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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

Silent night

Good sleep is one of the four foundations of good mental health. Along with sufficient oxygen, water and exercise you can ensure a restful night’s sleep and your depression or anxiety will likely abate. Adding white noise is just noisy and keeps you from truly relaxing to obtain the deep rest your brain needs and the dreams your mind requires. I recommend using ear plugs when there is ANY noise in the sleep environment to not risk a poor night’s sleep. They may seem uncomfortable at first, but you’ll get used to them. A separate bedroom may be necessary if you have a snoring spouse. Don’t worry! You can see your honey in the morning. Sleeping in separate rooms has been shown to improve relationships too!—MR

White noise as sleep aid may do more harm than good

Whether it is nature sounds, the whine of a hairdryer or the incessant hum of a ceiling fan, white noise apps have been downloaded by millions of people around the world in the hope of getting a better night’s sleep. However, research suggests there is no good evidence that they work, and may even be making things worse.

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October 18th, 2020 | Permalink

Drink up!

You can still hang out with alcohol-drinking friends, enjoy yourself and enhance your mental and physical health by not using alcohol with these cool drinks!—MR

Good Drinks: non-alcoholic cocktails get their moment on the craft scene

By Stephanie Gravalese, The Guardian US Edition, October 5, 2020

Julia Bainbridge was very thoughtful when selecting the title of her upcoming book, Good Drinks: Alcohol-Free Recipes for When You’re Not Drinking for Whatever Reason. Cocktails without alcohol go by many names – mocktails, zero-proof or spirit-free drinks – and stakeholders are unable to agree on a name for the category. Bainbridge, a former Bon Appétit editor, simply wanted for her book to be a resource to anyone interested in the topic while shining a light on a category neglected in the craft cocktail scene.

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October 6th, 2020 | Permalink

Challenge yourself

Sober October is a great way to determine if you are an alcoholic or just a habitual drinker. Alcohol stays in your system for four days, so if on the fourth or fifth day you find yourself reaching for a glass or bottle, look squarely in the mirror and say, “Hi. My name is (your name here) and I am an alcoholic.”—MR

Sober October: 17 ways to unwind after a stressful day – without hitting the booze

By Tim Dowling, The Guardian US Edition, September 30, 2020

Thousands of people will attempt to give up alcohol next month and for many it will be the hour after work that ruins their plans. Here’s how to relax without reaching for alcohol.

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September 30th, 2020 | Permalink

Ocean of emotion

Emotion is the body’s reaction to stress in the environment that gets its person to do something. I think of it as an ocean that sometimes is calm, sometimes stormy, and sometimes has big swells. Sometimes the tide is in, sometimes out. If I’m standing on the beach and a big wave is about to crash, if I rigidly try to push it away, I might get smooshed. If I move toward it and dive into it, I’ll feel it move past. I’ll come out on the other side in calmer water. It’s all about learning to swim. Below is a link to a book review about a new way of looking at emotion that talks about cultural and familial interpretations of them. In your family, does a heightened stress response mean “Smoke some pot and ignore it?” or “Blow up and scream at the kid for having a different point of view?” Or does it mean “here’s a communication challenge to be worked out so we can move forward with love?” Or something else altogether? Good question to explore!—MR

‘I’m extremely controversial’: the psychologist rethinking human emotion

How we interpret our feelings depends on where and how we’re brought up, says professor Lisa Feldman Barrett. Not understanding this is making our lives harder.

