30 Nov 2020
Questions you should ask yourself when considering professional help

What are the most important questions you should ask yourself when considering professional help?

 

1) How severe are my symptoms? How large is their negative impact on my life?

2) How long have I been in this state of distress?

3) Am I becoming more avoidant or isolative due to this change in mood?

4) Am I less able to properly care for myself (eat, shower, exercise, go to work)?

5) Are friends and family noticing the change in my behavior and expressing their concern for me?

6) Am I beginning to feel hopeless?

 

Connect with our talented specialists and get help from the comfort of your home today.

 

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26 Sep 2020
Telehealth: Online video sessions
Telehealth: Online video sessions help us best serve the current needs of clients. During this unprecedented time of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are offering video sessions to new and existing clients. Clients are able to receive services from the comfort and safety of their home. We will post updates here with plans for in-person sessions when it becomes safe to do so.
13 Sep 2020
Symptoms of an Eating Disorder: Parents, Know the Signs
The unfortunate truth is that eating disorders are prevalent in our society. According to surveys conducted by the National Eating Disorders Association (www.nationaleatingdisorders.org), current estimates are that 20 million women and 10 million men in the US will have an eating disorder at some point in their lives.

Parents are often the very first to recognize or suspect that their own daughter or son may be showing behavioral symptoms of suffering from an eating disorder.  Those afflicted can be embarrassed, ashamed and may not even feel worthy of treatment. They can be secretive and may also go to great lengths to hide their disorder, so it is important to educate yourself and understand the signs and ways to identify the problem and seek treatment as soon as possible.

Individuals suffering from eating disorders drastically change their relationship with normal eating. Typical sufferers will go to great lengths to limit calories. Eating disorders can involve different techniques from not eating or restricting overall food intake, to binging and purging meals, and in some cases abusing over the counter or prescription medication. If you suspect your child is possibly showing signs, what do you look for and what are the next steps to take? Here are some of the warning signs:

Restricting Food or Dieting

  • Making excuses to avoid meals/situations involving food (had a big meal, isn’t hungry, upset stomach)
  • Eating tiny portions or only low-calorie foods and often banning entire categories of foods such as carbs and fat
  • Obsessively counting calories, reading food labels and weighing portions
  • Developing restrictive food rituals such as eating foods in a certain order or rearranging food on a plate, excessive cutting or chewing
  • Taking diet pills, prescription stimulants or even illegal “speed-like” drugs to eliminate appetite

Bingeing

  • Unexplained disappearance of large amounts of food in short periods of time
  • Lots of empty food packages and wrappers, often hidden at the bottom of the trash
  • Hoarding or hiding stashes of high-calorie foods such as junk food and sweets
  • Secrecy and isolation; may eat normally around others, only to binge late at night or in a private spot where they won’t be discovered or disturbed
 
Purging

  • Disappearing during or right after a meal to make frequent trips to the bathroom
  • Showering, bathing or running water after eating to hide the sound of purging
  • Using excessive amounts of mouthwash, breath minds, or perfume to disguise the smell of vomiting
  • Taking laxatives, diuretics or enemas
  • Periods of fasting or compulsive, intense exercising, especially after eating
  • Frequent complaints of sore throat, upset stomach, diarrhea or constipation
  • Discolored teeth (the result of repeated vomiting)
  • Backs of finger joints are callused or discolored from using fingers to induce vomiting.

Distorted Body Image and Altered Appearance

  • Extreme preoccupation with body or weight (e.g. constant weigh-ins, spending lots of time in front of the mirror inspecting and criticizing their body)
  • Significant weight loss, rapid weight gain, or constantly fluctuating weight
  • Frequent comments about feeling fat or overweight, or a fear of gaining weight
  • Wearing baggy clothes or multiple layers to hide weight

If some of these warning signs are familiar, it’s important to speak up. You should set aside a time to speak to your loved one about your concerns. It’s also very important not to use any language that indicates blame, but instead take a concerned approach. And discussing the need for professional help and guidance in encouraged. Don’t be afraid to have the conversation or worried you may say the wrong thing, it’s more important to speak up. Without treatment, eating disorders only get worse.

You should be prepared for an emotional response from your loved one. Individuals suffering from eating disorders are often afraid to ask for help or don’t believe they deserve help. They will often deny that there is an issue, or will become defensive. However, it is important to educate yourself and to also not give up after one or two discussions. Eating disorders are a very serious illness and in many cases, require the ongoing guidance and help of professional licensed counselors and therapists who have expertise and are trained in this area.

