Exercise is a Key Factor to Improving Depression and Anxiety

When you have depression or anxiety, exercise often seems like the last thing you want to do. But once you get motivated, exercise can make a big difference.

Exercise helps prevent and improve a number of health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis. Research on depression, anxiety and exercise shows that the psychological and physical benefits of exercise can also help improve mood and reduce anxiety. Exercise may also help keep depression and anxiety from coming back once you’re feeling better.

Exercise is known to stimulate the body to produce endorphins and enkephalins, the body’s natural feel-good hormones which can make problems seem more manageable. 

Exercise affects our hippocampus — an area of the brain involved in memory, emotion regulation, and learning. Studies in other animals show convincingly that exercise leads to the creation of new hippocampal neurons (neurogenesis), with preliminary evidence suggesting this is also true in humans.

The simple act of focusing on exercise can give us a break from current concerns and damaging self-talk. Further, depending on the activity many people may benefit from getting outside, interacting with others, exchanging a friendly smile as you walk around your neighborhood or calming our minds all of which are known to improve mood and general health.

Put simply: Exercise directly affects the brain. Regular exercise increases the volume of certain brain regions – in part through better blood supply that improves neuronal health by improving the delivery of oxygen and nutrients; and through an increase in neurotrophic factors and neurohormones that support neuron signaling, growth, and connections. Other theories suggests exercise helps us normalize our sleep which is known to have protective effects on the brain.

Oliver says join him in exercising and see what happens….

Good Grief

Spring is a great time of year for new beginnings and shedding of old ways. In that process, sometimes old hurts resurface. Many times, a client will say “I just try not to think about it” or “I try to stay busy.” Grief is a funny animal that will not be ignored. It is idiosyncratic. You may grieve the loss of an animal or job in a more intense and completely different way than the loss of a loved one or relationship. We can get stuck in our idea of what grief should look like or how long it should last.

  • It may feel that a job loss, identity loss or relocation is not worth the grief label.
  • It is so disappointing to make it through that first year of a loss, only to find that you do not really feel much better.

Spending time with your grief and leaning into it a little can be a way OUT of pain. Therapy is a great way to explore all of the complex and seemingly opposing emotions that grief can bring up. Be patient, it will be done when it is done.

“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.” ― Pema Chödrön

“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”

― Pema Chödrön
We are bigger than our past, our circumstances and our experiences. Like the sky, we are vast and our future spans out before us. Difficult times pass and so does happiness. Our culture teaches us to seek happiness as a goal or a destination. Many come to counseling because the are “not happy.” Happiness is merely one of many emotions. It would be unrealistic to expect to stay depressed, curious, annoyed or thankful daily for an entire lifetime. Our focus on happiness makes it even harder to hold onto. Happiness can be the giddiness of new love but it can also be the contentment of an imperfect life. Happiness floats away like a butterfly if you begin to focus anywhere but right now.
Mindfulness is the practice of right now. Accepting wherever and whomever you are in this moment. Recognizing that most of the things that make us anxious or depressed are not right now but behind us or in the future. Right now you are breathing and it is good. Right now you need for nothing and it is good. Right now you are experiencing one of many emotions but like the weather, it will change.
“We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. ” ― Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heartfelt Advice for Hard Times

‘I-Rish’ you a happy St. Patrick’s day!

You don’t have to be Irish to celebrate St. Patrick’s day.

You don’t even have to be Irish to be Lucky.

Tenneseee Williams said “Luck is believing you’re lucky.”

This St. Patrick’s day we invite you to know a bit more about the power of positive thinking.

The Power Of Positive Thinking, by Norman Vincent Peale, has sold over 5 million copies worldwide and takes a Christian perspective and real-world approach to positive psychology.

3 Lessons regarding positive thinking:

Lesson 1: Believe in yourself and visualize your goals to see how small your problems are.

Lesson 2: Your attitude determines your entire life.

Lesson 3: Imagine your life free of worry to become less concerned about the future.

May you be very LUCKY!

Congratulations to Heather McMahon, LPC and Lisa Ann Smith, LPC have fulfilled all requirements for the Distance Credentialed Counselor (DCC)

Congratulations to Heather McMahon, LPC and Lisa Ann Smith, LPC have fulfilled all requirements for the Distance Credentialed Counselor (DCC).

This designation shows that Heather and Lisa took the extra step with classes, CEU’s and testing to have this distinction. The Distance Credentialed Counselor (DCC) credential identifies those professional counselors who are uniquely trained in best practices for delivering traditional counseling through technological means. DCCs have met nationally established distance counseling criteria and adhere to the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) Code of Ethics and Policy Regarding the Provision of Distance Professional Services.

 

As many of you know distance counseling or Telemed is a new avenue for clients to be provided quality counseling via electronic means to maximize the use of technology-assisted counseling. These methods include videoconferencing, e-mail communication, telephone or stand-alone software programs that are HIPPA compliant.

1 Alliance Counseling & Psychotherapy Services offers Distance Counseling/Telemed for our clients in both Georgia and North Carolina.

Give us a call if you are interested or have questions.

One of the most important parts of love: forgiveness

In the midst of commercials for expensive jewelry, flowers and candy, let’s talk about real love. Love is a much more complex animal than gifts and dates. Love requires forgiveness to survive; forgiveness of self and transgressions big and small. Let’s look at forgiveness – who it is for and what it really means.

Forgiveness is part of the healing process and a letting go of resentment, hatred or self-pity that grips us. Forgiveness is accepting that punishment and resentment will not heal us. It will not erase a wrong. Resentment and a desire to punish only chains us to the event.

What Forgiveness is not:

  • It is not forgetting.
  • It is not condoning.
  • Forgiveness is not absolution.
  • It is not a one-time decision.
  • Forgiveness is not really even for the offender. It is for you.

Large or small, offenses wear away at our ability to trust and to love. We will be hurt again even if we forgive. Our life was not going to be “perfect” even if this particular event had never happened. Forgiveness is a choice. It can be a new and scary process to even think about embarking on, but the opportunity for more joy and love make it worth it.

Just one change

New Years is a time were most of us try to make life changes and promises to have a healthier and happier year. We are fueled by commercials for diet or exercise programs and travel destinations. Those promises often require quite a lot of change in lifestyle and are hard to maintain. By March, folks feel like they have let themselves down and are back to a rut.

Let’s take a new approach. Commit to making one change. Improve one relationship with better communication, better boundaries, more focus. Or, maybe, work 4 less hours a week and use those hours for yourself. Maybe you cook that new healthy recipe once a week. The point is, make success achievable, and then achieve that success. Allow the fruit of this one change to be corner you need to turn for a greater overall life.

On your way to larger life goals, start small and feel good enough with that. Next year the change can be bigger or you can set two achievable goals instead of just one. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Focus on a hill you can climb now and save some endurance for  bigger hills as your discipline improves.