Non-Pharmaceutical Ways To Manage Depression, Anxiety and Stress

NON-PHARMACEUTICAL WAYS TO MANAGE AND OVERCOME DEPRESSION, ANXIETY AND STRESS

My work as clinical social worker and psychotherapist has evolved greatly since I started in the late 80’s.  Historically, the pharmaceutical industry has influenced the treatment of mental health. When I began to realize some of the negative impacts and limitations that it had, I started the slow process of learning a new way of thinking about mental health treatment and realized that I wasn’t the only one with limitations.  The Dr.’s and prescribers were limited and dependent in large part to what the medical community was given. My intentions had always been in giving others healthy options to overcome their challenges but found they had fallen short due to my lack of information and misinformation by the culture.  My practice has now developed a more holistic and integrative model.  There are times when medications are needed but far less than before.   The following is a list of strategies, practices and product options that I have found effective in recovery and healing.   This list is informational only as choosing what is best for you is individual and intuitive to each person.

 

TALK THERAPY – Building a trusting relationship with a provider is the foundation for growth.  Most therapeutic modalities – all those evidence-based ones – have at it’s core a positive rapport with the person.  That is why choosing the right therapist can be tricky.  We all have unique backgrounds with our own personality style and emotional triggers or allergies as I like to call them.  The heart of growth is this connection.   Remember any teacher that you put your trust in?  Trust on any level is powerful.  I base my practice from a background of cognitive behavioral and trauma theories, systemic family and relationship modalities and an eclectic blend of spirituality, natural healing, and psychosomatic healing approaches.  There are so many effective ones out there in this age of technology.  I’ve incorporated apps, YouTube, and other tools that can help learn/understand a current challenge.

 

RELATIONSHIP EMPOWERMENT – Most of us grew up in a time when roles were prescribed and planned in one way or another.  We survived because our ancestors found some of these traditions were crucial in this survival.  They did their job and now we are evolving!  This is exciting yet can be pretty threatening to the old ways of living.  Embracing who we are as individuals while creating loving relationships is at the heart of this evolution.  I facilitated workshops over the last year called Living from the Power of your Heart.  There is an empowerment wave going on in the world and we are part of it.  This takes education, knowledge, skills and support…and lots of it!  That is one of my roles as a therapist – I find ways to teach, coach, practice and create a positive environment for this evolution.  My teachers have come from the relationship education, attachment theory and a comprehensive relationship skill program called PAIRS.  Lori Gordon developed this program to find real strategies to solve the puzzles that pain and conflict can create in love relationships.   Sue Johnson is one of the researchers and teachers that have helped others understand how critical it is to get our emotional bonding needs met from infancy until the end of our lives.

 

NUTRITION/SUPPLEMENTS – Science and wisdom are the keys here.  Mood is entwined with how we feed and care for our brain.  We now know so much more about what to eat to function at our best.  When we are feeling anxious or depressed, our old survival centers of the brain tend to take over and we are drawn to comfort food, caffeine, alcohol, sugar etc.  It’s essential to find the supports to overcome these old habits and urges, make the changes and feel the rewards of a healthy, whole foods, plant-based diet.  Hydration is a key.  I’ve added in a large glass of celery juice each morning to help get a good start for the day.  I was skeptical but now I’m a believer and happy that I created a good habit in my morning routine.  There are others such as starting the AM with the juice of ½ to one whole lemon or lime.  Add it to water immediately upon awakening.  It sends a detox signal to your body.  I often suggest this to the clients I work with to help flush the effects of stress from their bodies.  It’s simple but over time very effective.  Dan Amen has done extensive research on nutrition and the brain and specific foods to focus on.   Minimizing or eliminating sugar, gluten, caffeine and dairy are good starting points for anyone to consider improving mood and heal the body.

