THE MEDICAL RISK OF LONELINESS

    People suffering from loneliness often recognize that it affects their overall emotional well-being.  They may not be aware that it can also influence their physical well-being.  Carla Perissinotto, MD, assistant clinical professor of geriatrics at the University of California, San Francisco.  reported on a study which tracked 1,604 people over a six year period who reported feeling lonely at least some of the time.  The average age of the subjects was 71.  

    Those who reported feeling lonely at least some of the time were 59% more likely to experience functional decline, such as finding climbing stairs more difficult.  And, even more concerning, those who reported feeling lonely at least some of the time were 45% more likely to die within six years than those who did not report feeling lonely.  This indicates that loneliness is a medical risk factor similar to having diabetes or high blood pressure.

    What can you do to cut that risk?  First of all, your medical doctor may not ask about loneliness so be sure to report those feelings at your physicals.  As people age, old friends may not be available due to moving, ill health or even having passed away.  Find ways to add new people into your life through activities such as service to your community, joining a club, taking a class at the community college, attending a religious service.  Hypnosis can be a valuable tool to motivate you to make the changes necessary to alleviate loneliness that can hurt your health.  

AVOID THE HOLIDAY BLUES

    December is here and while some people are anticipating a month of fun and happiness, others are dreading a month of too many activities and too many expectations.  Often they may turn to food or drink for comfort when the demands of December leave them feeling down.

     There are a couple of important things to avoid if you've got the blues.  The first is alcohol.  Although when initially consumed, alcohol can produce euphoria and cause you to be less inhibited and more animated, in fact, alcohol is a depressant of the central nervous system.  With continued drinking, the depressant effect predominates as alcohol crosses the blood-brain barrier.

     Avoiding baked goods can also help you avoid the blues.  This is particularly important during the holiday season when we are absolutely surrounded by baked treats.  High-fat and high sugar carbs are sitting out at the office, served at every social function and on the table throughout the holidays.  Like alcohol, the sweet treats give a temporary lift and good feelings.  But often the excess sweet, fat food intake results in feeling heavy, drowsy and depressed.

    If you consume more alcohol and baked goods during the holiday, these can certainly add to those holiday blues.  If you need a tool to avoid those depression triggers, hypnotherapy can be a valuable tool.  Control your eating and drinking.  Avoid the holiday blues, feel good and BE WELL through the holidays.

SECRETS TO BE HAPPY

   Usually during the clinical interview that is part of my hypnotherapy sessions, I will ask clients what they hope to have happen because they came to see me.  Often the answer is, "I just want to be happy."  Social scientists believe that though life circumstances and genetics play a big part in happiness, about 55% of happiness comes from personal choices.

    In 2011, Dan Buettner, a National Geographic author and explorer, released the book THRIVEbased on five years of research and talking to researchers in the areas identified as the world leaders in happiness - San Luis Obispo, California, the Jutland Peninsula of Denmark, Nuevo Leon, Mexico and Singapore.    In his books he identified the secrets of the happiest people in the world.

    Among the secrets were: 1) OWNING ONE TV.  Americans spend an average of more than four hours a day watching TV.  This is time not spent in real interaction with family and friends. 2) CREATING A "FLOW ROOM".  A flow room in Danish society is similar to the American family room.  But it has no television or computer screens.  3) EXPERIENCING WHAT BUETTNER CALLED "THE SUN BONUS".  Sun exposure produces Vitamin D, often called the "happiness vitamin" because it increases seratonin.  People in sunnier climates consistently indicate higher levels of happiness than those of us who live farther north.  So get out and enjoy the sun. 4) STOP SHOPPING.  Many people who get satisfaction from buying things take fewer vacations and work longer hours.  Americans are inundated by media and social expectations and to want more.  Make good memories through experiences with those you care about.  5)  BE SELF-EMPLOYED.  Business owners and self-employed workers report some of the highest levels of happiness perhaps because they are doing work they like or because they have more control and autonomy.  6) VOLUNTEER.  Research studies have shown that altruism creates feelings of well-being with an effect on the brain similar to addiction.  So get "hooked" on the rewardsof volunteering including better health and increased self-worth.  Buettner also recommends having some kind of 7) FAITH.  Whether through organized religion or spirituality, people of faith tend to be happier than those without.    If you would like to be happier, explore adding these recommendations to your life.

