Mateja Petje Why Exercise
I must admit, I’ve never been the typical “gym rat.”I grew up in the mountains of Slovenia where there were plenty of hiking opportunities and I’ve always loved the outdoors. Even when I was in college, I still found time on weekends to go hiking with my friends. It was fun, helped me to stay fit, and I also enjoyed the company of my friends. In addition to hiking, dancing has also been my passion. Initially, that meant going to clubs; it was really not until I turned 26 and broke up with my ex that I found solace in dancing while healing a broken heart after he cheated with one of my childhood friends. My dysfunctional family, hurt related to childhood and adolescent abuse, as well as a broken heart, led me to move to the US in October of 1997 where I joined now my ex-husband, an American.
I never truly understood the importance of exercise until years later.One of my boyfriends who was an athlete and a runner encouraged me to join the gym. I didn’t enjoy going to clubs anymore, nor did I enjoy listening to hip-hop, dance, or techno. I took some belly dancing classes and danced at drumming circles.
My healing journey took me to work with traditional psychotherapists, coaches, healers, and psychics. I was on-and-off medication for clinical depression and anxiety for the last 20 years. I had bad side effects such as weight gain, loss of libido, gastrointestinal issues, and even suicidal thoughts when life pressure and stress got to me. I kept researching alternative and holistic approaches to healing from abuse, trauma, chronic anxiety, and depression. I learned about Buddhism and Hinduism and started meditating, which I have been doing for 20 years now. Still, I have not been able to find lasting solutions to stay off medication for any extended periods of time. Stress didn’t help as I had worked at many toxic workplaces while building my private counseling and coaching practice.
Finally, a few years ago I learned about functional medicine.I started to understand the connection between my mental health and nutrition, as well as my gastrointestinal issues and lack of exercise due to working long hours. I adopted a healthier, low carb diet, and not only did I lose over 15 lbs., I was able to get off medication and started taking B12 and CQ10 supplement. I also stopped binge-watching Netflix and avoided drama and violence. Functional medicine, as opposed to traditional Western medicine, is more concerned with root causes, not symptom reduction, quick fixes, and taking an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication.
According to functional medicine, the key steps to health include:
- Proper nutrition (rich in healthy fats, veggies, protein, nuts, seeds, and fruit)
- Exercise (daily as much as possible)
- Adequate sleep (minimum 7-8 hrs.)
- Nurturing relationships and socializing
- Stress management and spiritual practices
According to James M Greenblatt, MD, in his book Breakthrough Depression Solution, exercise is important and plays a key role in fighting depression.Several studies have proven the efficacy of exercise in significantly decreasing depression symptoms. For example, in a study conducted in 2013, researchers assigned 48, alcohol-dependent, inactive patients to a twelve-week, moderate exercise program. The other group of participants was simply told to exercise. The participants reported far less drinking as compared to those who had been simply told to exercise. Similarly, in another study conducted by a Columbia University of Epidemiology survey, over 60% of participants who exercised were much less likely to suffer a major depression (p. 152).
According to Dr. Greenblatt, exercise has several benefits in fighting depression (p. 154):
- Reverses Harmful Effects of Stress
- Lifts Depression
- Improves Learning
- Builds Self-esteem and Improves Body Image
- Leaves You Feeling Euphoric or Joyful
He also recommends taking supplements such as B12 and Carnitine, as many clients have very low energy and lack the motivation to exercise.
The best type of exercise is probably interval training, as it helps to get the heart rate up quickly. However, any type of exercise can help including walking, yoga, tai chi, strength training, biking, swimming, or dancing.
It’s important that you set realistic goals and start slowly.For example, 15 minutes three times a week gradually increasing your exercise time. Do what you love and don’t force yourself to go to the gym if it’s not your cup of tea.
Ready to get started but not sure how? Call for a complimentary consultation today at 561-299-1028 or visit me on my website.
As I was sitting by the pool this morning, I reflected on the many blessings in my life.My perseverance and determination have paid off, and I am finally able to work for myself. As someone who has been struggling with anxiety all my life, I came to appreciate even more the healing power of nature and fresh air.
With over 20 years of training and studying traditional and alternative techniques, and different approaches to treating anxiety and depression, I have gathered many great tools that have helped me, and my clients heal from chronic anxiety and depression naturally, without medication. One of these great tools is meditation, including guided meditation and visualization.
Not only has it helped me heal from chronic insomnia, it also helped me to experience more peace and joy in my life.I have even started using guided meditation as part of my internship working with cancer patients. I also completed trainings in clinical hypnosis and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). To read more about these modalities, feel free to visit my website.
With guided meditation, we focus our thoughts on pleasant images and thus, we give our rational/conscious mind a break. This is especially true if we have a lot of intrusive or obsessive thoughts and tend to worry a lot.
Today I wanted to share with you guided meditation/visualization exercise which also includes progressive muscle relaxation.First, find a quiet place where you will not be interrupted and turn off all electronics and phones. Be sure to wear comfortable clothes. You can sit down on a comfortable chair or even lie down. Start by taking a deep breath. Inhale through your nose and hold your breath, then gently and slowly exhale. Repeat this step three times.