Finding the right supplements for your body is another key.  There are many schools of thought about all the things you should take to feel better.  The best antidepressants aren’t always pharmaceuticals.  Nature and smart science can help.  In the Jan. 2020 issue of Psychology Today, there are four compounds that can significantly impact mood.  Omega 3’s, Curcumin, Vitamin C and Magnesium.  According to this research it would take about 3 tablespoons of turmeric to equal the dose or 250-500 mg of Curcumin.  I have worked with a Superfood blend of herbs and antioxidants called MIND to supplement as well.  http://hbnaturals.com/newpath

 

SPIRITUATLITY – One of the indicators for a healthy relationship is a shared spirituality.  I explain this to couples this way:  Most of us didn’t grow up in families where this was safely and freely done.  We usually passed on what we grew up with or a version of its opposite based on what our parents experienced.  Shared spirituality is learning how to discuss what’s meaningful to each other and how they see their purpose for living on this planet at this moment in time.   It’s learning how to create a depth within ourselves given the ancient truth that each of us is born with an essence to love and be loved that goes beyond just mere survival.  We want to grow, thrive and feel safe.  Most of us got stuck in stress which created a shutdown of the heart, keeping us stuck in the old patterns of survival.  There is a wave of change coming.  We now have the tools available to evolve and reach our potentials like never.  The key is finding tools to learn and a place to practice these new skills.  The rewards are great.

 

GROUNDING PRACTICES – Everyone needs grounding practices to cope with this highly energized and computerized culture.  We are constantly exposed to EMF’s from environment, our devices and screen time.  Daily body breathing, meditation, energetic techniques to remove stress and spending time in nature are so important.  The simple act of shaking your body gently with the intention of releasing stress can help when triggered.  Animals do this naturally.  In my practice we pick out the types of grounding exercises best suited for the individual.  Doing something is the key. Yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, are among some of the ancient arts that have stood the test of time.  Developing a basic EMF protocol is new and very important for the brain. Again, temperament, body type and your current situation all play a part in what is best for you.  Recently, I began incorporating Donna Eden’s energy routine to my list of things I do.  Learning to trace your meridians can make a difference.

 

AROMATHERAPY – I have practiced as an aromatherapist for several years.  I was drawn to the energy of these essences after I experienced a healing using them.  I “woke up” to the plants and to a new relationship with them.  There are several essential oils that specifically help mood and emotional health.  I usually will suggest the ones that may be effective depending on your situation.  My favorites today (and they can change) are Red Mandarin, Eucalyptus radiata, Ravintsara and Lavender Vera.  They help with mood and cold symptoms.  There are blends to motivate, calm, empower and awaken our sensual/sexual selves.

 

DEVELOPING INTUTION – I once heard the term “Blue sense” when referring to the intuitive abilities of police officers.  There was a training for the officers to help them develop these skills.  We all have intuitive knowledge that is available to us.  These skills have not been taught most likely do to old fears/myths from past connections to “psychics” and witches.  These beliefs are old and do not serve our evolving culture anymore.  Wisdom of the heart is connected to love, authenticity and living to our fullest potential. One tool to help tune in is called muscle testing.  It’s a way to use your own body to connect to your inner wisdom.  It takes some practice but it’s worth it.  Men and women find their own style to tap into themselves.  The Heart Brain Coherence practice is one such way to find these answers.  Check out my earlier blogs for the full exercise.

 

PHYSCIAL EXERCISE – This is essential for mood health.  You don’t have to run any races or meet some lofty goals.  But you do need something to “Just Do it” The important thing here is finding a way to connect to your body and move.  We are often told to rest if we get injured but the logistics of this is limited.  Rest is good for a brief time only.  Our bodies need to communicate through movement.  Low mood or negative thinking puts a cloud over motivation.  I like to find the tricks to side step this cloud and float through it.  Even marching in place saying the affirmation, I am up and ready, I am up and ready, can start the movement.  Creativity is the anecdote to stress.  If one strategy doesn’t work, find another.  I utilize YouTube often to access some of these strategies so you can try out some of these,

 

 

ALPHA STIM – For relief of anxiety, depression and insomnia, Alpha-Stim is a revolutionary tool which helps regulate the body’s own electrical impulses in a safe, easy and comfortable way. The primary distinctive feature in a medical device is the wavefrom, and the Alpha-Stim has a uniquely effective waveform. The application of direct electrical treatment to the brain, along with our treatment protocols for target problems also make the difference that no other device has been able to emulate.

Alpha-Stim is very safe and easy to use. The current is applied by easy-to-use clips that attach on the ear lobes. Used just 20-60 minutes every day, every other day, or on an as needed basis, Alpha-Stim can help induce a pleasant, relaxed feeling of wellbeing. Only one out of 506 people will experience a mild headache, and one out of 910 will have a skin reaction at the electrode site. There are no other significant side effects reported in over 40 research studies.

