3 Ways Weather Is Affecting Your Mental Health

mental healthWhile many of us are fully aware of how weather has the ability to affect our physical health, the majority of people today are completely ignorant of the affects weather can have on our mental health. Rain or shine, hot or cold, tornado or hurricane- weather can have a dominating effect on the way we feel and translate the world around us.

According to a 2014 climate change study, “climate change and related weather events and environmental changes can profoundly impact psychological well-being and mental health.” (1) To help you learn just how weather may be impacting you beyond just the physical, here are 3 ways weather may be affecting your mental health.

1. Stress.  If you have been the victim of a natural disaster, you may be more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder. But you don’t have to be the outcome of a hurricane, tornado, or earthquake to feel the increased stress they can cause on ones’ life. Simply living in a region prone to more drastic weather can easily send your stress levels through the roof.

2. Anxiety and depression.  When it comes to mental health, anxiety and depression are key areas to be potentially hit by weather’s impact. Results in a 2012 study comparing temperature and humidity vs mental health emergency room visits suggested an increased use of emergency departments for mental and psychosocial problems the higher the temperature. (2) Many of these visits were due to anxiety, depression, anxiousness, and even stress.While warmer temperatures and pleasant weather can reap positive effects like higher mood and improved memory at first, over a short period of time these positive effects evolve into more of the negative effects discussed above. Likewise, many love the first hot summer day. They enjoy soaking up the sun by spending time outdoors in the heatwave. But if that heatwave continues over an entire week, most people would begin yearning for relief.

3. Addictions and suicide. Unfortunately, weather can affect people on an even higher scale, aiding in addictions and suicides among the population. According to a study conducted on the effects of sunshine on suicide rates, “…sunshine, via interactions with serotonin neurotransmission, may trigger increased impulsivity and promote suicidal acts.” (3)  The ongoing combination of stress, anxiety, and depression may put those already more susceptible to mental illnesses at a higher risk for developing addictions and even committing suicide.

We are all well aware of the physical affects weather can have on both people and the world around us but it’s important to also shed light on the mental health impact of weather. Oftentimes, being proactive in mentally preparing for changes in weather can be just as beneficial as stocking up on bottled water and flashlights. By choosing a region with weather trends you can better anticipate and mentally prepare for, you can help brace yourself for weather’s negative impact on stress, anxiety and depression, addictions, and suicide both physically and mentally.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:

  1. Climate Change: The Next Challenge for Public Mental Health?, Weather effects mental health quote, 2014, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25137107
  2. Relationship Between Ambient Temperature and Humidity and Visits to Mental Health Emergency Departments in Quebec, Study findings for connection between heat and mental health emergency visits, 2012, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23117515
  3. Effects of Sunshine On Suicide Rates, Sunshine and suicide rates quote, 2012, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21821241

 

 

 

2 Terrible Truths about Stress Today

So, stress is up! We all know that high stress levels are on the rise all across the nation but what’s the real truth about stress today? Why is it impacting everyone we know- both the young and the old, and why does its negativity reign supreme?

StressOutAccording to the key findings of the American Psychological Association (APA), there are 2 terrible truths about stress today (1). To help you better understand these truths and in return your own personal stress, here’s more.

1. Self-care is not a priority. Only forty percent of Americans rate their health as very good or excellent, leaving the remaining sixty percent with less than adequate self-rated health, as stated by the APA. (2) The first terrible truth about stress in America is a lack of self-care. It’s simply not a priority. Instead of managing stress in healthy ways by staying active, eating nutritional meals, and making our personal health a priority we opt to indulge in unhealthy behaviors like drugs and alcohol, over or under eating, and being lazy when it comes to regular exercise.

The APA continues to provide a list of startling facts including, “two-fifths of Americans reported overeating or eating unhealthy foods due to stress.” (3) The terribly sad truth is that we, as Americans are taking part in a viciously repetitive cycle. We choose to eat unhealthy, not be active, and overall not make self-care a priority which in return creates stress in our life. And what do we do because we are feeling stressed? We continue to eat unhealthy, not be active, and not make self-care a priority. Yikes!

2. Lack of willpower is the problem. The second truth in our one-two-punch against stress is the lack of willpower. The APA cites the lack of willpower as being the biggest barrier to adopting healthier behavior and continues to inform us that survey respondents are mistakenly relying on an inner strength to make necessary health changes (4). Similar to standing in front of an empty refrigerator with the door wide open waiting for something delicious to appear, you too should stop waiting for some inner strength to emerge against unhealthy choices.