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September 27th, 2020 | Permalink

Relational healing

Attaining mental health is rarely achieved by ingesting a pharmaceutical to “rebalance imbalanced brain chemistry.” A balanced contented mind is created over time by reshaping the system of your being into a healthy wholeness—one that sleeps more easily and awakens smiling in the morning. To do that requires making healthier lifestyle choices. For example, by adding exercise or refusing addictive substances like cannabis or alcohol, you’ll feel better. By looking at your thoughts and rejecting voices that echo untruths such as, “You’re not good enough,” you’ll feel better. Cherish your psyche by attending church, symphony concerts or art museums that inspire you, and you’ll feel better. By taking up photography, poetry or gardening, or whatever soothes your soul, you’ll feel better. But most importantly, feeling better requires healing relationships. Getting to know and love yourself, your family, your neighborhood or Nature will definitely make you feel better. Because we are social mammals, healing oneself means healing ones relationships. Granted, this takes time and attention, but what else better to do with your one sweet life?—MR

Bringing beaches back to life: the First Nations restoring ancient clam gardens

By Adrienne Matel, The Guardian US Edition,

In the Pacific Northwest, local people work the shoreline, creating conditions for useful species to thrive.

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September 23rd, 2020 | Permalink

Don’t call in the Ghostbusters

It’s perfectly normal to feel hurt if someone fades out of your life and ignores you. Here’s a super 10-step article on how to respond to being ghosted.—MR

How to respond to ghosting

Co-authored by Sarah Schewitz, Psy.D, Wikihow.com, January 15, 2020

Whether your romantic interest or friend is ignoring you, being ghosted always hurts. Don’t beat yourself up if your calls and texts start going unanswered. Try to stay calm, and avoid pleading for an explanation or sending angry messages. If an online dating match or casual acquaintance blew you off, don’t sweat the small stuff. If someone closer intentionally ignores you, it can really hurt.

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September 20th, 2020 | Permalink

Breathe!

At Bodymind Counseling you learn good mental health is the top stone on the pyramid of good physical health. Good physical health is built upon the corner stones of four healthy behaviors. 1. breathing well, 2. sleeping well, 3. drinking enough water, and 4. getting enough exercise. The reason breathing comes first is just common sense. If you aren’t breathing, you’re dead. So if you are not getting enough oxygen, no matter what else you do, your frightened body will will alert you with feeling anxious! In other words, your anxiety may stem from a lack of oxygen, not simply freeway traffic or taking care of your kids.–MR

How to take the perfect breath: why learning to breathe properly could change your life

By Emine Saner, The US Guardian, August 26, 2020

It is claimed that “breathwork” can help improve our sleep, digestion, immune and respiratory functions, while reducing our blood pressure and anxiety.

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August 26th, 2020 | Permalink

Bone health is mental health

Who knew? Turns out a hormone, osteocalcin, produced by healthy bones protects against dementia and depression as we age. What we knew already is that exercise is key.–MR

Does the key to anti-ageing lie in our bones?

Gérard Karsenty was a young scientist trying to make a name for himself in the early 1990s when he first stumbled upon a finding that would go on to transform our understanding of bone, and the role it plays in our body.

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July 5th, 2020 | Permalink

Waking life

In my personal experience, life is so much more enjoyable when I’m consciously aware of it. Living in a haze of cannabis and alcohol put uncrossable distances between me, my family and friends–with life!–for 25 years. Learning to experience the nuances of each waking moment in the ongoing process of emotional existence is so much more interesting than having than having my thoughts and feelings controlled by biochemical substances.—MR

‘No downside’: Johnny Marr, Best Coast and Jason Isbell on how sobriety improves music

By Lior Phillips, The Guardian, June 11, 2020

My sobriety began with a jump, falling into murky water. That’s not a metaphor: swimming in the middle of nowhere in my native South Africa in 2012, I picked up a parasitic disease called bilharzia; my subsequent weakened immune system and a summer of binge-drinking led to a case of hepatitis. Both diseases required prolonged hospital stays and strict admonishments against drinking alcohol. My nightly drinking and smoking were replaced with green tea and rest.