If you think you have a child, teen or young adult suffering from an eating disorder, you can contact us for help at the Washington Center for Women’s and Children’s Wellness at 301-881-9464 or reach out to us via email at Info@new.wcwcw.org.

13 Aug 2020
The Health and Wellness Benefits of Meditation

The practice of meditation has existed for thousands of years, and it was originally meant to help deepen one’s spiritual self. However, today it has evolved to also be used as a purposeful way of quieting the mind, and encouraging deep relaxation and stress control.

When practiced regularly, meditation provides tremendous health and wellness benefits. It can help you manage your stress level, lower your heart rate and can even teach you how to calm yourself and slow down your breathing in stressful situations.  According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the benefits from regular meditation include:

-Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations

-Building skills to manage stress

-Increased self-awareness

-Focusing on the present

-Reducing negative emotions

-Increased imagination and creativity

-Increased patience and tolerance 

Studies prove that meditation training changes the “mental muscles” in the brain by increasing activity in the portions dedicated to processing stress, focus, and calmness, 1  making it the perfect complement to conventional treatments for mood, anxiety, eating and sleep disorders, as well as ADHD. This is such an important finding, that WCWCW decided to stop just recommending meditation and to start providing it to patients (see more info on this at the end of this article!).

Meditation also offers additional health benefits and may help people manage symptoms of medical conditions including:

-Asthma

-Cancer

-Chronic Pain

-Heart Disease

-High Blood Pressure

-Irritable bowel syndrome

-Tension Headaches 

How long is a meditation and what is involved?

A typical meditation can be anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes or more. If you are just starting out, it might be helpful to participate in a group or guided meditation, where people share a setting, and someone skilled in meditation provides direction and guidance. A guided meditation can be a great way to get introduced into meditation, and teach you the foundations of breathing and quieting your mind.

A meditation session will usually begin with the individual in a comfortable position, sometimes seated on a cushion on the floor. The setting will be typically very comfortable with low lighting, and a quiet environment. The guide will provide directions on breathing and paying attention to your breaths. The idea is to free your mind of distracting thoughts as much as possible, and focus on the quiet around you and the simple sound and motion of your breath. You can also pay attention to various parts of your body as you become aware of each area as it relaxes more deeply.

When I prescribe meditation, my patients will often respond “I know I should meditate but I’ve tried and I’m not any good at it! I keep thinking about my to-do list or my kids or what’s for dinner tonight…..” The important thing to remember is that meditation is a practice, meaning that no matter how many years you’ve meditated, the goal is not to simply start out with no thoughts whatsoever. The goal is to continue to have thoughts (because you will) but become less “interested” in them – to notice that they’re there but to decide you’re not going to attend to them right now.

Making the time and space to make meditation a regular part of your routine in itself is an act of self-care that will lead to positive results. Over time you will improve your ability to more easily access the meditative state, release your stress and manage your thoughts for clarity. In the hustle and demands of our too busy lives, learning how to quiet your mind, slow your breathing and find a relaxed state can have multiple benefits to your life, health and even your productivity!

Washington Center for Women’s and Children’s Wellness has recently announced the launch of Recharj Bethesda, at 6430 Rockledge Drive, Suite 400 in Bethesda. Starting November 15th, Recharj Bethesda is providing guided meditation 3 times a day at the WCWCW Bethesda office location.  For hours and sign up information visit www.Recharj.com.

1,Creswell, J.D., et.alAlterations in Resting-State Functional Connectivity Link Mindfulness Meditation With Reduced Interleukin-6: A Randomized Controlled Trial; July 1, 2016, Volume 80, Issue 1, Pages 53-61.

13 Jul 2020
Begin Meditating with Guided Meditation

I’ve been “prescribing” meditation to my patients for years but it can be very difficult to establish a regular practice on your own. One of the simplest solutions is Guided Meditation.

What is Guided Meditation?

Guided meditation is simply “meditation with the help of a guide”. It’s one of the easiest ways to enter a state of deep relaxation and inner stillness, and it’s one of the most powerful ways to eliminate stress and bring about positive personal change.

