Are you a client looking for treatment that honors your whole body? Offers options to treat injury, disease, pain, obesity in addition to things like depression, anxiety, trauma to name a few? Then Check out My “Out of the Office” Blog to find education on mental health, physical health, workouts you can do anywhere, easy quick meals that support increased mental health, and more. This is the place clients can go between sessions to stay focused on their treatment goals.
Are you a therapist interested in a more holistic treatment? Want to better understand the “art” of therapy? Or gain insight into treating physical issues clients present with? Want to know more about how the body is impacted by mental health? Understand the role of the nervous system and polyvagal responses in treatment? Deepen understanding of common mental health presentations within the structure of the body? – The Somatic Psychologist Blog is For You. Read More Below.
When the World Health Organization officially declared COVID -19 a global pandemic in March, the world as a whole effectively shut down. And even closer to home, most of us have had to change the way we live and act each day.
There is a high probability that you’ve shifted your efforts from self-care to caring for your children, spouse or significant other, or aging parents. And although you are right to do your diligent duty, you can’t forget about yourself. Remember, you have to take care of yourself so that you have the physical and mental energy to get through this pandemic with your health and sanity intact. Here are some resources that can remind you how to do just that—without overspending.
You are just as important now as you were before the crisis. Treat yourself that way. From meditating and exercising to eating well and avoiding social media, these inexpensive ideas are a great start.
For expert therapy, wellness coaching, and personal development and growth strategies, connect with Stacy Reuille-Dupont today!
In this episode, I talk to Stacy Reuille-Dupont, PhD. Stacy is a licensed Clinical Psychologist, a licensed addiction counselor, a certified nutrition coach, and a certified personal trainer.
Stacy incorporates Psychology and movement to help you get results! In this episode, we talk about her fitness club burning down, how to manage stress during COVID-19, and using movement to improve your mental health!
Back pain is one of the leading causes of sleep issues. You can’t get comfortable, don’t get restful sleep, and have problems that carry over into the morning. It can make you fatigued and lead to other health issues. Whether you wake up with back pain or you’re heading to bed in pain from a long day of working your muscles, there are many things that can help you manage your back pain. These include medicine, physical therapy, and surgery. However, there’s also one surprising way that’s been proven in a study to be of potential benefit.
Apps May Be the Answer
The study was conducted in early 2019 and showed that participants with back pain that used a management app for 12 weeks found more relief than those that didn’t. Does this mean apps are the answer? It couldn’t hurt. With that in mind, here are a few apps to start with to see if they can help with your back pain and related issues.
Stretching Before Bed
Stretching before bed is one of the best things you can do to release any pent up tension or aches and pains you’re feeling in your back. It will help relax the muscles so you’ll sleep better. With apps like 6 Minute Back Pain Relief, which is a gentle workout program that helps to reduce your back pain or Yoga for Back Pain, which uses yoga poses made specifically to reduce back pain, improve flexibility, and stretch your muscles.
One way to reduce your pain is to reduce your tension. That can be achieved by relaxing your mind and body before falling asleep. Just like stretching and yoga are meant to help, so is meditation. With Headspace, you can learn to meditate, live mindfully, get expert advice from a former monk, and enjoy themed sessions, including stress reduction, sleep-enhancing, focus improvement, and anxiety relief.
Recording how you’re feeling will help you better track your back pain so that you can determine any patterns and share results with your doctor. With CatchMyPain, an intelligent pain diary app that helps you track your pain, you can even connect to similar patients and trade tips. The app also provides a body model that lets you draw where your pain is and label the intensity of your pain. You can also track your happiness, stress, and fatigue, record your medication intake, and much more. It’s the perfect way to help you track what’s happening with your pain.