 

 

LIFEWAVE TECHNOLOGY – While on the path of my own healing journey I discovered these patches that facilitate healing through light frequency – “phototherapy”.  These patches use nanotechnology; tiny molecules of oxygen, amino acids, sugars and water that are put together in a homeopathic matrix sandwiched inside the impermeable waterproof patch materials.  Nothing enters the body.  The effect is purely energetic – a signaling mechanism so to speak.  As the patches are placed on the body, it starts to frequency modulate the body’s field of energy, much like a radio frequency modulates the radio waves to get a radio stations signal.   Each patch has a different organic crystalline structure and is designed to balance different body systems through the infrared light spectrum of energy.

Research has shown that you can change a cell’s function by giving it a chemical message or a non-chemical signal.  A chemical message would be a supplement for example.  Life Wave would be a non-chemical signal.  It’s like when you go out into the sun and your skin tans.  The cells of the body respond to the frequency of energy (light) to produce melanin as well as Vitamin D.  When Life Wave patches are placed on specific meridian points, the messaging system is enhanced greatly because the meridians already serve as a superhighway of information.

The patches designed specifically for mood, inflammation, energy, metabolism and immune health.  I have experimented with a variety of patches for health, mood and repair.  I have found them to be effective in my own healing and energy.

 

This summary is designed to highlight the more natural treatments I use in my practice and my own life to positively impact mood and mental health.  I find the more I practice and tune into my wise heart, the more abundant life becomes.  My belief is that we all deserve abundance in whatever form that will shine.  I welcome your comments and questions.   This is the year of the heart.  May we all find some new ways to let love flow.   Tina M Johnson, LCSW relatecommunicate.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watercolor Painting – Be Your Own Star

Watercolor Painting – Be Your Own Star  

 

I recently completed a 4-day watercolor painting class taught by Ellen Jean Diedrerich from Fargo, ND.  She is a well-known and  talented artist.   This was a “beginner” class but I surmised that I may have been the only novice.  Being a practiced “mindful person” I saw this beginning status as an asset.  

Did I have a book called Beginning to Paint loaned from a well-seasoned, paint enlightened friend?  Yes. Did I open and read it prior to class?  No.  My brain wouldn’t allow it.  Can I blame my brain?  Sometimes I do that.  First, I’m an experiential learner which means “learning through refection on doing”.    I grew up in the conventional culture of conformity, sitting still, memorizing and comparing.   The older I got the trickier it became and by the time I reached college, I began to realize that I would need to learn some study skills.  I attended my first year at then Mary College in Bismarck, ND.    I perceived myself as being a decent student, but it was difficult to learn and memorize all the material that was required.  I thought in concepts and for me, it needed to come together in some understandable format to really digest it.  I finished the year with a C average across the board and I told myself that was ok…. yet I remember that feeling of discontent of why I couldn’t magically get all the information that was pumped out.  I knew there was more within – I just couldn’t reach in and get it.  I remember getting cordially nudged out of certain fields of study and the subtle messages I perceived as not being a star in anything.   I used to draw pictures of beauty queens with stars surrounding them, big smiles on their faces, always thin and always beautiful.  I wanted to be a star, but society’s road was narrow.

Social Work became my focus in large part because I had a mentor, one that I experienced as a good and caring person.  She also saw something inside of me …. This dovetailed with one of my childhood visions of being like Albert Schweitzer and find ways to help in the world…another big star for humanity.  I often hear from others that they don’t have a vision of where they belong, what they should do etc.  Often, this vision eluded to  in others and myself is the desire to feel good, content, happy or fulfilled depending on your school of thought and that is subjective to each one of us.  Wondrously, creativity relates with these  inner stars of happiness and fulfillment.  The more avenues we find to connect these inner stars, the better.  When they shine, our energy centers can flow with ease, our bodies can move with more flexibility and our strength grows.  The inner core of the body is more important to strengthen than the outer limbs and core muscles.  That inner core can include how you think, how you manage emotions, your beliefs, and your past experiences.  One of the exercises I use to get a perspective on inner  core health – Stand in front of a large mirror nude and observe your reaction.  Spend a minute really looking.    Where are those stars  when you need it?  Where is that beautiful self-talk and the encouraging voice to help you along your life path?  This research will give you clues to those things that may need changing.

