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Nutrition plays a significant role in our mood. How we eat affects our brain function and blood sugar. Your mood will be more positive if you eat in a way that keeps your blood sugar steady and normal all day long. If your blood sugar is going up and down like a roller coaster, then your mood will be on a roller coaster ride too.
Your brain likes to use the sugar in your blood as its fuel source. Another name for blood sugar is blood glucose. You may be surprised to learn that 65% of the glucose flowing in your blood is used by your brain. So eating in a way that guarantees normal blood glucose will help your brain perform at its best.
How do you feel emotionally or physically when you skip a meal? I’m sure you will say grumpy, fatigued, or “hangry.” Research shows that a lower blood glucose can lead to aggression, frustration, tension, nervousness, or low energy.
I’ve included my favorite green smoothie recipe. This is a mild-tasting smoothie that is an excellent source of natural carbohydrate, fiber, and healthy fat.
Tropical Green Smoothie:
1 cup frozen tropical fruit
(banana, mango, pineapple, papaya)
1 cup fresh baby spinach (packed into measuring cup)
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
1 teaspoon grated ginger
Blend all ingredients together and enjoy!
Stasha Kucel MS, RDN, LD
Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Counselor
Benton, David. “Carbohydrate ingestion, blood glucose, and mood.” Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 26.3 (2002): 293-308.
Yamagata, Ana Sayuri, et al. “Selfish brain and selfish immune system interplay: A theoretical framework for metabolic comorbidities of mood disorders.” Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 72 (2017): 43-49.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), almost one-fourth of Americans suffer from some form of mental illness, whether it has been diagnosed or not. Even more alarming, it says that one person out of every 17 is also walking among us with a major mental problem, for instance suffering from bipolar disorder or even schizophrenia.
With something like 20% of all teens suffering from some kind of mental problem and 18% of all adults experiencing moderate to severe anxiety trauma, it seems that a significant percentage of our overall society is lacking in basic good mental health. Most of the time this goes undetected though because all these individuals are still functional in their daily routines – so how can you tell if someone you know is really in need of help?
When a friend or loved one exhibits diminished interest or no interest in events, objects, activities, or places that they used to love, this is a warning sign. A mental issue may or may not be at the root of this sudden disinterest, but if your friend can’t explain the change in attitude at all, there is at least cause for suspicion. It may be time to suggest that they talk to a professional.
Therapy and counseling are often needed by people who don’t really have any mental issues, but who are simply going through significant life changes. These include the death of a loved one, a divorce, loss of a friend, losing a job, or any sudden crushing event in their life which has a major impact on them. Even if there is no permanent damage to a person’s state of mind, they often need some help just getting through that phase in their life, and back on an even keel.
Substance abuse is often triggered by some event or reason in a person’s life that goes undiscovered and unexplored, so the behavior persists. Therapy might help a great deal in fathoming that trigger and helping the person overcome what caused the substance abuse. This is especially true if the behavior represents a fairly sudden departure from their previous ways, and when you see this, you shouldn’t let it go on for long before intervening in some way.
It can be extremely frustrating for someone who is actually suffering from mental illness to be told repeatedly by their physician that they are not sick, and there’s nothing wrong with them. It might also discourage them from seeking out any other kind of treatment, even though they can feel that something is amiss. If you have a friend or loved one in this state, be aware that such untreated conditions can carry serious consequences if not diagnosed.
You can usually tell the difference between someone who has an introverted personality, and someone who refuses to be involved with society in any way. This kind of withdrawal is not good for personal growth, and it may be a sign of mental illness. When it seems they are actually making a concerted effort to stay removed from others and be alone most of the time, it’s a sign they may need help.
Outpatient treatment centers provide a very valuable service to the communities which they’re located in, and to the individuals who travel to them seeking counseling and therapy. Some centers provide a very wide range of services, such as the Grace Counseling center in Lewisville, Texas, while others focus specifically on substance abuse or relapse prevention.
Depending on the center itself, services offered might include counseling for depression, anxiety, or trauma, family counseling, mental health counseling, binge eating counseling, couples counseling, group therapy, and even formal drug addiction treatment programs. But whether the service provided is a fairly straightforward continuing education program or an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), these treatment centers are a vital component of the health and wellness industry. Here are some of the most important benefits provided by outpatient treatment programs, and why you might want to choose one over an inpatient program.
