Your Healthy Summer

The official start of summer is around the corner. Warmer, longer days usually mean squeezing in as much activity as possible. That’s why now is the perfect time to take stock of your health and strive for improvements.

Start out in the right direction by heading outdoors. According to a study from Environmental Science & Technology, just 5 minutes of activity in natural areas resulted in improvements in self-esteem and mood. Also, an article on the American Society of Landscape Architects website reports that, in 1984, researcher E. O. Wilson coined the term Biophilia, which suggests outdoor preferences are an evolutionary response and there is an intuitive link between nature and well-being. For many, Biophilia explains the stress reduction connected to gardening, so it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get busy. IMG_0193Plant a small garden and if space is limited plant a few flower pots—indoors and out. Enthusiasts will confirm there is something cathartic and grounding about feeling the crumbly soil trickle through your hands. 

You may also want to try skipping the gym and  embrace green exercise by hiking, cycling, walking, roller blading or swimming. Both your brain and body will feel revitalized after breathing in fresh air and observing nature.

While out in the summer sun, remember to shield your eyes from intense rays with sunglasses that block at least 99% of ultraviolet A and B rays. Sunglasses can also help prevent cataracts as well as wrinkles around the eyes. The thing is, the closer you travel toward the equator, the harsher the sun’s UV rays, so all types of sun protection can be powerful tools.

Other healthy summer suggestions include taking advantage of California’s summer crops by loading up on seasonal berries. A cup a day of blackberries, blueberries, or strawberries will provide a healthy dose of fiber and antioxidants. The fiber helps keep cholesterol low and may help to prevent some cancers, while the antioxidants may help prevent damage to tissues and reduce the risks of age-related illnesses.

When entertaining, acknowledge the fact that food-borne bacteria thrive in warm weather. The picnic-without-food-poisoning rule-of-thumb is that no food should be left out for four total hours then eaten. Food should only be out in the sun two hours max, and if it’s
90 degrees or hotter, cut that to one hour.

You won’t be able to enjoy summer picnics and parties if your teeth and gums aren’t in top condition. Your dental hygienist isn’t wasting her breath when she goes into floss sermon mode. Do it every day. According to several dental associations, flossing reduces oral bacteria, which improves overall body health, and if oral bacteria is low, your body has more resources to fight bacteria elsewhere.

Ultimately, embrace your summer and take a vacation—or even a staycation. Studies have shown multiple benefits from R & R including lowering your blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormones such as cortisol, which contributes to a thick waist and an increased risk of heart disease.

To verify the license of a dental hygienist, visit the Dental Hygiene Committee of California’s website at www.dhcc.ca gov; for an optometrist, visit the Board of Optometry website at www.optometry.ca.gov, and for a Landscape Architect, visit the Landscape Architects Technical Committee’s website at www.latc.ca.gov.

June is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is most often associated with military veterans but PTSD affects more than those who have experienced combat warfare.

The National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder defines PTSD as a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault.

PTSD does not discriminate, it can happen to anyone.

Here are some facts from the National Center for PTSD:

  • About 7 or 8 out of every 100 people will have PTSD at some point in their lives
  • About eight million adults have PTSD during a given year
  • About 10 out of every 100 women develop PTSD sometime in their lives compared with about 4 out of every 100 men

Symptoms of PTSD vary from person to person, but the most common symptoms are:

  • Replaying the traumatic event over in your mind
  • Anxiety around people or places that trigger memories of the event
  • Feeling on edge and angered easily
  • Feelings of guilt, shame or depression

In 2014, to increase the promotion and public awareness of PTSD and the availability of effective treatments, PTSD Awareness Day, formerly June 27, was expanded to the entire month of June and 2017 marks the fourth consecutive year of the awareness campaign.

Only a mental health or medical professional can properly diagnose PTSD.  The California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) licenses such professionals through the Board of Psychology, Board of Behavioral Sciences and the Medical Board of California.

To check the license status of a mental health or medical professional in California click here.

For more information about PTSD and the National Center for PTSD, view the PTSD Awareness PSA below and visit the VA’s website at https://www.ptsd.va.gov/

 

May is Mental Health Month

Do you know how it feels to be adrift in one’s own mind? According to Mental Health America, one in four American adults lives with a diagnosable, treatable mental health condition. May is Mental Health Month, which began more than 65 years ago by Mental Health America to raise awareness about mental health conditions and the importance of mental wellness. Home

Last month, in support of mental health wellness, Assembly Bill 89, authored by Assemblymember Marc Levine, (D-Marin County), and sponsored by the California Board of Psychology, passed out of the Assembly. The bill requires applicants for licensure with the California Board of Psychology to complete a minimum of six hours of coursework or applied experience under supervision in suicide risk assessment and intervention.

“Suicide kills twice as many people in California as homicide, but not all mental healthcare providers have the training they need in suicide risk assessment and prevention,” said Assemblymember Levine. “AB 89 will save lives by making sure that psychologists have the training they need to identify suicidal individuals.” 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s data, suicide is the third leading cause of death for Californians ages 15 to 34, and the tenth leading cause of death for Californians of all ages.