TENS devices are made to provide pain relief stimulation to areas that are experiencing pain. TENS devices work by sending tiny electrical signals through your skin, which intercept pain signals and keep them from reaching your brain. They’re used by athletes for pain relief and faster recovery. iTENS is an app-controlled version of this device that can help you get over your back pain. With customizable settings, you can use it on various body parts and pain levels. With the app, you can control these settings and even be able to track your results after each session. iTENS can be used on your ankle, knee, wrist, back, and shoulders.
One Last Thing
Using apps on your phone overnight (or even your smartwatch) can run the battery down. In addition, some apps require the use of your plan’s data. Running them overnight could eat up your data and lead to overage charges. You can avoid this by looking into unlimited phone service plans, which will give you more data to explore apps that will bring you a better night’s sleep. Either way, giving yourself the tools you need to overcome sleep issues is a good start.
Although back pain can disrupt your life, there are steps you can take to help alleviate some of that pain. And while you might not be able to eliminate it altogether, you can find ways to give yourself some reprieve to help you get a good night’s sleep.
Image provided by guest author, Cherly Conklin via Pixabay
Interview with Stacy Reuille-Dupont and Serge Prengal: Using Exercise Science to Bridge Understanding in Therapy
See more conversations like this at Relational Implict. On his podcast, Serge explores somatic psychology, relational therapies, mindfulness and trauma therapies. Most of this exploration takes the form of conversations with psychotherapists, occasionally researchers. Stimulating ideas are discussed, as well as clinical examples. The style of the conversations is reflective, to slow down and deepen the process. Many of the conversations are available in video as well as audio.
There is much research that shows the links between exercise and enhanced mental health. Exercise has been found to help decrease symptoms of depression, anxiety, bi-polar, schizophrenia, and trauma. In addition, performing exercise helps us create a more positive thought structure about ourselves, our abilities, and our strength to care for ourselves. This translates into a concept called Mastery.
Mastery is important because it helps us build a healthy self-esteem – or how we see ourselves in the world and as worthy of love and belonging. Love and belonging matter because as humans we are hard wired to need other humans. We build our brains off each other, our somatic system picks up on the connection we have with other humans (and animals) and we regulate each other – for better or worse.
By participating in regular exercise you are building the systems of the body, mind, and spirit that enhance the human existence, thus creating a more positive disposition and coping in everyday life. (Just so you know … you still have free choice, choosing to participate in activities or with groups that hurt you in some way. Will not make your life better just because you are moving. Make sure you choose wisely when choosing who you surround yourself with and how you balance your workouts to meet your individual needs).
Have you ever thought about your emotions as chemical reactions in your body? For many they feel emotions come out of nowhere or are stupid and confusing, but in reality emotions are a source of intelligence and create chemical trails within your body. As a result, emotions shift your physical system and impact physical health structures.
As a source of intelligence emotions give us information. They are a quicker and often more true source of information than our thinking mind. Those who are both emotionally intelligent and intellectually intelligent come out as the winners in our society. They can discern and utilize information along side reading social cues. This allows them to engage people in their goals and methods as well as make on the spot corrections to their language, presentation focus, and examples. Many studies show that those who invoke emotion during a presentation are viewed more favorably by the audience. Thus their information and call to action may be better remembered and given more importance than those who only present data and reason.
Every emotion you have creates a chemical – electrical pattern within the body. This chemical electrical pattern is read by your endocrine system. The endocrine system then determines what hormones to move into the system and at what level to keep homeostasis going. Your body is always working to balance you. In contrast, hormones determine what you focus on. Let’s use sex hormones as our examples to help outline how our chemical nature determines our ability to engage with our environment. Before, I get feed back that this is too stereotypical, please remember that we all have differing levels of both testosterone, estrogen and progesterone – male or female, and that having a balanced endocrine system can help decrease many of the mental health issues we experience. For example, Olsson, Kopsida, Sorjonen, and Savic report:
“In sum, our results showed that females treated with testosterone, compared with the placebo, displayed an enhanced tendency to rate low-dominant faces as dominant, and this hampered the ability to accurately attribute mental states to others. In contrast, estrogen administered to males did not affect social–cognitive performance but affected vicarious emotional reactivity”. (p. 520, 2016)
The presence of more or less testosterone has been shown to help us focus on particular emotional states and ignore others. Emotions considered to be low on status help (disgust and sadness) can be more difficult for those with higher testosterone levels to discern, especially at lower levels of intensity (Rukavina et. al, 2018). This may be helpful for those who have high levels of fear and anxiety, as testosterone supplementation can help reduce the responsiveness to these emotional states. However, one must be careful as too much can lead to higher levels of aggression and stress on the cardiovascular system. Remember the “Type A” syndrome of men who have coronary problems midlife? The reactivity in their endocrine system around anger and aggression created stress on their cardic systems.
