relaxation.

5. Breathe for Peace. Focusing on breath is one of the best forms of meditation. Learn simple breathing techniques to help clear your mind.

6. Light a Candle. Enjoy your meditation with a candle. Find candles made with plant waxes and essential oils to create a peaceful atmosphere and don’t pollute the air with synthetic chemicals.

7. Listen. For five minutes, close your eyes and listen to the small sounds around that you usually tune out. Allow any thoughts or emotions that arise to pass away so you can focus on the listening.

8. Make More of Your Workout.
Repetitive sports like swimming or biking are great ways to stay physically healthy AND provide convenient ways to meditate. Just focus you mind on your breathing, your movements, and the way your body feels.

We, as human beings, are very complex. If one thing gets out of balance, it throws everything else out of kilter. If you’d like to achieve balance again and live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more on my website: How to Relax If Meditation Is Not For You.

The New Year is Here! But Are You Suffering from Post-Holiday Let-Down?

Wednesday, January 06, 2016


post holiday let downDuring the holidays, we’re distracted by the flurry of activities. The stores are inviting with their decorations and music. There are parties, concerts, plays, ball games, TV holiday specials on television, or the latest holiday movie release keeps us entertained. There’s also an understanding that you have a reprieve from work until January.

We’re swept along by a river of denial about what life is really like. We come to believe that the holiday spirit is healing and rejuvenating and that all of our problems will melt away. At the very least, we put our problems on hold because we’re just too busy to attend to them.

Then suddenly it’s January. And we’re flooded with anxious feelings and frozen with fear. We’re no better off. The same painful family problems exist. Love interests didn’t magically materialize. The holiday vacation leaves you feeling frazzled and in debt. Work still gets you down.

This is what I call the Post-Holiday Let-Down. And it’s one of the most difficult times of the year for most people, whether or not you actually have something to brood about. In January, you no longer have distractions to keep you from the reality of your life, love or work situation. Just two to three months of dark, cold, dreary days, with no significant holidays to break up the tedium.

Just as with eating well and getting exercise, in order to maintain your psychological health, a regular routine needs to be established. It’s not wrong to enjoy the holiday diversions. But recognize that they aren’t solutions. Be honest with yourself and do the hard work of revamping the lifestyle or personality that lead to your life/love/career dilemmas. Do something each day to resolve these problems and to build a new plan of action for the days after the holidays.

Some likely activities include reading and attending seminars on topics specific to your situation, meditation, increased levels of whole-person exercise such as yoga and tai chi, and joining a support group. In this way you’ll perhaps avoid or at least learn to cope with the Post-Holiday Let-Down.

If your depression is deeper and lasts longer than a Post-Holiday Let-Down, then please consider getting professional help right away. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. It’s time you start enjoying life again.

What Do You Need to Leave Behind in Order to Pursue Your Passion?

Thursday, December 31, 2015


pursue your passionAre you passionate about the life you live? When you think of people who follow their passion who comes to your mind? Perhaps a great humanitarian like Mother Theresa, Jimmy Carter or Mahatma Ghandi? Or maybe you think of those who sacrifice for their art?

A recent Op-Ed article in The New York Times discusses Lady Gaga and how, when she remembered her childhood dreams said, “I suppose that I didn’t know what I would become, but I always wanted to be extremely brave and I wanted to be a constant reminder to the universe of what passion looks like. What it sounds like. What it feels like.”

Passion causes you to search out that which makes you feel complete. In the process, people may leave their former lives, homes, jobs, spouses, and families behind in their search for their true self. But is that necessary or even advantageous in order to lead a passionate life?

The article mentions a few underlying feelings that cause people to begin a search for their passion:

Trying to heal emotional and mental wounds
Needing to create something unique
Wanting to make a mark on the world
Fantasizing about the “perfect” life
Having an unquenchable thirst for new and novel experiences
Focusing on their inner nature and not feeling fulfilled
Feeling extreme loneliness

So when it comes to pursuing your passion your motives matter. When the focus is solely on self it doesn’t lead a person to feeling fulfilled and satisfied. To be happy, in addition to being passionate, you need to learn how to communicate your needs and wants while helping and giving to others. Achieving that balance is what makes our lives complete. “No man is an island” – we need to give love and be loved to feel whole.

You may love to sing but will never be a professional singer. You may love to help people but you’ll never be recognized as a humanitarian. You can still pursue your passion. Whatever your profession or role in life – you can become passionate about your life if you focus on learning how to do it to the very best of your ability, in your unique style. This will bring you the validation, praise, respect, honor and love you desire.

So instead of changing your external circumstances you may need to leave behind beliefs, feeling and thoughts that no long serve you. If you want to add more passion to your life or career and need help examining your motives and your options please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Feeling like a Hypochondriac? Don't Give Up Until You Get an Accurate Diagnosis

Monday, December 07, 2015


Feeling like a hypochondriac - don't give up until you get an accurate diagnosisDo you or a loved one feel like something isn't quite right with your health, but doctors haven't been able to diagnose anything wrong with you? Perhaps you feel like a hypochondriac for persisting in your search for answers. It's important that you don't quit searching, even if no one believes you yet. And when you get a diagnosis, it's good to ask for a second or third opinion. Why?

