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Archive for the ‘depression/anxiety’ Category

Finding Balance

Posted on: April 5th, 2018 by Dr. Amanda Sue Cressman

This past season I have found it very difficult to find balance…something that I strive for and value deeply.  I can struggle with the cold weather, particularly if that cold weather makes it difficult to be outside and definitely if it involves a lack of sun.  It’s been a hard and long winter season for a variety of personal reasons too and with that comes thoughts and reflections about behaviours and patterns that I often do throughout the winter season that don’t always do a great job of creating balance.

Solitary Stool
If you’ve spoken with me before, you know I speak about the stool analogy when it comes to balance….the four legged wooden kind of stool, not to be confused with speaking about bowel movements, although that is an important and helpful discussion, as well.  I love this analogy, as many people understand it and often connect well to it. I often say, if you and your well being are the seat of the stool, you are held up by 4 legs – the mental leg, the emotional leg, the physical leg and the spiritual leg. Sometimes we make the stool a tripod, if that last leg is not a match for the individual.  And my job, as a Naturopath is to figure out why the stool is toppling. In this analogy, maybe one stool leg is extra long, making it topple over, or maybe one leg is incredibly short and thin. For some, the mental leg takes the brunt, for others it’s the physical leg. Regardless of what it is, I find it fascinating to see how we all work at doing our best to create balance amongst adversity and stress.

Many people come to see me for physical reasons and as we begin dialog, the focus is on the physical leg of the stool, but as we dive in deeper to the root cause of the problem, we often uncover other legs of the stool to be at the root of the problem.  Let’s use me for an example. In previous years I have created a wonderful habit of running almost each morning. I wake up early and run with my dog to clear my head, feel nature and get some physical exercise. I work at eating a clean diet…clean meaning no gluten and dairy for me with my specific health concerns and limiting sweets, even fruit as I love sweet food, but can struggle with insulin regulation.  Everything in my world feels and works better if I maintain exercise and clean eating. I physically feel great, emotionally am more stable and mentally am sharp….I love this place, as it’s me feeling something I adore, balance. But, at the end of January someone very close to me passed away when I had a few other stressful things happening at the same time, it felt like the emotional leg of the stool got yanked out from under me and I was flustering to achieve balance in the other legs.  The mental, spiritual and physical legs of the stool were doing their best to compensate to ensure I stayed upright but life changed. I stopped running as I didn’t have time/ability to do so daily, my clean eating went out the window as I physically couldn’t grocery shop easily or have energy to food prep and I started getting into old patterns of behaviour to compensate for my heart feeling broken.

As a culture, we are notorious for avoiding being present with difficult situations/pain.  We distract and numb ourselves through television, food, social media, etc. and all the while our emotional leg of the stool is not actually being nurtured while the other legs of the stool are suffering, desperately working at creating balance for the whole.  These distractions and changes in behaviour can have a time and a place, but the tricky thing is catching when the compensation becomes a pattern and then a habit. For me, this past winter, I started watching tv shows at night – positive, lovely shows but it was distraction from feeling what was real for me.  I stopped journaling regularly, as it was hard to be real with the hurt and I started baking often as this is a comfort for me. Even if my baking choices are raw vegan desserts and technically “healthy”, they are still desserts and connecting to a pattern I developed as a child, that when I was sad, food would numb the hurt.

The body is an amazing thing, always striving for balance or homeostasis, a medical term for essentially the same thing. I see many people in my practice where the physical leg of the stool is in rough shape – but if that’s happening for you, consider thinking about the stool analogy and what events got you to where you are today.  Yes, that physical leg of the stool will need care and support but as that leg gets stronger, the other legs can be nurtured and are often the real reason we are off balance in the first place.

For me, I know the warmth and sun of next week will help.  I have supported my adrenals the past few weeks which have helped give energy and motivation to consider cleaning up my diet and food patterns.  I have good supports that I have used to help sort out the past events and I have once again, run daily. My runs are slow and not super long, my diet could be even cleaner with better prep work, but I’m feeling more balanced and stronger again with an improved inner resilience.

This past season has been hard for many and this culture we live in, particularly, the culture of Kitchener-Waterloo is unbalanced.  We are driven, busy and stressed out people. See which leg of the stool in this analog needs nurturing for yourself and seek out that balance.  Whether it’s doing more social events, improving your physical exercise regime, taking up a creative hobby, clean eating, meditating, having alone time…work at creating the specific balance you need.  The journey is much easier when the stool is not toppling.