In addition, Toffoletto et al. state,
“Ovarian hormones are pivotal for the physiological maintenance of the brain function as well as its response to environmental stimuli. There is mounting evidence attesting the relevance of endogenous ovarian hormones as well as exogenous estradiol and progesterone for emotional and cognitive processing” (p. 28, 2014).
In a meta-analysis of over 30 studies looking at fluctuations in female hormones, brain activation, and emotional and cognitive processing they showed how differing levels of endogenous hormones impacted focal points and reactions to social and cognitive stimuli.
We like to think … we just think, but in reality everything we are is a chemical – electrical pattern inter-woven into our core being. It is both a physical and a cognitive process. Last week we looked closely at our thoughtsand saw that what we think influences how we feel (physically and mentally). This week we flip to recognize that how we feel influences how we think. And how we feel is moderated by what is going on around us and inside of us. It is so important to care for your body. By looking at our differing sex hormones we see that we may over or under react to external factors based on levels of hormones in our physical system. We didn’t decide to focus more on one or the other, it is what our body mandated. As a result, we can shift how our bodies are operating by caring well for ourselves on a physical and mental level.
We need to pay attention to things like good foods – we need the nutrientsto make the neurotransmitters and hormones we need to calm our nervous systems and help our brain activate areas needed for particular focus.
We need daily movementas it helps us metabolize stress hormones effectively and helps us make the feel good states our endorphins and endocannaboids can provide. We are calm and alert, but not overly focused or hyper vigilant – neither are helpful for intelligence states, learning, relationship, or creativity.
We need positive sleep and enough of it. Sleep helps our system reset and restore. Without it we are shortening our telomeres and shortening our lives. Sleep helps make sure our physical structure has what it needs, and as we saw above we need our physical structures to operate well for us to modulate where our attention goes.
We need solid, strong, and positive relationships. By cultivating good social relationships we activate our interpersonal dependance system which helps us regulate well, builds our brains, and helps maintain our grounding in present moment situations. It helps us to check-in and check ourselves when one of the above self-regulators is off.
So today, stop thinking about your emotions as random things that happen to you and take control of this powerful system by feeding yourself well (good self-regulation about all you allow into your system and your environment) and activating the ability to gather the intelligence your emotions give you through your chemical – electrical system. Then use that intelligence to act on those influences doing just what is needed in this moment, based on the moment you are in, not the one you wish you were.
Once you get the information and act upon it, emotions dissipate and you do not have to carry them forward as evidence of past experiences. They are just informational pieces to be used right now, help you survive your experiences, and connect deeply to what is around you. They are not the enemy, they are just information. Use them wisely.
Rukavina, S., Sachsenweger, F., Jerg-Bretzke, L., Daucher, A., Traue, H., Walter, S., & Hoffmann, H. (2018). Abstract: Testosterone and its influence on emotion recognition in young, healthy males. Psychology,09(07), 1814-1827. doi:10.4236/psych.2018.97106
Toffoletto, S., Lanzenberger, R., Gingnell, M., Sundström-Poromaa, I., & Comasco, E. (2014). Emotional and cognitive functional imaging of estrogen and progesterone effects in the female human brain: A systematic review. Psychoneuroendocrinology,50, 28-52. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.07.025