Lifestyle Changes That Can Reduce Joint Pain

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 50 million adults are diagnosed annually with some form of chronic joint pain due to arthritis, gout, lupus, or fibromyalgia. Many of us have been conditioned to believe that with age comes aches and pains.

But joint pain does NOT have to be inevitable. In fact, some joint pain is a result of lifestyle choices, such as poor diet and lack of exercise.

This, of course, means you can effectively make certain lifestyle changes that can reduce joint pain and improve function. Here are some ideas to get you started down a path of less pain and stiffness:

Maintain a Healthy Weight

According to The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), obesity is one of the most common diseases that affect bone and joint health. Losing weight not only relieves pressure on your joints, but it can also reduce joint degeneration.

Get Regular Exercise

Obviously, exercise can help you lose weight, but there are other benefits to moving your body. Regular exercise increases strength and flexibility, which is important for joint health. Now, depending on the severity of your joint pain, certain exercises may be off the table. For severe pain, consider walking, biking, and swimming as these exercises are gentle on your joints.

Eat a Healthy Diet

There are two phases to eating a healthy diet:

  • Phase 1 – Eliminate processed foods that are high in refined sugars and trans fats. These cause inflammation throughout the body that causes joints to be stiff and painful.
  • Phase 2 – Eat more foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help to reduce inflammation in the body. These foods include fatty fish, chia seeds, and walnuts.

Quit Smoking

Smoking prohibits your body from healing itself and also reduces blood flow. This makes it hard for your joints to recover from injuries and inflammation. Not only will quitting smoking help joint pain, but it will also improve your overall health as well.

Seek Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic is often used as a complement to conventional treatments for joint pain. Chiropractic adjustments can reduce the restrictions or misalignments in your spine and other joints. One study found that adjustments helped normalize inflammation for individuals suffering from low back pain.

Joint pain can also sometimes come from poor posture and spinal alignment, and chiropractors can help you solve that issue as well.

If you suffer from joint pain and would like to explore chiropractic care, please call our office. We’ll be more than happy to discuss how adjustment might finally bring you some relief.

 

SOURCES:

How to Help Your Teen Cope with Back-to-School Stress

It’s almost fall, which means store shelves — and virtual shopping carts — are stocked with low-priced notebooks, markers, and glue. Soon the familiar break hiss of school buses will be heard in neighborhoods across the country as some of our children head physically back to school. Yet, others will be “returning” to school virtually this fall. The transition back to school can be a tricky one for some students, and it’s likely the back-to-school transition of 2020 will be an extra challenging one.

While some kids begrudge alarm clocks and mountains of homework, most still look forward to the new school year. Typically, a new school year is a chance to enjoy new friendships and extra-curricular activities, but many of those opportunities may now be absent due to the current pandemic. 

Moreover, some children have a real fear of going back to school. They may worry about grades, fitting in, peer pressure, potential bullying, or even school violence. Under regular circumstances, some teens have trouble coping with social pressure, while others feel overwhelmed at what they will be expected to learn and those mountains of homework. How will this all play out for the 2020-2021 school year? For so many of us, uncertainty leads to increased stress. 

If your child is feeling stressed at the thought of beginning a new school year (either online, in-person, or in a mixed format), here are some ways you can help:

Ask Them What’s on Their Mind

Some kids might voluntarily share any worries they have about starting school, but many won’t. If your child does not volunteer this information, ask them directly how they’re feeling about school starting up again. 

Older kids and teenagers often shut down when questioned about, well, anything really. So try to make a leading statement like, “Being able to sleep in longer while school is online might be cool. But I am guessing there is stuff you might not be looking forward to…” Then wait for a response. 

If they don’t respond, try again the next day. Eventually, they will open up to you, and when they do, the important thing is not to say the exact right thing but to simply listen, show interest and concern, and never judge. 

Get Them Involved

To some children, summer means freedom and being able to make more choices for themselves, while school means having little (or no) control over their day-to-day lives. To help counter this feeling, get your kids involved in decision-making at the very beginning. 