Hoping that you are able to feel supported and balanced into the coming season.

 Amanda Cressman, N.D.

Stop Staring, it’s starting to get weird

Posted on: April 24th, 2017 by Dr. Amanda Sue Cressman

I recently saw this quote written by a friend and it made me laugh out loud.  I love laughing out loud…it doesn’t happen that often but when it does, I take notice.

By the way, your past called to say, stop staring, it’s starting to get weird.”

Dr. Rajesh Ragbir, N.D.

If my past could talk she’d definitely yell this out with a few other words as a reminder to move on, to stop being stuck.  It’s so easy to get stuck though, to stop and stare.  Part of the staring can be helpful – to reflect, to learn and understand how to change outcomes in the future, but so much of the staring is the opposite of helpful.  Why I love this quote so much is the friendly and humour-filled reminder points out that the staring is weird.  Just like if you caught someone staring at you for long periods of time, it’s weird.  You can’t do anything about it, so stop staring, stop ruminating, stop beating yourself up over a moment that is done.

So much about getting better on all levels of our being, whether that be the emotional, the mental or the physical is about moving on…not being stuck.  Yes, reflection is important and necessary at times, but the staring…not so much.  What a fun and playful reminder Dr. Ragbir, N.D. gave us with these words.  I hope if you catch yourself staring at the past, that you’ll gently remind yourself to stop and maybe in that moment, you’ll stare around at the now where real change can take place and where you can actually do something about it.

Dr. Amanda Cressman, N.D.

Self-Preservation

Posted on: December 27th, 2016 by Dr. Amanda Sue Cressman

I recently came across this quote by Audre Lorde and immediately took to it, so I made it into a picture.  I thought it would be helpful to share, especially for the beginning of New Year.

audre

Even though New Years Resolutions are often focused on ourselves – striving for betterment in areas we feel we could improve or grow, the actual focus on ourself is often what trips us up in succeeding with the goal.

Taking time for ourselves is tricky and often associated with being selfish.  It’s funny how we do that, entangling caring for self with selfishness but the two don’t need to be mutually exclusive.

Audre Lorde shifts our discomfort with caring or focusing on self away from self-indulgence into something that we can all appreciate, understand and respect…self-preservation.

When we fill ourselves up with the things, people or situations that genuinely fill us up, we can do marvellous things.  This year I made a commitment to running…most mornings I wake up early and run before my day gets going which is already pretty early.  But, if I don’t, I will have missed the opportunity to do so and lose out on the feeling I get from clearing my head, getting a work out in and some time for me with nature (something that absolutely preserves my happiness).

This coming year, I’m finding I need more to fill my tank with the busyness of life.  Journaling and meditation are what I’ve determined I am missing but both take time and dedication.  But instead of it feeling like another item on my check list that needs attention, I will take Audre’s words to heart and remember that taking the time to do this will help protect me from burn out, irritability and sadness.

This New Years, consider focusing on what will preserve you the best for your resolution.  What activities, places, people or things do you need more of to ensure your tank is feeling full and supported instead of depleted and unhappy.  Shift the focus away from selfishness or self-indulgence to self-preservation.  The mental leap will feel a lot better and will motivate the change you need to feel the best you can.

Wishing you a bright and happy New Year.

Dr. Amanda Cressman, N.D.

Massage Therapy Care for Depression and Anxiety….

Posted on: September 18th, 2016 by Dr. Amanda Sue Cressman

After the wonderful summer and fall months winter is upon us all. This means less natural source of Vitamin D, through what we all love the sunshine. These months getting rather cold possibly lead to tension is some of us, and sometimes lead into an imbalance causing signs of Depression and Anxiety.

It is extremely important to be fully aware of the whole of you. Being aware means understanding how you feel physically, mentally and emotionally. It is all part of feeling a balanced well being. Remember, everything is connected, and it is important to understand we feel is all aspects. This allows for proper healing when there does become an imbalance in one or all of those areas. If we are disconnected the body signals with pain, however this pain may present in many ways. Examples can be muscle and or joint aches or pains, headaches, fatigue, confusion, frustration and much more.