The unfortunate reality of medical treatment is that it’s often very expensive, and the cost of inpatient treatment could well be prohibitive to a given patient, whereas outpatient care is likely to be much more manageable. Since outpatient care does not include lodging, meals, and other residential kinds of service, it can be conducted much more affordably.
For patients seeking discrete care, outpatient treatment may be the way to go, because it’s not necessary to reside at the center during treatment. In many cases, outpatient care is conducted in such a way that a patient can continue working, and carry on a more or less normal life without most people even being aware of the treatment.
Going hand-in-hand with the privacy advantage, is the fact that in many cases, someone under outpatient care can have minimal disruption to their life while still receiving quality treatment. There may of course be scheduling disruptions, but for the most part a normal routine can be balanced with the outpatient treatment program. There are even situations where outpatient care can be dispensed in a manner most compatible with someone’s existing schedule, for instance during evenings or on weekends. This can be a huge advantage to someone like a parent, who is obliged to carry on a regular routine away from the treatment center.
Persons in need of outpatient care often receive the biggest support from family members, and someone enrolled as an inpatient loses this benefit, because they’re largely cut off from the external world. That’s not the case in an outpatient treatment program, and people trying to recover from addiction or some other kind of disorder, will still be able to have the benefit of their primary support network while going to the program.
Even though virtually every city in America has an entire community built up of people recovering from various physical and mental disorders, it’s not always easy to make contact with these people to gain needed support after treatment. One of the big benefits of an outpatient treatment program is that contact information is available so that connections can be made between the recovery community and outpatient graduates wishing to join them.
Finding Your Patronus: Fighting Exhaustion, Anxiety, and Stress
To start, if you do not understand the Harry Potter reference to a patronus, let me give you a definition – it will be vital to understand the metaphor used in this blog.
A patronus is something that one can use in order to protect or shield oneself from things that are draining, fear and anxiety provoking, and overall atrocious (i.e. dementors in the HP books).
These draining and dreadful things can be people or scenarios – but their main aim always seems to be the same – to exhaust one of their happiness, clarity, and will to operate constructively and effectively.
I assume this description sounds familiar to you. We all experience people or situations that take everything out of us. Events that catch us at our most vulnerable and break us down farther than we anticipate.
So how do we combat these unavoidable or unforeseen feelings of unease, fatigue, and despair? We find our patronus. Something we can project, something we can utilize to simulate calmness, protection, and contentment.
Like in the Harry Potter books and films, each person has a unique way of producing this effect. It may be a hot bath, a comforting friend, a yoga posture, a meditation spot, a garden walk, a playlist, or a scent. There are multiple combinations that can be useful for different people in different ways.
What I propose is that YOU explore yours.
What can save you from falling into a bad mood? Who can make you laugh when you feel like you might burst out into tears at any second? Where can you go where you feel instant calm the second you step into that space? What song can give you a boost, validate your feelings, or offer some nostalgic joy?
We cannot always prepare for a bad day, a bad mood, or an unfortunate circumstance. But we can prepare a list of things to help us confront and combat these dementoresque scenarios. A patronus tool belt if you will.
A list of possible patronus:
There are a many more options out there that might be right for you! I encourage you to explore what you can use as patronus. You might need different tools for different emotions, intensities and/or circumstances.
Individuals who challenge the widely normalized and socially accepted binary presentations of gender are often considered “other” and forced to the margins of culture as “issues”, something to be “figured out” or “made sense of”. However unintentional or involuntary these actions may be – those who do not conform to the dichotomy of the main stream gender paradigm may feel as though they are a weight that must be bared or a person who is stripped of receiving respect in their true and heart-felt state of being. There is a void that has formed in society’s comfort zone, where intolerance, disrespect, and fear are found and love, acceptance, and understanding are missing.
Making assumptions in the counseling room, the doctor’s office, or in other helping spaces sometimes feels unavoidable or automatic. We will all encounter individuals who live outside of one’s definitions of gender. So how do we practice in such a way that expresses compassion, respect, and ethical competence as we seek to understand with and what our client, friend, child, or student may still be trying to process?
It is crucial for us to begin to intentionally place ourselves in and endure existing in a state of not knowing. A place that is often uncomfortable, sometimes frightening, and almost always fraught with uncertainty. I believe as helping professionals we can all benefit from being uncomfortable in ambiguity, allowing our clients to come in and create the scripts and through lines of the space which we hold for them with kindness and interest.