Hold a “going back to school” family meeting specific to their current school situation, and make sure there are no media distractions like smartphones or TVs on in the background. Discuss the year ahead, plan and set schedules for meals, homework, sports, school activities (if permitted with Coronavirus), and bedtime. Write these plans down and stick a copy on the fridge or another location your family sees often each day. 

Talk About Bullying

Kids of all ages worry about bullying, so it is important to bring up the topic. You could make a simple statement like, “Bullying is really common, and it’s never OK, nor is it the victim’s fault when it happens. If anything happens to you or you see it happen to someone you know, I want you to tell me about it. We can make a plan together about how to handle it.” Sadly, those attending school virtually are not immune from bullying. Cyber bullying continues to be an unfortunately reality in our society. 

There are also those who worry about starting school because they have issues with anxiety and/or depression. These children and teens need help from a professional therapist who can uncover where the root issues are coming from and offer tools and resources for coping in the real world. 

California Women’s Therapy is a team of female psychologists who specialize in working virtually with both parents and teens during these challenging times. Couples counseling is also available. 

For more information about available services, please reach out to Samantha at [email protected] or call (805)-244-5121.

Get Some Sleep! 5 Tips for Busting Through Your Insomnia

If you find yourself struggling to fall or stay asleep, you’re not alone. Insomnia, the chronic inability to get sufficient sleep, is a common problem affecting millions of Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2014 study, more than a third of Americans aren’t getting enough sleep on a daily basis.

With a lack of sleep at the root of serious medical conditions like obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease, getting a decent amount of sleep on a regular basis is crucial to a long and healthy life. Here are five things you can do to change your routine and start getting to, and staying, asleep.

1. Just Two Things in Bed
Make sure that your bed is used only for two things: sex and sleep. By using your bed almost exclusively for sleep, your body will associate your bed with rest and relaxation, making it easier to fall asleep.

2. Exercise Regularly
Getting regular exercise (the recommended thirty minutes a day, five days a week) will help you promote healthy sleep habits. Your post-exercise temperature may promote falling asleep, and exercise in general will help eliminate insomnia by decreasing arousal and anxiety.

3. Naps, Caffeine, & Alcohol
Short naps are helpful for some, but for others it impacts their ability to fall asleep. If you’re struggling with insomnia, avoid naps during the day. Caffeine, a known stimulant, may keep you up longer than you’re aware. You may need to avoid caffeine entirely if it prevents you from falling asleep. And, while alcohol is a sedative, it can disrupt your sleep; so if you have trouble staying asleep, avoid alcohol.

4. No Screens Before Bedtime
Screen time, such as computers, smart phones and television, prevent you from falling asleep due to cognitive stimulation. Too much light at bedtime affects your melatonin production, giving your body the impression that its staying awake, not ready for sleep. Help your body get ready for sleep by eliminating screen time at least two hours before bed.

5. Create a Nighttime Routine
Creating a regular nighttime routine will help your body get into the habit of winding down and relaxing as it prepares for sleep. Create a nighttime routine an hour or two before bed. Maybe have a glass of warm milk, brush your teeth, change into your pajamas and read a book every night before bed. Make sure you go to bed around the same time every night too, including weekends.

Changing old habits and establishing a new routine is never easy. But as you make changes and sustain new practices, it will get easier. Before long you’ll have a new set of healthy habits, and you can finally settle in for a good night’s sleep.

Are you struggling with insomnia and need help maintaining healthy sleep habits? A licensed professional can help. Call my office today and let’s schedule an appointment to talk.

Ergonomic Tips for Continuing to Work from Home After Coronavirus

Many of us have found ourselves working from home because of the coronavirus. And while the country has slowly begun to open back up, threats of a “second wave” have emerged, which means a majority of us could be working from home for the foreseeable future.

Working from home may be helping us all save on gas expenses, but it sure is putting a crimp in many backs and necks! That’s because many people working from home did not have a dedicated home office to begin with. And so we find ourselves working in less than ideal ergonomic situations as we work on sofas, bookshelves and on top of our beds.