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June 3rd, 2020 | Permalink

Doing good, being healthy

Once I found a job I loved, it made all the difference in the world to my enjoyment of life, an important component in good health. Back in the seventies, after having been conferred with an undergraduate degree, I thought I would love being a writer for a living. But in fact, I found being a feature article writer and photographer for magazines to mostly be a drudgery—though I did enjoy the interview process. Once my job was doing psychotherapy everything about my life became better. Both jobs do not pay very well, so they are equal in that regard, and since I wrote for nonprofit magazines, it could be argued that I was being helpful to others in both jobs. The key difference is that counseling better fits my personality. Now I help others create a healthy narrative for their lives through face-to-face therapeutic relationships, instead of being alone in my head creating educational narratives for invisible readers. The second career lights up my life with living presence and the joy of seeing others lives become happier and healthier. My experience of the former was that it mostly paid the rent. The bottomline is:  we need to know ourselves to be able to find or create a job that is not a job, but daily joy.—MR

The Incalculable Value of Finding a Job You Love

By July 22, 2016

Social scientists have been trying to identify the conditions most likely to promote satisfying human lives. Their findings give some important clues about choosing a career: Money matters, but …not always in the ways you may think.

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May 26th, 2020 | Permalink

Take your body for a walk

Each of our bodies is in grief for the life it is cannot at the moment live. Be kind to it. Conscious movement, whether dance, gardening or vacuuming, sends the message to it that all is well. Kind of like how the dog seems to feel when you take it for a walk. If your body is moving, your mind will not feel stuck. Particularly if you pay attention to the movement itself. Doing the movements below take close attention. Try it! I guarantee you’ll feel better.–MR

Twist, Bend, Reach, Step: A Merce Cunningham Solo…

By April 21, 2020

These days, thanks to the cornucopia of online dance classes and tutorials, you can almost imagine yourself to be a dancer. Go ahead, take morning class with Sam Black of the Mark Morris Dance Group, or follow along with New York City Ballet’s Megan Fairchild, even if you don’t have her marvelous turnout. I’ve been doing both. In the real world, it might feel intimidating; online, why not? After all, no one can see you.

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April 25th, 2020 | Permalink

We are all only human

We all take mental shortcuts in our thought processes. Understanding how our mind works is called “mindsight,” a term coined by Dr. Dan Siegel, my hero. Being able to choose our behavior based on knowledge instead of knee jerk reaction is one of the helpful things a counselor can provide by teaching a person about their own mind. Even docs could become better docs if they learned a few things.–MR

By Anupam B. Jena and 

It’s tempting to believe that physicians are logical, meticulous thinkers who perfectly weigh the pros and cons of treatment options, acting as unbiased surrogates for their patients. In reality, this is often far from the case.

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February 20th, 2020 | Permalink

Get happier naturally

We all know exercise makes your body healthier and helps you live longer. A growing body of research shows exercise is also linked to a wide range of mood-based and social benefits.

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January 22nd, 2020 | Permalink

Strike up the music!

This 5-minute TED animated video will explain why you may wish to learn to play a musical instrument or play more if you already know how. It’s the best work out your brain can have! Just listening to music is helpful, but playing is over the top with healthful brain benefits.

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January 13th, 2020 | Permalink

Privacy guaranteed

If you go see an “in-network provider” recommended by your insurance company, your chart notes (the things you say confidentially to your counselor) are typed up and uploaded to the Internet so your insurance company, and god forbid, a hacker, can access them. At Bodymind Counseling, chart notes are written on paper and stored in a locked file cabinet, because I am an “out-of-network provider.” Once a month, I provide you a statement of paid sessions to turn in to your company for reimbursement. All it says is what you have paid and a diagnosis. What you have shared is locked in a drawer. Privacy guaranteed.

Inside Google’s Quest for Millions of Medical Records

By Rob Copeland, Dana Mattioli and Melanie Evans, Wall Street Journal, Jan. 11, 2020

The company has struck deals that grant it access to troves of patient data; ‘We want to be helpful.” Roughly a year ago, Google offered health-data company Cerner Corp. an unusually rich proposal. Cerner was interviewing Silicon Valley giants to pick a storage provider for 250 million health records, one of the largest collections of U.S. patient data. Google dispatched former chief executive Eric Schmidt to personally pitch Cerner over several phone calls and offered around $250 million in discounts and incentives, people familiar with the matter say.

