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Kathy Marshack News

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.

Sleep Awareness Week™ - Do You See Room for Improvement?

Tuesday, March 03, 2015


Sleep Awareness Week draws attention to critical need for sleep in order to have good mental and physical healthEvery year since 1991 the National Sleep Foundation (a charitable, educational and scientific not-for-profit organization located in Washington, D.C) has surveyed America’s sleep behavior and has used the information to promote greater awareness and education about the importance of sleep with their Sleep Awareness Week™. This year it falls on March 2-8, 2015, culminating with the change to Daylight Saving Time on March 8th.

Their recent press release reveals that pain is a significant factor in sleeplessness. They report, “21 percent of Americans experience chronic pain and 36 percent have had acute pain in the past week.” That’s over half of the U.S. population! It also found that stress and poor health are contributing factors to poor sleep patterns.

Why is loss of sleep so critical? Because the following activities, to name just a few, are impacted…

  • Job performance.
  • Mood.
  • Concentration.
  • Relationships.
  • Quality of life.
  • Overall health.

What do they recommend? “Make sleep a priority.” Just getting 15 more minutes of sleep every night will improve your overall health. David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation, says, “Taking control of your sleep by being motivated, setting a routine bedtime and creating a supportive sleep environment are relevant even for those with pain. Sleep is a key marker of health, and good sleep habits are critical for improving the quality of life of those living with chronic or acute pain.”

Is stress and pain keeping you awake at night? If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment to discover new ways of coping.

Learn more: Enter the word SLEEP in the search box to the right to find more articles about the importance of sleep.

Is Your Teen Being Held Captive by an Eating Disorder?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


is your teen being held captive by an eating disorderHave you heard about the young woman who was held captive and starved to death? We are horrified by this brutal and inhumane treatment. And no, I’m not referring to any one woman in particular. I’m talking about the thousands of beautiful young women and men in our communities here in Oregon and Washington who are punishing themselves with this cruel behavior! Across the nation there are millions of people who are afflicted with insidious eating disorders. The exact number is impossible to ascertain because this problem is surrounded by secrecy and shame.

Eating Disorders take many shapes. Most of them are connected to poor body or self-image and feelings of being out of control, guilty and ashamed. The good news is – they are treatable. February is Eating Disorder Awareness month, so let’s become more aware of the following eating disorders:

Anorexia nervosa – Because people have an intense fear of being fat, even when they’re not, they starve and exercise themselves to death.

Bulimia nervosa – People uncontrollably eat a large quantity of food and then purge themselves by vomiting, laxatives, diuretics, or enemas or go on extreme diets and extreme exercise routines. Because they are trying to hide what they’re doing, they may maintain their weight, so there are no easily apparent signs of the eating disorder.

Binge Eating – People make a practice of rapidly consume a large amount of food at one sitting, which leaves them feeling uncomfortably full, ashamed and depressed.

While the following are not officially classified as eating disorders they also need to be addressed.

Binge Drinking – consuming in one incident four or more drinks for females and five or more drinks for males, has been tied to liver damage, brain damage, risky sexual conduct, immune system suppression, dementia and so many more health hazards.

Obesity – affects at least one third of the US population. While there are medical reasons for obesity, there are also psychological reasons such as using it as an excuse not to achieve more, as a way to ward off sexual advances, and more.

Compulsive, emotional eating – may be used as a distraction to cope with stress and anxiety.

Parents, I urge you to eat together as a family, and if you notice a problem with your children, don’t think they’ll “outgrow this phase”. The longer this behavior goes untreated the more deeply ingrained it becomes. The sooner it’s treated the better the chances are for recovery.

Therapy is very effective for treating eating disorders as it addresses the complex interaction of social, biological and psychological factors involved. The important thing is get help now. Please contact a mental health professional near you today. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment to get on the road to recovery.

Is Your Chronic Stress or Depression Setting You Up for Dementia?

Monday, February 02, 2015


Did you realize that depression and chronic stress (of any kind) can lead to dementia or Alzheimer's? It’s also a precursor to heart disease if it goes untreated. Using SPECT Imaging, Dr. Daniel Amen has shown that how we choose to react to life’s losses, crises or major illnesses can either shorten or extend our longevity.

