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Counselor Morgan Randall's blog, bookstore and more. A place to explore the paradigm shift to systems thinking that views body and mind as one

A rose, by any other name…

Dopamine fasting is Silicon Valley’s hot new trend. Is it backed by science?

By

In the far reaches of the country, tucked away near the ocean, some people are going out of their way to avoid the many pleasant things life has to offer. Online movies. Rich foods. Friendly conversations. Eye contact. No, these people are not monks. They’re adherents of a different gospel: a hot new Silicon Valley lifestyle trend called dopamine fasting.

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November 14th, 2019 | Permalink

Grow up!

We are constantly growing and changing, but society says a person is an adult at 21. Not true. The human brain is not fully mature until age 25. After that, it continues to change reaching for developmental milestones. Our brains aren’t completely neurologically integrated until we are in our fifties, a stage commonly called wisdom. After that, it is triggered to remain healthy and increase in compassion by the natural relational interactions of caring for grandchildren or others in our communities. It’s why grannies and grandpas can be so nice. Our species needed them to take care of kids while moms and dads gathered and hunted. The below article is about how to teach kids about their brains. Everyone can use its insights. Just replace the word “children” with “people” when you read it.—MR

“A boy at my table made fun of me during math today,” my second-grader told me one evening after bedtime. Worries tend to spill out after lights out.

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October 27th, 2019 | Permalink

Uncaring system

One reason I became an “out of network” provider who will give a patient a statement of paid sessions for reimbursement from her company, but not submit a bill to a company myself, was because some insurance companies can deny me payment if I do not refer a patient to a provider who prescribes medications. Three times in fifteen years I did refer for meds, but only as a last resort. There are many effective interventions that don’t require getting addicted to a drug which can have a spring back effect (called withdrawal) making matters worse requiring a very slow titration to stop. Many psych meds stop working in a few months or few years or, in many cases, never work at all but DO cause addiction. Do you want your counselor referring for potentially harmful medications? These companies aren’t mental health counselors. How can they insist on certain protocols for treatment? Answer: it costs them less for someone to take meds than talk to a professional. Reimbursement gets around the denial of payment issue apparently as none of my patients have been denied when they submit my statement for payment themselves.—MR

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October 23rd, 2019 | Permalink

Way beyond ouch!

Chronic pain is a very difficult to understand concept until you experienced it. It’s there eating away at the days of your life 24/7. No wonder so many folks with this horrible problem try to escape through the use of drugs and/or alcohol! Sadly, what many sufferers do not understand is that opioids, alcohol and cannabis make pain worse in the long run. That many of them are escaping from the pain exacerbated by daily low or high-grade withdrawal from their drug of choice, not their injury that actually healed or isn’t as bad as it seems. Until patients try a drug-free approach, they will not know how much of the pain is caused by chronic withdrawal wrecking their nervous systems. Maybe even all of it! There are big corporations making money off the chronic pain industry. Ultimately, they want you to stay a customer. Is that what you want?—MR

Chronic pain is a widespread problem in the United States. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 50 million Americans suffer from some form of chronic pain; nearly 20 million of those people have high-impact chronic pain , which is persistent and affects a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day activities, resulting in a lower quality of life. Chronic pain is also frequently associated with a higher prevalence of mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.

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October 16th, 2019 | Permalink

Live long and prosper!

Turns out behaviors that increase the quality of your mental health increase longevity too! Oh, that’s right, this is Bodymind Counseling, the place to learn you just can’t separate the two… These seven fundamental behaviors for good physical and emotional health include lowering external stress factors, doing exercise daily, getting 7 or 8 hour of sleep a night, eating less overall with more fruits and vegetables/less processed foods and red meat, avoiding all drugs including alcohol, enjoying social engagement and having a purpose in life helping others.—MR

So you want to live to a healthy old age. But how?