With this in mind, here are some ergonomic tips to help your body feel more comfortable working from home:

Use a Separate Monitor

Looking down all day at your laptop screen can really hurt your neck. You ideally want to be looking straight ahead. If you have a desktop home computer, use this instead of your laptop as it will help you look straight ahead while working. If you don’t, consider getting a monitor that you can attach to your laptop so you can keep your head elevated.

External Keyboards and Mouse

If another larger monitor is not within your budget, consider getting an external wireless keyboard and mouse. This will allow you to use your laptop as a monitor and raise it using a laptop riser or stack of books while you type and control the screen separately.

Invest in a Better Chair

You ideally want a chair that offers cushioning and is height adjustable. Keep in mind you get what you pay for. While not everyone can afford a $1600 Aeron chair, suitable ones can be purchased for $200 – $300. Also, keep in mind that work-related chairs and desks are tax-deductible.

Move Your Body

Your body shouldn’t be seated all day long. It’s important to get up every half hour and move around. Do some stretching and take some nice deep breaths. If you get easily caught up in your work, then use an app reminder such as UP or Stand Up.

Visit a Chiropractor

If, after following these guidelines, your body still feels sore, it may be time to visit your local chiropractor. They will be able to tailor a program to deal with your specific physical issues.

If you are in the area and would like to work with a chiropractor to get your body feeling better, give us a call or stop by our office. We can tailor a treatment plan for your specific needs.

 

SOURCES:

How to Cope with the Stress and Anxiety Caused by COVID-19

If you’re like most people, you are doing your best to stay calm during COVID-19 pandemic. But that can feel incredibly difficult at times. When not worrying about friends and loved one’s health, there’s also the conflicting information provided by the media and the economic ramifications of the virus that have people on edge.

Signs of Emotional Distress and 6 Ways to Cope

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations, but most will exhibit some of the following signs:

  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs

If you are experiencing significant stress right now, here are some ways you can cope:

1. Limit Media Consumption

Hearing the media constantly spread panic isn’t good for anyone. It’s important to stay rational and do your own research to uncover facts from fiction as well as stay positive.

2. Nurture Your Body and Spirit

Be sure to get outside for some fresh air and go for a walk. Eat right and make sure to stay hydrated and get plenty of sleep. Avoid consuming too much alcohol and try and find fun ways to reconnect with your family.

3. Tap into Your Sense of Fun

If you have kids, look to them for some good old-fashioned playtime. Play hide and seek in the house. Create an obstacle course in the back yard. Watch some of your favorite funny movies. Laughter really is the best medicine so get plenty of it!

4. Support Your Local Community

Many local businesses are hurting right now. If you’re still getting a paycheck, consider buying a gift card from a local restaurant, gym, hair salon, etc. to give them revenue now and you can use the card later. This will make you feel great at the same time.

5. Be a Role Model

Remember, your kids will ALWAYS look to you first to see how they should be thinking and feeling about something. So move about each day calmly and confidently and reassure your kids everything will be okay because it will be.

6. Use Your Time Constructively

For many of us, there is a silver lining in this situation in the form of extra time. What can you do with the extra time that isn’t being used to drive an hour or more each day in commuting? Focus on using this time wisely. Maybe you have an ever-growing list of home projects that you just never have time to tackle. Tackle them now, you’ll feel great about it later.

 

If you find yourself becoming too stressed or depressed during this time, I encourage you to connect with me. Speaking with a therapist can help you cope with the situation and navigate the days ahead. I am currently able to conduct sessions over the phone or via Skype, so you won’t even have to leave your home if your state is in lockdown.


SOURCES:

https://www.ucihealth.org/news/2020/03/covid-19-anxiety

https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/ep/behavioral/stress_covid19.pdf

5 Foods to Keep Your Immune System Strong

As the events of COVID-19 continue to unfold, many of us are focusing on how we can keep ourselves and our families as healthy as possible. While social distancing and increased hand washing can be very effective at stopping the spreading of the Corona virus, it is equally important to keep our immune systems strong.