How can massage help?

A friendly touch can do wonders for boosting your mental health. Massage can assist in progressive muscle relaxation decreasing cortisol to decrease depression symptoms, such as anger, and increasing energy levels. This is done by increasing circulation affecting the body’s biochemistry; bringing us back to a balanced state.

Massage therapy also increases serotonin and dopamine (neurotransmitters in the brain) that reduce depression. Physical pain can also occur with depression and anxiety and a controlled therapeutic massage can help manage these symptoms. This allows us to feel balanced as a whole and is important as depression and anxiety can take control over our bodies. This can mean mentally, emotionally, and or physically.

It is important to be able to connect with a massage therapist as this is part of our whole body healing and having that awareness. However, health works as team work; meaning it is important for me as an RMT to completely and fully understand depression and clients whom may suffer….

Written by: Natalie Poynton, RMT

Expectations

Posted on: January 9th, 2016 by Dr. Amanda Sue Cressman

The holiday season is a time of year where expectations run high. We’re told where to go, how long to stay, what to do, what to eat, what to buy and sometimes even, how much to spend. Now, of course they can also be filled with wonderful moments and experiences but that’s not what this blog post is about. This post is about dealing with the expectations from others and from ourselves. We are past the holiday season, but the expectations don’t go away…especially those from ourselves and they are the cause of great frustration and stress for some. So, how do we work with them?

I had a very different holiday season this year, as I kept a mantra in mind. It came from Brene Brown and it really helped.   A few weeks ago on her facebook page she wrote, “Choose discomfort over resentment.”

I’ll write it again, “Choose discomfort over resentment”

I liked it immediately but knew it would be hard. I have been very good at ensuring others are not uncomfortable while at times I can be overstressed, overtaxed and inevitably become resentful for overextending myself. This past season, I kept Brene’s mantra in mind and created a holiday season that worked for me.

So, I said no…a few times to a few different people. I said no to others and yes to myself. It was hard but I feel so much better with no uncomfortable resentment lurking inside.

Boundaries are one of the biggest things I talk to about with my patients. Whether we’re dialoging about boundaries with family, coworkers, children, etc. When people breach our boundaries we feel the effects and what can start, as annoyance and frustration can then become bigger issues that can affect our health. This is where I see people with anxiousness, panic attacks, long standing resentments, feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, etc.

This year consider using Brene’s mantra. If you haven’t put your needs first in awhile, it may be difficult, even incredibly uncomfortable, but consider it. Choosing discomfort over resentment doesn’t mean others will necessarily be uncomfortable, it just means you’re choosing to do what genuinely feels right. And when we do things authentically, I believe we all win. See what you think.

Dr. Amanda Cressman, Naturopathic Doctor

Getting to Joy Through Sadness  

Posted on: August 24th, 2015 by Dr. Amanda Sue Cressman

This may seem like a funny title or topic to write about it, but it is one very dear to me. I had written an article awhile back about my Journey with Colic…about my experience with my newborn babe who wouldn’t respond to treatment for her “colic”. She cried the majority of the time (12-18 hours/day) for the first 3-4 months of her life. It was humbling to say the least, as I couldn’t make her better. And what followed these 4 months was not what I anticipated. Once the crying stopped and we discovered we had a wonderful, happy little girl…I got sad…real sad and soon realized that I had post partum depression. I have been reluctant to write about this, as I wouldn’t consider myself completely over it, but I watched a movie that convinced me that it was time to share about my experience.

I used to love movies…I adored them. I enjoyed sitting down and watching the beautiful scenery of somewhere far away, listening to a fantastic music score created specifically for it and appreciating the wonderful acting the supported a story line worth telling. This was when I was younger and since then, I have rarely enjoyed a movie. I guess I’m searching for something that inspires me, encourages me to think about things differently or to be better. But…I got this all back last week when I watched, Inside Out. I was told to watch this film by someone I respect and I was so grateful she did so, as I would not have normally decided to watch a cartoon. Watching Inside Out reminded me of something I forgot in these past few months…sometimes you can’t jump over or crawl under an uncomfortable emotion you are experiencing. Sometimes the only way to get to the other side is to go through it and that has been the best advice with my postpartum depression.

