What is Sodium?
We usually refer to “sodium” and “salt” interchangeably, but we shouldn’t. Sodium is merely a component of salt.
Salt is composed of 40% sodium and 60% chloride. So, one teaspoon of salt (5,000 mg) provides about 2,300 mg of sodium.
Nearly 95% of the salt we ingest is absorbed in the GI tract.
Salt is located on the ground in dry salt beds, in the oceans, in underground springs, and in rocks.
Once we get it, we use salt for flavor, as a preservative, and to prevent unintended hip flexor stretches on icy driveways.
In the 1920s, scientists noticed that adding iodine to salt could prevent iodine deficiency. Both iodized and plain salt are available today.
Salt draws water out of food, eliminating the moisture needed for bacteria to thrive. This makes it a useful food preservative, a practice that has been recorded as far back as 2000 B.C.
Why is sodium so important?
If we don’t get a minimal amount of sodium, we die. Thus, it’s essential to obtain sodium from the diet. (Luckily a deficiency of sodium is not common.)
Once we consume sodium, the body also needs to regulate it tightly — again, if this is out of balance, we die.
Sodium and chloride are the main ions found in fluids outside of cells, including blood plasma.
When dissolved in fluids, sodium possesses a mild electrical charge (making it an electrolyte). The difference between ion concentrations across cell membranes creates a membrane potential, which is necessary for nerve impulse transmission, muscle contraction and cardiac function.
Sodium is also required for fluid regulation, nutrient transport, blood pressure regulation, and expansion of blood volume that accompanies tissue growth.
Sodium and the modern diet
Some speculate that excess sodium in an industrialized Western diet accounts for a proportion of high blood pressure levels, strokes and heart attacks.
Despite this health risk, many foods with salt are continually produced since the revenue of beverage, food and salt companies is dependent upon salt consumption. This trend currently shows no sign of declining. In the year 2000, salt intake in the U.S. was remarkably higher than in the 1970s.
The average North American now consumes about 3,400 mg of sodium per day. Experts recommend that we consume less than 2,300 mg per day, and less than 1,500 if we’re in a higher-risk group (which the majority of Americans are).
We can survive on just 500 mg per day.
How sodium (Na) and the intake of other minerals, has changed with a modern diet
A daily food intake composed of 2/3 plant foods (unprocessed) and 1/3 animal foods (unprocessed) provides about 600 mg of sodium (when no other salt is added). A 100% plant-based diet generally provides closer to 300 mg of sodium.
It’s nearly impossible to consume more than 1200 mg of sodium per day from unprocessed foods.
The Denny’s Meat Lover’s Scramble consists of:
2 eggs with chopped bacon, diced ham, crumbled sausage and cheese
2 bacon strips
2 sausage links
= 5,690 mg of sodium (379% of the advised daily limit)
Thus most sodium in our diets now comes from processed foods, not the salt shaker .
Compare the foods below: tomatoes vs tomato ketchup; sunflower seeds vs vegetable oil-based margarine.
Our body’s reaction to sodium
When we consume excess sodium, blood pressure increases in an effort to rid the body of excess sodium and fluid. The kidneys filter out the sodium we don’t need and we excrete it in urine.
When the kidneys aren’t functioning optimally, we accumulate sodium and fluid. This means swelling.
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
If we consistently consume lots of salt-laden food, blood pressure stays elevated. This means the heart and vessels must work harder. Extra pressure can weaken vessels and cause vessel injury, leading to atherosclerosis and kidney disease.
Reducing sodium intake to less than 2,400 mg per day can decrease blood pressure by up to 8 points. If plenty of mineral-rich plant foods are consumed as well, this might reduce pressure nearly 14 points more.
For someone who’s already been diagnosed with hypertension at 155/105, the 8 to 14 point deduction won’t make a huge difference. However, for a pre-hypertensive person (say, 130/80), a 14-point drop can move someone from “risky” to “pretty good”.
When you factor in regular exercise, a lean body, and minimal alcohol – blood pressure can drop by up to 47 points!
Can we really say salt is to blame for the countless cases of high blood pressure? I don’t know.
High blood pressure may instead be secondary to processed food intake (which have lots of salt), obesity, no exercise, high alcohol intake, low veggie/fruit intake, etc. Some experts theorize that refined carbohydrates play a major role in high blood pressure.
When we consume more plant foods with potassium, sodium excretion via the urine may increase. This may be the main reason behind a nutrient-rich diet regulating blood pressure, preserving bones and preventing kidney stones. And speaking of bone preservation, consuming excess sodium increases calcium loss in the urine.
What you should know about sodium
SODIUM INTAKE AS A SURVIVAL MECHANISM
In animals that are herbivores, the desire for sodium increases in the spring and summer. Why? Because plants consumed in the warmer months are high in potassium and water, driving sodium consumption.
Only herbivores crave salt, while carnivores ignore it. This seems to be an important survival mechanism since herbivorous diets lack sodium and carnivorous diets contain ample amounts from flesh and body fluids.
SODIUM AND OBESITY
Sodium intake might contribute to obesity, either indirectly or directly via the consumption of processed foods and sweetened, carbonated drinks .
Per capita use of salt increased 55% from 1983 to 1998. Per capita use of sweetened, carbonated soft drinks during the same period increased 45%.