Moreover, in Sacramento County, nearly 355,000 residents live with mental illness, but research shows that only one-third of those individuals will seek help primarily due to the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness. 

The amount of training licensed psychologists receive varies widely from as few as six hours, to over 50. Assembly Bill 89 will standardize the minimum number of hours of suicide prevention training required for licensure in the State of California. This training can be completed through coursework, continuing education, or through applied experience.

On May 24, join mental health advocates on the East Steps of the State Capitol  for Mental Health Matters Day 2017.  The Each Mind Matters coalition has come together to plan and host this event to better the lives of people with mental illness.

In addition, learn more about reducing stigma and discrimination at StopStigmaSacramento.org and show your support on social media by following the project on Twitter @StopStigmaSac and be sure to ‘like’ the project on Facebook . Engage in positive mental health messages using the hashtag #StopStigma.

To check the licensing status of a psychologist, please visit the Board of Psychology’s website at www.psychology.ca.gov.

To learn more about Mental Health America, visit their website at www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Disconnection Effect: Social Media and Young People

By design, social media connects young people to one another on a regular, even minute-by-minute basis. They see pictures and videos of others vacationing, having fancy meals, getting together for parties. What do these social media-driven images leave them feeling like? Oftentimes, disconnected and lonely.

A recent study by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine focused on how U.S. young adults’ extensive social media use (more than two hours a day) can lead to feelings of isolation. The study assessed time and frequency of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Vine. What they found was that the more young people were checking out others’ posts, the higher was their perception of social isolation.

Replacing face-to-face relationships with social media can also affect overall well-being. Research published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health looked into Facebook activity and its effects on physical and mental health, life satisfaction, and body mass index. The study reported that “the negative associations of Facebook use were comparable to or greater in magnitude than the positive impact of offline interactions, which suggests a possible trade-off between offline and online relationships.”

If you’re finding yourself increasingly lonely and even depressed, take important steps to improve your mental health. Cut down on social media use and consider seeking the advice of a professional. To check the license of a professional psychologist, visit the Board of Psychology website at www.psychology.ca.gov.

 

Can You Smile Your Way to Happiness?

Have you ever been told to “turn that frown upside down?”

It just so happens that doing so is good advice.shutterstock_154095902

Emotions may originate in the brain, but the muscles in the face either reinforce or transform those feelings.  Studies have revealed that through the enhancement of positive emotions – or the suppression of negative ones – with facial expressions, peoples moods begin to align with the emotion their face is communicating.

What kind of smile is the most beneficial?  Apparently, it doesn’t matter.  Smiles are generally divided into two categories. Standard smiles (otherwise known as posed), which use the muscles surrounding the mouth.  While genuine or Duchenne smiles, engage the muscles surrounding both the mouth and eyes (think crow’s feet).  Our brain does not differentiate between real and fake smiles.

Psychological scientists Tara Kraft and Sarah Pressman, of the University of Kansas, conducted a study to test the effects of smiling.

During their study, participants were told to hold chopsticks in between their teeth (a pen or pencil will work, too).  The researchers discovered that by holding the chopsticks between the teeth, it forced the study participants’ faces to mimic the same expression as a standard smile and produced the same effect.

Smiling Affects How Your Brain and Body Function

According to researchers, when we smile, even faking or forcing a smile, our stress is reduced and our mood is improved.

Smiling elevates your mood and creates a sense of well-being thanks to the release of the body’s “happy chemicals” serotonin and endorphins.

shutterstock_329221124These chemicals have been found to relax the body and lower heart rate and blood pressure.  As an added benefit, endorphins act as a natural pain reliever and serotonin serves as an anti-depressant and mood lifter.

Lastly, smiling sends a signal to the rest of your body that things are okay and it’s safe to let down your guard.

 Smiling Affects Other’s Perception of You

Smiling doesn’t just benefit you on the inside; it also works to your advantage from the outside.  A study from Penn State University found that people who smile appear to be more likeable, attractive, courteous and even competent.

Additionally, studies have shown that lifting those facial muscles into a smile is also contagious.  If you smile and they smile, everyone in the room becomes a little happier.

So, the next time you’re feeling stressed or gloomy, take a tip from the researchers and grab a pen or a pencil and muster up a smile.

PSYCHOLOGIST ORDERED NOT TO PRACTICE DUE TO FELONY COUNTS

Psychology_Logo_BannerSACRAMENTO – The California Board of Psychology moved to protect the citizens of California last week by exercising its right to obtain an order in criminal court, against psychologist Michael Dane Ward, preventing him from practicing psychology during the pendency of his criminal case.

Read the entire news release here.

Psychologist Convicted of Indecent Exposure

Psychology_Logo_BannerSACRAMENTO – The California Board of Psychology recently filed an accusation to revoke the license of Thomas F. Machos of Oceanside after he was convicted of multiple counts of indecent exposure.

Read the entire news release here

Psychologist Surrenders License Due to Sexual Misconduct

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Southland Psychologist was accused of having sexual relations with a patient

SACRAMENTO – A psychologist has agreed to surrender her license after she was accused of sexual misconduct with a patient while she was a director of two recovery centers where the patient was being treated.

Read the entire news release here.