A recent NYTimes article highlights the need to have a complete health screen when seeking help for psychological problems. The wife of Actor Robin Williams reveals that unbeknownst to them, Mr. Williams didn’t just suffer from depression. He had a relatively unknown disease called Lewy body dementia where abnormal protein deposits are spread throughout the brain disrupt its normal functioning.

This disease is frequently confused with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, with its long list of symptoms like depression, anxiety, chronic sleep problems, stiffness, movement problems, fluctuations in thinking ability and persistent hallucinations that mimic schizophrenia. It estimated that about 1.4 million in the U.S., especially men, suffer from Lewy body dementia. And it often takes multiple visits and more than a year to diagnose it accurately. It progresses much more rapidly than Alzheimer's does. So it needs an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible.

You are a whole person, not a head separated from your body. Diet, stress, environmental toxins, head injuries, and so much more, contribute to mental health issues. It's important that all of these factors be considered in your diagnosis and treatment. I’ve discovered that Neuro Emotional Technique is very successful at getting to the root of stress related illnesses. If you haven’t found a medical explanation yet for the way you feel, and would like to schedule an appointment with me, please contact my Portland OR/Vancouver, WA office.

Read more on my website: Mind and Body Health.

Could You Use Help Pinpointing the Source of Your Stress? Find Out How a NET Practitioner Can Help

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


NET practitioner can pinpoint the source of your stressNET stands for Neuro Emotional Technique. It involves treating behavioral and physical conditions through removing the neurological imbalances related to the physiology of unresolved stress. It treats the total mind/body connection.

We all experience unpleasant events, but most of the time we can resolve them and move on unaffected. However, when we experience stress that isn’t resolved, it creates a mind/body pattern that emerges again at a memory or a similar experience. This collective unresolved mind/body pattern is called NEC (the Neuro Emotional Complex). NEC is defined as “a subjective mal-adaptation syndrome adopted by the human organism in response to a real or perceived threat.”

Whether you remember the event accurately or not, your response is your emotional reality. Even if you only dream an unreal nightmare, you’re physiological response – racing heart and profuse sweating – are very real. Or say you were attacked by a dog in the past, every time you see a dog you relive the same response, such as rapid heartbeat, fear and loss of speech. NET helps you re-engage the physiological response and complete the unresolved mind/body pattern of stress and extinguish it.

A NET Practitioner also uses Manual Muscle Testing to pinpoint the physiological response to a stimulus. The NET Practitioner can then treat the disruption with a homeopathic remedy that uses the verified law of pharmacology –Law of Similars - or like cures like. For example, a large dose of ipecac will induce vomiting. However, minute particles in a homeopathic remedy will stop vomiting.

Here are two videos that explain in detail how NET works:

Background Concepts and Dynamics of NET

Two Minute Stress Relief Procedure Demo

Being a Level 2 Certified NET Practitioner allows me to pinpoint quickly and accurately the sources of emotional stress and the best way to resolve them. Are you suffering the effects of unresolved stress? If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment so you can enjoy life once again.

How to Relax If Meditation Is Not For You

Monday, November 02, 2015


ways to relax when meditation is not an optionMany people have found that meditation is a helpful technique for relieving stress and getting clarity of mind. But is it the only way to achieve that? Do you have to practice meditation in order to relax and de-stress?

Some people have the idea that they must meditate to achieve maximum relief from stress. However, Adam Grant, professor of management and psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, contributed a recent New York Times article that reminds us that we can gain relief with or without meditation. Here are a few highlights: 

Stress is not always bad. In fact, the way you view stress will affect your health. In an eight-year study, “adults who reported a lot of stress in their lives were more likely to die, but only if they thought stress was harmful.” Over a hundred thousand Americans may have died prematurely, “not from stress, but from the belief that stress is bad for you,” says health psychologist Kelly McGonigal.

Stress is a signal that something matters to you. An experiment led by the Stanford psychologist Alia Crum, found that people who had only 10 minutes to prepare a speech, simply reframed the stress response as healthy and it was enough to relax them.

Increase mindfulness by removing absolute thinking. By changing “is” to “could be,” you open up yourself to the possibilities that there are more options available. Mindfulness helps us see that there are many different ways of doing things. We see opportunities not difficulties.

Are you ready to discover the best relaxation or mindfulness technique that will help you deal with the overwhelming demands of life? Read my self-help article where I share with you eight different ways to manage stress. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment so we can discuss your unique situation and figure out the best option for you.

5 Ways to Recharge Even If You Can’t Take a Long Vacation

Monday, October 12, 2015


5 ways to refresh yourself without taking a long vacationHasn’t summer flown by? Have you been able to make some down time to enjoy it? I was able to get out of the office for a couple of weeks and it made me feel recharged and invigorated to get going again.