We know that meditation in its many styles, offers invaluable health benefits from the reduction of stress and anxiety, to even lowering blood pressure and improving chronic pain. Starting with guided meditation allows you to learn how to meditate with the help of an instructor who can take you through the process, giving you confidence that you’re doing the “right thing.”

Guided meditation is simply “meditation with the help of a guide”. It’s one of the easiest ways to enter a state of deep relaxation and inner stillness, and it’s one of the most powerful ways to eliminate stress and bring about positive personal changes.

How Does Guided Meditation Work?

Guided meditations can be experienced either in a class with the help of a meditation teacher, or by listening to a guided meditation recording. Most guided meditations follow this general format:

Your meditation guide will ask you to sit comfortably, or in some cases, you may choose to lie down. You then listen to your guide while they lead you through a series of relaxing visualizations. As you gradually relax and become more and more still, stress fades away, and your mind becomes clearer and clearer.

While you are in this deeply relaxed state of mind, your subconscious is open to positive suggestions, and your guide will use this time to take you on an inner journey that is designed to improve one or more aspects of your life. For example, a guided meditation might be tailored towards personal empowerment and positive thinking. Another might focus on emotional healing or spiritual development. You might be taken on a guided journey to unleash your full potential, or you may choose to go on a guided meditation journey simply for the sheer pleasure of experiencing profoundly deep relaxation.

As you can now see, a guided meditation can be an experience that is not only relaxing, but one that enhances your sense of self, that transforms your perspective in positive ways, and that inspires you to live your life to the fullest.

It’s an effortless and very enjoyable experience that results in deep relaxation, elimination of stress and a heightened appreciation of life.

At the conclusion of your guided meditation, your guide will gradually bring you back to a state of normal awareness, leaving you feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and relaxed. A guided meditation might be as short as 5 minutes, or as long as an hour, depending on your personal preference. In most cases, a guided meditation of 15 minutes or longer is recommended if you wish to experience a truly deep state of relaxation and maximize the positive benefits of meditation.

Washington Center for Women’s and Children’s Wellness (WCWCW, LLC) now offers guided meditation and power naps via Recharj Bethesda at WCWCW. Our grand opening is on November 15, 2017.  We’ll offer three classes a day, to start, Monday through Friday in our beautiful and relaxing new “meditation space”. Recharj has joined WCWCW to create Recharj Bethesda to provide our patients access to the numerous and wonderful benefits of meditation, power naps, and deep relaxation as part of our holistic wellness offering to improve the lives of our patients.

For more information on classes and to sign up, please visit www.Recharj.com.

13 Jun 2020
Different Types of Meditation

What are the Different Types of Meditation?

There are quite a few different types of meditation to choose from, literally hundreds of distinct ways to practice. For those who may be just getting started with meditation, we are going to focus on three of the more traditional types, what they include and how to get started. They include Mindfulness, Mantra and Metta Meditation.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation originates from Buddhist teachings and is the most popular meditation technique in the West. It is the practice of intentionally focusing on the present moment, accepting and non-judgmentally paying attention to the sensations, thoughts, and emotions that arise in your mind. You don’t judge the thoughts or become involved with them. You simply observe and take note of any patterns. This practice combines concentration with awareness.

You may find it helpful to focus on an object or your breath while you observe any bodily sensations, thoughts, or feelings. Your mind will get distracted by going along with sounds, sensations, and1 thoughts. Whenever that happens, gently recognize that you have been distracted, and bring the attention back to the breathing, or to the objective noticing of that thought or sensation. There is a big difference between being inside the thought/sensation, and simply being aware of its presence.

During the meditation time, sit on a cushion on the floor, or on a chair, with a straight and unsupported back. Pay close attention to the movement of your breath. When you breathe in, be aware that you are breathing in, and how it feels. When you breathe out, be aware you are breathing out. Continue like this for the length of your meditation practice, constantly redirecting the attention to the breath. Or you can move on to be paying attention to the sensations, thoughts, and feelings that arise.

The effort is to not intentionally add anything to our present moment experience but to be aware of what is going on, without losing ourselves in anything that arises.

There is also the practice of mindfulness during our daily activities: while eating, walking, and talking. For “daily life” meditation, the practice is to pay attention to what is going on in the present moment, to be aware of what is happening – and not living in “automatic mode”. If you are speaking, that means paying attention to the words you speak, how you speak them, and to listen with presence and attention. If you are walking, that means being more aware of your body movements, your feet touching the ground, the sounds you are hearing, etc.