     Hypnotherapy can help you get motivated to make these changes.  A qualified hypnotherapist will guide you to identify your goals to dd changes so you can BE HAPPY.

 

 

USING HYPNOTHERAPY TO TREAT LONELINESS

      If you are feeling lonely, know you are not alone.  Everyone feels lonely occasionally even in the middle of the crowd.  And loneliness can happen at any age.  Young adults are at risk when they leave school and their parents' home and move into their own home for the first time.  Retirees may feel particularly lonely when they no longer have a daily routine and lose workplace relationships.  Married people may feel lonely during rough patches in a relationship.

    Unfortunately, loneliness can spiral downward into the three D's of defensiveness, desperation and depression.  These, in turn, can push people away and cause even more loneliness.

     Defensiveness actually separates lonely people from others.  If you are feeling lonely, take the time to look at your own behavior.  Look at what could be limiting your ability to establish relationships.  Sometimes some tweaking of your social skills is all that is needed to feel less lonely.  Do you go places to meet people?  When was the last time you accepted an invitation or attended a social function?  Do you join in conversations already taking place?  Release the defensiveness and see how you can reach out to others. Taking a class or joining a volunteer group can be a great way to meet new people and do something positive for yourself and others.

    Desperation occurs when people feel that lack of social connections.  But often the best cure for loneliness is not meeting new people, it is deepening the relationships you already have.  Reach out to the people you already know.  Reconnect.  Go through your address book or emails and reconnect. Find old high school, college friends or co-workers. Then make a real effort to stay reconnected.

    Depression can happen when loneliness becomes overwhelming and the person simply gives up.  They begin to believe that it's impossible to be anything but lonely and become very pessimistic.  They step into the "why bother" mode - why bother to try to make a new friend, why bother to reach out to someone,  why bother to attend a social event.  Of course, you will likely not meet your soul mate or your future best friend at every event.  But, if you are lonely, step out of the loneliness box of your home and into the world of possibility.

    If you need help to release the defensiveness, desperation and depression that can be triggered by loneliness, a clinical hypnotherapist using brief therapy can help you to step out into a better and happier future.  Hypnotherapy can help you BE WELL.

HYPNOTHERAPY FOR MOTIVATION

     Many of my clients are surprised to learn that hypnotherapy can be a great tool for issues besides quitting smoking, losing weight and reducing stress.  I recently received a thank-you note from a client who had come to me feeling depressed and unmotivated after she lost her job when the executive she worked for left the company.  She just wanted to get on with her life.  This is the note I received, "Hi, Dr. Johnson    You are amazing!  when my phone rang during my session yesterday, it was from a company asking me if I was interested in interviewing for an Executive Assistant position next week:)  when I got home, I started cooking up a storm - pasta with meat sauce and spice cake with frosting.  This morning I got up at 6:15 and went for a two mile walk with my husband then I went to the office and packed my office and my executive's office.  I feel good today.  THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!"

     Congratulations to her and all the people who have used hypnotherapy to improve their lives.  Personal issues such as motivation, anxiety and depression can also be addressed with hypnosis.  

DEPRESSION TRAPS AT THE HOLIDAYS

     "It's the most wonderful time of the year" sing the carolers.  But for many people, the holidays from Thanksgiving till New Year can be cause for depression.  The holidays are times of high expectations, jammed calendars and memories of the past.  All of these things can trigger depression which can cause behaviors that may make things worse.

    Every year many people put great stress on themselves by trying to create "the perfect" holiday. There are homes to be decorated, food to be prepared, gifts to be bought and wrapped and people to be entertained. Trying to do this while still maintaining work schedules, school schedules and regular homelife can be overwhelming.  As time to the big day gets closer and closer, a feeling of failure can trigger depression.