With this in mind, here are some of the absolute best foods you can eat to help support your immune system:

1. Blueberries

Blueberries are loaded with powerful antioxidants. In fact, they contain a type of flavonoid called anthocyanin, which has antioxidant properties that can boost your immune system. A 2016 study found that flavonoids play an essential role in the respiratory tract’s immune defense system. The researchers found that people who ate foods rich in flavonoids were less likely to get sick with respiratory tract infections and the common cold.

2. Turmeric

Turmeric is the aromatic spice that makes curry yellow. It is also often used in alternative medicine thanks to its active compound curcumin. Curcumin has been shown to improve a person’s immune response because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

3. Spinach

Popeye knew that spinach would help him be stronger. But I wonder if he knew how good it was for his immune system. Spinach contains vitamin C & E, as well as beneficial flavonoids and carotenoids. Not only are vitamin C & E great for the immune system, but research shows flavonoids may help prevent common colds in otherwise healthy people. So, it stands to reason it may help protect against other viruses as well.

4. Citrus Fruits

Most of us, when we feel an illness coming on, reach for more vitamin C-rich foods. But what is it about vitamin C specifically that makes it so good for our immune systems?

Vitamin C is believed to increase the production of white blood cells. These are the cells responsible for attacking foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses.

Some popular citrus fruits high in vitamin C include:

  • grapefruit
  • oranges
  • tangerines
  • lemons
  • limes
  • clementines

Unlike other animals whose bodies do produce vitamin C, humans must get their vitamin C from the foods they eat or through supplementation. So be sure to add more citrus fruits to your diet.

5. Red Bell Peppers

We can’t talk about vitamin C without mentioning that ounce for ounce, red bell peppers contain even more vitamin C than most citrus fruits. So if you prefer veggies to fruits, then be sure to eat more red bell peppers.

While this is not an exhaustive list of immune-boosting foods, it will get you started eating right so you can stay healthy during this pandemic. It’s also important to stay hydrated and eliminate sugars and trans fats from your diet as well.


SOURCES:

https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/foods-that-boost-the-immune-system

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322412

20 Ways to Protect Your Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic is all over the news and is impacting our lives in many ways. Here in California (as well as many other states and countries), people are “sheltering in place” and “safer at home.” Schools are closed, many businesses are closed, and many of the people who do still have jobs are now working from home.

It should come as no surprise that this has triggered significant anxiety and fear, especially for those with preexisting mental health challenges. Many individuals who were already struggling with anxiety, depression, or chronic stress are now experiencing an intensification of their symptoms. And some people are experiencing heightened anxiety for the first time.

Common mental health symptoms associated with the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic:

  • Changes in sleep patterns (sleeping too much or too little)
  • Changes in appetite (reduced appetite or increased “stress eating”)
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased mood swings (including irritability, anger, etc.)
  • Increased misuse of mood-altering substances (alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs)

Here are 20 tips for coping with the anxiety and stress triggered by the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic:

(1) Limit the amount of time you spend watching the news or reading about this topic, and only seek information about what’s happening from reliable sources.

(2) Get enough sleep

(3) Stay physically active and exercise regularly

(4) Focus on nutrition

(5) Stay well hydrated

(6) Practice deep breathing

(7) Try meditation

(8) Listen to relaxing music

(9) Read something unrelated to current events

(10) Limit your caffeine intake

(11) Create something

(12) Avoid turning to alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs as a means of emotional coping

(13) Read or watch things that make you laugh

(14) Focus on planning for the future after this crisis has passed.

(15) Speak regularly with loved ones and friends (phone calls, texts, live video, emails and social media are all great options).

(16) Seek out positive stories of others helping those in need.

(17) Find ways to help others stay safe and healthy during this time.

(18) Spend time in sunlight when and where possible.

(19) Journal about your thoughts and feelings.

(20) Share your feelings openly with the people you trust.