Just a small increase in serum sodium levels can trigger thirst.
A daily excess sodium intake of 3266 mg must be accompanied by a 1 liter increase in water intake to maintain normal sodium concentrations. Ever been really thirsty after Thanksgiving dinner or the Hanukkah buffet? Me too.
Under normal North American circumstances, sweating accounts for about a 58 mg sodium loss each day. If you factor in urine losses, tack on another 180 mg.
If you sweat more than typical North American, you probably lose more sodium. The amount depends on diet, hydration status, and heat acclimatization. Active individuals can lose 800 mg or more of sodium per liter of sweat, making replacement vital.
Without replacement, low blood sodium levels can result. This means cramps, confusion, nausea and disorientation – kind of like a booze bender.
Summary and recommendations
If you consume unprocessed/whole foods, you won’t get sodium levels anywhere near the danger zone.
The people over-consuming sodium are eating processed foods, like microwave meals, canned foods, restaurant food, snack foods, processed meats, dairy, deli meats, frozen meats, cottage cheese and yogurt. If you eat a diet based on processed foods, you’ll probably have high blood pressure and high body fat.
If you eat a diet based on unprocessed and whole foods, sprinkling some salt on your veggies or rice for flavor is fine. Lean and healthy can easily regulate slight increases in salt.
In fact, if you eat a very unprocessed diet and stay physically active, you’ll want to drink electrolyte-rich fluids before, during and after workouts.
For extra credit
Consuming food with lots of salt is linked to stomach cancer, GERD and ulcers.
Early taste experiences with salt can influence lifelong preferences for certain foods.
In July 2009, the Center for Science in the Public Interest sued Denny’s over “dangerously high levels of sodium in its meals.”
Sea salt is produced by evaporation of sea water.
Some people may inherit a “sodium sensitivity.”
Roman soldiers received a salt ration as part of their pay, known as “salarium argentum,” from which the English word for “salary” was derived.
Salt is the muscle behind flour in bread. Salt strengthens gluten in the dough, allowing it to expand. Salt free breads tend to be more compact and dense.
“Take it with a grain of salt” is a well-known phrase that conveys the thought to not take something too seriously.
In those with cystic fibrosis, sodium content of sweat is high.
The ancient Chinese built the first salt empire.
In 1930, Gandhi led a 240 mile march to the sea to make salt, defying a British ban.
Activation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system kicks in with a consistent low sodium intake (less than 200 mg/day) and increases the retention of sodium and water. 1200 mg of sodium per day suppresses this system.
Dried seaweeds such as kelp and dulse can be used as salt substitutes. They’re also high in beneficial minerals.
Chasing the Dragon (Part 2)
Addiction is a brain disease. Many people have difficulty separating the person from the disease. We cannot see inside our loved one’s brain to see that there is something wrong. Instead, what we see are the behaviors that develop over time which support the addiction. These behaviors are what cause relationship issues within a family. Personality change, irresponsible decision making, secrecy, not coming home on time, missing important events, absenteeism, and job loss and emotional instability are a few of the observable signs that the addiction is present. The addicted individual becomes unable to respond to his environment in a healthy, adaptive manner as the addiction takes over the brain.
Early use attacks the brain on a level that provides a feeling of extreme pleasure and satisfaction as it inserts itself into the reward centers of the brain. Many addicted will say that they had never felt better in their life. Because of their genetic and biological susceptibility, this euphoria is intense and consuming. Once it wears off, the desire to seek that feeling again leads to a repeat of the behavior. The problem is, they can never reach that place again. This is not always immediately evident and the individual will continue to try to reach that same level of pleasure, repeatedly. Eventually, with repeated use, the body “improves” its ability to detoxify the substance. This leads to higher and higher tolerance of the substance, meaning it takes more to get an effect. Eventually, the brain and the body believe that the substance is necessary to survival.
Our reward, or pleasure centers have a purpose in maintaining the survival of our species. The reward center is stimulated when we eat, drink, have sex, and participate in exercise. All of these behaviors are necessary to keep us alive and thriving. The reward center assures that we want to repeat these behaviors. However, the use of a substance like alcohol or opiates overtakes the reward system, delivering a more intense feeling of pleasure than the other natural materials like food and water. It therefore becomes the behavior to be repeated. This leads to the obsession to use and the compulsion to use.
While the chemical is overwhelming the pleasure center, it is also eliminating natural neurotransmitters which in turn eliminate receptors for those neurotransmitters. Hence, when the person tries to stop, they become extremely uncomfortable, sad, depressed and unmotivated. There is no reward for not using the substance.
person we care about becomes consumed by the addiction. They no longer seem to
be the caring, responsible person they once were. They resort to behaviors that
we do not expect from them, as they become even more focused on chasing the
dragon that they can never catch again.
I am a poet, teaching artist, and a full-time creative who inspires the, individuals of tomorrow, today. But what does that even mean?
In a nutshell I use my stories, along with poetry, as a catalyst to get students to unpack stressors that they have been harboring or have bottled up.
I speak at assemblies (Grades 5-12) and perform at universities and colleges all across the country. I workshop with people by helping them, through the use of creative writing, to bring their experiences to light by enabling them to develop something tangible and concrete.
Something they can feel, see, and hold.
I grew up in a home where substance abuse and domestic violence were common, while struggling with my diagnoses of bipolar, anxiety, and depression.