By allowing such a space to be more free of expectations, we offer up room for our clients to fill. We hold a safe place for them to present, perform, and live in ways that honor their true essence. By doing this I believe that not only will our client flourish in the freedom of unconditional respect, but we will be given more opportunities to see the increase of growth, knowledge, and possibility in the relationship.
Below are resources for those who want to learn more about the present necessity not only for possibility, acceptance, understanding, but for advocacy and education about gender diversity.
Resources: Butler, J. (2009). Undoing gender. New York, NY: Routledge.
Try this sequence and find your focus.
For the rest of your break you can repeat the sequence, take meditation in easy pose, or simply lie down on your back for a short “yogi nap” in savasana.
Hopefully, you got what you needed!
Stay tuned for more sequences that are designed to fit in your busy day!
We all have experienced times where we simply go through the motions, finding minimal pleasure in a life where our schedule is maximized with responsibilities. The question is, however, what about the responsibility to ourselves? All over the globe, people of all different backgrounds, status, and life phases are searching for a way to get and stay connected, needed, and appreciated – But, in what ways are we sacrificing our ability to connect, meet our needs, as well as find appreciation and even gratitude for our whole self – mind, body, and spirit.
Turning our attention inward might sound impossible – even selfish. On the other hand, is trying to give away a self that we don’t take time to care for fully serving anyone else? “Self-care” a term used widely by helping professionals, may sound like shtick to build interest, but the concept of taking time to care for the self dates back centuries. Meditation, yoga, and quiet reflection (or similar practices) show up in all major world philosophies, religions, and spiritualities. Even scientist have found justification and usefulness of these behaviors by experimenting with brain maps, stress levels, and nervous system response measurements.
The irony lies in the facts. Getting quiet and still actually maximizes productivity and creativity! Practicing mindfulness daily builds stress tolerance, decreases feelings of sadness and being overwhelmed and increases experience of tranquility and contentment.
Finding a method of practice is not as simple as advertisements might suggest, but with a small commitment to turning inward, the needs of the body and the mind will become more clear.
As a counselor in training and a yoga instructor, I have found numerous evidence of the interdependence of body and mind, the necessity of maintaining those connections and the relevance that holds in our happiness.
Wanting to try something new, find connection, or gain relaxation and mindfulness skills? We are offering a yoga workshop near you! Right here in Lewisville Texas at Grace Counseling Center we have yoga for beginners and advanced level practice. Our instructors are RYT certified and can accommodate all levels.
What we eat and how often plays a significant role in how well our bodies are fueled. You may benefit from seeing a dietitian if you have any specific nutrition goals that you are trying to attain. If you do not have goals that you are working towards, a dietitian can help you set realistic goals that will help you optimize your health and identify any key nutrients that your diet may be lacking. If you or someone you know is battling an eating disorder, a dietitian is a key player in helping win the battle and regaining independence from food. If you have any special dietary needs such as diabetes, hypertension, food allergies, elevated cholesterol or triglycerides- a dietitian can also provide medical nutrition therapy. If you are currently in recovery for alcohol or drug addiction, it is not uncommon to find that there are deficiencies in your diet and cravings may be present. Through nutrition counseling, a healthy dietary pattern can be identified and a plan put into action to re-establish a normalized eating pattern.
During a comprehensive nutritional assessment, the dietitian will assess your nutrition status and diet history. She will then help you create a dietary plan that is individualized to meet your specific needs, as everyone is different. She will provide a nutrition education segment including tips on how to be successful. She will help guide you in setting realistic goals for yourself. The dietitian will also provide support between appointments, should you have any questions or concerns.
During a follow-up appointment, the dietitian will discuss with you any concerns you may have had since your last appointment. She will also help you identify and overcome any perceived barriers that you feel may be keeping you from attaining your goals. She will then help you set new goals or determine if any of your goals may require a little more time to reach. She will also work to reassess any changes that may need to be made to your plan.
After completing a 30 to 90 day substance abuse program, one option is to enter a sober living environment. There are similarities and differences between living in a residential drug or alcohol rehabilitation facility, but the most important benefit is being able to continue the recovery from an addiction in a safe and friendly environment. At a sober living house, residents will have more freedom to leave for the day in order to look for a job, attend school or have fun. However, when a resident returns, they are often required to undergo a sobriety test to ensure that they have not consumed alcoholic beverages or taken drugs.
