Anita Kemp Ph.D. Blog

Ideas for a healthy body, mind and spirit.

Compassion versus Empathy

Joan Halifax has just published a wonderful book STANDING AT THE EDGE: FINDING FREEDOM WHERE FEAR AND COURAGE MEET.  For all of you who suffer from empathy burn-out – this is your book. It is Buddhist based because Joan is a Roshi and has an incredible background in many areas. Empathy is necessary as a starting point for compassion. But staying there is a prescription for stress and illness. Feeling another’s feelings and staying with these feelings accentuates suffering and really does not help the other person. The move to compassion keeps your heart open but you don’t take on the other’s burden. There is a clear boundary between you and the other person which is healthy. This is essential at this time when we are bombarded with violence in our country and abroad. Joan talks about the edge states of altruism, empathy, integrity, respect and engagement. She discusses how you can lose your footing on the edge state. Altruism can turn into another form – pathological altruism. Empathy can become empathic distress. If you take on others emotional or physical feelings, please read this book.

June 3, 2018 Posted by | Emotional Well Being | , | Leave a comment

Stress Is Good For You!

Here is an amazing concept which is beneficial for all of us. We can not avoid stress. Trying to avoid only leads to a shut-down in life and less joy and well-being. Here is the paradoxical answer as to how to have stress beneficial for you – welcome stress. Kelly McGonigal Ph.D. has written a summary of the stress research and how to apply this to your life. The title is The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good For You and How To Get Good at It. 

How you think about stress impacts the neurotransmitters released and the impact on your body and mind. “The effect you expect is the effect you get.”  Research has shown that people who believe stress is enhancing are healthier, happier, more productive, more satisfied with their lives than those who believe otherwise with the same amount of stress.

There are three categories of benefits of stress and the concomitant mindset.

  1. Stress helps you rise to the challenge by mobilizing energy
  2. Stress helps you connect with others and increases courage
  3.  Stress helps the brain learn and grow

The book has helpful exercises to get to this new place around stress as well as lots of examples and research. http://www.kellymcgonigal.com.

 

 

 

 

March 4, 2018 Posted by | Emotional Well Being, health | , , | Leave a comment

Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation

This information is extracted from a new book by Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson, ALTERED TRAITS: SCIENCE REVEALS HOW MEDITATION CHANGES YOUR MIND, BRAIN AND BODY.  It is fairly dense reading about the controlled scientific studies done to date. The importance of these new studies is that they are demonstrating changes in the brain through fMRIs that with continued meditation become traits or permanent changes in the brain.

These authors look at studies that used Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy, Compassion practice and different types of meditation practices.

Studies are showing certain areas of the brain enlarge. These areas help attention and self-regulation. It is less likely to become hijacked by emotions and to fall into anxiety or depression or impulsive action. The amygdala has reduction in activity which leads to a calmer state of being.

Other benefits: age-related brain atrophy slowed, reduction in shortening of telomerase, reduction in pain.

 

 

 

January 20, 2018 Posted by | Depression, Emotional Well Being, meditation | , , | Leave a comment

Fight Depression with Diet, Exercise and Meditation

If you are contemplating taking antidepressants or are already on antidepressants and they are not working, here is the information you need now. Kelly Brogan MD had written a book that summarizes what we know about depression and antidepressants and then presents her plan to help women especially to get healthy without drugs. The book is A Mind of Your Own: The Truth About Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives. She reviews the research that basically says antidepressants are a placebo but have negative side effects that are not worth the minimal help. Healthy diet, exercise and meditation are the answer. Her diet is very restrictive and you have to be very motivated to follow this. For 30 days, she asks you to be off gluten, dairy, sugar, potatoes, rice, soy and legumes. And only drink water. No other beverages. Wow! However this is for 30 days and then you add back foods to see if they work for you or not. Even if you don’t want to do this sort of eating, please read the book. The information is invaluable.

December 10, 2017 Posted by | Depression, Emotional Well Being | , , | Leave a comment

Thyroid and Mood

This little organ – the thyroid- does amazing things for the body and needs to be in balance for your physical and mental health. If you have symptoms of stress, insomnia, feel overwhelmed, have trouble losing weight, feels depressed or anxious, take a look at this wonderful book – ADRENAL THYROID REVOLUTION by Aviva Romm MD.