Juggling all of these issues caused feelings of displacement and when you add being a person of color on top of this trauma, the best way to describe how I felt was…full.
I always carried a feeling of being under attack, while simultaneously pretending that none of it was affecting me, ultimately refusing to bring it all to light.
Until spoken word became my outlet, a life preserver, and a catalyst for more than I could ever imagine.
When you are growing up black and lower class, you are made to feel as if you don’t matter. But maybe that is the issue.
Maybe that is why mental health is such an issue in our community and with individuals of color in general?
Because we are constantly facing issues (both systematic and concrete) and are taught that we have more important battles to fight.
But how can we fight the larger issues if we aren’t taking care of our strongest weapons - our minds?
I published my first book, “Adrift in a Sea of M&Ms,” to help individuals battling with mental wellness, and the stressors that come along with being a person of color in America.
I did this because I wanted to help young people who grew up feeling the same way that I did, show them that they are not alone, and encourage them to vocalize their experiences.
To celebrate who they are, inside and out, not only during the month of July during Minority Mental Health Month, but to cherish themselves year-round, ignoring the “Standards” and “Norms” society tries to use as a foundation, which are often constructed without them in mind.
Marcel "Fable the Poet" Price is a bi-racial North American writer, teacher, community activist, performer, motivational speaker, and is the second-place winner of: "The 2016 Missouri Review Audio Poetry Contest. http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/blog/power-spoken-word
Fable the Poet is a nationally touring artist highly noted for his work with youth; spreading mental health awareness using his own stories to consume the audience, and spread a much needed message: "At times, we all feel fragile. We are all paper boats entertaining the waves of life."
He is an official partner of Mental Health America, and has sat on panels across the country discussing the importance of mental health awareness with our youth. He is known across the nation for crowd-interactive features that leave those attending enlightened and empowered.
To learn more about Fable the Poet and his work check out the following video https://youtu.be/ROS6vGEEhl4
The Echo Center community members donated the $420 in
proceeds from their May car wash fundraiser to the Keystone Adolescent Center,
whose facility near Greenville, Pa., was destroyed by fire in May.
The Echo Center, a part of Community Counseling Center, provides opportunities for social rehabilitation for its members. They hold their monthly fundraising car wash and bake sale April through October on the third weekend of each month. Proceeds normally go to help fund programs at the Center itself. Upon hearing about the complete loss of the school building, living spaces, and all the boys’ possessions in the Keystone fire May 17, members of the Echo Center decided to contribute to the larger community by helping meet some of the boys’ needs.
Students from the Keystone Adolescent Center have been relocated to another location while the organization seeks to rebuild the facility.
As part of their programming, the Echo Center focuses on developing social interactions through healthy activities like the car washes and bake sales, friendly sports, pool, games, and other gatherings in their recreation and TV rooms, and through monthly community meetings. They also have a movie night every other Friday evening. They have just completed their spring art show, and will have a craft fair in the fall. Lunches are provided for a nominal fee on Mondays and Thursdays to members participating in preparation and clean up, and are free on Wednesdays to those who attend the community meeting.
The Echo Center is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is also open on all holidays except Christmas and Easter. Car washes and bake sales take place on the third weekend of each month in the parking lot at 133 S. Irvine Ave. in Sharon.
Anyone interested in the Echo Center’s programs can contact Janet Martell at (724) 981-1166 or Community Counseling Center at 724-981-7141.�em
July has been designated Purposeful Parenting month by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Human Services. It’s a time when kids are home for summer vacation, which creates the opportunity for more parent-child interaction.
Why the term purposeful parenting ? “It embodies a specific set of goals and objectives for the child,” According Dr. Mary Ann Franco, a licensed marriage and family therapist at Argosy University . The most outstanding benefit of purposeful parenting would be that you will attain your hopes, wishes and desires for your child in a very conscious, deliberate and intentional manner.”
Mary Ellen Renna, MD, FAAP, a board-certified pediatrician, spokesperson, mother and author of the book 10 Steps to Almost Perfect Parenting outlines a series of six no-nonsense, everyday techniques involved in purposeful parenting.
In my research I found an inspiring comment from Wiley Wakeman, a life coach and blogger at Genuine Parenting : “I believe a key component of executing purposeful parenting is being in tune with what you value and believe in. From there you can make more space to be present with your child as you are purposefully parenting. It’s about being able to engage with them in a way that you didn’t in the past. You get on their level and get interested in whatever they are doing at the time, while bringing your true self to the table. No cell phones, no talking with friends, no interruptions and instead you are fully there whether it is for 5 minutes or 5 hours. Just take the moment to form your connection with your child and then you will have time to tap into all that other stuff when you have shown as much interest in your child as you have in all these other things.”
Wakeman went on to say, “within weeks, my daughter’s behavior has shifted, as has mine. I find it fascinating, wonderful and beautiful.”
For more information go online and search the term “Purposeful Parenting.”
To all of you who touch the lives of children, and to the children whose lives are touched, may you enjoy a fun and enjoyable second half of your summer together.
CORY BYKNISH | Herald file Members of the Youngstown Fine Arts Brass group perform last summer at a Brown Bag Lunch concert at Columbia Theatre Park in downtown Sharon. The musicians are scheduled to return June 28.