Day 1  My first day of painting class went  like this.  I compared, felt overwhelmed and wondered why I was even there.  I learned about basic brush strokes, the color wheel and the importance of design and shapes.  I didn’t do well in geometry or math and avoided these kinds of things but here these shapes were set up in front of me; cones, boxes, pyramids, garlic containers, and whatever else.  I didn’t know about drawing from the right side of the brain which I am exploring now.  Then, I just knew frustration.  I called my artist friend that evening and basically vented – sharing the “it’s too hard” mantra of my childhood.  But now, I have learned just to be aware of the thoughts, then find creative or positive strategies to cope.  At my age, sometimes its’ easier just to coast and avoid the challenges.  Is this healthy for the brain?  Avoiding stress can sometimes be a prescription for health but avoiding the creative parts of self is damaging in the long run.  So, I chose the path of stress with the hopes of a good outcome.

Day 2  It was better – we got to “color” from the color wheel, draw circles and combine colors.  I learned how designers choose the best compliments and layouts for environments and how artists can create paintings from just a few colors.  I was still hesitant to mix the colors and learned why not to use black or white except on rare occasions.  I listened to my inner critic for good parts of the day as I drew and painted the first picture of a hydrangea.  I put the picture on Facebook and got a few positive comments from my husband, my mom, and my childhood babysitter.  Now that is love.   

Day 3  This was my emotional day.  I was late, had clients prior to the class and said goodbye to my son leaving home to move across the country.  Our project was to find a picture we wanted to paint, draw and paint a grid and begin the work.  A grid is this underlying drawing of boxes that you paint with a few colors.  This serves as a base for the painting.  The picture I brought in was a complex group of flowers that I grabbed off the wall.  It wasn’t a thoughtful process and one I learned from.  The lesson – to think with intention before you create.    Tension developed from the start and involved a change of pictures; a rough day of trial and error.  I needed lots of direction from Ellen and even her repairs couldn’t fix the issues.  I started a new painting for fun which I liked a little better, but it looked like it was one of those 3rd grade tree pictures.     As a child, I painted like I thought I should, compared a lot and got by in the average lane.  I’m realizing how the potential didn’t have the chance to grow – I was too busy surviving.  This class has connected more of these dots from childhood.

Day 4  Ellen is eager to share the wisdoms of the watercolor art.  She gave us her book called Progressive Painting.  She shared the inspirations of the why she wrote this book.  I was amazed at her process as an artist and a business builder.  Being in my own private practice, I understand the need to blend the art and the money.  We all need to survive while we “strive to thrive” as I like to say.  I was drawn to the class by the colors since I work with the rhythms of the emotional body.  I’m keen now to the energetics and colors of the body, the frequencies of words, products we use, thoughts we think about and behaviors we engage in.  It all matters.  Emotions are the powerful drivers for us humans – that’s how we end up in the messes that can teach us the way of finding peace within ourselves.  At the end of this day there is a critique session where each person presents their art.  Since I’d needed to leave early for a work obligation I discussed mine early.  Secretly, I was relieved to avoid the group reaction to what I had accomplished.  Now, I wish I would devoted my entire day to the class and stayed to present this oddly shaped disaster of mine.  The more I think of it the more pleased I am to think of all the learning this little piece inspired.  Do I now have an appreciation of why I have avoided this art until now?  Yes. In the midst of this  “trudgery” I have discovered tiny glimpses of my own truth – my own voice of creative expression which can be empowering and ripple into other aspects of life.                      

Creativity is a given for some people – they are born with an innate perception for the arts, yet they may have challenges in other areas.  I’m realizing we are all filled with creativity – it just varies in  its form.  My emotional artistry can be quite amazing when used to understand the emotions of others.  When I work with couples, the intensity of these emotions can be sensed like waves hitting the shores.  When we find the right path to transform the painful ones to higher frequency feelings such as compassion, love or caring the result is better relationship.    It’s our job to find it the things we need to do/learn to be who we were born to be.  I refer to listening to the heart in many of therapy sessions.  Just a simple hand on your heart helps remind the brain what really matters.  The more I explore my creative side, the more that life opens, and this openness creates flow and health in the body.  There is an essential oil blend called I love that when used on the body or inhaled can help inspire the heart energy.  The essential oils of Rose, Clary Sage, Patchouli, Ylang Ylang Complete, Rosewood, Palmarosa, Spikenard, Neroli, Jasmine, Sandalwood, Lavender, fine; Dragon’s Blood, Cedarwood Atlas, Elemi, Grapefruit, pink; Marjoram, sweet; Petitgrain, and Cypress.  What a power blend!  In hindsight, I should have used this every day.