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October 6th, 2019 | Permalink

Happy bugs make happier people

When I rebalanced my microbiome 15 years ago by supplementing with homeostatic soil organisms, my mood markedly improved and anxiety markedly decreased from the previous five decades. For the story, see my page BEINGnBALANCE. Glad to see popular science is beginning to catch up for the sake of everyone’s emotional health.—MR

When Bill Robertson, a soil scientist at the University of Arkansas, wants to check whether a field is healthy, he doesn’t reach for some high-tech gadget. He grabs a pair of men’s 100 percent cotton underwear.

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October 2nd, 2019 | Permalink

It may be all in your brain

Chronic pain is a feedback loop. The bottom line is that for some people, the physiological source of the pain is gone, but the pain persists. They, and too often even their docs, don’t realize their bodies have healed, but their brains still register the pain. Psychotherapy can help change behaviors to rewrite neuronal structures that hold phantom pain in place. If you are tired of the same old pain, you may wish to try a different approach to get a different result. You won’t know if your pain is only in your brain until you do.—MR

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September 24th, 2019 | Permalink

Put on a happy face!

This article is an example of how cognitive behavioral therapy works. Change your mind to change your life. Imagining happy outcomes makes them more likely and makes you happier! Look in the mirror every morning, smile and your day will go much better. If only from your point of view. But let’s face it. It’s the only point of view you have.—MR

Here’s a new reason to be an optimist: You’re likely to live longer

By Marisa Iati, Washington Post, August 29, 2019

In the tug-of-war between the world views of cheery optimists and dour pessimists, the happy people just got a big boost. Those who see the glass as half full, according to a new study, live longer.

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September 1st, 2019 | Permalink

So what do we know?

If we are talking about the effects of cannabis or vaping, not much. There’s only a single institution, a facility at the University of Mississippi, where it can be cultivated for scientific use because of the plant’s status as a Schedule 1 controlled substance under federal law. This means not much research is happening. The research that has happened occurred in other countries and a few states where the feds are turning a blind eye because in these states the drug has recently become legal. Because of the way science proceeds, researchers research one aspect or component at a time necessarily ignoring other effects or components. Most researchers currently are looking for positive effects to help it become legal and sell the stuff. In plain English, they look for what they want to see. It will be decades before we have a full picture of the effects of cannabis or vaping because documented use is so new. We are just peaking under the hat at what is medically significant and what is downright dangerous. In grandma’s childhood, there were national ads touting “four out of five doctors recommend Camel cigarettes for increased lung capacity.” A lot of people suffered and died before the full awful truth came out. Ask yourself if your mother raised you to be a guinea pig.—MR

As vaping-related lung illnesses spike, investigators eye contaminants

State and federal health authorities are focusing on the role of contaminants or counterfeit substances as a likely cause of vaping-related lung illnesses — now up to 354 possible cases in 29 states, nearly double the number reported to be under investigation last week, The Washington Post has learned.

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August 30th, 2019 | Permalink

A walk in the park

Anxious? Got a bit of the blues? Before you toss down another Alprazolam or scroll through social media, try taking a walk in the park with or without a dog. Swinging on a swing, even better! Guaranteed to work without the negative side effects.—MR

Visiting a park boosts your happiness like Christmas morning

By Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post, August 21, 2019

Here’s the best piece of advice you’ll get all day: Go to the park! According to a new study by researchers at the University of Vermont, city dwellers can not only overcome crankiness by spending time at a public park, but they can also be rewarded with a happiness boost akin to the jolt of euphoria one might get on Christmas morning.

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August 25th, 2019 | Permalink

Another round of yummy

Yummy recipes for the alcohol free! Instead of an appetizer, why not one of these? Alcohol consumption adds to or causes depression, sleeplessness and anxiety, not to mention domestic abuse and an empty bank account. At a meal, why not do zero proof, so you get some good out a meal since alcohol wrecks absorption of nutrients?—MR

No alcohol, no problem: How to make complex, balanced zero-proof cocktails

By M. Carrie Allan, Washington Post, August 14, 2019

A new era of moderation seems to be upon us, with people — especially young healthy, clean-living millennial types — drinking less overall and having lighter forms of booze when you do drink.

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August 21st, 2019 | Permalink

Sweet!