Willpower is a choice you make, not something that all of a sudden happens within you. Combatting the stress in your life requires better health choices through nutrition and exercise and both of those choices take a strong will power. Don’t be afraid to awaken yours.

Stress is up because self-care and willpower are down. The 2 terrible truths, the first being that Americans are not prioritizing self-care through eating healthy and being active and the second, that Americans have a lack of willpower are society’s downfall when it comes to combatting stress. Want to beat the stress in your personal life? It’s as simple as prioritizing your health and having the willpower to stick to those healthy choices.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

 

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Sources:

  1. Stressed In America, 2 Terrible truths, 2011, http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/01/stressed-america.aspx
  2. Stressed In America, Americans rate personal health stats, 2011, http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/01/stressed-america.aspx
  3. Stressed In America, Unhealthy eating due to stress stats, 2011, http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/01/stressed-america.aspx
  4. Stressed In America, Lack of willpower facts, 2011, http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/01/stressed-america.aspx

 

Sweat Away the Stress

Stress ReductionMost people experience stress on a daily basis.  For some it is mild and easily controlled, but for others it can be serious and begin to affect their everyday lives.  There are many ways to manage stress, but exercise is one that can assist in stress management as well as provide many other health and mental benefits.

1. Increase Energy. Your daily routine can be physically and mentally draining.  You may think that you cannot possibly squeeze one more thing into your schedule; however, finding time to exercise on a regular basis has been shown to give you even more energy to achieve those everyday tasks.  It may seem strange that exercise, which can be exhausting, can actually replenish your energy levels.  Not only can your energy be restored, but your ability to concentrate can be increased as can your overall brain function (1).  In order to fully utilize this energy, working out in the morning is a great option.

runStress22. Encourage Stability. Having a consistent routine as well as a goal to be attained can shift the focus of a person’s mind.  Even if the stress factors in his life have not been removed, the stability offered by a proper exercise regimen can allow him to concentrate on something other than those stress factors.  If you are in need of some consistency in your everyday schedule, make exercise part of your daily routine, not just something that you do if you have time.  The best way to accomplish this is to join a specific class that meets at a specified time or to work out with a friend; if someone is relying on you to be there, you are less likely to make excuses.

3. Release Tension. Exercise is a science.  There are many chemicals that can be released and many nerves that can be stimulated through physical activity.  Endorphins are released during physical activity, and these chemicals offer a person relief from stress as well as a chance to get a better night’s sleep (2).  Many people who are trying to do exercise specifically for stress relief choose yoga since it also requires that you concentrate and control your breathing.

4. Balance Emotions. The body and the brain go hand in hand.  What affects one will naturally affect the other.  When your body is stronger, so is your mind.  One of the greatest benefits of exercise is that it allows all the systems of the body to work together.  This includes the brain function, which then allows the body to handle stress more efficiently (3).  One of the best exercises to accomplish this is running since it works the muscular, cardiovascular, and nervous systems.  Only a strong and focused mind will be able to balance all these functions properly.

Using exercise as a weapon against stress has been shown to be successful for many people (4).  Whether physical activity actually reduces stress or simply lessens the effects of it, there is no question that it is a great outlet for stressed people.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:
1. Physical Activity Reduces Stress, Benefits of exercise on energy levels, 2015, http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/stress/physical-activity-reduces-st
2. Exercise for Stress and Anxiety, Endorphins released during exercise, 2015, http://www.adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/managing-anxiety/exercise-stress-and-anxiety
3. Exercise Fuels the Brain’s Stress Buffers, Body systems, 2015, http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/exercise-stress.aspx
4. Exercise Fuels the Brain’s Stress Buffers, Body systems, 2015, http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/exercise-stress.aspx

When Anger is a Positive

There are many misconceptions about the emotion of anger. One of those misconceptions is that anger is a negative thing and that being happy is its opposite. Another misconception is that, when people become angry, violence will most likely ensue. While these thoughts are sometimes true, they are also missing the other aspect of anger – the positive side.anger management

There is a way to display anger in a proper manner that is actually helpful rather than hurtful. While constructive anger has no exact definition since it varies from one situation to another, there are some common elements (1).