SHARON – The Arts Commission of the City of Sharon announces the lineup for its summer Brown Bag Lunch Concert series from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesdays in Columbia Theatre Park, Sharon.
These artists are scheduled:
• May 31 – Carolyn Longo performing pop/rock.
• June 7 – Edelweiss performing light classical.
• June 14 – County Mayo performing Irish folk.
• June 21 – Dylan Fest with Kristi Blue performing blues/rock/folk.
• June 28 – The Youngstown Fine Arts Brass performing light classical/pop.
• July 5 – Steve Vuich performing classic rock/Americana.
• July 12 – Maureen Murray performing contemporary hits.
• July 19 – Max Schang performing blues.
• July 26 – North Side Jazz.
• Aug. 2 – Orkestra Braca performing tamburitza.
• Aug. 9 – Trontel Jake Review performing polka.
• Aug. 16 – Rock Jazz Trio.
• Aug. 23 – Terry Dach performing roots/rock/folk.
• Aug. 30 – James Willaman performing modern/classic rock.
In case of bad weather performances will be held at Cravings Cafe & Creamery, 76 Shenango Ave., Sharon.
Since the myth of the stress-free life has been shattered for most of us, we are left with managing our stress. Even “good stress,” or positive life events, add to the overall stress load a person carries. Using self-care to offset stress not only involves getting enough sleep and good nutrition; at its best, it universally involves looking for some level of fun and sources of joy.
Fostering resilience in the
face of stress, rather than trying for perfection or pretending stress doesn’t
have an impact, gives people more pleasant options for relief, as well as
healthier options. Even the definitions of resilience
suggest more than one attitude toward managing stress. One such definition emphasizes
strength in the face of adversity and the skills that people can learn to
foster that strength. Another definition of resilience
the ability to “spring back into shape” or “elasticity,” brings to mind
favorite children’s toys, like the hippity-hop, the trampoline, or, for today’s
adults, the modern Pilates ball. A well-rounded program of self-care should include
fostering habits of mind and body that contribute to strength under pressure and
encouraging play as a source of strength and refreshment.
The concept of the need for self-care
gained prominence as mental health professionals began focusing on the needs of
caregivers; however, everyone needs to consider their own self-care to allow
them to live fulfilling lives, manage their health, and contribute to their own
Self-care is not the same thing as self-pampering. Christine Meinecke points out in “ Self-care in a toxic world ” that “Medical and mental health professionals pioneered the concept of self-care by prescribing healthy lifestyle changes and stress management behaviors.” However, commercials and marketing practices often sell self-care as “self-pampering,” regardless of whether people can afford things like spa days and fancy chocolates, or not. Meinecke suggests that if you can’t afford such things, what is being suggested to you is self-indulgence rather than self-care. The key difference she outlines is that “Self-indulgence is characterized by avoidance of the effortful and substitution of quick and easy antidotes,” while self-care involves attention to needs and proven stress relief tactics. This doesn’t mean that the occasional self-indulgence is wrong, but regularly indulging in activities or purchases that are not readily affordable are more likely to increase long-term financial stress.The “quick-fix” isn’t worth that extra stress and is unlikely to have consistent, long-term positive benefits.
Identifying how stress feels in your body is of primary importance. In “ Taking care of yourself , ” the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) notes that “Stress affects your entire body, physically as well as mentally. Some common physical signs of stress include:
· Low energy [including sleeping more than usual]
· Upset stomach, including diarrhea, constipation and nausea
· Aches, pains, and tense muscles
In “ Managing stres s ” NAMI also highlights non-physical symptoms such as frequent mood swings, difficulty concentrating and feeling overwhelmed. NAMI also points out that “When experiencing long-term stress, your brain is exposed to increased levels of a hormone called cortisol. This exposure weakens your immune system, making it easier for you to get sick.”
Eliminating all stressors isn’t a realistic option for any of us, but paying attention to the way stress makes us feel gives us a starting point for recognizing when we need additional care or when to make use of acute stress management tactics, even if those symptoms occur after, rather than during, a stressful situation, or if they build up over time.Self-care plans have to be tailored to individual lives and needs. NAMI has a “ Self-Care Inventory ” with detailed basics and spaces for people to add their own details like playing with pets, enjoying pleasant spaces, or a prompt to go looking for something to enjoy this week. When under a lot of stress, the idea of taking on another checklist or list of expectations can be intimidating. Rather than using the inventory to criticize yourself or others, consider using it simply as a way to explore what you are currently doing, and ideas you might consider. Not all of the items on the list will work for each person, but they might produce ideas. The general areas of self-care on this inventory include physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, and workplace or professional self-care. Sketching out these basics to make sure there’s not a huge gap in self-care tactics, or using the inventory to track changes and results, are just two ways such a list can be useful. Using the inventory as a starting point for really examining specificactions that can help you be more resilient and more flexible regularly and under stress makes this a useful tool.
Recognizing the build-up of long term stressors by checking physical symptoms or running through a checklist can allow a person to review their self-care habits and see if they’ve started dropping helpful habits or if they need to investigate new ones. Cutting back on sleep or numbing out in front of a screen are some of the initial tactics people use when they want to escape stress, but both will actually increase physical stress responses.