Sugar is addictive. It stimulates the same center in the brain as heroin. So you crave it and go into withdrawal without it. Obviously, it’s not as bad as heroin, but it acts the same in that you need more and more to “get high.” And as you go into withdrawal several times a day, it’s registered by your nervous system as anxiety–sometimes pretty extreme anxiety. If you are dealing with a panic or anxiety disorder, withdrawing from sugars will help A LOT.  Read the article below, and think about it…—MR

Does a sugar detox work? I’m on it and have had some surprising results

By Steven Petro, Washington Post, August 6, 2019

Early one Saturday, I headed to a “sugar detox” seminar at my gym. I didn’t expect it to be a hot ticket, but when I opened the classroom door every seat was taken.

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August 7th, 2019 | Permalink

Walking after midnight…

Back in the day, Patsy Cline, darling of Country Music, sang a song about “walkin’ after midnight, out in the moonlight, dreamin’ of you.” She was onto something. Walking is not only really good for your physical body, it can help walk away blues and anxiety so you can calm down and fall asleep. We are walking critters. Fish swim. Birds fly. Like bunnies, we burrow, stay put and do little wandering until we are frightened or experience loss. We were designed by Nature to walk away from a bad situation and keep walking until we find safety, food and rest. Our brain chemistry orders us to get up and go and then rewards us for the very act of putting one foot in front of the other for, at least, twenty minutes (and sometimes half way around the world) by giving us a shot of feel-happy you-can-relax-now chemicals. So if you’re suffering from the blues, anxiety or insomnia, put in your earbuds and go out walkin’ with Patsy or some other crooner who rocks your boat, cause as we all know, music also makes humans feel better…—MR

Fitness trackers are good for your health, but that 10,000-step goal is overblown

By Bruce Horovitz, The Washington Post, July 29

When Sonia Anderson got her first Fitbit step tracker, her poor pooch, Bronx, had no idea of all the steps that were coming. The device — which counts every step Anderson takes and displays those steps on an app — was a Christmas gift from her daughters two years ago.

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July 31st, 2019 | Permalink

All we need is love

I know. The above headline is a totally corny quote from the Beatles. But, the fact is, it is true. Almost 20 percent of people in America report loneliness and loneliness increases our risk for mental and physical illness. The good news is that overcoming the ill effects of it are easier than one thinks. Just speaking to someone in an aisle of the grocery store or striking up a conversation with someone else walking their dog in a city park sends all sorts of endorphins into action helping us to be happier and healthier.—MR

This town’s solution to loneliness? The ‘chat bench.’

Detective Sgt. Ashley Jones with the Avon and Somerset Police in England was talking to an elderly widow who had been scammed. She would get a call each morning from a man pretending to be her friend, and he eventually convinced her to give him about $31,000.

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July 21st, 2019 | Permalink

What we resist, persists

As the article below notes, anxiety is normal. And that today, attempts to avoid it make it much worse. It doesn’t mention substance use. Drinking alcohol is relaxing, but ultimately wrecks the nerves. Cigarettes replace a chemical in the nervous system, so every few hours, as nicotine disappears, high anxiety results, so another coffin nail is needed. Benzodiazepine is highly addictive, so ultimately legal anxiolytics make you more anxious than if you hadn’t taken them at all. Cannabis is the worst. While not addictive itself, it causes addiction to the reward chemical in the brain. The withdrawal anxiety from this endorphin is extreme, but fools the user because he is withdrawing from an opioid that was normal and familiar until cannabis took over triggering it at higher levels than the survival behaviors that are supposed to trigger it would have.—MR

Could our efforts to avoid anxiety only be making it worse?

By Jelena Kecmanovic, The Washington Post, July 10, 2019

We live in the age of anxiety. As a psychologist who has studied anxiety and treated hundreds of anxious patients, I see it eclipsing all other problems as a major psychological issue in the 21st century. Each day, I treat people who worry constantly and can’t relax, who feel tense and achy, and who have difficulty sleeping — all hallmarks of anxiety. Survey data confirm anxiety is ubiquitous.