 
Mantra Meditation (OM Meditation)

Another type of meditation is “Mantra” meditation.

mantra is a syllable or word, usually without any particular meaning, that is repeated for the purpose of focusing your mind. It is not an affirmation used to convince yourself of something.

Some meditation teachers insist that both the choice of word, and its correct pronunciation, is very important, due to the “vibration” associated to the sound and meaning, and that for this reason, an initiation into it is essential. Others say that the mantra itself is only a tool to focus the mind, and the chosen word is completely irrelevant.

As most types of meditations, it is usually practiced sitting on a cushion, with your back unsupported and straight, and eyes closed. The practitioner then repeats the mantra in his mind, silently, over and over again during the whole session.

 

Mantra meditation is prominent in many teachings, including Hindu and Buddhist traditions. This type of meditation uses a repetitive sound to clear the mind. It can be a word, phrase, or sound, such as the popular “Om.”

It doesn’t matter if your mantra is spoken loudly or quietly. After chanting the mantra for some time, you will be more alert and in tune with your environment. This allows you to experience deeper levels of awareness.

Sometimes this practice is coupled with being aware of the breathing or coordinating with it. In other exercises, the mantra is actually whispered very lightly and softly, as an aid to concentration.

As you repeat the mantra, it creates a mental vibration that allows the mind to experience deeper levels of awareness. As you meditate, the mantra becomes increasingly abstract and indistinct, until you’re finally led into the field of pure consciousness from which the vibration arose.
Repetition of the mantra helps you disconnect from the thoughts filling your mind so that perhaps you may slip into the gap between thoughts. The mantra is a tool to support your meditation practice. Mantras can be viewed as ancient power words with subtle intentions that help us connect to spirit, the source of everything in the universe. (Deepak Chopra)

Here are some of the most well-known mantras from the Hindu & Buddhist traditions:

– om

– so-ham

– om namah shivaya

– om mani padme hum

– rama

– yam

– ham

 

You may practice for a certain period of time, or for a set number of “repetitions” – traditionally 108 or 1008. In the latter case, beads are typically used for keeping count.

As the practice deepens, you may find that the mantra continues “by itself” like the humming of the mind. Or the mantra may even disappear, and you are left in a state of deep inner peace.

People usually find that it is easier to focus on a mantra than with the breathing. Because a mantra is a word, and thoughts are usually perceived as words, it can be easier to keep the focus on a mantra rather than on the breathing. It is useful especially when the mind is racing with many thoughts since it mantra meditation demands constant attention.

Meditating with a mantra can also make it simpler to integrate your meditative state into your daily life. In whatever activity you find yourself into, it can be as simple as repeating the mantra in your mind. This is also a good practice for people who don’t like silence and enjoy repetition.

Metta or Loving Kindness Meditation

Are you sometimes too hard on yourself or on others? Or feel like you need to improve your relationships? Loving-kindness meditation will help you. It is beneficial both for selfless and self-centered people, and it will help increase your general level of happiness. You cannot feel loving-kindness and depression (or any other negative feeling) at the same time.

Metta is a Pali word that means kindness, benevolence, and goodwill. This practice comes from the Buddhist traditions, especially the Theravada and Tibetan lineages. “Compassion meditation” is a contemporary scientific field that demonstrates the efficacy of metta and related meditative practices.

Demonstrated benefits include: boosting one’s ability to empathize with others; development of positive emotions through compassion, including a more loving attitude towards oneself; increased self-acceptance; a greater feeling of competence about one’s life; and an increased feeling of purpose in life.

One sits down in a meditation position, with closed eyes, and generates in his mind and heart feelings of kindness and benevolence. Start by developing loving-kindness towards yourself, then progressively towards others and all beings. Usually, this progression is advised:

– oneself

– a good friend

– a “neutral” person

– a difficult person

– all four of the above equally

– and then gradually the entire universe

 

The feeling to be developed is that of wishing happiness and well-being for all. This practice may be aided by reciting specific words or sentences that evoke the “boundless warm-hearted feeling”, visualizing the suffering of others and sending love; or by imagining the state of another being, and wishing him happiness and peace.

The more you practice this meditation, the more joy you will experience.

