Category Archives: wellness

Depression: The More You Know

Back in November of last year, I wrote a post about depression and asked readers to participate in a short survey. You turned out by the thousands, helping raise awareness, dispel myths, and change perceptions. It turns out that when it comes to depression, the more you know the better.

In today’s follow-up, I’ll be sharing some of the results of that survey as well as additional resources both for my fellow veterans and civilians. Because I have the unique perspective of someone who served during a time of war, was a military spouse, and is now a Marine mom, Med-IQ* reached out to me for help in spreading the word about how to recognize the symptoms of depression – or major depressive disorder.

Let’s start with a snapshot of the people who completed the survey last year;

 87% of respondents were between the ages of 25 and 45

 71% reported having a bachelor’s degree or higher

Almost 67% completed the survey because they think they      might have depression

Knowing the symptoms of depression can go a long way towards prompting us to seek treatment. Some of the most common symptoms reported in the survey were:

Loss of energy and irritability, reported by over 80% of participants

Difficulty thinking or making decisions and feelings of hopelessness, reported by over 70% of participants

For me, the most telling and encouraging data point was that 98% agreed with the statement that depression is caused by a combination of factors including genetics and life circumstances. This points to a greater understanding of depression, in my book.

Depression is far more common than you may think. Depression affects about 1 in 15 adults each year, and 1 out of every 6 people experience depression at some point in their life. Knowing that you’re not alone is so important. On active duty,  we learn to rely on each other. Knowing that your six is covered can save your life. This holds just as true when it comes to depression.

Being honest and open with your doctor about your symptoms, your experiences, and family history is critical in determining the best treatment plan for you. Seeking care does not mean you are weak. If you had cancer, you wouldn’t just live with it, right? Depression and major depressive disorder are illnesses just like cancer.

If you took the first survey — thank you! I encourage you to also take the second survey as it is slightly different from the first one. For those of you who missed the first, please jump in now. It takes less than 10 minutes and is 100% confidential. They don’t even record your ISP address. Plus, you can choose to be entered into a drawing to win 1 of 10 $100 VISA gift cards. No personal information will be kept, sold, or stored from the completion of the survey.

click here to take the survey

Should you or someone you care about be experiencing symptoms of depression, here are some resources you can turn to.**

Depression and Trauma in Veterans  – click here

Depression and Bipolar Disorder Alliance – they feature a registry of support groups – click here 

Veterans Resources –  click here

 

* I was compensated by Med-IQ through a grant from Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A., Inc. and Lundbeck to write about depression awareness. All my opinions are my own.

** These links are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they are not intended and should not be construed as legal or medical advice nor are they endorsements of any healthcare provider or practice. Med-IQ bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content of the external site or for that of subsequent links. Contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content.

Stress: There’s An App For That

You looked stressed. In all fairness… don’t we all? Even the most zen among us can’t claim they’re stress free. Where they differ from those of us who find ourselves practically pulling our hair out on the regular is in how they deal with their stress. Me? I go mobile. Believe it or not, there are some great stress management apps out there. 

Recently I embarked on a new professional (and personal) adventure. After over a decade of owning my own consulting business – working mostly from home or far-flung exotic locales like, Dublin and Detroit- I’m back in an office, working for someone else. Part of my new gig entails teaching people what a big role stress plays in our over all health and wellness. 

To be honest, I could be the poster girl for the ill effects of stress. Hair loss? Been there, lost that.  Insomnia? There aren’t sheep enough for all the counting I’ve done. Weight gain? Yeah, we aren’t even going there. This new job has forced be to stare stress right in the baggy, dark-circled eyes and deal with it so I can help others do the same. 

great-stress-managment-appsMy top advice? Find apps that make it easier to coral the cortisol. After all if you’ve got to stress about how to deal with stress you’re sort of doing this whole thing wrong… really wrong. 

Stress: There IS an App for That! 

