Mental Health and Gut Health

Mental Health | Gut Health | Microbiome | Immunity

Scientific data is beginning to show an elaborate connection between gut health and brain function. Learn more about how you can positively influence both.

Is there a connection between mental health and gut health? And if so, is the connection in one direction, or in both directions? That is, can your brain’s health influence your gut function, and can your gut health have an influence on your  brain, and thus, mental health?

Last month, I arrived two minutes before a six-hour continuing education lecture on the subjects of immunity, inflammation, and the gut microbiota was slated to begin, and there were but a few seats left in the crowded hotel conference room. Apparently, I picked a hot topic! The majority of the participants were nurses and doctors, and based on the speed of the note-taking I witnessed, there was great interest in the topic. However, I wouldn’t expect the average person to care, even though I think everyone should.

For you, I will disseminate those six hours of lecture into the best takeaways for you regarding the connection between your gut and your mental health. For our purposes here, I’ll try to keep the medical terminology simple and on point about its connection to brain health and mental health.

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Election Anxiety

Election Anxiety

Seattle Direct Counseling | Presidential Election Anxiety Fears

Blue and white box with slit for ballots on a sidewalk.
An official ballot box for the Nov 8 elections stands ready to receive ballots on a Seattle street.

I wasn’t even sure I wanted to write about Election Anxiety, or ‘Election Distress Disorder’ (not a real DSM-V disorder).

Because of the ethics of my profession, I consider it a solemn duty in this season to listen to all my clients in a non-judgmental manner; to do anything less dishonors our profession and the work we each do to hear ourselves and apply ourselves at whatever level of free agency that we can.

After nearly 17 years of doing therapy in the Seattle area, I have concluded that the current presidential election campaign is the most talked about campaign of my career. It’s also the most controversial, and the topics that have been stirred up have affected all peoples on either side of the political aisle, as well as those who have chosen to depart from the mainstream political parties.

Yet, I am not here to talk about the particulars of the campaigns. I want to talk about what the campaign has done to us, what it has forced upon the table. It is being called collectively, “Election Anxiety”, an anxious reaction to the fears, racism, misogyny, and verbal bullying that our nation has witnessed on our television screen, computer monitors, and smart devices in the form of video, news articles, audio sound bytes, and Social Media response.

It’s not that any of these topics are new. The sheer volume, however, is new. For example, I have been called the derogatory term, “chink,” many times in my adult lifetime. Yet, the number of derogatory terms directed at my fellow Latino and Latina friends has exponentially exploded this year.

A year ago, we weren’t even using that terminology, “Election Anxiety.” Now, it’s a ‘thing’. A real thing.

I am not alone in naming this ‘thing’. In an article from the New York Times,  Social Workers and Licensed Mental Counselors across the country are reporting an increase of clients asking to talk about the elections during therapy in the form of anxious and fearful thoughts.

And now, Election Anxiety has come to my office is in the form of requests about how thoughts regarding bullying, misogyny, racism, and micro aggressions in the workplace might be handled.

Read on for more about Election Anxiety.

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Fall 2016 Welcome Message

The leaves are turning, the morning air has a familiar crispness to it, and the kids are back in school.

Welcome to Fall! It’s become my tradition here on the Seattle Direct Counseling blog to welcome visitors to our site at the beginning of the Fall season, as well as to welcome back clients who have taken their summer vacations or have been on hiatus for awhile. Welcome back.

There is an exciting buzz of possibility and change at SDC. I (Imei) just completed an Ironman race in August, and physically I have never felt more challenged, stretched… and exhausted! Yet, I am thrilled to bring to my work a renewed compassion and focus on helping each one of you move towards the goals that mean the most in your lives.

Already halfway into September, I have a couple of reminders regarding Seattle Direct Counseling and your mental health

  1. With darkness coming on earlier, I shift evening hours by 30 minutes, so the last session of the day ends at 6:00pm.
  2. Also with the fading light, people who struggle with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) should be considering proactive preparation, such as making sure UV light boxes are in working order, supplementation in the diet is made, exercise increased, and book your strategy session with me early (before October is ideal).
  3.  September is Suicide Prevention Month. Chances are that either you or someone you know struggles with thoughts about suicide. Now is a good time to book an appointment and talk about these thoughts rather than letting them become overwhelming, hopeless monologues. If you are helping someone else to begin therapy because of suicidal thoughts, we are ready to be of help.
  4. By the end of the month, I traditionally see people stop walking or running outside because of the change in weather. Consider your strategy for cross training and for indoor activities that give you a full-body workout, alternating cardio workouts with anaerobic short-intervals of high intensity. Many people find exercise a way to fight winter blues, anxiety, and work stress.
  5. Did you know: Mindfulness Meditation can be a part of your session. Ask us about starting your sessions in the office with mindfulness meditation, as well as meditation exercises you can do at home to help alleviate anxious thoughts and promote focused thought and clarity.

The most frequent request I am receiving now is whether I am taking new clients in September and October. The answer is: YES, as long as there is room on my schedule. If you are just coming by our website for the first time, welcome. Take your time to peruse our resources, and feel free to book your complimentary consultation.