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31 Jul

We were pretty tickled to find this ringing endorsement of guided imagery for before, during and after surgery, from a Kaiser Permanente HMO member who found it on the KP patient education web page.

A friend of mine recommended guided imagery for surgery --- her surgeon had recommended it to her. I was lucky to find out that Kaiser offers this on their website, and I was able to get it there.

I listened to the "pre-surgery" (tracks 2 and 3) portion each evening for a couple of weeks before my (hip replacement) surgery (skipping past the intro each evening).

I took my portable CD player into pre-op with me and was listening to it as they prepared me for the operating room, and was still listening to it as they wheeled me down the hall.

30 Jul

In a small pilot study, Israeli researchers from Tel Aviv University and Bar-Ilan University examined the impact of guided imagery on Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS.

A total of 15 irritable bowel syndrome patients received guided affective imagery and 19 patients served as controls. Symptom severity and irritable bowel syndrome quality of life were measured at baseline and at 8 weeks.

Findings revealed that IBS symptom severity decreased in the guided affective imagery group, as compared with the controls (-1.5 ± 1.9 vs 0.1 ± 1.6, p = 0.04).

29 Jul

Despite the fact that it's a harbinger of summer's end, I love the whole back-to-school gestalt. There is a sense of optimism and excitement in the air and we are surrounded by a plethora of brightly-colored educational supplies—a treat for the senses and fodder for the creative spirit.

Many classrooms are switching from notebooks and textbooks to computers and electronic tablets, but this time of year, even computers, phones and tech gadgets get to dress up in cool sleeves and covers. There are backpacks, lunch bags, new clothes and shoes to buy. Don't forget to check out the list of states that offer tax-free holidays for the purchase of school supplies.

school.pic.hj

28 Jul

Question:

Dear Belleruth,
I am leaving soon for Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, to provide mental health services to our military and their families. I have been in private practice for the last 6 years, and have used your book Invisible Heroes and CD's nearly daily. My question is this:
Do you have any advice for me as I begin this two year assignment?

Warm Regards,

Paul

27 Jul

Fifteen Fabulous, Fool-Proof De-Stressing Tips

Hello again.

Well, I know summer is supposed to the season of less stress – a time away from over-scheduling and killer routines; a time for vacations and kicking back...

And truly, I hope your summer is going that way.

But from my perch, I'm hearing a lot of stress, worry and agitation. People are worrying over their summer trips; about cobbling together the right combo of week-long sports camps and art camps for their kids; about getting their children ready for school, because in many parts of the country, it starts, weirdly enough, in mid-August; about seeing too much or too little of their grown kids; about having so much company coming and going, they feel like they're running an Airbnb. I've also heard a hefty amount of teeth gnashing about the summer slipping by and all those special projects waiting to be tackled... well, they're still waiting.

Now, I grant you, these are FWP's (First World Problems) of the first order, and can't hold a candle to poverty, war, famine, natural disaster and real human misery.
But often that's the nature of stress. Even when we know we're overreacting to stuff that's ridiculously trivial in the larger scheme of things, there we are - still overreacting.

So I decided it was time to assemble a new, updated list of common sense, stress management tips.

I get that nobody's going to adopt all fifteen. How stressful would that be?? But just a few of these tips can make a big difference. I suggest starting with the easiest ones to take on first – then add another. Success breeds success.

24 Jul

Guided imagery, it turns out, is an ideal intervention for insomnia. The voice tone and music soothe the primitive, over-alert, survival-based parts of the brain; and the content and images distract the neocortex that's busy worrying over the to-do lists of the coming day or reviewing the slights and shoulda-saids of the day before.

Here's what the wife of one sleep-deprived guy had to tell us (We know it sounds over the top, but this is verbatim):

The guided imagery for Healthful Sleep has changed my husband's life. Not an exaggeration. He used to take medicine to help him relax at night. He could sleep, but it wasn't restful sleep. He thrashed, had nightmares, and always felt tired the next day - even after 12+ hours of sleep. After using the imagery a few nights, he was able to quit taking medicine because he began sleeping so restfully. One big, unexpected side-benefit: he's much better company!

I also sleep much more soundly and feel more rested. The mornings after I listen to this particular imagery, I feel what I can only describe as 10 years younger. It occurs to me that truly healthful sleep would improve general health, energy, mood and prepare you to deal effectively with stress. Good sleep is invaluable! I tell my patients, if they can only afford one guided imagery audio, they should get the sleep one.