Now, imagine that there is a healing white light traveling from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. With each breath, imagine you are becoming more and more relaxed. Scan your body for any tension. Start at the top of your head, your forehead, your eyes, your temples, and the area around your mouth, and ears. Keep going, and if any thoughts come to your mind, notice and release them.
Continue with your shoulders, your left shoulder, and then your right shoulder. Your right elbow, right wrist, your hand, and all your fingers on your hand. Repeat the same with your left elbow, wrist, hand, and fingers. Keep breathing while letting go of any tension.
Notice the chest area, your hips, your tummy and keep going down to your left leg, knee, all the way down to the soles of your feet. Repeat the same with your right leg; Feeling the tension leaving your body.
Now that you are relaxed, visualize your favorite place to relax.Notice all the colors, smells, and scents. Feel the earth beneath your feet, listening to the pleasant noises… especially if you are in the forest. Notice the vibrant colors of the flowers, trees, and any animals that happen to stop by. If you are on the beach, feel the sand gently rubbing against your skin. If you are in the forest, take a look around and smell the fresh scent of pine or birch trees. Maybe there is a brook with water gently lapping over the rocks. The temperature is just right… not too cold… not too warm. Just perfect.
Think of all the blessings in your life and know that you can always come back to this place whenever you feel stressed or overwhelmed.
Have you ever tried Progressive Muscle Relaxation to calm anxiety and/or stress? Please share your experiences with us in the comments section below!– Mateja
June is Post Traumatic Awareness Month (PTSD) Awareness Month.If you have been following my previous articles, you know that I have become an advocate and a Licensed Psychotherapist after learning to heal from childhood abuse and trauma. Since then, I have been studying top techniques in the integrative holistic medical field to be able to help myself, as well as my clients to find hope and healing. For more about my personal journey, please see the links at the end of this article.
So, What Exactly is PTSD?In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association revised the PTSD diagnostic criteria in the fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5; 1). PTSD is included in a new category in DSM-5, Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders. Full copyrighted criteria are available from the American Psychiatric Association (1). Here I am just listing a few.
To be diagnosed with PTSD, the person was exposed to:
- Threatened Death.
- Actual or Threatened Serious Injury.
- Actual or Threatened Sexual Violence (including any kind of abuse or domestic violence, experiencing it directly or indirectly by observing it).
Typical Symptoms of PTSD can Include:
- Emotional Distress.
- Intrusive Thoughts.
For example, for years following the abuse I endured, I had continued nightmares, developed a sensitivity to criticism, and an aversion to anyone talking loudly. I would experience physical sensations, such as vomiting or upset stomach. Basically, I developed a trigger of loud voices.
Another example is the people who were exposed to violence, including shooting and hearing guns. They develop an emotional distress with ANY loud noises that resemble gunshots. It can take years to heal and not have experiences of emotional distress when the trigger presents itself. Unfortunately, we recently heard of several shootings in schools, including the one that took place close to where I live in Parkland, Florida.
For a person to meet the criteria for PTSD, the symptoms need to last at least a month, and they have experienced distress and functional impairment in several key areas of life, such as socially and occupationally. (*)
If your loved one is struggling with PTSD, what can you do?
Here are 5 Ways to Help Someone Struggling with PTSD:Be there for them and most of all, listen without judgment.Give them space when they need it and don’t minimize their feelings. This includes saying to them that they need to let go of the past when they are not yet ready. Everyone is different, and everyone responds differently to treatment. Some interventions may work better than the others. However, just knowing you are there for them will make a big difference. I am fortunate that I am finally in a loving relationship. It took me many years to trust somebody else.
Understand that healing takes time and that there is no time limit.I experienced most of the abuse between ages 15-17 and to this day, I still need to detach from my mom who was the abuser, when I get triggered by her negativity or criticism. Self-love and self-compassion are key.
Educate yourself on what PTSD is and how you can help.Check out the website such as the National Center for PTSD https://www.ptsd.va.gov. You may want to join a support group as you also need to learn how to take care of yourself while supporting your loved one suffering from PTSD.
Spend time in nature, which can be very healing.Many of us spend long hours in the office, by the computer, in the artificial light and because of this, do not get enough sun which is important for the natural production of vitamin D. Instead of watching TV, go to the park or beach and listen to the sounds of nature. The worst thing for somebody suffering from PTSD to do is to watch violent shows on TV, which can only make things worse. For this reason, I have stopped watching the news and don’t even have cable. Instead, I watch funny shows on Netflix or spiritual and wellness series on Gaia.com.
Focus on small progress and offer positive feedback and reassurance.Remember, every journey starts with a small step. Encourage your loved one to celebrate small accomplishments and to start a gratitude journal.
Do you know of any other tips to help someone struggling with PTSD that were not mentioned above? Please share them with me in the comments section below!– Mateja
If you would like to start your healing journey, please consider scheduling a 30-minute complimentary consultation with me.
URL’s to My Previously Mentioned Articles:
(*) Source Link: