Wednesday, September 23, 2020

6 Steps to Calming Anger

Your anger is important.

This fiery emotion is an appropriate reaction to injustice, betrayal, loss, hurt, trauma, or violation. It’s essential to acknowledge and honor this fierce feeling so that we can attend to the harm that has been caused. When we deny or suppress our anger we often cause ourselves further suffering. And, when we don’t slow down to find the ground and get clear when our anger is ablaze, we end up hurting others.

So the next time anger arises, here are six steps to meet the moment with curiosity and inspire a constructive response.

1 | Notice where there’s tension in your body.

Anger shows up physically in the body. Notice if you’re clenching your fists, tightening your jaw, heating up, or feeling sensations in the belly. You may also notice an impulse to run, fight, or withdraw.

Take some space to be with whatever is coming up for you. While it may be uncomfortable, remember that no feeling is permanent. Observe how the physical manifestations of anger naturally shift and change with time.

2 | Slow down and tend to the wisdom of your body.

Anger often comes with a sense of urgency. You may be thinking, “We must figure this out now!” or “ We must get justice now!” While it’s important to address what’s happened, our words and actions usually don’t yield the outcome we’d like when we’re still in the intensity of the emotion. So, it’s crucial first to slow down and take care of yourself.

If you’re noticing physical tension, then invite relaxation into that body part. If you’re heating up, place an ice pack on your neck. If you’re feeling the impulse to run, give yourself permission to walk away for a bit and collect your thoughts (you can always say something like, “I need some time to digest what just happened, I’d like to come back to this tomorrow”). If you’re withdrawing, you might not feel safe, give yourself permission to leave and do something that helps you feel safe and connected (maybe reach out to a friend, meditate or go spend some time in nature). If you feel the desire to fight, find a way to move that energy (maybe go for a run, cook dinner, or do some jumping jacks).

3 | Take long soothing breaths.

The experience of anger is stressful and takes a lot out of us. Breathing deeply and slowly can help reset the nervous system. Take at least five deep breaths as a way to settle the mind and body.

4 | Meet yourself with compassion.

Anger is destabilizing, uncomfortable, and painful. Be kind to yourself. Place your hands over your heart and offer yourself soothing affirmations like, “You don’t deserve to be treated like this.” or “That wasn’t fair.” Or, try saying to yourself, “Wow! This is a lot to process and manage. I’m sorry things feel so hard right now.”

5 | Notice if there are any feelings underneath the anger.

Take as much time as you need in steps one through four. Once you’re feeling calmer, investigate what else might be going on for you. Sometimes anger can serve as protection for other feelings that may be even more challenging to feel. For example, many of us weren’t taught how to deal with feeling disappointed, so anger sometimes arises to shield us from a deeper sadness. Diving beneath the surface of a big emotion and exploring the complexity of our experience can help inform our next steps.

6 | Give yourself time to respond rather than react to the situation.

A reaction happens in an instant; it’s informed by the past and fueled by emotions. A response takes a little longer; it includes the present and is empowered by awareness and clarity. Reactions are more likely to cause harm or bring up feelings of regret. Responses are thoughtful and tend to take into consideration everyone involved and future consequences.

Due to the intensity of anger it’s hard to see clearly and feel our feet on the ground. Generally, it’s helpful to sit with your reaction and give yourself space to feel the feeling and understand the bigger picture. For a steadier, calmer, and more compassionate space, you can decide how to respond. There are many options at this point, including standing up for yourself, having a tough conversation, creating a boundary, ending the relationship, forgiveness, taking a time out, or seeking additional support.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Foods That May Block DHT and Fight Hair Loss

1. Green tea

Derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, green tea is one of the most popular drinks worldwide.

During production, green tea leaves are steamed — and not fermented as is often the case with oolong and black tea leaves — which maintains more of the tea’s natural compounds 

This includes one of green tea’s primary plant chemicals called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which has been associated with health benefits like weight loss, heart health, and brain health ).

EGCG has also been shown to protect hair follicles — the part of your skin that grows hair — from hair loss caused by DHT (7Trusted Source).

When applied to the scalps of three men for 4 days, an alcohol extract of EGCG stimulated hair growth by preventing the death of cells that regulate the growth and development of hair caused by DHT 

While this study has many limitations related to its small sample size and short treatment duration, it helps pave the way for further research on the topic.