If you’d like accountability in implementing these strategies or are in need of additional support, please know that we’re here to help remotely (through live video or telephone). Our initial consultations are always free.

5 Ways to Get a Better Night’s Sleep with Anxiety

Affecting nearly 40 million adults in the United States, anxiety is one of the country’s most common mental health disorders. Sleep disturbances such as insomnia are highly prevalent amongst those who suffer from anxiety disorder. If you have trouble falling asleep, it may heighten or trigger your anxiety, and vice versa. While it can be difficult for an anxiety sufferer to fall asleep, it’s not impossible; read on for five ways to get a better night’s sleep.

1. Exercise

Physical activity is an important component for overall health. Exercise will produce chemicals in your brain that will help elevate your mood and decrease your stress or tension, which will provide some relief for your anxiety. Exercise will also help you sleep. Not only will the physical exertion improve the quality of your sleep, it will help insure you’re able to sleep without interruption.

2. Daylight

Daylight helps set sleep patterns, so try to spend at least 30 minutes outdoors during the day time. Daylight sun exposure is critical if you have trouble falling asleep, because it helps to regulate the body’s circadian clock.

3. Healthy Habits

Studies have shown that people who make unhealthy food choices are more likely to suffer from sleep disturbances. Healthy balanced meals will keep your energy stable which will help you manage your mood and improve your sleep habits.

It’s also important to avoid big meals or alcohol for several hours before bedtime. Smoking is another bad habit that can cause many health problems, which will negatively affect your sleep in a number of ways.

4. Night Time Routine

Create a routine that you execute nightly, an hour or two before bedtime. Minimizing screen time will help calm your mind and prepare you for sleep. Change into your pajamas and do some light reading, or find other ways to charge down and get ready to sleep. Make sure you go to bed around the same time every night too, including weekends.

5. A Comfortable Bedroom

Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet, without distractions. Have a window open to keep the room cool and the air smelling fresh. A clean room and clean linens will make your bedroom more inviting. Make sure you have a good quality mattress and pillow to maximize your comfort.

Are you struggling with falling or staying asleep, and need help maintaining healthy sleep habits? A licensed professional can help. Call my office today and let’s schedule an appointment to talk.

How to Set Healthy Boundaries During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Are you wondering how to set healthy boundaries during the Coronavirus pandemic?

Relationships can only be healthy when both people have the space to be themselves and maintain their personal integrity. This can be especially challenging while “shelter at home” and “safer at home” restrictions are in place. Sadly, many people find themselves in relationships, romantic and otherwise, with people who do not respect boundaries and feel entitled to have their needs met regardless of the other person’s. These people most likely grew up in households that were unsafe and unstable, and where there was a constant invasion of personal boundaries.

If you can relate, chances are you have a hard time creating healthy boundaries to create the life experience you wish to have. This unique time in our history is an excellent time to learn to create healthy boundaries within your relationship. Here are some ways you can begin to do so:

Identify Your Limits

You can’t set boundaries unless you discover where it is you personally stand. You’ll need to take a bit of time to recognize what you can and cannot tolerate. What makes you happy and what makes you feel uncomfortable and stressed? Only until you have made these discoveries can you move on to the next steps.

Don’t Be Shy

People who have similar communication styles are easy to engage with. These people will quickly understand what your new barriers are. But people who have a different cultural background or personality may not easily understand your boundaries. With these people, it’s important to be very clear and direct.

Pay Attention to Your Feelings

People who have a hard time setting boundaries don’t often allow themselves to acknowledge their own feelings because they’re usually too busy worrying about everyone else’s.

You’ll need to start recognizing how people make you feel in order to know whether your new boundaries are being crossed or not. When you’re with someone, make mental notes, or even jot down in a journal how that interaction made you feel.

If, after spending time with someone, you feel anger or resentment, this is a sign that the person may be overstepping your boundaries. Reiterate to this person what your boundaries are. If they continue to disrespect you and them, you will want to cut yourself away from further interactions.