Her focus is on hypothyroid and adrenal fatigue. Imbalances occur through chronic stress, toxins, infections, food triggers and problems with the gut. The  solution is to work on all the relevant areas. Stress management is central and here is where yoga and meditation can be a tremendous help. Other areas need to be assessed by  WHOLISTIC DOCTOR.  These come under various names like integrative medicine doctor, functional medicine doctor or naturopathic doctor. Visit websites for American Board of Integrative Medicine, Institute of Functional Medicine.

 

March 26, 2017 Posted by | Emotional Well Being, health, weight management | , , | Leave a comment

The Placebo Impact

There is so much information on the positive benefits of placebos. Here is some more. When Diazepam for anxiety is given without the patient knowing that he/she received it, there is no impact at all. This indicates that most if not all of the impact of drugs like Valium and Ativan is due to the placebo effect. This is good news. It means that we ourselves create the change in our bodies and receive relaxation from the belief that this should be happening. This indicates that relaxation training can be as successful as drugs.

Even more good news! For chronic pain, a study found that an intravenous injection of a saline solution and telling the patient that they are receiving a painkiller is as potent as 6-8 mg of morphine and this hold true for other pain killers as well. So what is causing the pain relief? Our own brain/body. This has also been studied with brain imaging and finding impact on the brain from expectation alone.

Check out this new book by Jo Marchant CURE: A JOURNEY INTO THE SCIENCE OF MIND OVER BODY.

March 28, 2016 Posted by | Emotional Well Being | Leave a comment

Gut Microbes and Your Moods

Absolutely read David Perlmutter’s new book BRAIN MAKER. He is a neurologist who has worked with and studied various mental health conditions such as ADHD, Autism, Depression and Dementia from the point of view of healthy diet and keeping the microbes in the body happy. There is fascinating information here that can benefit everyone. The gut bacteria are involved in producing 80-90% of your serotonin and have their own immune system which is 70-80% of your total immune system. If you need more incentive to read this book – certain gut bacteria are related to weight loss and others to weight gain. After you find out about the critical importance of the microbiome, he offers help on how to maintain healthy bacteria. Some of this you certainly already know – like yogurt- and other ideas may be new to you – like foods rich in prebiotics. Happy reading and happy health.

October 19, 2015 Posted by | Emotional Well Being | | Leave a comment

Mindfulness Benefits

Research continues to find benefits for mindfulness based meditation and these can not be ignored. Mindfulness is associated with positive emotion, improved resilience to stress, increased immune functioning, improved cognitive performance and overall reduction in anxiety, depression and improved longevity. How can you ignore the benefits? The amount of time required for benefit seems minimal compared to the amount of time we might spend texting/e-mailing or watching television/movies. Positive results are found for even 20 minutes a day for 10 weeks with improvement being maintained after this for months. Take a look at material available from Jon Kabat-Zinn who has one version of mindfulness called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and look into the research of Richard Davidson Ph.D. Invest in your health and it is fun as well.

February 4, 2015 Posted by | Emotional Well Being | , , | Leave a comment

Getting A Calm Brain

Gayatri Devi MD, a neurologist and clinical associate professor at NYU School of Medicine, has outlined the process of calming the mind from the neurological point of view. Her book A CALM BRAIN: UNLOCKING YOUR NATURAL RELAXATION SYSTEM is a good read. If you have wondered why it is so hard to de-stress, she explains it in terms of our heritage and the importance of fight or flight mechanisms in survival. There is an important nerve, the Vagus nerve, that plays a critical role. It channels information from the gut area to the brain and can tell the brain to relax. Once you understand the physiology, you can put into place effective strategies for your stress management. Diaphragm breathing, for example, activates the Vagus Nerve and begins the calming process. Techniques to calm are simple but powerful. Trying to calm through the thought process is much less effective and this book tells you why. Give yourself the gift of this book in this stressful time.

November 5, 2012 Posted by | Emotional Well Being | | Leave a comment

We are meant to be happy!

The article title is a statement from George Pratt and Peter Lambrou’s new book Code to Joy: the Four-Step Solution to Unlocking Your Natural State of Happiness. These are two California psychologists who have been applying acupressure techniques to emotional health for many years. In this book, they have digested it down to an easy formula that is very self-help. But don’t be fooled by its simplicity. This is powerful. They do cite some research on energy psychology (acupressure) for the more sceptical. The Code to Joy has 4 steps: identifying your self-limiting beliefs, rebalancing your energy system, releasing negative beliefs and installing new empowering beliefs and then anchoring them in for permanence. Take a look at a new trend in psychology that is based on the Chinese traditional Medicine System.

August 19, 2012 Posted by | Depression, Emotional Well Being | Leave a comment