Who or What is East Hill Counseling Services?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
East Hill Counseling Services, LLC is a Pensacola solo practice that offers individual counseling and therapy for adults with a focus on anxiety disorders, depression, stress management and prevention, and life transition issues.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

10 Ways to Reduce Workplace Stress

A couple of months ago Alice Crann Good, a local writer, spoke with me on behalf of Pensacola News Journal’s Bella Magazine about workplace stress. She was writing an article about the impact workplace stress has on people and possible solutions to reduce stress. Her research and our discussion resulted in an article appearing in November’s issue of Bella Magazine titled "10 Ways to Reduce Workplace Stress". My suggestions for reducing workplace stress address the following ten areas: (1) limits; (2) perfectionism; (3) organization; (4) focus; (5) environment; (6) movement; (7) nutrition; (8) sleep; (9) relaxation; and (10) humor. You can check out the embedded link "10 Ways to Reduce Workplace Stress" to read the entire article online or check out Bella locations to find out where you can pick up a hard copy of Bella around Northwest Florida. 

Thanks for visting!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Perfectionism Linked to Burnout

Today’s post looks at new research published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology that addresses how perfectionism can sabotage success at work, school or on the playing field, leading to stress, burnout, and other potential health problems.

In the first meta-analysis of the relationship between perfectionism and burnout, researchers analyzed the findings from 43 previous studies conducted over the past 20 years. It turns out perfectionism isn't all bad. One aspect of perfectionism called "perfectionistic strivings" involves the setting of high personal standards and working toward those goals in a proactive manner. The study found that these efforts may help maintain a sense of accomplishment and delay the debilitating effects of burnout.

The dark side of perfectionism, called "perfectionistic concerns," can be more detrimental when people constantly worry about making mistakes, letting others down, or not measuring up to their own impossibly high standards, said lead researcher Andrew Hill, an associate professor of sport psychology at York St. John University in England. Previous research has shown that perfectionistic concerns and the stress they generate can contribute to serious health problems, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, fatigue, and even early mortality. The study was published online in the Personality and Social Psychology Review.

"Perfectionistic concerns capture fears and doubts about personal performance, which creates stress that can lead to burnout when people become cynical and stop caring," Hill said. "It also can interfere with relationships and make it difficult to cope with setbacks because every mistake is viewed as a disaster.”

The study found that perfectionistic concerns had the strongest negative effects in contributing to burnout in the workplace, possibly because people have more social support and clearly defined objectives in education and sports. A student can be rewarded for hard work with a high grade, or a tennis player can win the big match, but a stellar performance in the workplace may not be recognized or rewarded, which may contribute to cynicism and burnout.

"People need to learn to challenge the irrational beliefs that underlie perfectionistic concerns by setting realistic goals, accepting failure as a learning opportunity, and forgiving themselves when they fail," Hill said. "Creating environments where creativity, effort and perseverance are valued also would help.”

Most people display some characteristics of perfectionism in some aspect of their lives, but perfectionistic strivings or concerns may be more dominant. The study noted that the development of a personality profile that identifies perfectionistic concerns might be a valuable tool in detecting and helping individuals who are prone to burnout.

Have you ever thought perfectionism might be a problem for you? Are you open to the idea of setting more flexible and achievable standards for yourself? Consider making an appointment with a counselor or therapist so that you might learn some some new helpful ways to set balanced and healthy standards for yourself so that perfectionism will have less of a negative impact on your life.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Workplace Mindfulness-Based Interventions Reduces Stress Levels

While many people would describe their jobs as stressful at one time or another, workplace stress often ebbs and flows based on work assignments, deadlines, coworkers, and other variables. I think the research findings in today's post are particularly relevant for those people who work in careers in which stress is an inherent part of the daily grind.

A study by researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found that a workplace mindfulness-based intervention reduced stress levels of employees exposed to a highly stressful occupational environment.

Members of a surgical intensive care unit at the large academic medical center were randomized to a stress-reduction intervention or a control group. The 8-week group mindfulness-based intervention included mindfulness, gentle stretching, yoga, meditation and music conducted in the workplace. Psychological and biological markers of stress were measured one week before and one week after the intervention to see if these coping strategies would help reduce stress and burnout among participants.

Results of this study, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, showed that levels of salivary [alpha]-amylase, an index of sympathetic activation of the nervous system -- also known as the fight or flight response -- were significantly decreased from the first to second assessments in the intervention group. The control group showed no changes. Psychological components of stress and burnout were measured using well-established self-report questionnaires.

