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30 May

The tragic death of 52-year-old grunge rock icon, Chris Cornell, highlights our mounting national concern over the overuse of prescription drugs and the opioid epidemic assailing us.

Evidently Cornell told his wife he had taken too much Ativan after his Detroit concert. We know Ativan is highly addictive and can produce some unpleasant – even dangerous and suicidal - side effects. Its generic name, Lorazepam, is part of a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines or benzos.

Valium is another well-known benzo. Back in the 80’s, before docs knew about its addictive nature, Valium was dispensed like candy to anyone complaining of feeling nervous, unsettled, agitated or panicky.

Other meds are now recommended for anxiety first – SSRI’s and anti-depressants.

22 May

For National Meditation Month, we’re saluting three of my favorite teachers – pioneers who’ve made meditative practices more accessible, widely used and accepted by thousands of people.

The first tip of the hat is for Jon Kabat-Zinn, because he’s done so much to bring mindfulness to Westerners.  He created a simplified protocol, related it to the practical goal of relieving stress, called it MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) and persuaded hundreds of academic researchers to test its efficacy. (I just searched “MBSR” on PubMed, and today, it delivered 404 studies, 64 of which were published in 2017 – and it’s only May.)

15 May

Compulsive hoarding, holding on to possessions to the extent that it negatively affects every aspect of your life, is called Hoarding Disorder, and if this applies to you or someone you love, it’s time to get professional help.

In her blog post, A 61-Year-Old Woman Suffers from Compulsive Hoarding, Cluttering her House, Belleruth explained it this way: “If left untended, it can get quite extreme, with more and more of your life constricted and disabled by it. There is a biochemical and neurological aspect to this condition.

“Some people have so much accumulation, they will only have a narrow path from room to room, because canyons have been created by floor-to-ceiling stacks of newspapers and magazines. Stovetops, sofas and tables are buried. Fire and health hazards are created. And of course, your social life is constricted too - you’re too ashamed to have people over to the house. So are your kids.”

08 May

The guy’s a rather unusual combination of active ingredients: a skillful, efficient, detail-oriented, operations guy; a talented marketer & social media maven; a wondrously speedy and masterful graphic designer; and one dazzle of a people manager.

He comes to us from the magical world of “Scale Up”, which is biz-speak for increasing the size, reach and scope of a company. His past positions have pretty much been in health, one way or another - mostly nutrition, wellness, and physical activity.

[Sidebar: He also sings professionally, rides a unicycle and juggles, too. I have not made this up.)

01 May

You could say it’s a revolution in the delivery of adjuvant mental health services - a shift that sneaked up on all of us in plain sight.

Mind-body therapies such as guided imagery, breath work, mindfulness meditation and various relaxation therapies are now available to everyone, providing anonymous, respectful, timely, self-administered self-help, at low or no cost.

People who can’t find or afford a therapist; or who don’t like the idea of going to one; or who need more than a 50-minute session, once a week; or who crave the autonomy of self-administered therapies; or who have panic attacks at 2 am and need something right then to keep them company until the sun comes up - all these folks can now get help by pressing PLAY, on their smart phones, iPods and MP3’s. 

24 Apr

Adults and children on the autism spectrum differ broadly, but nearly all struggle with anxiety, especially at changes in routine. Other challenges they face include compulsive, repetitive behaviors, sleep problems, overstimulated nervous systems and social difficulties.

Our audio programs can help with all but the interpersonal challenges. They make the biggest contribution as a powerful anxiety reducer and mood balancer.

We have combined some of our most popular guided imagery programs, the particularly soothing, calming ones that are most popular with adults and kids on the autism spectrum, into three different packs. We created packs for adults, teens and kids, and specially priced them at a whopping 23% off, to celebrate Autism Awareness Month.

17 Apr

Here is some basic information on guided imagery. It was put together when we built California Community College students their own free guided imagery download page. The audios on that page are used to reduce stress, promote sleep, and improve concentration, among other things. 

This information may come in handy for yourself or, if you’re a health care or mental health professional, for people in your care. So if you’re looking for a quick but accurate way to explain guided imagery to yourself or others, check it out!

10 Apr

We’re posting some Hot Research about an imagery technique called GIM (Guided Imagery and Music) and what it can do for people on extended sick leave. The study finds that using GIM was associated with better mental health and an earlier return to the workplace.

GIM is a therapy technique created by psychotherapist and violinist, Helen Bonny. It’s a guided process that starts with playing classical music pieces and then prompting the client-listener to look inward and let whatever images or feelings evoked by the music come to the surface, so they can be explored in the context of whatever the client has been working on in therapy.

My first experience with GIM blew my mind, and it’s remained blown open ever since. At the very least, it speaks to the powerful, altered state this technique can take you to.

03 Apr

If you find yourself a magnet for the hopelessly self-centered, the most important question to ask is not, “Why are some people so toxic?” but, “How can I stop attracting toxic people and still love myself?”

There are reasons why many super-nice people are drawn to those who take advantage of them, even if they are not fully conscious of these reasons.

Of course, toxic behavior occurs on a continuum, from the person at work who always looks for someone else to do things for them, to the friend who constantly asks for favors but never reciprocates, to the person who is callous, lies, steals others’ intellectual or actual property, the partner who cheats, or the family member who is verbally abusive or worse.

Whatever form your toxic people tend to take, you’ll recognize your tendency to get involved with the liars, false friends, or takers of the world, because you’ll find yourself in the same types of frustrating, draining, or hurtful situations again and again.

27 Mar

We, at Health Journeys, are always moved by the sincerity of the people who call us to ask whether we have anything that could help their loved ones, who are grieving. We are equally moved when we get calls from people seeking help for their own grief.

When this happens, I often reflect on Belleruth’s recent post, titled Do’s and Don’ts for the Bereaved and Their Well-meaning Friends. This subject is rarely covered. Her suggestions could help people make peace with their own sorrow, and minimize confusion for those of us seeking to console our grieving friends.