In “ Seven types of self-care activities for coping with stress ,” Barbara Markway Ph.D. tops her list with sensory activities that bring a person into the present moment and space, including: breathe in fresh air; snuggle under a cozy blanket; listen to running water; sit outdoors by a fire-pit, watching the flames and listening to the night sounds; wiggle your bare feet in overgrown grass; stare up at the sky; lie down where the afternoon sun streams in a window; and listen to music. Her other categories of suggestions include pleasures like enjoying a favorite meal, mental/mastery activities like cleaning out a junk drawer or reading something on a topic you wouldn’t normally explore, spiritual activities like lighting a candle, writing in a journal, or spending time in nature, and emotional activities such as accepting your feelings, laughing when you can, and practicing self-compassion.Self-care habits need to be tailored to the individual. In “ 7 ways to help you destress ,” NAMI’s Laura Greenstein recognizes the scientifically proven benefits of meditation for many people, but admits that it just doesn’t help her much at all. Instead, she’s put together a list that includes the reasons these activities are beneficial and how to do them responsibly (particularly “retail therapy”). Making a music playlist is her first suggestion and she points to relatively new research in music therapy which indicates that music “has the ability to affect the speed of your brainwaves, which can help us achieve a therapeutic state.” As you might expect, her next suggestion is singing – in the car, in the shower, to the dog, alone, in a choir. “Research shows that singers have lower levels of cortisol, which suggests lower amounts of stress. It feels good to let something out and your voice, whether you know how to sing our [sic.] not, is something that you always have with you.” Coloring and calling your favorite funny friend are two of my other favorites from her list. Again, check out her article for full explanations and support for her suggestions.
In January 2017 Inc. magazine came out with “ 52 Ways You Can Be Kinder to Yourself , ” acknowledging the importance of finding healthy ways to manage stress and build resilience in our work lives as well as our personal lives. TED talks also put together a playlist of nine of their best talks on “ The importance of self-care ,” available for free on Youtube.
All of this attention to stress and to self-care as a remedy for stress emphasizes the importance of fostering resilience in our lives. Learning self-care tactics helps people manage stress, thereby reducing its traumatic effects. Instead of becoming more stressed, people can take action to become more flexible in their responses and thinking patterns. Stress can be managed, rather than just endured. This change in cognitive thinking leads to real resilience – both strength and elasticity – in our lives.The New Yorker’s 2016 article “ How people learn to become resilient ,” by Maria Konnikova, covers the history of research into resilience, beginning with the work ofNorman Garmezy with school children four decades ago. Garmezy’s breakthrough was to flip the question from asking about areas of vulnerability in cases of trauma and negative life events, to a focus on resilience -- the “elements of an individual’s background and personality that could enable success despite the challenges they faced.” Later research revealed that not only could the key factors of resiliency be identified, they could be learned.
Konnikova notes the research of George Bonanno at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College and the Loss, Trauma, and Emotions Lab, and sums up his results with this statement: “In a sense, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Frame adversity as a challenge, and you become more flexible and able to deal with it, move on, learn from it, and grow. Focus on it, frame it as a threat, and a potentially traumatic event becomes an enduring problem; you become more inflexible, and more likely to be negatively affected.” Skills identified by the research of Martin Segilman at the University of Pennsylvania suggest that working to shift:
explanatory styles from internal to external (“Bad events aren’t my fault”), from global to specific (“This is one narrow thing rather than a
massive indication that something is wrong with my
life”), and from permanent to impermanent (“I can change the situation, rather
assuming it’s fixed”) made them more psychologically successful and less prone to depression. The same goes for locus of control: not
internal locus tied to perceiving less stress and performing better but
changing your locus from external to internal
leads to positive changes in both psychological well-being and objective work performance.
Many people may recognize these shifts in thinking patterns as similar to those worked on in cognitive behavioral therapies, using Dr. David Burns’ list of cognitive distortions .
The key take away from Konnikova’s review of the research for most of us is that, “The cognitive skills that underpin resilience, then, seem like they can indeed be learned over time, creating resilience where there was none.” Reducing overall stress loads and increasing self-care allows people the energy and the time to make these cognitive changes and provides more immediate relief.
For suggestions on ways to reduce acute stress reactions, particularly at work, see Melanie Greenberg’s recent article “ 7 Stress Hacks You Can Use in the Next 5 Minutes ” for suggestions, including deep breathing, sitting or standing up straight, and looking at a nature seen for several minutes. Her additional tactics are all also great for immediate relief while a person works to develop a self-care plan with more individualized options for both long-term and acute situations.
MyStrength.com is a free online resource to track wellness and self-care, and can be used for both acute and long-term self-care, as well. After helping a person develop a wellness profile, it makes use of prompts, video resources, articles, and stress management tactics. As of May 1, 2017 MyStrength.com has also introduced a “robust” set of new stress management resources as well. If you are interested in using the free myStrength.com online self-help resource, please contact our office at 724-981-7141 to receive an access code. MyStrength is a nonprofit, privately owned business dedicated to making behavioral improvements.
You can learn more about Community Counseling Center of Mercer County at www.cccmer.org . We also invite you to connect with us on Facebook, or to contact us by calling (866) 853-7758 or 724-981-7141 for information or to schedule an evaluation if you’d like assistance in developing a self-care plan.
Burns, David, Dr. (1989) "The feeling good workbook" New York: William Morrow and Co.