    Because people are busy, some important self-caretaking can be dropped. The time demands and the darkness outside may have regular exercisers dropping their routine. Exercise increases levels of the mood-boosting brain chemicals, serotonin and dopamine.  When people don't exercise they lose those helpful chemicals. Then there are all the food choices to be made around the holidays.  Most of us do not usually have six dozen fat and sweet cookies sitting on the table year round.  Gaining weight through the holidays is typical and can be depressing.  In addition, we tend to eat more sugar.  Sugar is a substance which will originally elevate mood, but then comes the sugar crash and depresses the mood. 

     As depression begins to occur, many people try to relieve the anxiety that comes with depression by drinking alcohol. This self-medication may be a temporary fix for depression but soon causes more harm than good as it interferes with sleep, depresses the central nervous system and may interact with any antidepresants being taken. While some people drink, other people begin to withdraw from family and friends.  Social withdrawal will in actuality increase depression.

    So avoid the depression traps of overeating, self-medicating with alcohol, food or sugar or social withdrawal.  Hypnotherapy can be a great tool to help you deal with the stresses and depression traps of the holidays.  BE WELL and have a happy holiday season.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

     Time to begin an early Thanksgiving holiday.  I am so thankful for each one of you for reading my blog.  Your thoughts and shares are truly appreciated.  May you and those you love have a wonderful holiday.  Please join me next week here at www.johnsonhypnotherapy.com  and on twitter @DrJenJohnson.  Until then have a very safe and Happy Thanksgiving.

BE HAPPY

             If you ask most people what they want in their lives, they will give some form of the answer, "I want to be happy and healthy."  And studies have shown those two states are related - happy people lead healthier lives.  So what can we do to encourage happiness?  So many times we fixate on the negatives.  It's time to make it a goal to be happier. 

           Get information from the experts.  Lots and lots of books have been written about happiness. Some favorites are:  HAPPY 4 LIFE by Bob Nozik, MD, THE ART OF HAPPINESS by the Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler, GATEWAY TO HAPPINESS by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin and YOUR BEST LIFE NOW by Joel Osteen. Get the wisdom of people who have spent a great deal of time thinking about how to achieve happiness.

           Once you have done some research, make your commitment to lifelong happiness.  Begin by living in the moment.  There are things in our pasts that we simply can't change. Don't spend your life on "shoulda, woulda, couldas" from the past. If you spend time dwelling on old problems and mistakes that you can't change, you will be unhappy. Think of the past only as a learning tool to stop new mistakes.  If you constantly dwell on the future, worrying about what might happen, you may be focusing on all the things that could go wrong.  These worries also create unhappiness. Use the future as a goal for planning purposes not for worring.  Instead stay in the moment and enjoy all the good things that are happening right now.

          One great way to focus on the moment and the happiness it presents is by having a Gratitude Journal. For years I have kept a simple journal.  Each morning I take a moment to write three or four things I'm grateful for that day.  This builds awareness of all the wonderful things in our lives that so often we ignore or take for granted.  Because I am spiritual I write my journal in prayer form, with the gratitude items taking up most of the page and a prayer request or two at the end of the page.  One of my greatest joys is seeing the requests on one page become the prayers of thanksgiving and gratitude sometime in the future.  Even iff you are not spiritual, a gratitude journal is a wonderful way to build awareness of all the good things in your life.

          Finally, share your life with those around you.  Stay open to new friendships.  Be interested in the people you meet whether they are at a party or standing in line at the grocery store.  Be open to meeting new people - that person may become one of your dearest friends.  Reach out to others - speak to your neighbors, welcome the latest person moving into your neighborhood.  What you radiate out will be reflected back.  Let your friendliness bring friendliness and happiness into your life.

         If happiness simply seems to be beyond you, discuss your feelings with your medical doctor.  You may be suffering from depression.  A therapist or counselor may help you to examine your feelings and how to choose happiness.  Hypnotherapy can be a valuable tool in encouraging happiness.  Make the decision to be happy and then go out and actualize happiness in your life.