While living in a sober house, a resident has responsibilities, including chores such as preparing meals, washing dishes and vacuuming carpets. The professionals who are in charge of a sober house want to make it an economical place to recover, and by having the residents perform many tasks, the operational costs are reduced. Anyone living in a sober house is kept busy on a daily basis because they should be planning a new lifestyle away from the facility in a few weeks or months. In addition to building a new life outside a sober house, a resident must continue to attend 12-step meetings along with talking to counselors at least once a week.
Sober houses are owned by charitable organizations, businesses or private individuals, and most of these homes are located in quiet and relaxing neighborhoods. It is important for an addict to remember that a sober house is a group home, and residents might share a bedroom, and they always share common areas such as kitchens and living rooms. Residents are responsible for paying their own bills, buying their own food and cleaning up their own messes.
Before moving into a sober house, a resident must sign a contract that will include specific rules. Each sober house makes its own rules, but in most cases, residents are evicted for violent behavior or relapsing back to an addiction. Residents are required to pay their own way while staying in a sober house, and if they fail to pay rent, then they are asked to leave.
A mood disorder is a mental disorder that has mood disturbance as its primary component. And what is mood? Mood generally refers to a person’s overall emotional state. Are you in a good mood or a bad mood? Do you feel happy or sad? We all experience varying degrees of good or bad moods, but a person with a mood disorder may have extreme feelings that can cause disruption in their everyday life.
There are two broad categories of mood disorders, which are diagnosed according to criteria listed in a manual called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. These categories are depressive disorders and bipolar disorder.
A depressive disorder involves bad feelings, such as depressed mood, sadness, hopelessness, and not wanting to live. There are three main types of depressive disorders: major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, and depressive disorder not otherwise specified.
Major depressive disorder is diagnosed if a person has experienced at least one major depressive episode lasting at least two weeks during which the person experienced depression or a loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities for most of the day, nearly every day.
Major depressive disorder may fall into one of several subtypes, depending on whether a person meets certain criteria set by the DSM. Listed below are the subtypes of major depressive disorder.
Atypical depression – Depression with “atypical” symptoms, such as temporarily feeling better when something positive occurs, increased appetite and sleep, heaviness of limbs and sensitivity to rejection.
Melancholic depression – What people often typically think of as depression, with symptoms such as loss of appetite and weight loss, a gloomy mood that doesn’t improve with positive life events and a worsening of symptoms in the morning hours.
Psychotic depression – Depression that also includes symptoms of delusions or hallucinations.
Catatonic depression – A rare type of depression in which a person may have symptoms such as muteness or immobility. They may also exhibit hyperactive, purposeless activity, such as rocking back and forth.
Postpartum depression – A type of depression that follows childbirth and occurs due to the extreme, rapid shifts in hormones associated with this process.
Seasonal affective disorder – A type of depression that typically occurs only during the darker months of winter when a person’s internal rhythms are thrown off balance by insufficient exposure to sunlight.
Dysthymic disorder, also known as dysthymia, is a more chronic, but less severe form of depression than major depressive disorder. However, episodes of major depression may overlap periods of dysthymia. This is righly called “double depression.”
Depressive Disorder Not Otherwise Specified are depressive disorders that impair a person’s ability to function, but do not fit the other designated categories. These disorders can range from mild to severe and are sometimes more difficult to treat, due to the large variance in symptoms from one person to the next.
Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder in which a person experiences changes in mood, going between states of depression and mania. When a person is manic, they may feel euphoric with high energy and sex drive. In contrast to a normal happy mood, however, mania tends to be to a degree that disrupts a person’s life.
Bipolar disorder has several subtypes, including:
This diagnosis is given to people who have had one or more episodes of mania or mixed states (symptoms of mania and depression occurring at the same time). They may or may not have also experienced depressive episodes.
This subtype consists of recurrent, intermittent episodes of hypomania (less severe mania) and either depression or mixed states.
Cyclothymia is a subtype will alternate between periods of hypomania and dysthymia.
Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified
People with this diagnosis experience symptoms that fall within the bipolar spectrum, but do not fit into one of the other diagnostic categories are diagnosed as Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified
How are mood disorders treated?