"Our study shows that this type of mindfulness-based intervention in the workplace could decrease stress levels and the risk of burnout," said one of the authors, Maryanna Klatt, associate clinical professor in the department of Family Medicine at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center. Chronic stress and stress reactivity have been found associated with increased levels of salivary [alpha]-amylase."What's stressful about the work environment is never going to change. But what we were interested in changing was the nursing personnel's reaction to those stresses. We measured salivary alpha amylase, which is a biomarker of the sympathetic nervous system activation, and that was reduced by 40 percent in the intervention group.” 

Klatt, who is a trained mindfulness and certified yoga instructor, developed and led the mindfulness-based intervention for 32 participants in the workplace setting. At baseline, participants scored the level of stress of their work at 7.15 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most stressful. The levels of work stress did not change between the first and second set of assessments, but their reaction to the work stress did change.

When stress is part of the work environment, it is often difficult to control and can negatively affect employees' health and ability to function, said lead author Dr. Anne-Marie Duchemin, research scientist and Associate Professor Adjunct in the department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center. "People who are subjected to chronic stress often will exhibit symptoms of irritability, nervousness, feeling overwhelmed; have difficulty concentrating or remembering; or having changes in appetite, sleep, heart rate and blood pressure," Duchemin said. Although work-related stress often cannot be eliminated, effective coping strategies may help decrease its harmful effects." "The changes in the levels of salivary alpha-amylase suggest that the reactivity to stress was decreased after the 8 week group intervention.”

If stress is an everyday normal occurrence from the minute you start your job to the minute you walk out the door, consider looking into mindful based interventions to help alleviate some of your stress. 



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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Psychosocial Perfect Storm: Stress, Depression, and Cardiovascular Health

More research findings in today’s post regarding the effects of stress and depression on cardiovascular health. It's always interesting reading articles that outline the relationship between mental health and physical health.  

According to new research in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, an American Heart Association journal, the combination of stress and heavy depression can significantly increase heart patient's risk of death or heart attack.

The study examined the effect of high stress levels and high depressive symptoms among nearly 5,000 heart patients. Researchers concluded that risk is amplified when both conditions are present, thus validating the concept of a "psychosocial perfect storm.”

"The increase in risk accompanying high stress and high depressive symptoms was robust and consistent across demographics, medical history, medication use and health risk behaviors," said Carmela Alc√°ntara, Ph.D., lead author of the study and associate research scientist at Columbia University Medical Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health in New York.

Study participants included 4,487 coronary heart disease patients, 45 years and older, enrolled in the REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study.

During in-home examinations and self-administered questionnaires from 2003-07, participants were asked how often during the past week they felt depressed, lonely or sad, or had crying spells. To determine stress levels, participants were asked how often during the past month they felt they were unable to control important things in their lives, felt overwhelmed, felt confidence in their ability to handle personal problems and felt things were going their way.

About 6 percent reported both high stress and high depression.

During an average six-year follow-up, 1,337 deaths or heart attacks occurred. Short-term risk of death or heart attack increased 48 percent for those in the high stress-high depressive symptoms group compared with those in the low stress-low depressive symptoms group.

The elevated risk was most strongly associated with death rather than heart attack; additional result suggest the deaths may have been cardiovascular-related, but more research is needed, researchers said. The risk was significant only during the first two-and-half years from the initial home visit, and wasn't significant for those experiencing either high stress or high depressive symptoms alone, but not both at the same time.

Study findings may challenge traditional research paradigms that only focus on depression and its impact on patients with heart disease, Alc√°ntara said. Behavioral interventions also should be considered to help heart disease patients manage both stress and depression better.

I highly recommend checking out the REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study. They have many interesting findings regarding stroke risk factors that have been gathered over the past decade. 

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Does an Upbeat Outlook Mean a Healthy Heart?

In my post for today I have very interesting findings from a study, Optimism and Cardiovascular Health, published in the January/February 2015 issue of Health Behavior and Policy Review that state people who have upbeat outlooks on life have significantly better cardiovascular health.

“Individuals with the highest levels of optimism have twice the odds of being in ideal cardiovascular health compared to their more pessimistic counterparts,” said lead author Dr. Rosalba Hernandez, a professor of social work at the University of Illinois (UI). “This association remains significant, even after adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics and poor mental health.”