Daskal, Lolly. (2017, January 30) 52 ways you can be kinder to yourself. .Inc Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/lolly-daskal/52-ways-you-can-be-kinder-to-yourself.html
Greenberg, Melanie Ph.D. (2017 April 24) “7 Stress hacks you can use in the next 5 minutes.” Psychology Today . Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201704/7-stress-hacks-you-can-use-in-t...
Greenstein, Laura. (2016, January 22). “7 Ways to help you de-stress.” National Alliance for Mental Illnes. Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/January-2016/7-Ways-to-Help-You-De-stress
Konnikova, Maria. (2016, February 11) “How people learn to become resilient.” The New Yorker . Retrieved from http://www.newyorker.com/science/maria-konnikova/the-secret-formula-for-resilience
Markway, Barbara Ph.D. (2014 March 16) “Seven Types of Self-Care Activities for Coping with Stress” Psychology Today . Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/shyness-is-nice/201403/seven-types-self-care-activities-coping-stress
Meinecke, Christine, Ph.D. (2010 June 5) “Self-care in a toxic world.” Psychology Today . Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/everybody-marries-the-wrong-person/201006/self-care-in-toxic-world
National Alliance for Mental Illness (n.d.) “Managing stress.” Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/Living-with-a-Mental-Health-Condition/Managing-Stress
National Alliance for Mental Illness (PDF) (n.d.) “Self-care inventory.” Retrieved from https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nami.org%2Fgetattachment%2FExtranet%2FEducation%2C-Training-and-Outreach-Programs%2FSignature-Classes%2FNAMI-Homefront%2FHF-Additional-Resources%2FHF15AR6SelfCare.pdf&usg=AFQjCNHj1E___o5OqIpmhYBnnH-gyc4GTw&sig2=XUfp3mGsKcSdGpXH6zwWQQ
TEDtalks (videos) “The importance of self-care.” Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/playlists/299/the_importance_of_self_care
Community Counseling Center celebrated its 60th "Diamond" Anniversary Gala on Thursday, May 18 at the Avalon Country Club in Buhl Park.
The evening kicked off with live orchestral music from the
Hickory High School Chamber Orchestra, directed by Julie Morris. The honor and
joy of serving the community since 1957 underscored the entire celebration,
from the acknowledgement of 10-year, 20-year and 25-year service awards through
the presentation of the Vernice C. Frye Award honoring the progress and
independence of Kathryn Foore, and then on to the acknowledgement of the
collaboration and commitment of the Laurel Technical Institute with the presentation
of the DeWitt Boosel Community Service Award. Citations to Community Counseling
Center were received from both the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and
the Pennsylvania Senate.
The evening highlights were the Keynote address by Clarence Jordan "Beyond Recovery" in which Jordan called for a commitment to changing the messaging of mental health services from one of problems and stigma to that of being a healthy part of self-care. Jordan noted that a gathering such as the 60th Anniversary Gala reflected that love is what is beyond recovery. The evening ended with the fun and laughter of the Diamond Auction run by Robert J. Reinhold, during which 22 lots of new and estate diamond jewelry were auctioned off to benefit the services provided by CCC. The bidding rivalries frequently continued for five or more rounds, with many people winning multiple items.
[Karla insert a pic of Jordan in this paragraph.] The evening’s keynote speaker, Clarence Jordan, is currently Vice President of wellness and recovery at Beacon Health Options in Nashville, Tennessee. Jordan, a former naval aviator and 15-year veteran of the United States Navy, has experienced many of the problems he now helps others survive. In recovery himself since 1998, Jordan credits the knowledgeable compassion of peer advisors with much of the credit for his persistence in overcoming challenges with both mental illness and substance abuse.
[Karla insert a picture of Kathryn in this paragraph.] Kathryn Foore received the Vernice C. Frye Award as a signal of our community’s respect for her resilience and dramatic progress over the last year. Having been in and out of the foster-care system during much of her childhood, Foore struggled with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. With treatment she established her first stable home on her own, has a job, and completed her studies to gain a degree in phlebotomy. She has also developed a healthy support network of friends and people she cares for, and has worked to regain her ability to trust in others. While pursuing her career in phlebotomy, she hopes to continue her education by training in Jameson Hospital’s Radiology program in the future. Our congratulations and good wishes go out to Foore as she continues to move forward in her recovery.
The Laurel Technical Institute (LTI) is this year's recipient of the DeWitt Boosel Community Service Award for their multi-year reciprocal collaborative relationship with Community Counseling Center of Mercer County. LTI has filled employment needs of CCC by educating three persons whom we hired (In their health information technology and Administrative Office Technology programs, LTI also provided multiple health information technology interns to participate in CCC's Health Education Advocacy program.
Additionally, LTI has asked CCC staff to provide substance abuse education to their staff, to better prepare them to address these concerns with students and to minimize the impacts of behavioral health issues upon their students’ chosen vocational education. LTI invited CCC to participate in their Day of Caring resource and job fairs, to inform students of varied human support services. LTI has also initiated presentations outlining the continuum of CCC services, as well as an in-depth, “Stamp Out Stigma” Lunch and Learn presentation related to drug addiction. This was made available for the entire student body and faculty of LTI. Our ongoing supportive relationship with LTI represents the ideals honored in the DeWitt Boosel Community Service Award, and we gratefully acknowledge the efforts of Executive Director Doug Decker, Tracy Schliep, RN, Deb Wojtalik (CCC Board Member and Cosmetology Instructor), Kylee Orr, and Carmen Russo.