When you suffer the loss of a loved one or experience a major illness, do you react with depression, anxiety or drinking alcohol? Then it’s predicted you are significantly shortening your lifespan. Those who stay mentally healthy, despite the problems, usually live five years longer. Does that mean you don’t grieve over loss or have stress? No. What it does mean is that you don’t react to it in self-harming ways. You don’t use this negative event as an excuse to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol or beat yourself up with negative thinking.

Watch Dr. Amen's video and find two inspirational stories of triumph over loss, depression, suicidal thoughts, obesity and addiction. You’ll learn from these stories the follow gems:

  • "The best time to start healing from a crisis is before it starts.
  • Giving yourself the excuse to eat bad food, drink alcohol or smoke pot to deal with the pain only prolongs it.
  • Never let a crisis be an excuse to hurt yourself.
  • Whenever you feel sad, stressed or out of control, take care of your brain first.
  • Treat depression now before it causes further damage, don’t wait for it simply to go away.
  • Made good, conscientious decisions, rather than simply reacting.
  • Engage in regular brain healthy habits like exercise and new learning.
  • Begin taking brain smart supplements that include fish oil and Vitamin D.
  • Employ meditation to calm your mind and boost your brain at the same time.
  • Stop believing every negative thought that goes through your head!
  • Whenever you feel sad, mad, nervous, or out of control, write down your automatic negative thoughts and ask yourself, are they true?"

Sometimes the subtle signs of dementia are not picked up right away. Some symptoms to look for are asking the same question repeatedly, forgetfulness, fatigue, memory loss for things that you should know how to do, and neglecting personal safety, hygiene, and nutrition. It’s crucial to treat brain problems early, which includes learning how to deal with stress and loss. So I urge you, if you or a loved one is displaying symptoms of depression or anxiety, please consult a trained therapist immediately. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more on my website: Overcoming Depression and Managing Stress.

Is the Stress of Entrepreneurial Life Putting Your Family at Risk for Domestic Abuse?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


stress of entrepreneurial lifestyle putting family at risk for domestic spouse abuse child abuseNo one wants to think it could happen to them. And commendably, many entrepreneurs go into business for themselves because they want to spend more time together as a family. Yet the stress of growing a business can become an unbearable strain on the individual and on the family, and some turn to drugs and alcohol to cope. The greatest majority of child abuse cases are related to alcohol abuse.

NPR recently ran a story that reported, “Almost 680,000 children in the United States were the victims of abuse and neglect in 2013. More than 1,500 of them died.” The Center for Disease Control has a downloadable fact sheet that reports that in the US, in 2012, the Child Protective Services received an estimated 3.4 million referrals of children being abused or neglected.

It takes just one incident of domestic violence to send a marriage and a business reeling.

For example, in my Entrepreneurial Couples book, I talk about Jay and Celia who thought they were untouchable until Jay allowed mounting stress at work to turn to abusing alcohol to unwind. His very successful auto repair business was starting to go sour because he could no longer compete with a national chain. One night when Celia was still at the espresso cart, Joe came home after having had a few drinks and was annoyed that his wife was not there cooking his dinner. Rather than wait until his wife got home, Jay started an argument with his teenage daughter; before he was through, he had pinned her to the wall and was strangling her, until he stopped in horror.

Although Jay was mortified that he got this out of control and immediately apologized to his daughter, he asked her to keep the incident a secret from Celia. Of course, this secret festered and came out two years later when the couple was in marital therapy as part of Jay's alcohol treatment program. Celia was unable to tolerate the betrayal, and the couple separated.

At the point that domestic violence erupts, the lives of entrepreneurs are extremely out of control. Stress from the typical workaholic entrepreneurial lifestyle can create health problems, marital problems, drug abuse problems, and ethical problems. Spouse abuse and child abuse indicate an obvious breakdown in the multiple developing progressions of an individual's life, and are evidence of serious mental and spiritual problems. In fact, to allow the stress of entrepreneurial life to become this extreme means that the couple has gone beyond crisis. Chronic problems that have persisted for years are responsible for this total disregard of human values and dignity.

