Tips for Dealing With Holiday Stress

During the holiday season, many of us struggle to complete an extensive list of tasks in what often feels like very little time.   We run rampant decorating our homes, attending social gatherings, shopping for loved ones, volunteering, traveling or cooking.  These activities are often added to our already busy schedules, which can make us feel overwhelmed.

Contrary to what we may think, these activities which should make us feel happy can actually increase our stress levels.

Although there are various factors such as unrealistic expectations or financial strain that contribute to holiday stress, finding ways to avoid stressors or minimize their effects is very important. If stress is not managed well, it can have a significantly negative impact on our health.

Here are five tips to help you cope with holiday stress and maintain your  mental health:

  1. Set realistic goals– Unrealistic goals often equal added pressure and expectations that cannot be met. If these goals are not met, they can lead to negative feelings such as inadequacy or hopelessness.
  2. Know when to take a moment for yourself (Take a break) – We are often pulled in multiple directions during this time of the year. Know when to take a breather to decompress and clear your mind.
  3. Communicate- The added pressures of the holidays are clearly overwhelming and one of the ways that people sometimes deal with this is to isolate themselves. This is not recommended; instead, reach out to loved ones or a trained mental health professional to communicate how you feel.
  4. Do not neglect healthy habits– Taking good care of your health can help combat holiday stress. Moderating your food intake, fitting in a few minutes of exercise and getting adequate amounts of sleep can be profoundly beneficial for your health.   Additionally, maintaining a healthy daily routine can help take your mind off holiday demands.
  5. Ask for help- We live in a time where multitasking has become the norm but if you begin to feel overwhelmed, ask for help. Soliciting the help of friends or family can alleviate some of the holiday pressure. The holidays can also trigger depression; if you are experiencing symptoms of depression ask for help from loved ones or seek the assistance of a mental health professional.

The holiday season can be overwhelming; however, by applying these helpful tips you can take the steps needed to minimize stress and make this time of year more enjoyable.  If you find that you continue to experience elevated levels of stress or symptoms of depression, it is recommended that you seek the help of mental health professional immediately.

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All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

When a person is recognized as having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, they demonstrate unreasonable thoughts and fears that make them perform repetitive and ritualized behaviors.  A person with OCD feels obliged to perform these actions as a way to reduce their stress and anxiety. They will feel that by not giving in to these impulses will cause something bad to happen, which can raise their stress and anxiety.
Traits of Obsessive Compulsive Disorders fall into themes:
• Washers  – have a fear of germs makes them wash their hands  over and over
• Checkers – will check to make sure a door is locked more than once
• Doubters and sinners – fearful that harm will occur to someone if everything isn’t done correctly
• Counters and arrangers – everything has to be in a certain order or something will go wrong
• Hoarders – hold on to everything so that nothing bad will occur
There are three main theories as to what causes obsessive compulsive disorder:
• Biology – caused by changes in the body’s chemical make-up or the way the brain functions.
• Environment – causes a person to respond to a triggering event that leads to the obsessive compulsive behavior.
• Genetics – may contribute to a person’s susceptibility to OCD and also a certain level of stress in a person’s life may be a factor.
What should a person do if they feel they may have obsessive compulsive disorder? The first step is to identify what traits they feel they are exhibiting that may be out of the ordinary. Consulting with a primary care physician about symptoms is a good place to begin. They may recommend seeing a mental health professional who can determine the degree of OCD and recommend psychotherapy and possibly medication to control the symptoms.  You can schedule an appointment with a mental health professional at Flushing Hospital Medical Center by calling 718-670-5562

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Protect Your Skin Naturally

Wearing sunscreen isn’t the only way to ensure UV protection. During the dog days of summer when the sun is at its hottest try these three delicious fresh fruits and vegetables that naturally offer UV protection.