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January 13th, 2020 | Permalink

Feel better slowly

Yesterday, a police person called from another state. A former patient was in jail. I had to tell the detective, I couldn’t say whether or not this person had been my patient because of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), so I got off the phone. But having known this patient, I can only imagine that in a drunken rage, there has been a screw up that may have ruined a life. Quitting drinking is not easy, but it’s the simplest thing anyone can do, even light drinkers, to improve their health and happiness.

Alcohol can cause long-term changes in the nervous system, and the brain needs time to adjust to a life without booze… It took me awhile to break my two-a-day cocktail habit. But now I never feel the urge to drink, not even when I’m sitting in a bar. That’s not something I could say for the first year of my sobriety. And my indifference toward alcohol has become the best part of giving it up.

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January 11th, 2020 | Permalink

Think before you drink

Reducing your consumption of alcohol is the most important thing you can do to not only improve your physical health, i.e. it’s been implicated in cancer and various heart diseases, but also your mental health. It causes insomnia, anxiety and depression in most people to various degrees. 

For people with atrial fibrillation, abstinence from alcohol may make the heart beat better.

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January 10th, 2020 | Permalink

Begin at the beginning

At Bodymind Counseling, counseling begins with a survey of a patient’s addictive substance use. The reason we begin here is because poor mental health is a problem in the brain. Substances that effect how the brain works need to be considered before we can begin to know if there are other mental health issues. For example, alcohol causes depression, so if a patient says “I’m depressed,” I say, “How much are you drinking weekly?” If a person says “I’m stressed out, having anger management issues and suicidal ideation,” I say, “How many cigarettes are you smoking?” If a person says, “Nothing makes me happy. I’m stressed out and lonely. I don’t feel like doing anything to change my life.” I ask, “How much cannabis do you use?” Once patients deal with chemical inputs affecting their minds, we can see if they still need help. The bottom line is any substance that can kill you like alcohol with liver disease and cigarettes and cannabis with lung cancer, can make you unhappy and stressed out. Some people much more than others…

The cancer death rate in the United States fell 2.2 percent in 2017 — the biggest single-year drop ever reported — propelled by gains against lung cancer, the American Cancer Society said Wednesday.

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January 8th, 2020 | Permalink

As they say…

It didn’t take rocket science to figure out my brain is effected by the chemicals I consume. Eating carcinogenic neurotoxins in the form of pesticide can’t be good. Most pesticides kill by disrupting a bug’s nervous system which isn’t that different from ours. You many wish to give your brain a chance to think and feel without dousing it with the toxics and toxins contaminating nonorganic foods. Yes, I realize they are more expensive, but so is cancer. I don’t know what is your brain is worth, but mine’s worth a lot.—MR

Understanding what makes a food ‘organic’

By Consumer Reports, November 25, 2019

No doubt you’ve seen the organic label on a variety of foods — from produce and meat to bread and cereal — even in the smallest grocery stores. But how can one little word like “organic” cover all those different foods?

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December 1st, 2019 | Permalink

Life is short

Why make it shorter? The below report shows America’s life expectancy has decreased for the third year in a row. The primary drivers of this trend are liver disease (due mostly to soda pop and alcohol), obesity (due mostly to processed/fast food), DWT (driving while texting) and suicide (due to unsafe gun storage). You may wish to protect yourself and your loved ones by addressing these four areas causing spiraling death rates of people under 64. —MR

Death rates from suicide, drug overdoses, liver disease and dozens of other causes have been rising over the past decade for young and middle-aged adults, driving down overall life expectancy in the United States for three consecutive years, according to a strikingly bleak study published Tuesday that looked at the past six decades of mortality data.

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November 26th, 2019 | Permalink

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