Doubly Delighted Doc

p.s. If you liked this post, you might enjoy getting our weekly e-news with other articles just like it. If so, sign up here!

23 Jul

Researchers from the University of California at San Diego examined whether mindfulness training can improve resilience in active duty Marines preparing for deployment.

Eight Marine infantry platoons (N=281) were randomly selected. Four platoons were assigned to receive mindfulness training (N=147) and four were assigned to a training-as-usual control condition (N=134).

Platoons were assessed at baseline, 8 weeks after baseline, and during and after a stressful combat training session approximately 9 weeks after baseline.

The mindfulness training condition was delivered in the form of 8 weeks of Mindfulness-Based Mind Fitness Training (MMFT), a program comprising 20 hours of classroom instruction plus daily homework exercises.

22 Jul

Carolyn Daitch, PhD, author of Managing the Distress of Cancer and its Treatment, wrote to Belleruth to generously share her travel tips. Belleruth generously shared them with us and all the happy Health Journeys travelers.

"As we approach the month of August when many of my clients schedule their summer getaways," Daitch wrote, "The topic of travel-related anxiety comes up frequently.

Some of her recommendations:

  • Calm your nervous system with a relaxation technique. It's hard to think reasonably when your body is anxious. Listen to a meditation CD, or practice slow breathing to lower your baseline anxiety level.

  • Write down your worries. The mere act of writing creates some detachment from your concerns and helps you achieve some objectivity.

  • Remember that there are stores where you are going. It's not a disaster if you forget to pack everything.

  • Embrace uncertainty. Let's face it: life is uncertain and travel is even more so. Say a self-statement, "I accept uncertainty. I may not like it, but I can handle it."
21 Jul

Question:

Hello,

I need guided imagery for elementary school students living in violence. The Invisible Heroes book looks wonderful, but does it have anything for trauma in children?

I am a counselor working in a large elementary school, and I need something that I can use with groups of children. Any suggestions?

Thank you,

Maria

20 Jul

Okay, good e-news subscribers. Cindy is on the loose with yet another special perk, just for you guys. This time, aside from the free guided imagery download you already got when you signed up, you can now also get 20% off your next order. Those of you who are already subscribers will find the promo code in the special features box on the 7/22/15 e-news.

If you don't currently subscribe, she tells us, you can sign up now, and get that free guided imagery download plus the 20% off your next order*. All you have to do is sign up and confirm your subscription before the offer expires on August 5, 2015. Be sure to order using the promo code before that August 5th expiration date.

So, what's in this e-news, some might ask...

Well, every week our Health Journeys newsletter features at least one, hot off the presses summary of the findings of a mind-body research article (in user-friendly English) – so you're among the first to hear about a significant new study of guided imagery, meditation, hypnosis, biofeedback, acupressure and the like.

17 Jul

Dear BR,

This is a shoutout for your materials, especially the Relieve Stress, Confidence and Affirmations - I use one of them every day and have been doing so for the past month.

I work in a high stress environment with a boss who is a complete head case. She critiques me and micromanages everything I do from the second I arrive to the time I leave.

I cannot say anything back to her because she's fragile and starts crying and hyperventilating. The woman truly needs help.

I am a problem solver and I have tried every sensible tack that I, my friends and my personal coach could think of. After a series of failed attempts at changing the dynamic, we determined that I have two options left: to quit, or tune her out and keep on doing my job to please myself and meet my own standards.

16 Jul

Researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine reported on the long-term effects of a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

Of the study participants, 73% returned to the clinic for a single-session follow-up assessment of depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and mindfulness after 2.5 years.

Repeated measures mixed regression analyses revealed significant long-term improvements in depression, PTSD, anxiety symptoms, and mindfulness scores. The magnitude of intervention effects at 128 weeks ranged from d = .5 to d = 1.1.

The investigators conclude that MBSR may be an effective long-term treatment for adults who have experienced childhood sexual abuse. Further investigation of MBSR with this population is warranted, given the durability of treatment effects described here.

Citation: Earley MD1, Chesney MA, Frye J, Greene PA, Berman B, Kimbrough E. Mindfulness intervention for child abuse survivors: a 2.5-year follow-up. Journal of Clinical Psychology. 2014 Oct;70 (10):pages 933-41. doi: 10.1002/jclp.22102. Epub 2014 May 20.