ThinkstockPhotos-493175897 (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • . Citrus fruit – Bring some fresh lemonade to the beach! Lemons, oranges and limes all contain limonene, which studies have shown to reduce skin cancer risk by 34 percent.
  • Carrots and Red peppers – Snack on some crudité by the pool! Red, yellow and orange vegetables provide carotenoids that help to reduce sunburn intensity.
  • .  Spinach – Take a smoothie to the ball park! Leafy greens, like dark green lettuce, spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are great sources of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin that studies how halt abnormal cell growth prompted by UV light.

Remember that these fruits and vegetables are not a substitute for wearing sunscreen and protective clothing when outside in the sun, but they may give you an extra line of defense in saving your skin down the line.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

What You Need to Know About Body Dysmorphic Disorder

A person stands in front of the mirror and glances at their reflection; they perceive their image to be severely unattractive or obese.  They become obsessed with a particular body part and deem it to be an extreme defect that alters their appearance. While this is their perception, in reality no one else sees these physical characteristics.

There is a possibility that this person may be suffering from a chronic body-image disorder known as body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), which is a compulsive obsession with an imagined or exaggerated physical trait that often no one else can see.

BDD is known to occur in both men and women and usually begins during teenage years or early adulthood.  Factors that may contribute to the development of BDD are

  • Low self-esteem
  • Traumatic events
  • Genetics
  • The influence of others who are critical of the person’s physical appearance

Characteristics of the disorder may include an obsession with skin imperfections such as scars or wrinkles, facial features (it is very common for those afflicted with BDD to be obsessed with size of the nose), body weight and hair. There are several behaviors that are identifiable with BDD, they are:

  • Constantly looking in the mirror and trying to cover up the perceived defect
  • Asking for reassurance that the defect is not obvious
  • Isolation from people due to the belief that imperfections will be noticed
  • Becoming increasingly self-conscious
  • Avoiding mirrors
  • Excessive grooming in an effort to cover up a flaw
  • Frequently consulting plastic surgeons or undergoing cosmetic procedures
  • Developing other psychological disorders such as eating and anxiety disorders

If someone you know is exhibiting these behaviors, it is recommended that they seek help immediately as this disorder can lead to self-harm. Once diagnosed with BDD, treatment will usually include a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy, group or family therapy and medication. For more information about body dysmorphic disorders or treatment please contact Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Department of Psychiatry at 718-670-4416.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Slow Changes Can Lead to Wellness

Rear view of young hiking couple walking through field

When looking for a routine that can bring wellness to your entire being, you don’t have to climb a mountain in Tibet or strip away all food you love. Experts say that the best way to bring a wellness routine into your life is through a series of small changes that will gradually make a difference.

Changes such as:
◾Meditation – Take a moment in the morning to meditate. It will set the tone for the day and clear your head to prepare for what the day may bring.
◾Music – Play calming music. The body’s internal rhythms sync with the rhythms of music. By focusing on the music and its melody, you will start to feel your breathing and heart rate begin to slow down, bringing you to a much calmer place
◾Plan a trip – According to research, happiness spikes when planning a trip.
ut down your smartphone – When the impulse to pick up your phone comes, and you resist it, you may feel a wave of anxiety. Don’t panic! Breath through the anxiety and you will see that there is calm that will follow.
◾Breathe deeply – Sit in a comfortable place, breathe naturally and settle your attention on your breath. With each inhale and exhale, mentally repeat the words “in” and “out.” Even if you mind wanders, don’t get distracted; just bring your attention back to your breathing.
◾Don’t check your email when you first wake up – When you wake, sit silently and allow your mind to wander. Take 10 minutes to just center yourself before you start your day.
◾Walk – Use part of your lunch break to take a walk. This activity will aid with digestion, keep you active and relieve stress.