Headspace – This app is by far my absolute favorite – and not only because I love the cute British man-voice. Headspace is sort of like a gym for your brain. In daily 10-minute guided meditations you’re guided through ways quite and focus the mind. I find that squeezing in a session or two during the work day really helps renew my energy and stave off that afternoon slump in creativity. (If you want to know more, I wrote a full post and review of Headspace over at (cool) progeny)

Mood Panda – When I was young I carried around a beat up old diary with a lock I’m sure my brothers would never have dreamed of picking. I’d pour every unedited thought into those pages as though I were at confession. For a lonely word-nerd that diary was about as close to a BFF as it got.

Mood Panda may not be a trusty, old-school diary but it is a good app for recording your feelings, literally.  Knowing how you’re feeling/felt, when and where you were can be a key step to unlocking the patterns in your stress. From there you can put in some work in avoiding or dealing with those issues in a new way.  Plus… pandas!

Attitudes of Gratitude – A while back my side kick and the brilliant brain responsible for keeping The Nuggs up and running – Cameron of Daddy Bookins fame – had a pretty terrifying health scare. In the midst of going through that he started to do daily posts sharing gratitude for things big and small. It was an exercise in grounding. Be thankful for each day, try not to let stress take that away. 

If you’re not necessarily into public declarations of thankfulness, this could be the app for you. Record at least one daily moment of gratitude. In doing that, you force stress to loosen it’s grip on your day. 

Bright Side Up – I’ve only used this app a few times, but my daughter loves it. Swiping away the clouds and seeing the bright side is something we could all use. 

Just click the clouds to whisk them away and bring out a fresh, original BrightUp written by Amy Spencer that can shift how you feel by suggesting something to do, think or try. Use these BrightUps on their own or as a companion to the book Bright Side Up, full of strategies for looking at your life in an entirely new way.  

I’ll confess that I find myself singing Always Look at the Bright Side of Life from Monty Python’s Life of Brian when I see this app. Don’t judge, laughter is a stress release after all!

Kick the Stress by Playing

Zen Koi – Have you ever spent time in a Japanese garden with a Koi pond? Isn’t there something inherently calming in just being in a place like that? Would that we could all have a Koi pond in our homes, offices or in line at the DMV, eh? While this app may not be the next best thing it certainly is calming.

I’m not much of a gamer but there is something about guiding virtual Koi around this pond, watching them evolve and chilling out to the zen background music that forces you to relax. Stress falls away as you let go and just play. Play is a great way to manage stress. Go ahead, try it.

These are just a few apps I personally like. The beauty of living a mobile lifestyle is you can find the app, vibe and time that suites you. No need to stress about it, just explore!

Disclosure: As a member of a very cool team of influencers for Verizon Wireless I sometimes receive compensation, cool gadgets to test drive, or get attend special events. All opinions entirely my own, based on my experiences, because you deserve nothing less! 

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Checking Into Wellness: New Trends in Hotel Amenities

Wellness The New Hotel Amenity -- Mokara Spa Omni Nashville
Mokara Spa – Wellness at Omni Nashville Hotel

Who doesn’t love to indulge when traveling? After all, food is the universal language, right?  Sharing a meal can erase nearly  all barriers. Sadly, it can also erase much of the hard work you’ve done in the gym.  It seems hotels are catching on to our desire to indulge while traveling without straying too far off our path to wellness.

In a recent survey commissioned by Omni Hotels, seven in ten respondents admited to having  gained weight while traveling – even,  when making extra effort to maintain healthy dietary habits while away. According to a similar survey previously commissioned, about 26 percent of respondents wished their hotel would help by partnering with nearby yoga studios or fitness centers.

Slowly, but surely, hotels are making strides to bring wellness amenities to their guests. Starwood hotels now  offer New Balance® shoes and clothing for you to use during your stay at the reasonably rate of just $5.00 a day. Known for going that extra mile, Four Seasons properties feature some truly unique,  “whole-body” wellness programs. Fore example; Four Seasons Westlake Village boasts registered dietitians, exercise physiologists, and mouthwatering eats from the  Wellness Kitchen.