A star is born?  Usually I would say of course not, I don’t have talent.  Now that those words are out of the way I can expand that to say a few  stars were found in the process.  I think we are the product of many little stars – scientifically speaking of course.  Do the research.  In the meantime, pursue creativity even though…. Stress/illness/grief/depression/anxieties/ADD/obligations are just a few blockers to our inner stars.  Reach out, seek support and be perseverant.  I will continue to seek my painting passions – adding it to my therapy toolbag, more appreciation for art, or continuing practice sketches and simple watercolor pieces.  Thank you, Ellen, for  sharing your gifts and talents.  It makes a difference!

 

 

Wake up and Change – The Search for Inspiration

 

 

A book ran across my screen last week…. and for some reason I paused and read the summary.  The Plant Paradox by Steven Gundry MD is about the “hidden dangers” in healthy foods.  These types of books don’t normally stick but I started reading immediately and just finished it.  Audio books, for me, are a great invention as I can walk around, be active and still read.   I was immediately inspired.  There is no logical answer as to why.  I felt my body engage – motivation to keep reading was on and I felt “obsessed” to understand it.  This is a book about change – how to change your body by changing your gut.  I frequently see adds and info on products, weight loss strategies, and ways to improve health and usually skim through them.  I haven’t made significant changes to my diet for a couple of years and that was only because I had to when my husband decided to be a vegan; meaning no dairy, meat or animal products.  I adjusted to a moderated diet and considered myself a vegetarian that ate fish.  I chose not to be rigid or restrictive in my choices because for me, being flexible felt healthier.  Nevertheless, it was a change.

Over the last few years, I’ve noticed changes in my body related to resilience, joints, muscle pain and energy.  I’ve tried to “figure it out” and find ways to reverse these symptoms.  I’ve had some successes but problems remain.  Pain on any level is a motivator so if you are a positive thinker, there it is!  Soon, another type of change is coming….one that will significantly alter the way I think about food and the way I consume it.   Some time back, I wrote a blog on “My fat story” which highlighted my journey as an obese child/teen and how I came to grips with it, made changes and moved forward.  I needed to be strict with myself for some time as that was the only way my mind could think of to lose weight. My memory of these major diet changes connects with the original Weight Watchers program in the 70’s.  Yes, I ate cans of french style beans and tuna fish, the ones where you could run your finger around the can’s edges and see the gray residues.  I was allowed 2 slices a day of Sweetheart white bread, hot dogs with mustard (no ketchup) once a week and lots of chicken, iceberg lettuce and weight watchers salad dressing sold in tiny packets filled with preservatives.  This was followed by diet soda, artificial sweeteners and an array of sugar free jello desserts.  You may be getting the picture of how much I was influenced by the culture – far removed from healthy human development but capitalism and the ads of the 60’s were in full swing – the power of the spin.  We all continue to be onslaught by media only far more and most people’s minds are spinning – which is part of the increased anxiety symptoms seen and high demands for mental health care.  More and more I am seeing the urgency to wake up from the culture spin and find truth an as I find strategies to coax myself out of this culture coma I experience many rewards.  When I started my study of essential oils, my knowledge was limited – basically started from scratch.  This relationship with the oils of nature has evolved and grown to include an even bigger perspective.  Now, on to repairing and finding ways to support my gut buddies as Dr. Gundry calls them.  His book is filled with knowledge of our guts chemistry and alchemy to keep us humans going.  He also has a history of being obese and trying all kinds of things to find a healthy weight and body.