For those of you who haven’t watched, Inside Out, I won’t give it away but simply put, it’s about a young girl growing up and follows her emotions that are trying to guide her through a difficult time. What is most surprising is the focus on all emotions – whether that be joy, sadness, fear, anger, etc…the film helps us understand that all have a place…including sadness.

We often hear we should fake it until we make it. To not focus on anything negative, so as to not attract it…but sometimes that does the opposite of what we hope. By avoiding the uncomfortable or bad thoughts, we aren’t being real with what is and we can’t find the proper support/help.

So – how does this Pixar film relate to my Postpartum Depression? Well, after I found myself crying watching this film until there were literally no tears left to cry, I realized that I had been fighting something that just was. I desperately wanted to be happy, to be joyful, to savour up each and every moment I had with my girls, but sometimes, the Joy was lacking…sometimes it felt like Joy had left all together. The more I pretended or hoped it wasn’t there, the more I felt it. I was Sad. My short maternity leave was everything I didn’t expect it or want it to be – with a crying babe, surprising life stressors and a horribly cold winter that kept me inside. My time with my baby was hard and the truth was, most people didn’t want to hear about that when I tried to share. We live in a culture where the expected answer to “How are you doing?” is, fine, good, great or wonderful. But how often do we feel that? Sometimes we feel rotten, upset, hurt, sad, used up or even angry.

As a Naturopathic Doctor, there is pressure to have it all figured out, to be healthy, fit, optimistic and on it. I was none of those things and the harder I tried to get there the less I experienced them. Inside Out reminded me in a gentle but beautiful way, that sometimes the only way to get to Joy is to allow Sadness in. In doing so, you acknowledge whatever you’re going through instead of pushing it away. Once I did this, I could better support my post partum depression. I could be real with it and find the proper support that I needed to get myself back.

Since then, I’ve had more glimpses of Joy and anticipate that it will continue to grow, as I get myself back.

Sometimes the only way to get to the other side of a difficult situation is to go through it and we are fortunate to live in a time where there are so many options of support to help us get there.

If you are needing support, finding your way to Joy, I’d love to help.

Dr. Amanda Cressman, ND

Mental Wellness Summit…it takes more than a pill!

Posted on: August 8th, 2015 by Dr. Amanda Sue Cressman

MentalWellness_600x150_Attend

The Mental Wellness Summit is an educational and empowering experience that explores better ways to approach and treat mental health from a root cause perspective–it’s designed with everyone in mind.

WHY ATTEND?

Today’s powerful treatment options, including specialized diet and improved nutrition, integrative medicine, naturopathy and functional medicine, somatic therapy, chiropractic care, acupuncture, yoga and meditation, to name a few, are available but rarely considered for treating mental health everyday. Let’s go beyond just psychiatry and pills, and explore the best options for wellness in this evolving field.

Register for FREE now at the following link:

Mental Wellness Summit

The Mental Wellness Summit will benefit:

  • Health care practitioners and providers across the wellness spectrum
  • Anyone curious about or seeking solutions to mental health challenges
  • Family, friends, loved ones and coworkers who are supporting one another

Here are a few of the incredible experts who will speak at The Mental Wellness Summit:

  • Kelly Brogan, MD, Holistic Medicine and Root-Cause Resolution
  • Sayer Ji, GreenMedInfo.com, Deeper Into Mental Wellness Research
  • Peter Osborne, DC, Grainflammation, Food Toxicity and Microbes
  • Robert Whitaker, PhD, The Perils of Big Pharma
  • James Maskell, Revive Primary Care, Mental Health from Scratch

With 25 additional presenters sharing their expertise about mental wellness, this invaluable (and FREE) resource is intended for men and women everywhere!

Better yet, if you register today, you’ll have access to the following FREE GIFTS as soon as you register!

  • Free Gift #1: Deeper Into Mental Wellness Research by Sayer Ji
  • Free Gift #2: Holistic Medicine and Root-Cause Resolution by Kelly Brogan
  • Free Gift #3: Microbiome: A New Frontier in Mental Health by David Perlmutter

The Mental Wellness Summit is online and free from August 10-17, 2015!

Register for FREE at the following link today:

MENTAL WELLNESS SUMMIT
I’ll see you at the summit!

How Heavy is Your Glass of Water?

Posted on: January 18th, 2014 by Dr. Amanda Sue Cressman

A psychologist walked around a room while  teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of  water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full”  question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?”