13 May 2020
The Benefits of Napping

The number of Americans who are sleep deprived is alarmingly high. According to the National Sleep Foundation, forty-five percent of Americans say that poor or insufficient sleep affected their daily activities at least once in the past seven days.

Lack of sleep or sleep deprivation can lead to many problems from weight gain, to anxiety, and even depression. It can affect everything from job safety and awareness to poor job performance and even relationship issues.

How you slept last night and how long can determine what your work performance will be the following day. With our busy jobs and home responsibilities cutting into our personal downtime, the line between work and rest can constantly be challenged, leaving many without proper sleep.

However, taking a nap during the day can make a real difference.  According to research from the Universite Paris Descartes-Sorbonne Paris Cite in France, “a 30-minute nap can reverse the hormonal impact of a night of poor sleep.” It can provide immediate benefits and even 10 to 20-minute nap can recharge your energy and help you find focus and stamina to complete your workday. And according to their study “napping may offer a way to counter the damaging effects of sleep restriction by helping the immune and neuroendocrine systems to recover.”

The National Sleep Foundation reports the benefits of napping include the following:

– Naps can restore alertness, enhance performance, and reduce mistakes and accidents. A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%.

– Naps can increase alertness in the period directly following the nap and may extend alertness a few hours later in the day.
– Scheduled napping has also been prescribed for those who are affected by narcolepsy.
– Napping has psychological benefits. A nap can be a pleasant luxury, a mini-vacation. It can provide an easy way to get some relaxation and rejuvenation.
 

 

The Benefits of Napping During the Workday

More progressive companies such as Google, Huffington Post and even Zappos have embraced the benefits of napping during the work day and provide “nap space” or nap pods for employees to take a break and grab some fast shut-eye.

There are so many benefits to napping during the work day as well. Learning ability, cognitive function, memory, reaction times, communication and motor skills are all significantly boosted by a short midday nap. The positive effects of a nap also continue for up to 6 hours after the nap, due to time spent in deeper phases of non-REM sleep. For the busy professionals, a nap that is even just 7 to 10 minutes has been shown to substantially improve performance and alertness.

Napping can also have dramatic health improvements and can reduce the frequency of illness. Taking a nap at least 3 times a week has been shown to reduce death from coronary disease by 50% and reduces cortisol levels and inflammation. It can boost mood and positivity and lead to a happier more productive staff!

Recharj Bethesda, at Washington Center for Women’s and Children’s Wellness now offers power naps and guided Meditation in their space in Bethesda. For more information visit www.recharj.com for more information and to sign up!

13 Apr 2020
Seasonal Affective Disorder

As the seasons change and sometimes as the days get shorter, some of us can experience changes in mood and in energy.  For some people, this could be signs of “SAD” or Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons – SAD begins and ends at about the same time every year. Many individuals with SAD begin to show symptoms that begin in the fall and continue into the winter months. You may feel tired, or have less energy. You may also feel moody or cranky.

In some less frequent cases, people may show symptoms that begin in the spring or summer. But in both cases, symptoms may start out as mild but become more frequent or severe as the season progresses.

Signs and symptoms of SAD may include:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having low energy
  • Having problems with sleeping
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide

Fall and Winter SAD
Symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD, sometimes called winter depression, may include:

  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
  • Tiredness or low energy

Spring and Summer SAD

Symptoms specific to summer-onset seasonal affective disorder, sometimes called summer depression, may include:

  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Agitation or anxiety

Seasonal Changes in Bipolar Disorder

In some people with bipolar disorder, spring and summer can bring on symptoms of mania or a less intense form of mania (hypomania) and fall and winter can be a time of depression.

When to see a doctor

Treatment for SAD may include light therapy (phototherapy), medications and psychotherapy.

It’s normal to have some days when you feel down. But if you feel down for days at a time and you can’t get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, you should see your doctor. This is especially important if your sleep patterns and appetite have changed, you turn to alcohol for comfort or relaxation, or your feel hopeless or thing about suicide.

The specific cause of seasonal affective disorder remains unknown. Some factors that may come into play include:

Your biological clock (circadian rhythm). The reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter may cause winter-onset SAD. This decrease in sunlight may disrupt your body’s internal clock and lad to feelings of depression.

Serotonin levels. A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood, might play a role in SAD. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression.

Melatonin levels. The change is season can disrupt the balance of the body’s level of melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood.