  • Constructive anger is controlled. Instead of immediately expressing anger when first instigated, take time to think about the situation and determine whether your anger is appropriate (2). Thinking about your response first will help you avoid destructive anger.
  • Constructive anger is justified. Do you actually have a reason to be as angry as you feel, or could you be overreacting to the situation? Did you do anything that could have contributed to the problem? Is the level of anger you feel proportional to the situation? Considering these questions will help you avoid regretting your anger later.
  • Constructive anger is shared (3). If you are expressing your anger and the object of your anger isn’t even present, you are wasting your breath and most likely just working yourself up. If you have a legitimate reason to be angry, it should be discussed face to face with the person. In addition, the other person should be given a chance to explain, share his perspective, and eventually apologize without being attacked further.

anger managementNot only can constructive anger help an immediate relationship or situation, it can have positive effects on the future as well. Studies have shown the repressed anger is more likely to result in violence than immediately expressed anger (3). The following are a few of the positive aspects of anger.

  • Resolves. Constructive anger results in a situation being resolved, which in turn strengthens the relationship rather than hurting it.
  • Motivates. Anger is an excellent motivator. If you feel wronged about something, it can motivate you to do something about it. This can work to your advantage in the workplace, politics, health and fitness, etc. (1)
  • Helps. Constructive anger can help you learn something about yourself and the other party that you may have never known before. It has been said that, in conflict, you will see a person’s true colors. This is true for others as well as yourself. In a relationship, learning these intimate details about each other can bring you even closer together (3).

Although anger can be difficult to control, especially for people who have long-term anger issues, anger can be used constructively to benefit you and your relationships rather than harm them.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:

  1. When Anger’s a Plus, Aspects of constructive anger, 2003, http://www.apa.org/monitor/mar03/whenanger.aspx
  2. Anger – How It Affects People, Characteristics of constructive anger, 2014, http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Anger_how_it_affects_people
  3. The Upside of Anger, Benefits of constructive anger, 2015, http://www.spring.org.uk/2012/03/the-upside-of-anger-6-psychological-benefits-of-getting-mad.php

Expectation vs. Performance

performanceThe Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the term “expectation” as “a belief that something will happen or is likely to happen”; It defines “performance” as “the fulfillment of a claim, promise, or request; something accomplished.” We have expectations in every aspect of life: for our kids, our marriages, our careers. In some areas, we set our own expectations; in others, they are set for us.

Our performance shows whether or not we fulfilled those expectations. For example, if you are asked to write a report by a specific deadline, you will be expected to fulfill this. The level of your performance may be determined by the quality of the report as well as your timeliness and accuracy. In general, if we meet all of the expectations we create for ourselves or are given, we might consider ourselves “successful.”

Expectation Mindset

expectationsThe expectations that you set for yourself and your life can be determined by your overall attitude. If you are an optimistic person, you will most likely have high expectations regarding the outcome of your life, career, and family. You imagine everyone at his best. If you are a pessimist, you might have low expectations or have doubts that you can fulfill expectations in those areas, reasoning that you will be pleasantly surprised if it turns out better than expected but prepared if it does not. These views are not necessarily wrong or right, just different.

Expectation Level

  1. High Expectations. Setting high expectations for yourself or for others can provide great motivation to perform. In sports, if a coach puts great trust in you and expects you to be a team leader, you will be very motivated to prove to him that you are capable of doing so. At work, setting high expectations makes you work harder to achieve that goal. However, setting your sights too high can be detrimental to your success. If the bar is set too high and you are not able to reach it, you may feel disappointment or inadequacy. You might feel embarrassed if you do not perform the way that you were expected to.
  2. Low Expectations. If your expectations are too low, the performance might be too easy. If there is no challenge, then there may be nothing to work for. Instead of having a drive to succeed, you may get comfortable in your position and reach a plateau.
  3. Realistic Expectations. Set expectations for yourself and others that you know will be motivational and require hard work but that will also be achievable. This will give you something to work for and then provide great satisfaction when you accomplish it.

Expectation Failure

We have all failed at something or fallen short of the expectations. Instead of letting this get you down or giving up, use it as motivation to improve or change what is needed to perform the way you are expected to.

Whether your performance succeeds your expectations or not, it’s important to keep in mind success is reached through trial and error. In all aspects of your performance, try-try-again!