In this latest study, the UI team looked at the associations between optimism and heart health in more than 5,100 adults. The researchers used seven metrics to assess participants’ cardiovascular health: blood pressure, body mass index, fasting plasma glucose and serum cholesterol levels, dietary intake, physical activity and tobacco use — the same metrics used by the American Heart Association (AHA) to define heart health and targeted by the AHA in its “Life’s Simple 7″ (LS7) public awareness campaign.

Believed to be the first study to examine the association of optimism and cardiovascular health in a large, ethnically and racially diverse population, the sample for the current study was 38 percent white, 28 percent African-American, 22 percent Hispanic/Latino and 12 percent Chinese.

Data for the study were derived from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, an ongoing examination of subclinical cardiovascular disease that includes 6,000 people from six U.S. regions, including Baltimore, Chicago, Forsyth County in North Carolina, and Los Angeles County.

Begun in July 2000, MESA followed participants for 11 years, collecting data every 18 months to two years. Dr. Hernandez, who is an affiliated investigator on MESA, is leading a team in conducting prospective analyses on the associations found between optimism and heart health.

Dr. Hernandez said, “They hope their future research will help them sort out exactly how optimism and heart health are related.” For instance, although the evidence clearly suggests a connection, it is not yet known whether optimism or healthy behaviors come first. It could be that happier, more positive people are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors, which in turn improves factors like blood pressure. It could also be that engaging in healthy behaviors and having a better biological profile helps boost psychological well-being. “Longitudinal data will help resolve these questions,” said Dr. Hernandez.

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Monday, January 5, 2015

Stalking: Know It. Name It. Stop It.

January is National Stalking Awareness Month. The theme for 2015 is “Stalking: Know It. Name It. Stop It.” 

The National Center for Victims of Crime launched National Stalking Awareness Month (NSAM) in January of 2004 to increase the public’s understanding of the crime of stalking. NSAM emerged from the work of the Stalking Resource Center, a National Center program funded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice, to raise awareness about stalking and help develop and implement multidisciplinary responses to the crime. NSAM began in response to a 2003 call to the Stalking Resource Center from Debbie Riddle, the sister of murdered stalking victim Peggy Klinke

An estimated 23.4 million men and women in the United States have experienced stalking during their lifetimes. Stalking is a crime in all 50 states, the U.S. Territories and the District of Columbia, yet many victims and criminal justice professionals underestimate its seriousness and impact. Stalking is difficult to recognize, investigate, and prosecute. Unlike other crimes, stalking is not a single, easily identifiable crime but a series of acts; a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause that person fear. Stalking may take many forms, such as assaults, threats, vandalism, burglary, or animal abuse, as well as unwanted cards, calls, gifts, or visits. One in four victims reports that the stalker uses technology, such as computers, global positioning system devices, or hidden cameras, to track the victim’s daily activities. Stalkers fit no standard psychological profile, and many stalkers follow their victims from one jurisdiction to another, making it difficult for authorities to investigate and prosecute their crimes. Victims often suffer from anxiety, social dysfunction, and severe depression at much higher rates than the general population, and many lose time from work or have to move as a result of their victimization.

If you or anyone you know is currently a victim of stalking, contact your local law enforcement agency for assistance. If you are interested in learning more about resources for stalking victims, visit the Stalking Resource Center.

Thanks for visiting and learning a little about National Stalking Awareness Month.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

November: National Family Caregivers Month

November is National Family Caregivers Month. Taking on the challenges of becoming a caregiver is one of the most stressful life transitions that people can face. It is important for caregivers to take care of themselves as well as the the people in their care. 

Sponsored each year by the Caregiver Action Network (CAN), National Family Caregivers Month focuses on the challenges facing family caregivers. CAN serves a broad spectrum of family caregivers ranging from the parents of children with special needs, to the families and friends of wounded soldiers; from a young couple dealing with a diagnosis of MS, to adult children caring for parents with Alzheimer’s disease. While some family caregivers provide 24/7 care for loved ones who require assistance for all daily living activities, others may provide care on a part-time basis. Family caregiving can extend for a few years or a lifetime.

If you or anyone you know is currently a caregiver, please visit the Caregiver Action Network website to learn more about National Family Caregiving Month and for additional resources and information for caregivers. Their Resources section is excellent, and I recommend spending some extra time looking over the Family Caregiver Toolbox section. Some of the topics in the Caregiver Toolbox include: Respite Care, Eldercare, Caregiver Depression, Support Groups, and Financial Planning.

Until my next post, take some time for yourself. Thanks for visiting!