Risk Factors

Seasonal affective disorder is diagnosed more often in women than in men. And SAD occurs more frequently in younger adults than in older adults.

Factors that may increase your risk of seasonal affective disorder include:

Family history. People with SAD may be more likely to have blood relatives with SAD or another form of depression.

Having major depression or bipolar disorder. Symptoms of depression may worsen seasonally if you have one of these conditions.

Living far from the equator. SAD appears to be more common among people who live far north or south of the equator. This may be due to decreased sunlight during the winter and longer days during the summer months.

It is important to take signs and symptoms of seasonal affective disorder seriously. As with other types of depression, SAD can get worse and lead to problems if it’s not treated. These can include:

  • Social withdrawal
  • School or work problems
  • Substance abuse
  • Other mental health disorders such as anxiety or eating disorders
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior

Treatment can help prevent complications, especially if SAD is diagnosed and treated before symptoms get bad. Contact us at Washington Center for Women’s and Children’s Wellness to make an appointment at 301-881-9464.

13 Apr 2020
Creating Work-Life Balance

Creating Work-Life Balance

Our busy modern lives seem to demand so much from us these days.  Everyone is juggling multiple tasks between our work and home lives.  Technology seems to make us all available 24/7. And for many of us, it seems more impossible than ever to carve out quality downtime and not feel as if we are falling behind or never able to catch up and get it all done.

Finding the balance, between work, the general demands of life, and real-time for yourself seems on most days like an unattainable goal. One in four Americans describes themselves as “super stressed.” And it’s understandable with all that we take on, starting with long hours at work, and what seems to be an expectation of 24-hour accessibility via our electronic devices. Even just keeping our home life well managed, from chores and meals to grocery shopping, cleaning and laundry can be a lot to manage on its own. The blurred line between work and home can stop us from ever feeling like we get a real break.

With all this added stress comes additional issues, including disrupted or poor sleep. We operate on not enough hours of rest and are expected to deliver a quality work product. Lack of proper rest can also kill our productivity and ability to concentrate. It can make us irritable and even depressed. And it can begin to take a real toll, on everything from our interpersonal relationships to our own health.

The bottom line is that we can’t take good care of anyone or anything until we learn to take good care of ourselves first!  This is a subject so many of us wrestle with because it can seem almost selfish! You may dream of a long hot soak in the bath or an escape to a dark movie theater with a delicious tub of popcorn. But most of us tend to put ourselves and our needs at the bottom of our list.

With a new year upon us, NOW is the time to begin a healthy new practice of making time for ourselves. Practicing “self-care” is very important to both our physical and our mental health. We need to find and create a balance so that our lives are not compromised by taking on too much. By identifying areas where we need to make a change, and putting a practice in place every day, we can begin to restore our energy, health, and improve our productivity, our relationships, and our well-being!

How do you start?

First, begin at work by setting manageable and realistic goals each day.  By keeping a reasonable to do list, and prioritizing tasks, you can begin to better manage your workday and your time.  Use your “to-do” list to delegate tasks and ask for help with projects where you need it.

Also, be more efficient in your work. Review your “to-do” list for the bigger tasks and break them up into smaller projects so you can begin to tackle them and not get overwhelmed. You will get a sense of accomplishment this way by getting started on projects that previously seemed daunting. Also, be mindful of how you spend your time. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a break for fresh air or a quick walk but avoid things that may truly waste time (phone calls with colleagues that go on too long or surfing online and losing time via social media).

Do make time to take short breaks or go for a walk to clear your head, improve your decision-making abilities and lower your stress.  If your company offers a nap space, use it! A few minutes of shut-eye can dramatically improve your cognitive function.  Or find a space to meditate! Learning to meditate can have a similar, stress-lowering effect, by learning how to slow your breathing and clear your mind.

Listening to music at work can also foster concentration and reduce stress and anxiety. Just be sure to keep it low or wear headphones as to not disturb others.

Communication – Make sure you are effectively and honestly communicating with your co-workers on everything from project status to issues that may come up. Keeping stress or work worries to yourself only exacerbates things. Plus, communicating honestly will make you a more respected team player, provided you deliver your information and opinions in a calm and productive way! Suggest alternatives if issues arrive and participate positively in identifying solutions and problem-solving.

The same techniques from work can also apply to your commitments at home as well!