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July 10th, 2019 | Permalink

Silent predator

Mold is a silent predator in the coastal regions from San Francisco to the northern border. If you have unexplained symptoms–mental or physical; symptoms that have difficulty healing particularly with breathing; or just don’t feel very good and don’t know why, you may wish to have your home or workplace inspected for mold during the damp mold season. It can be in the walls, ceilings, window frames or other hard to see places.–MR

Mold infections leave one dead and force closure of operating rooms at children’s hospital

By Hannah Knowles, Washington Post, July 3, 2019

One patient dead. Five others infected. A thousand surgeries postponed and 3,000 people told to watch for infection symptoms.

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July 4th, 2019 | Permalink

You are how you eat

An eating disorder can cause other chronic diseases, disorders and even sudden death. If you suspect your mom, your aunt or your grandma is a victim, for heaven’s sake, please do something! Have her read this article at the very least.—MR

The overlooked crisis of eating disorders among middle-aged woman

By Carrie Dennett, Washington Post, June 17, 2019

You’re an adult with multiple decades to your credit, and you’ve got it all together — or look like you do. You never have a kind word for yourself when you look in the mirror, but who does? Your eating and exercise obsessions, secret binges, and occasional purges can’t possibly be signs of an eating disorder. After all, your friends, family and even your doctor praise you when you lose a few more pounds. Besides, you’re too “old” for an eating disorder — right?

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June 19th, 2019 | Permalink

My purpose is porpoises

It doesn’t matter what your purpose for living is, e.g. saving porpoise habitat, growing traditional iris, collecting blankets for your local homeless shelter, or enforcing leash laws, but having a purpose will make you happier and, therefore, healthier. Living longer may be a side effect, but to me as a mental health counselor, living a more content life is the greatest reason to find yourself a purpose no matter how long or short life lasts. Note: living to watch the next Grey’s Anatomy probably doesn’t count.—MR

A sense of purpose could prolong your life

By Ephrat Livni, Quartz

The meaning of life is a question that has plagued philosophers for millennia, and there is no single correct answer. But increasingly, scientists are finding that having a sense of purpose, whatever yours may be, is key to well-being.

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June 6th, 2019 | Permalink

Buyer beware!

Glad cannabis and CBD are becoming legal to keep people out of jail for using something most likely no more dangerous than alcohol, but as a mental health counselor, I’ve seen adverse responses to these powerful drugs including what appears to be cannabis-induced psychosis, anxiety and depression. Not saying there are not benefits, but am waiting for science to accrue substantial research results before making a professional judgement about something that obviously seriously affects the bodymind and human cognition.–MR

Amid flood of CBD products, FDA holds first public hearing on cannabis extract

By William Wan, The Washinton Post, May 31, 2019

You can buy CBD in oils, supplements, soda, even dog food. But some of it violates federal food and drug regulations, prompting concerns over safety and deceptive marketing. With thousands of unproven products flooding the market, the Food and Drug Administration is convening its first public hearing Friday to wrestle with how to regulate cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabis extract already being sold in pills, tinctures, skin lotions,  soda and dog food.

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May 31st, 2019 | Permalink

Brain damage

Your brain is an exquisite, easily-damaged electrical organ. It is the part of you that creates and regulates your mental, psychological, emotional, relational, spiritual and physical health. Damaging it through lack of sleep, poor quality sleep or electrical interference during your teen years may damage it for life, because it is growing so fast. However, at any age, DO NOT SLEEP WITH IT IN YOUR BEDROOM unless it is turned off. Whatever you may think is so important can wait until morning. No wonder memory care centers are filled to overflowing…—MR

Many teens sleep with their phones, survey finds — just like their parents

By Craig Timberg, The Washinton Post, May 29, 2019

Four out of five teenagers with mobile devices keep them in their rooms overnight — and nearly a third of those bring them into their beds while sleeping — according a study Wednesday that offered new evidence that mobile devices undermine the rest necessary for peak health.

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May 29th, 2019 | Permalink

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