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:

  1. Expectation, Definition, 2015, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/expectation
  2. Performance, Definition, 2015, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/performance
  3. High Hopes and Happy Homes, Mindset of Expectations, 2004, http://www.apa.org/monitor/sep04/highhopes.aspx

 

debbie sardina

Debbie Sardina, LCPC

debbie sardinaMs. Debbie D. Sardina is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) in the State of Illinois.  She earned her Masters of Arts Degree (M.A.) in Mental Health Counseling from Roosevelt University.  She also holds an Illinois Department of Human Services, Part C Early Intervention Specialist Credential (Evaluation / Assessment / Intervention certified).  Debbie works with young families utilizing a “Supernanny” approach by working with parents directly with the goal of eliciting compliant behavior from their children.

Debbie works with young children / adolescents and their families, assisting parents in establishing authority in their home, as well as caring for and nurturing their children’s emotional well-being.  The goal of therapy goes beyond behavior management and strives for family unity.  Debbie’s practice is not limited to strictly working with children and families, though, she works with adults and couples using a strength-based approach to facilitate personal growth within each of her clients.

For families and individuals who profess a Christian faith, Debbie provides Biblical-based counseling to families, couples, and individuals.  She skillfully combines traditional mental health counseling while utilizing the Bible as ultimate authority and guidance.  She helps her clients discover God’s plan for their lives through Biblical scripture.  No judgment, only encouragement.

Debbie is happy to be joining Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. as an outpatient provider.  She is a single mother of two teenage children and lives in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago.

frank_gutierrez

Frank Gutierrez, LCPC, CADC

frank_gutierrezMr. Frank Gutierrez, LCPC, CADC is licensed in the State of Illinois as a Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) and is certified as an Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC).  He received his Master of Science Degree in Counseling Psychology (M.S.) from Argosy University of Professional Psychology in Chicago in 2009.  He has experience working with children, adolescents, adults, and families and feels comfortable providing counseling services using a variety of treatment modalities including Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Psychodynamic Therapy, and Existential Therapy.

Frank joined the staff of Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. in 2015 and works as an outpatient provider at the Chicago office location.  He is fully Spanish bilingual.  Frank is well-respected for his multicultural experience.  He has worked with a wide array of client providing individual, group, family, and couples’ counseling.  Frank has also received training in working with DCFS referrals.

Frank takes a holistic approach to therapy designed to unite mind, body, and spirit.

dr_haggerty

Mack Haggerty, Psy.D., LCPC

dr_haggertyDr. Mack Haggerty has an extensive and varied background in human behavior and clinical intervention and assessment.  He obtained his master’s degree in counseling while on active duty in the United States Navy at Naval Station Charleston, South Carolina in 1990.  Since then, he has worked in both inpatient and outpatient settings, and obtained his Doctorate Degree in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.) from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology in Chicago.  Dr. Haggerty completed his internship with the Central Arkansas Veteran’s Healthcare System in Little Rock, Arkansas.Dr. Haggerty’s specialties and professional interests include the assessment and treatment of anxiety disorders – including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – depressive disorders, anger management, ethical issues in clinical psychology, veteran’s issues, couples’ therapy, autism spectrum disorder, childhood fluency disorders, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  Dr. Haggerty utilizes a variety of treatment modalities to help his clients, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, rational-emotive therapy, motivational counseling, and client-centered interventions.  His sense of humor and pragmatic style are designed to put his clients at ease and utilize their perhaps unknown resources.

A lifelong aviation and classic vintage automobile enthusiast, Dr. Haggerty resides in the Northwest Suburbs with his wife and twin boys.

Allison Barton, M.A., LCPC

Ms. Allison Barton, Counseling ExternMs. Allison Barton completed her undergraduate studies at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, California in 2009 where she earned her Bachelors of Arts Degree (B.A.) with a Studio Art emphasis. She went on to earn her Masters of Art Therapy Degree (M.A.) from the Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago in 2012.  Ms. Barton completed her Art Therapy Internship at The Gunnison Health Care Center in Gunnison, Colorado where she provided art therapy with a varied client population dealing with bereavement and end of life issues. More recently, Ms. Barton has served as a Screening, Assessment, and Supportive Services (SASS) Therapist with Rainbow Hospice and Palliative Care in Mount Prospect, Illinois.  She presently serves as a Community Liaison for Garfield Park Hospital where she assists in marketing.

Ms. Barton’s professional interests include working with children and the elderly, working with terminally ill populations, and using art therapy in cross-cultural settings.

Ms. Barton joined the staff of Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. as a Counseling Extern in 2014.  She recently obtained her Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) certification in 2016 and works in private practice at Dr. Parisi’s Mount Prospect office where she maintains a diverse practice.  She is a member of the Illinois Art Therapy Association and is active in her church.