[Karla include a picture of the presentation of the citations in this paragraph] Community Counseling Center was itself honored with a set of awards this year as part of its 60th Anniversary. The Pennsylvania Senate and the Pennsylvania House of Representatives each awarded CCC with a citation for its ongoing service to the surrounding community. The awards were presented by State Senator Michele Brooks, R-50, and as noted in the coverage by the Record Argus ” of Greenville, PA, the citations and the gala were "a reminder that the center offers much more than professional services; it offers love and hope."
[Karla insert a picture of sparkly things in this paragraph!] The Gala closed with the Diamond Auction, conducted by Robert J. Reinhold. Twenty-two lots of donated new and estate diamond jewelry were auctioned off to contribute to continuing the services provided by CCC. This celebration highlight was filled with fun as auction newbies learned to compete in bidding with auction veterans. Rivalries were established and resolved with laughter. Reinhold educated, cajoled and encouraged participants as they did their best to participate in the fun. As noted in the coverage of the event by The Herald of Sharon Pa, "This diamond anniversary is about more than just a number of years on a plaque. It is about what happens when people take the time to care about others, and use their own struggles and recovery to guide others along the same path".
Anger often feels like a clean, powerful emotion, burning hot and bright. A very powerful force, it can motivate people to take positive actions for causes they believe in, such as starting groups to help clean up highways and local parks, donating time at the local animal shelter, or using frustration to motivate change. Yet anger itself is not straight forward. The Anger Iceberg illustration accompanying this article shows just how many complex emotions or events can combine into that powerful force. Directing that force into positive actions or productive methods of release can take both skills and practice.
According to an article in the medical journal The Lancet, "Unprecedented global forces are shaping the health and wellbeing of the largest generation of 10 to 24-year-olds in human history." (2423) Such a large social group, "primed to engage" as they are by nature, with others and with causes they care about (2461) can, if they choose, have a powerful positive impact on their societies, local and global. Making careful, informed choices while learning to sort through and manage emotional responses allows each person to decide how they want to contribute. Letting emotions, particularly anger and emotions that lead to anger, dictate actions without time for thought or without management skills, leads to unintended actions and consequences
Feelings don't just come from nowhere. People can gain control by determining what feelings feed anger or other emotions, and by evaluating what responses to actions past and present contribute. For example, did the whole day go wrong from the moment you tripped getting on the bus? Or did tripping while getting on the bus make the whole day feel wrong? Either way, the better response may be to evaluate the incident, and your reaction to it, at a time when you're not feeling stress or other negative emotions brought on by the event.
How much of what measurably went or felt wrong had to do with your responses and choices - which in turn were affected by the emotions you felt about tripping in front of people? How much would have been measurably bad or would have been handled the same way without those emotions? What if you'd been able to separate the emotions brought on by the tripping incident from the rest of your day, even before getting off the bus? Sometimes one thing can ruin a whole day. The trick is to figure out how that happens and short circuit that process.
Scheduling time for processing emotions and for talking to people in constructive ways that analyze the emotional build ups or stressors can be an important part of the process. Thoughtful friends, siblings, adults, teachers, coaches or counselors can all make excellent sounding boards, especially if they are the type of person who can listen to you work something through without trying to solve the problem for you. You also want to avoid just re-living emotions and events or stirring them up over and over. Instead, work to understand what you felt, and why you felt it, and then manage emotions by making choices which will benefit you, thereby setting up patterns for long term satisfaction.
Working through emotions and anger can sometimes begin simply by determining the nature of your anger. Are you a pop bottle that fizzes over regularly whenever shaken, only to be left later with the consequences and a flat feeling? Are you a volcano that quietly builds and builds and then erupts, to be left with burning heat still flowing while you try to deal with the consequences? Maybe your experience is something in-between, a bit of both. You react one way with some people and another way with others, or one way one day and another way the next. All of this is within the normal spectrum for the way anger works its way out. Skills and tactics can assist you to manage the flow, find a time and place of your choosing for the best way to release your anger, and then have more choices in your reactions and consequences.
Stepping back from a situation, line of thought, or wave of emotion and concentrating on three to five full, slow, deep breaths can help change what’s happening in your head and your body by slowing your heart rate and providing more oxygen where needed. This tactic provides a break in whatever is happening, allowing you to consider alternatives or keep from being overwhelmed by circumstances while providing a few moments to make more deliberate choices.
This tactic also gives you a chance to sort through the emotions that make up anger without pushing them down (a reaction that can lead to problems later). Even if you can’t walk away from a powerful situation at the moment it confronts you, the tactic of stepping back and breathing deeply can give you options and the chance to analyze what happened later. Used after the fact it allows you to proceed through the day without having a single event driving all your choices. Think about what is going through your head, and remember it – not to stew over it, but to think through how you might have preferred to handle yourself or address the situation. You can’t control others, but you can make your own choices and practice responses that are good for you.