Efficiency – divide up responsibilities at home so that you don’t carry the entire burden. From cleaning to shopping to food preparation, it will also lower stress and resentment down the road.

Tasks – keep an ongoing to-do list with priorities and let go of things you don’t need to bother with! Also, learning to say “no” to invites you don’t want to participate in, or functions you don’t have time to attend or support is important to finding that healthy balance.

Downtime – do make time to meet with friends to catch up and share stories. It’s been proven that people with dedicated support systems even have improved immune systems over those who don’t have friends and contacts to rely on or catch up with.

Unplug – it’s important to take a break from your electronic devices, including your phone and your laptop. Our devices can interfere with quality time with friends and family, and it’s important for our mental health as well to get a real break from the attention these devices demand. Learn how to be in and enjoy the moment – stop texting while at dinner with friends or at your child’s sporting event.

Health – Make time for healthy activities, from spending time outside, walking or joining a gym. Regular exercise can dramatically improve your sleep and reduce stress. Also, making sure you are getting proper nutrition, eating right and avoiding smoking, alcohol or drugs as stress coping mechanisms. They will only lessen your body’s natural ability to manage stress and will lead to other more serious health issues. And make it a goal each day to go to bed at a proper time to get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. Deep restorative sleep is needed for the brain and body to function optimally!

Finally, DO seek additional professional help if you need it! Don’t hesitate to seek out a physician or therapist if you are consistently feeling overwhelmed.  Therapy is a needed, practical and healthy way to get in touch with how you are feeling. With the help of a therapist, you can uncover other issues that may be plaguing you and learn techniques for better coping and managing your stress.  Learning these skills can put you on the path to living a more fulfilled and happier life!

13 Mar 2020
How to Recognize Depression

How to Recognize Depression

Feeling down from time to time is a normal part of life, but when emotions such as hopelessness and despair take hold and just won’t go away, you may have depression. Depression makes it tough to function and enjoy life like you once did. Just trying to get through the day can be overwhelming. But no matter how hopeless you feel, you can get better. By understanding the cause of your depression and recognizing the different symptoms and types of depression, you can take the first step to feeling better and overcoming the problem.

What Is Depression?

Depression is a common and debilitating mood disorder. More than just sadness in response to life’s struggles and setbacks, depression changes how you think, feel, and function in daily activities. It can interfere with your ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and enjoy life. The feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness can be intense and unrelenting, with little, if any, relief.

While some people describe depression as “living in a black hole” or having a feeling of impending doom, others feel lifeless, empty, and apathetic. No matter how you experience depression, left untreated it can become a serious health condition. But it’so important to remember that feelings of helplessness and hopelessness are symptoms of depression—not the reality of your situation.

Depression varies from person to person, but there are some common signs and symptoms. It’s important to remember that these symptoms can be part of life’s normal lows. But the more symptoms you have, the stronger they are, and the longer they have lasted—the more likely it is that you’re dealing with depression.

Symptoms can include:

Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. A bleak outlook—nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.

Loss of interest in daily activities. You don’t care anymore about former hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or sex. You’ve lost your ability to feel joy and pleasure.

Appetite or weight changes. Significant weight loss or weight gain—a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month.

Sleep changes. Either insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning or oversleeping.

Anger or irritability.  Feeling agitated, restless, or even violent. Your tolerance level is low, your temper short, and everything and everyone gets on your nerves.

Loss of energy.  Feeling fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained. Your whole body may feel heavy, and even small tasks are exhausting or take longer to complete.

Self-loathing. Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt. You harshly criticize yourself for perceived faults and mistakes.

Reckless behavior. You engage in escapist behavior such as substance abuse, compulsive gambling, reckless driving, or dangerous sports.

Concentration problems. Trouble focusing, making decisions or remembering things.

Unexplained aches and pains. An increase in physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain.

Depression and Suicide Risk

Depression left untreated can also be a major risk factor for suicide. The deep despair and hopelessness that goes along with depression can make suicide feel like the only way to escape the pain. If you have a loved one with depression, take any suicidal talk or behavior seriously and seek help immediately. Let them know your concerns. Talking openly about your concerns can save a life.

If you think you or a loved one are dealing with depression, contact Washington Center for Women’s and Children’s Wellness to make an appointment to speak to one of our physicians. We can provide the evaluation, support, and treatment you need to get you feeling good about life again. Contact us today for an appointment at 301-881-9464.

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