Greatness begins with inspiration.   Now, I’m ready to sweat a bit and do the research needed to begin this life change.  First, it’s understanding to a reasonable degree what the science is and since I’ve “felt” it to be worth doing now, to balance this felt sense with logic.   Remember the Logic of Love and Emotion?  That is one of the central themes of creating healthy love relationships –  love is a feeling and creating a healthy relationship is work.  Tools are the communication skills.   In positive relationships this work has many rewards vs in unhealthy relationships this work may feel endless, discouraging or frequently frustrating.   I refer to the spin couples can find themselves in as emotional allergies.  Over time, we’ve all seen the impact of these emotional spins.  Creating a healthy body while in a healthy relationship – consider the potential!

Loving ourselves is where the power is yet we need the power and gifts of nature to help.  I am beginning to see a human-plant relationship in my thinking!  Dr. Gundry states, “My philosophy centers around the fact that the human digestive system is a very complex and very sensitive machine. It needs key energy sources that you’re not getting in your diet… and at the same time, it’s damaged by a vast number of foods that are a big part of our “Standard American Diet.”  What I’m learning is the importance of Polyphenols, the negative effects of lectins found in many types of processed and unproperly cooked foods, and finding the balance of bacteria in your gut.  As a therapist I am more keenly aware of the brain and the need to take care of it.  Its health is intimately entwined with our digestive system.  This isn’t new information but like I said I was inspired to take a closer look at what I was feeding my brain/body.  I want to feel better too!   I want an intimate relationship with my own body. The more we understand about our bodies the better we will be able to control what’s going on with it.    This will require some changes to my daily routines and have already spent a few days discarding foods like peanuts, cashews, breads and crackers, processed salad dressings and paying close attention to the labels of things to avoid additives.  Just in the few days that I’ve tried some of the changes my body has given me “I like you” signals. I’m happy about the dark chocolate and a little bit of coffee part.  Red wine can keep its place from time to time as well.  The book identifies lists of say yes to foods and say no to foods that seem handy enough.  I ‘m gathering my materials.  He reminds people that one can start where they need to start and only gives suggestions.  I’m excited and will keep you posted.

Winter is a challenging season for many reasons we are all familiar with.  Foot soaks with dead sea salts and essential oils soothes and provides vital minerals and magnesium that most of us need more of.  Earlier this month, I participated in a health fair sponsored by Natural Grocers in Fargo.  The individuals I visited with had genuine interest in essential oils and the holistic concepts of health.  Let’s keep the awareness going.  Maybe I should have added that to the Women’s march agenda last weekend.  My sign may have read -Support Natural Health Care NOW!  Somehow, my inspiration didn’t coax me out the door into the cold of Fargo.   Finally, Green Organics has a new line of hemp products which I am excited to try.  The hemp is grown in Kentucky and is organic.  It is naturally rich in Omega-3, Omega-6 and Omega-9 Essential Fatty Acids.  It comes in drops which you place under the tongue.  BTW it is 100% legal.  HBNaturals, the sister company of goDesana highlights the same strict quality standards as how essential oils are chosen and tested.  It’s marketed as a full spectrum oil and aids the brain/body in regulating sleep, appetite, pain modulation, mood enhancement and libido through the introduction of hemp-derived cannabinoids like the CBT oil.

What Is The Endocannabinoid System?

The endogenous cannabinoid system, named after the plant that led to its discovery, is perhaps the most important physiologic system involved in establishing and maintaining human health. Endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout the body: in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands and immune cells. In each tissue, the cannabinoid system performs different tasks, but the goal is always the same: homeostasis, the maintenance of a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in the external environment. Cannabinoids are designed to promote homeostasis at every level of life.

The endocannabinoid system, with its complex actions in our immune system, nervous system and all of the body’s organs, is literally a bridge between body and mind. By understanding this system we begin to see a mechanism that explains how states of consciousness can promote health or disease.  This information was gleaned from HBNaturals so I will be searching more sources as I become more aquainted with it.

Don’t worry, no getting high here – just all the other benefits.  For more info check it out at  http://www.hbnaturals.com/newpath

This will be interesting to study and see the results.  I’ll keep an open mind.  For now, learning and experimenting will be on my schedule.  Inspiration can come to you at any moment.  Set an intention to invite this inspiration to come into your life in a surprising/unexpected way.  Take time to mediate or reflect quietly in prayer and get familiar with your thoughts – the ones that are important and the ones you want to send down the river.  Have a great month.  As always, please let me know if I can help you in your health journey.  Life loves you!