Make Self-Care a Priority

Put yourself and your needs first. This may feel strange and even somehow wrong if you’ve spent your entire life taking care of others. Give yourself permission to feel your feelings and get what you need to feel happy and well.

Speak with Someone

If you’ve spent an entire life with a sense of low self-worth, you may find setting boundaries quite difficult. In this case, it’s important to speak with a therapist that can help you discover where these feelings are coming from and how to change your thought patterns and behavior.

If you’d like to explore therapy, please get in touch with me. I would be happy to help you on your journey toward self-care.

Trauma & Relationships: 5 Ways to Increase Connection this Valentine’s Day

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Priscilla Du Preez

Valentine’s Day can bring up a lot of emotions. For some, it represents a day of romance and encourages expressions of love. However, this can often put unhealthy pressures and expectations on a relationship or can lead to uncoupled individuals feel left out and minimized by society. Many people dread this day or become frustrated with its American commercialization. For individuals who’ve experienced Trauma, these challenges are further compounded by difficulties with intimacy and vulnerability.  

If you’ve experienced Trauma, you may find yourself struggling to connect with others or have difficulty feeling positive emotions such as love or happiness. You may find yourself thinking “I can’t trust people,” “others will take advantage of me,” or “they’ll just let me down anyways, so what’s the point.” You may also suffer from low self-esteem and believe that you don’t deserve love or people who care about you. This may lead to pushing people away, self-sabotage, or diving into toxic relationships with those who would mistreat you.

Rather than continuing to stay stuck in this downward spiral, here are 5 ways to help yourself become more connected:

  1. Self-Care

You may see this term showing up everywhere and initially dismiss it. What does self-care even mean?! Does staying home all weekend in the same clothes and binge-watching Netflix count? Part of connecting with others involves connecting with yourself and acknowledging that you deserve care. It doesn’t have to be a big step like treating yourself to a spa day (although those are quite nice). Self-care can be basic grooming, eating regular/balanced meals, and exercise. It can mean taking a stroll around your neighborhood or sipping your favorite tea. Any behavior, no matter how small, that shows yourself that you matter.

  1. Contributing

Giving can be an incredible way to connect and feel valued. It can also help improve the quality of your relationships and overall outlook. Contributing doesn’t necessarily mean donating money or volunteer work. Both may be great options, but it can also look like showing people kindness through sending a friend a supportive text or paying a co-worker a compliment. Sometimes people may go overboard and become so selfless, that they neglect their own needs. If you find yourself with this tendency, it’s okay to still contribute, but you may want to pay special attention to the paragraph on Self-Care.  

  1. Be Part of Your Community 

As humans, we are social beings. It is a natural and essential need to connect with others and be part of a larger community. We are not alone, and we are all part of something bigger than ourselves. This involvement can be as active or passive as you choose. Sometimes this means participating in your spirituality by attending services/events. It can be going to a Farmer’s market, taking a group workout class, or sitting at a café, simply sharing space with others in your neighborhood. 

  1. Initiate Plans

Too many people wait around for someone else to initiate plans. This can not only be anxiety-provoking but often discouraging. It leaves the door open for all those insecurities to rush in and convince us that there’s no hope and we’re destined to be alone, or it may make us doubt our current relationships. Rather than giving our power to someone else who decides if and when we will meet, reach out and take that first empowered step. 

  1. Group Hang Out

In our modern age, we are no longer restricted to traditional ways of celebrating holidays. Social gatherings like Friendsgiving have become the norm. We often associate Valentine’s Day with a time dedicated to our romantic partners but showing love to our friends and family can offer just as much meaning. The days surrounding Valentine’s Day might be the perfect opportunity to plan something special with these significant others in your life. This might look like hosting a dinner/game night or gathering the girls for a brunch or a hike. If hosting sounds like a big commitment, see if someone else is interested in organizing the activity with your help. 

This blog post was written by Dr. Talia Barach, licensed clinical psychologist. She specializes in helping others overcome the negative impacts of trauma and move forward in their lives. Visit our “Dr. Talia” page to learn more.