As a result of these problems, in combination with the weaknesses of character that evolved years earlier from neglectful and abusive upbringings, the crossing of boundaries into domestic violence is more common than you might think. If you recognize yourself or your partner taking even a small step in this direction, you should seek the help of a psychotherapist immediately. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. If you live elsewhere and want to learn more, check out remote education for entrepreneurial couples that allows us to connect via video or telephone conference.

Read more on my website: Entrepreneurial Life and Alcoholism Recovery.

How to Get Rid of Your Stress Headaches

Monday, January 26, 2015


how to get rid of stress headachesIs stress good for you? Perhaps you’re initial response was, “No!” We hear so much about the health hazards of stress, yet the stress response can be an asset for raising levels of performance during critical events such as a sports activity, an important meeting, or in situations of actual danger or crisis.

However, when you become addicted to stress and it becomes persistent, all parts of the body's stress apparatus (the brain, heart, lungs, vessels, and muscles) become chronically over or under-activated. This kind of stress can produce physical or psychological damage in time. One common manifestation is the stress headache.

I read an article on WebMD that had some great ideas of how to get rid of stress headaches. (I encourage you to read the whole article to get all of the interesting medical facts.) I’d like to share a brief summary of their suggestions for getting rid of your stress headaches:

Improve your sleep routine – Go to bed and get up at the same times every day, even on weekends.
Improve your exercise routine – Lower your stress hormones and boost endorphins with 20 to 40 minutes of heart pumping exercise three times per week at the minimum.
Improve your eating routine – Don’t skip breakfast or other meals and eat more whole, healthy foods such as dark, leafy greens and whole grains and fish.
Improve your relaxation routine – Use conscientious methods to relax, such as, walking, listening to music, meditation, deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation, and skip the couch potatoing with the TV.
Improve your relationship routine – Actually pull out your calendar and schedule time for people that are important to you.
Improve your posture routine – Become aware of how you stand and sit at all times, so you prevent neck strain caused by slouching and tensing. This includes not clenching your jaw.

Have you heard these suggestions all before? Have you tried them and then reverted back to doing things the same old way? What’s stopping you from putting them into action? Did you notice I called each one a “routine”? These positive changes involve changing your brain and replacing old habits with new ones. Perhaps it’s time to consult a therapist and learn how to retrain your brain to cope with stress. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment, because a few sessions of therapy can help you reclaim a pleasant and peaceful life.

Read more on my website: Managing Stress and Types of Therapy.

How Much Do You Know About Memory?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


how much do you know about memoryMemory is such an important part of our lives. It helps define who we are. It assists us in our relationships with others. And it definitely affects the decisions we make. So much of this is done without our even thinking about it. That is…until we start to lose our ability to remember. Then we wish we could do something to decrease memory loss. The good news is that there are things you can do to support your brain’s memory functions.

First, though, WebMD has a fun and interesting memory quiz to test how much you already know about how memory works and what affect our choices have on the quality of memory. You’ll learn the answers to the following questions:

Can sex trigger amnesia?
Does pregnancy cause “baby brain”?
How long do memory problems due to smoking marijuana last?
How does déjà vu work?
At what age do we start losing brain cells?
Why can you remember a song from your youth, but can’t remember someone’s name?
Why and how does – skipping breakfast, poor eyesight, working crosswords, drinking alcohol, taking statin drugs, antihistamines and sleeping pills – affect your memory?
Why does a sudden, high-stress event boost your memory?
Is the memory loss from perimenopause permanent?
Why does rest or sleep enhance memory?
What foods can boost memory?
Why do some diseases cause “brain fog”?

The function of the brain can be improved by holistic health choices that help you control memory-damaging stress, getting enough exercise, keeping your mind active and improving your concentration. A NET practitioner can help you not only protect your brain but even retrain your brain to cope with the brain fog caused by painful illnesses such as fibromyalgia. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more about memory on Psychology Today and PsychCentral.



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