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how  long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold  it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my  arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass  doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She  continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of  water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about  them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them  all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.”

It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses. As early in the  evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through  the evening and into the night. Remember to put the glass down!

So, how do you put your glass down?

Source: Science is Madness (facebook page)

Arguing with Reality

Posted on: April 14th, 2013 by Dr. Amanda Sue Cressman

One of my favourite authors is Byron Katie.  Her book, Loving What Is, offers wonderfully challenging concepts about how we think about our present circumstances.  One of her quotes that continues to be relevant for me, is:

“When I argue with reality, I lose—but only 100% of the time. How do I know that the wind should blow? It’s blowing!” Byron Katie

This winter was a challenging one for me.  It seemed long and intense, uttering its last cold breaths until the very end….even this past mid-April weekend.  Throughout the last 4 months, I would often wake up, fairly frustrated that the snow and cold were still around.  It’s end of March, I thought, it should be warmer…it’s now April, April should not have snow and cold apart of it.  But as Byron reminded me, I was arguing with reality and when you do so, you always lose.  This was the reality of the season, a late and long, cold winter.

How often do we argue with reality?  We think things should be different or better, that reality should offer something other than what is.  But the seasons are helpful reminders for us to continue to accept what life offers.  This is challenging when faced with pain, illness, unrest, stress, etc…but Byron Katie reminds us,

“The only time we suffer is when we believe a thought that argues with what is. When the mind is perfectly clear, what is is what we want.” Byron Katie

I encourage you to play around with this concept for things you have no control over.  For me, I’ll start with the weather, embracing a snowy mid-April day for what it is.

Seasonal Affective Disorder…what can be done to help

Posted on: October 22nd, 2011 by Dr. Amanda Sue Cressman

As the autumn weather blows in its coolness, we begin to shift into a different gear that is preparing for the winter season.

Are you beginning to notice a change in your eating habits?  Are you migrating toward the root vegetables, carbohydrates and sweets?

Are you noticing you are wanting to be outside less and feel more comfortable bundled up inside?

Are you feeling your mood is a little bit lower than you’ve known yourself to be?

This is the time of year when many of us feel the seasonal shift internally with mood and externally with our food cravings and body composition.

The term SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) has been coined in recent years to explain this phenomenon.  It is essentially bouts of depression or depressed mood at certain times of year, mostly in the winter months.  Younger people are more susceptible and it is more common in women.

So, what can be done to help?

LOTS.

Taking a mind-body approach to treatment is the best way of making positive change in someone’s life that is affected by SAD.

To break it down in categories, these are the areas that exert positive change.

Light: with SAD people tend to want to be inside, in dark spaces and away from stimuli.  Get out, get up and get some light in your eyes.  Full spectrum lights are incredibly powerful in lighting up your mood and energy.  30 minutes per day is most beneficial and when used upon rising, it mimics sunrise.

More Light…in the form of Vitamin D.  Get your levels tested.  Low levels of this powerful immune and mood supporting vitamin can increase rates of SAD.  See your Naturopathic Doctor to assess your levels and begin supplementation to get you on track.

Movement: We want to be the hibernating bear, but this only makes things work.  Even if all you can do is walk around the block once, that is progress.

Breathing: while you move, remember to breathe deeply and easily increasing oxygen to cells.

Nutrition: what we crave only perpetuates the mood we are feeling.  To get out of that mood, eat clean.  Choose to have a strong focus on vegetables and always in heated form.  Teas are also great.

Acupuncture: to balance the energy meridians and support stable mood.

Supplementation: Naturopathic Doctors can help create plans with botanical, vitamin/mineral support to increase mood and overall wellbeing.  Winter is a wonderful time to support your mood, your adrenals and your immune system.

Environment: For me television almost always makes the mood worse.  It feels good for a minute, but after I’m done watching a program, I feel heavy and frustrated with wasted time.  Choose to have nourishing music, programs, book, and company around you.

There is so much that can be done to support depressed mood and SAD, turning your winter into a more enjoyable experience.

If you are interested in learning how Naturopathic Medicine can support you, please contact the clinic at: info@touchstonehealth.ca or 1-888-454-4667

564-572 Weber Street North, Unit 3A
Waterloo, Ontario
N2L5C6