Even if you can’t take weeks off or get out of town, what are some simple ways to reinvigorate yourself?

Disconnect from technology.
Even if you have to check in now and then, don’t start your morning by checking emails. That can ruin your day. And rather than spending time surfing the net, watching TV, or texting, it’s so much healthier for us physically and mentally to get outside into the fresh air and sunshine and enjoy the company of friends and family in person.

Disconnect from work.
You may not be going to the office today, but is your mind worrying about a business matter? We all need to take a complete break from our work routine so we can refresh ourselves.

Connect with what makes you feel good.
Have you fallen into a rut of routines and habits? Are they making you feel good about yourself and your life? Maybe you work at home and it’s tempting to spend all day in your PJ’s and just grab whatever food is handy. I guarantee you’ll feel and act more confidently if you honor yourself by eating a nourishing meal and wearing your best clothes.

Connect with people you admire and love.
How long has it been since you’ve had a really in depth conversation with a loved one? When we have these real conversations they refresh us and help us to grow.

Connect with what makes you joyful.
When was the last time you gave yourself the gift of doing what bring you joy, like singing, dancing, hiking, or a hobby? We all need to pay attention to what makes us feel vibrantly alive.

If you’re not living the life that you want, and you don’t know how to break out of whatever is holding you back, talking with a mental health professional may be exactly what you need. Just as we need yearly physicals to remaining optimally healthy, regular mental checkups are helpful too. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more on my website: Mind and Body Health.

Trauma Sufferers – Yoga and Therapy Can Help You Heal

Monday, July 06, 2015


yoga and therapy can help heal traumatic stressWhen a person experiences a traumatic event, such as a terrorist attack, a car wreck or sexual abuse, the body from head to toe shifts into the fight or flight mode. Hormones and chemicals race through your body as everything shifts into high gear and hyper-vigilance. Your entire body becomes involved to save your life.

Interestingly, brain scans are now showing what trauma does to the body so that we can tailor treatments that help the person holistically. A key finding is that the speech center shuts down during the traumatic event, which helps explain why many people can’t describe what happened.

Also the part of the brain responsible for experiencing the present moment—the medial prefrontal cortex—shuts down during stress. People who’ve experienced trauma therefore have difficulty processing that information.

Many are finding that a combination of yoga and therapy is helping trauma sufferers to heal.

According to Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, a clinical psychiatrist, founder of the Trauma Center in Brookline, Massachusetts and a leader in the field of posttraumatic stress:

“Fundamentally, the effect of trauma is in relationship to one’s body. One’s body gives the signal that it’s not safe, and your body keeps fighting an existing enemy… The clinical research and treatment program showed that doing yoga was a more effective treatment for traumatized people...than any medication that had ever been studied. Opening up that relationship with your body, opening up your body to breathe, and to feel your body is very important.

It’s great to be able to put your feelings into words, and feeling that somebody understands your suffering is enormously comforting. But it doesn’t make your body know that you are safe. The real method is resetting your physiology.”

However Dr Bessel van der Kolk recommends yoga in conjunction with working with a person who has special trauma therapy training. “None of my patients have been able to tolerate a yoga program if they weren’t in therapy at the same time. Too much painful stuff comes up.” If you’re ready to try this treatment and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

For more information on my website: Therapy FAQ and Depression and Stress.

Pets Are Good for Your Physical and Mental Health

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


owning a pet is good for your physical and mental healthAhhh…who can resist those puppy eyes? We’ve known for sometime that pets are good therapy for those who suffer from anxiety, depression and PTSD. Now a recent New York Times article adds further proof that there is a beneficial hormonal change occurring when you and your dog makes eye contact.

Research shows that gazing into those big puppy eyes elevates the level of oxytocin in your brain. Oxytocin is the hormone that bonds a parent with a child and is related to stress and anxiety relief, thereby lowering blood pressure and cortisol levels.

In a Smithsonian article about how dogs help veterans with PTSD, Meg Daley Olmert who works for a program called Warrior Canine Connection, says, “Oxytocin improves trust, the ability to interpret facial expressions, the overcoming of paranoia and other pro-social effects—the opposite of PTSD symptoms.”

Psychologists at Miami University and Saint Louis University conducted a 2011 study on the potential benefits of pet ownership physically and mentally. Some of the benefits of pet ownership were increased feelings of belonging, self-esteem and meaningful existence while staving off feelings of rejection. Pet owners were more physically fit and less lonely or fearful.

Psychiatrist, Ian Cook, MD, who is also director of the Depression Research and Clinic Program at UCLA, adds another benefit, "Pets offer an unconditional love that can be very helpful to people with depression. Other studies show that children raised with pets have fewer allergies.

Have you tried owning a pet and still are struggling with anxiety, depression or PTSD? If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment so we can discuss more options for helping you obtain your optimal physical and mental health.



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