Finding productive outlets for anger, particularly while it’s running high, can be difficult. It’s almost instinctive to try to escape negative feelings by becoming numb, or distracting yourself with friends, the internet, sports, music, TV, video games, reading or other activities. Escape is not always a bad thing, as long as it’s not the primary way of dealing with difficult emotions. We all need a break sometimes. Yet pushing emotions down and not dealing with them regularly can lead to pressure-bomb-like situations in which something small sets off a disproportionately huge reaction. When something like that happens, often anger gets taken out on the people present, rather than productive interactions happening with the people you are primarily upset with. Additionally, this can also lead to you or others ignoring all those emotions and events that can build into or become expressed as anger. Eventually this may come to the forefront at the wrong time, with the wrong people, or not in a way you would prefer.
How much down time you need before dealing with a disturbing situation is an individual thing. None of the escapes listed above are wrong in and of themselves. Rather, it’s a matter of how you use them. If used properly, they may help you manage or release anger and powerful emotions (this is especially true of physical activities and music). Productive releases let you burn energy without feeding the emotions you’ve been experiencing. Instead, you can concentrate on exactly what is happening in the moment you are in, and analyze the difficult situation when your mind is clearer.
When assessing the stressors teens face, the natural biological process of growing physically can’t be ignored. Having your body hijacked by growth spurts and bio-chemical surges can be just as disturbing as having your mind hijacked by difficult-to-identify emotions and those same bio-chemical surges.
Feeling that you are an alien in your own skin or your own mind is an inner stressor, which can be just as powerful as the social stressors highlighted in the Harvard Health Blog article, "The angry adolescent – a phase or depression?" The author points out that you are working to gain knowledge and experience, with "big challenges ahead: graduating from high school, entering the work force (in a tough economy) or starting college, living away from home for the first time. These are stressful transitions for anyone."
Yet many teens are already working, already living semi-independently, and often dealing with complicated social lives and responsibilities, while trying to maintain grades, earn scholarships, compete for or engage in internships or apprenticeships, identify fields of interest for jobs and careers, and work through relationships with family, friends, and romantic interests. If you’re a teen, no matter which of these aspects of life you are currently juggling, setting the foundations for emotional management will allow you to move forward with more self-determination and with more choices.
Teens are not really "in preparation" for real life; they are living full, complex lives, while also trying to gather the skills they need to successfully manage emotions, actions, and reactions. Teens are doing all of that while their brains are actually physically changing. The article in The Lancet notes that "at this time the brain is extremely developmentally active," particularly the pre-frontal cortex, which is undergoing changes which help switch decision making from a short-term, high risk-based focus to allow for more long-term, consequence-based decision making. Also, the brain as a whole is generating increasing numbers of connections between networks (2427).
This knowledge doesn’t provide any excuses as far as choices and actions, but it does give you a framework for understanding just why you can seem alien or erratic to yourself sometimes. With this growth going on, however, you have the prime situation for building thought patterns and emotional management patterns that will be all but "hardwired," for want of a better term. You can make choices that will influence how you
manage frustration, anger, and emotionally charged situations for the rest of your life. This doesn’t happen in one big decision. There’s no all-or-nothing moment. Through practicing management skills, repeatedly trying to find what works for you and how you function, you are laying down patterns of thought and healthy emotional processing behaviors.
Feeling overwhelmed by anger and frustration is not failure; it’s a common sense emotional reaction to all that is going on. Learning to manage yourself without being derailed by anger reactions and frustration is a try, and try again, learning process. Each event, no matter how it turns out in reality, can be replayed later, assessed, and learned from.
For those concerned with anger management and consequences one big question is deciding when anger or its contributors constitute a problem that might benefit from outside assistance? As with most of life, it is a matter of degree. Getting mad and throwing a textbook across the room may be out of character, but isn’t beyond average responses people have every day. Losing all control and tearing up the house or destroying furniture would be a problem.
Waking up every day to anger, frustration, the feeling that every day is a battle, or to any of the emotions listed anywhere on the anger iceberg is not just draining; it can be damaging to the way you process emotions and events in the future.
The gold standard questions include 1) How severe or intense is the difficulty; 2) How long has it gone on; and 3) How much is it interfering with the activities of daily living. Activities of daily living include things like:
You also need to assess the severity of the disruptions to each of these. If it’s a week or a couple of weeks, okay. You’re working through something. However, months of disruption, to the point of dysfunction in several key areas or repeated severe disruptions, would be a reason to consider talking to a parent or guardian or to call a hotline or see about being assessed by a counselor. A counselor can help remove stumbling blocks that may prevent you from recognizing causes of anger and frustration, and can assist you with building the skills you need to manage your emotions. He or she can then help assess how those tactics and choices work for you. Individuals, with uniquely developing brains and unique personal and life situations, can
sometimes benefit from specific assistance in developing and determining what management tactics work best for them.
You can learn more about Community Counseling Center of Mercer County at www.cccmer.org . We also invite you to connect with us on Facebook, or to contact us by calling (866) 853-7758 or 724-981-7141.
Miller, Michael Craig, M.D., (2015, October 29) "The angry adolescent — a phase or depression?" The Harvard Health Blog. Retrieved from
Patton, George C et al. PDF (2016, June 11) "Our future: a Lancet commission on adolescent health and wellbeing" The Lancet , Volume 387 , Issue 10036 , 2423 – 2478. Retrieved from http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(16)00648-6/fulltext 6736(16)00648-6/fulltext