No one likes change and it rarely comes easy. That’s why slowly incorporating small steps toward your goals overtime can lead to huge changes in the long run.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Memory Loss

Some degree of memory loss is common as people get older. It is not uncommon to forget momentarily where you left your car keys, your eyeglasses or the name of someone you know.  It is when these occurrences become more frequent that it may indicate a serious problem. Severe memory loss may be related to dementia which indicates that there are problems with reasoning, judgment, and progressively worsening memory. These symptoms may eventually inhibit a person’s ability to work and function independently.
There can be many causes of memory loss. These include:
• Alcohol, tobacco and drug use
• Vitamin B-12 deficiency
• Sleep deprivation
• Depression and stress
• Medications some examples being antidepressants, antihistamines, anti-anxiety, tranquilizers, sleeping pills pain medication
• Head injury
• Stroke
• HIV
• Syphilis
The treatment for memory loss will depend on what is causing it. If it is due to taking certain medications than alternative treatment may be the way to treat a condition.  The first step in diagnosing the cause of memory loss will be a general physical exam by a physician that will include questions and the ability to answer them appropriately.  If you think that you are experiencing memory loss and would like to schedule an appointment with a physician at Flushing Hospital, please call 718-670-5486.

Talking with Grandma

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Power of Positive Thinking

positivethinking

According to the Mayo Clinic, positive thinking helps with stress management and can even improve your health.

Try these morning affirmations and get your day started right:

  • Today, I will think pure and positive thoughts
  • Today, I release the past and move into the present
  • Today, I choose to have joy
  • Today, I choose peace
  • Today, I realize that I am worthy of good things
  • Today, I begin to make healthy choices for my body, mind and soul
  • Today, I claim that the healthier I live my life, the better my life will be
  • Today, I like who I am

 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

What Are the Keys to Successful Aging?

Understanding Physical and Mental Health: Depression
Ira Frankel, PhD, LCSW, Administrator of Psychiatry and Addiction Services

“Just as long as we have our health,” is something that I’ve said and have heard others say very frequently in the past few months. And, by health, we mean both physical and mental health.

Portrait of a senior man in a tuxedo showing the thumbs up

In a very basic way, health can be thought of as the absence of disease. A reason that our doctors ask us how we’re feeling when we go to see him or her is because he or she wants to know about our comfort or our absence of pain or trouble. Each one of us knows best what our physical or mental pain or trouble consists of because we feel it directly.

Another way to think of the issue of health is to describe the path to achieve it over the long course of our lives. Studies1 have shown that a path to health is achieved with a behavioral prescription for successful aging that includes diet, exercise, the pursuit of mental challenges, self-efficacy, and social support. The more we are able to follow this behavioral prescription, the more we will be free from physical or mental pain or trouble.

Let’s look at this a little more closely. Most of us already know that if we maintain a healthy diet and exercise frequently, then we will tend to be healthier. In fact, exercise is now considered a “magic bullet” in modern medicine. But, maintaining a good diet and exercising frequently is a mental challenge of self-mastery. And, most of us know how difficult it is to master ourselves to maintain both activities. There are many other mental challenges. For example, each one of us is a mental challenge to other people. In fact, getting along with others is one of the most difficult mental challenges that we will ever have to face.

The fourth successful aging ingredient is self-efficacy. Those of us who believe that we can achieve a particular goal, for example, health and longevity, will continue to do the things, such as diet, exercise, and the pursuit of mental challenges, which will help us achieve the goal. We can build up self-efficacy by taking small, rather than giant steps, towards diet, exercise, and the pursuit of mental challenges

The final successful aging ingredient is social support. If we help each other take the steps described in the previous paragraphs, then each one of us will be more likely to feel at ease, that is, without disease, successfully age, and live longer.

Self-mastery is necessary for both physical and mental health. The behavioral prescription for successful aging in the previous paragraphs are just a general outline of self-mastery steps. Self-mastery is a mental challenge.

Many things get in the way of self-mastery. One of these things is depression. If we are depressed, then we have a hard time maintaining a good diet, exercising as we should, thinking well about self-mastery, feeling self-efficacy, or being with and getting along with other people. There is a fairly simple way to ask ourselves whether we are depressed. It is called the PHQ-2, which stands for the Patient Health Questionnaire-2 because it has two questions.