Omni’s Nashville Hotel recently announced  its Mokara Wellness program. Downtown Nashville’s only full-service spa is providing complimentary personal training and group fitness classes. Guests can participate in everything from low-impact exercises and high-intensity workouts to yoga and aerobics. A rejuvenating selections of healthy food items is also available from its spa menus.

Nashville joins several other Omni hotel properties that offer an array of wellness services.  Packing a healthy outlook – and your yoga pants – can go a long way towards keeping you on a path to wellness while you explore new roads.

That said, I still want my pillow chocolate, thank-you-very-much!

Let The “Crazy” Ones Out

The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel alone. ~Robin Williams.

I believe that there exists a filament within each of us. Rooted in our hearts, it entwines itself throughout our being as it attaches like an umbilicus to our minds. The molecules within are dense and strong, yet pliable, having the ability to withstand the onslaught of all that makes us. In some of us it can transfigure, becoming gossamer, at times a mere wisp of a root. Barely holding us together.

When that filament thins to transparency, or breaks all together, so much can be lost. 

Heroes

Words

Artists

Lovers

Beauty

Friends

Faith

Children

Hope

As the media cacophony reaches a crescendo about the life and addictions of Robin Williams, I imagine his filament. Growing ever thinner. Fading away.

Time and I again I hear someone on TV say things like, “…recently returned to rehab” or “…struggled with addiction.” Were he to have died from cancer the narrative would undoubtedly have been different.  We’d be hearing things like, “After a long and courageous battle with…” It seems that where mental illness is involved – addiction, depression – there is little room to acknowledge courage. After all a gifted, iconic, beloved, and wealthy star could have no “reason” to take his own life. 

Depression has about as much reason as a cancer cell does.

They both choose their victims at random. Preying upon people from all walks of life with no regard for the size of one’s bank account or contributions to humanity.  They eat away at the people we are, changing the very structure of our being, leaving behind destruction in their wake.

Yet cancer gets walks, runs, standing up to. While depression – mental illness – gets shoved into a dark corner, hidden in a closet, stuffed inside. Why? Does anyone really think that someone chooses mental illness? They just wake up one day and say, “Today I think I’d like to ruin everything I’ve ever worked for, and hey maybe destroy the lives of those who love me while I’m at it?” No, they don’t. The thoughts choose, consuming them like cancer.

Until society as a whole can open that closet, let The “Crazy” Ones out, and treat the suffering as equal to anyone with any other disease they didn’t choose to get, we will find ourselves here again. The shock and sadness will come back. More lives will be lost. 

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America*. It is the 3rd leading cause of death in people between 15 and 24 years old*. Every day 22 American Veterans take their own lives**. 

While we all talk about our favorite Robin Williams movies (mine: Good Will Hunting, Hook, & What Dreams May Come) can we each make a little time to reach out. If you suffer from depression, tell someone. Talk, they want to listen. Talking can help.

Suicidal thoughts are not personal. They don’t mean that the person having them doesn’t love you enough. They are a part of the pathology of an illness that thrives -amongst other things – on isolation, shame, and fear.  If you know someone who is fighting a courageous battle with metal illness, tell them you stand with them. You aren’t expected to understand molecular biology to comfort a friend with cancer, you don’t have to be a psychologist to aid in the war with depression. 

Countless people at this very moment walk around with paper-thin filaments holding them together.

If you need help right now, visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org or call (800) 273-TALK

 

* Source: Centers for Disease Control

** Source: Veterans Administration

You Don’t Have To Try

When I first heard Colbie Caillat’s new song, Try, on the radio last week I thought, “Well there is a good message in that song.” Then I moved on. Colbie isn’t exactly my genre of tunes, but I’d listen to it twice just for the message. 

Then I started to see my Facebook stream flood with links to the video. Call me Queen Lemming, I had to click.

Then I had to get tissues.

Then my teen daughter, and even my seven year old daughter.

This video goes far beyond the song. It’s the message every child and young adult, boys and especially girls, and – admittedly- even I needed to hear.