Ask yourself: Over the past 2 weeks, how often have you been bothered by any of the following symptoms: 1) Little interest or pleasure in doing things; and, 2) Feeling down, depressed, or hopeless. Answers are either (0) not at all, (1) several days, (2) more than half the days, or (3) nearly every day. Bring your answers to your primary care doctor the next time you see him or her.

Taking the self-mastery steps towards successful aging and longevity is a main task of modern medicine. Taking the self-mastery steps is a very important mental challenge. If you are experiencing any difficulties taking these steps, such as depression or any other difficulty on your path to ease and comfort, then speak with your primary care doctor in the community or one at Flushing Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center at 718-670-8939

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Small Changes = Big Benefits

Seniors exercising with dumbbells in a health club

When looking for a routine that can bring wellness to your entire being, you don’t have to climb a mountain in Tibet or strip away all food you love.  Experts say that the best way to bring a wellness routine into your life is through a series of small changes that will gradually make a difference.

Changes such as:

  • Meditation – Take a moment in the morning to meditate.  It will set the tone for the day and clear your head to prepare for what the day may bring.
  • Music – Play calming music.  The body’s internal rhythms sync with the rhythms of music. By focusing on the music and its melody, you will start to feel your breathing and heart rate begin to slow down, bringing you to a much calmer place
  • Plan a trip – According to research, happiness spikes when planning a trip.
  • Put down your smartphone – When the impulse to pick up your phone comes, and you resist it, you may feel a wave of anxiety.  Don’t panic! Breath through the anxiety and you will see that there is calm that will follow.
  • Breathe deeply – Sit in a comfortable place, breathe naturally and settle your attention on your breath.  With each inhale and exhale, mentally repeat the words “in” and “out.”  Even if you mind wanders, don’t get distracted; just bring your attention back to your breathing.
  • Don’t check your email when you first wake up – When you wake, sit silently and allow your mind to wander. Take 10 minutes to just center yourself before you start your day.
  • Walk – Use part of your lunch break to take a walk.  This activity will aid with digestion, keep you active and relieve stress.

No one likes change and it rarely comes easy.  That’s why slowly incorporating small steps toward your goals overtime can lead to huge changes in the long run.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Flushing Hospital Supports World Suicide Prevention Day

Suicide affects millions; over 800,000 people take their lives each year, and the number of people who attempt suicide is twenty five times that amount. In addition to the lives lost, suicide also affects the many friends and family members devastated by the loss of their loved one.

Suicide is largely preventable though. Through education and awareness, we can get those people who are contemplating suicide the help they need.

Educational and Creative composition with the message Stop Suicide

One of the best tools in preventing suicide is to know the risk factors. Over 90% of people who attempt suicide live with depression or another mental disorder. Alcohol or substance abuse is often a contributing factor. Adverse reactions to traumatic events or stress can also lead to someone wanting to take their own life.

Other risk factors for suicide include:
• Family history of mental disorder or substance abuse
• Family history of suicide
• Family violence
• Physical or sexual abuse
• Keeping firearms in the home
• Chronic physical illness, including chronic pain
• Exposure to the suicidal behavior of others

Someone who is considering suicide usually displays certain behaviors. Loved ones should look for the following warning signs:

Always talking or thinking about death
Trouble sleeping and eating — that gets worse over time
Displaying reckless behavior that could result in death, such as driving fast or running red lights
Losing interest in things one used to care about
Making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
Talking about suicide or killing one’s self
Visiting or calling people to say goodbye

If someone you know appears to be contemplating suicide, take the issue seriously. Let the person know that you care and understand and are listening and attempt to get them immediate help from a health care professional.

If your loved one appears to be in imminent danger of committing suicide, do not leave him or her alone. Remove any weapons or drugs he or she could use. Accompany him or her to the nearest emergency room or call 911.

September 10 has been designated World Suicide Prevention Day. Many organizations from around the world have joined this cause. Flushing Hospital’s supports their efforts and the hospital’s Department of Psychiatry offers many inpatient and outpatient services to help those in need.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.