Green tea extract supplements commonly contain standardized amounts of EGCG but have not been shown to combat hair loss caused by DHT. They have also been linked to liver damage in certain populations.

Ultimately, additional studies in humans are needed to better determine whether drinking green tea or taking EGCG or green tea supplements blocks DHT and fights hair loss.

2. Coconut oil

Coconut oil comes from the kernel or meat of coconuts.

It’s commonly used for cooking thanks to its ability to withstand high cooking temperatures. The oil also has various applications in beauty, skin care, hair care, and overall health.

Coconut oil contains a high percentage of fat from medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), primarily in the form of lauric acid, which has been shown to block DHT production in test-tube and animal studies when provided orally.

While these types of studies — known as preclinical studies — help researchers identify whether a specific treatment may be effective or safe, their results can’t be translated to humans.

As such, clinical studies in humans are needed before coconut oil can be recommended for preventing or treating hair loss.

3. Onions (and other foods rich in quercetin)

White onions add a sweet yet sharp flavor to an abundance of dishes.

They contain few calories but boast a high content of antioxidants like quercetin.

In preclinical studies, quercetin has been shown to inhibit the production of DHT from testosterone by blocking the action of the enzyme alpha-5 reductase and decreasing oxidative stress.

For example, when combined with a commonly prescribed medication to treat hair loss, quercetin was shown to decrease DHT production in rats.

Despite these promising results, no studies have investigated the effects of eating onions or taking quercetin supplements on DHT levels in humans.

Other fruits and vegetables rich in quercetin include asparagus, spinach, kale, apples, and berries.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Black Women’s Mental Health Needs an Intervention


There’s no time like the present to talk about mental health. We’re in the middle of one of the biggest pandemics in modern human history and experts are worried that prolonged shelter-in-place orders and uncertainty may lead to more depression, anxiety, and stress. Stay-home orders also mean it’s harder to visit your therapist, psychiatrist, or other mental health-care professional, and that is doubly true for Black women, who already faced barriers to mental health care pre-Coronavirus. In fact, in a 2016 study, researchers found that Black patients were less likely to even receive a call back from potential therapists to schedule an appointment. Rather it be money, time, or stigma, there are still barriers standing in the way of Black women accessing adequate mental health care. So the question stands: How can Black women make their mental health a priority and access mental health care?

Your location impacts mental health care

We know there are barriers to mental healthcare for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color)—there have been numerous studies sharing the many different ways Black and brown women miss out on crucial care. But when you stop and think about it, even something as seemingly innocuous as an address makes a difference. To Charmaine Williams, PhD, Vice-Dean of Students at the School of Graduate Studies, University of Toronto, location could be a deterrent for Black women accessing care. “I did a study and the travel times that people [Black women and women of color] were undertaking to get to help were astonishing,” says Dr. Williams. In a 2018 study, 46 percent of respondents had to drive an hour round trip or more to access mental health services. Systematically racist policies such as gerrymandering and redlining negatively impact access to mental health services for people of color. Additionally, Dr. Williams says we have to look at the professions of potential patients and how restrictive traditional therapist’s office hours are. A potential patient may be unable to leave work and meet a practitioner in the middle of the day; and many offices close at 5 p.m.

These obstacles can make the case for telemedicine, says Tichianaa Armah, MD, Medical Director and Vice President of Behavioral Health at Community Health Center, Inc. “I’ve been very much a proponent of telehealth, even before Covid-19 happened,” Dr. Armah says. “Some of my patients would have to take two or three buses before they can get here, so we [the Community Health Center] had actually been piloting this for several months already.”

Due to Coronavirus, there may be more opportunities to engage with telehealth, or some of the digital mental health providers, like Talkspace or Cerebral. These services are also significantly less expensive than traditional therapy, which can be anywhere between $50 to $250+ per private session.

The Black community still has stigmas we need to break through

There is this idea that millennials are the “therapy generation,” and that we’re more open about attending therapy, but that’s not necessarily the case for BIPOC millennials. “We need more black people sharing their [mental health] experience,” Dr. Armah laments. “People are suffering and they get care and then they feel better—while all of that’s happening, largely people don’t know about it. You never find that with my white patients—they’re sharing that info with each other.” Talking about therapy and mental health remains a taboo in so many BIPOC communities, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) says this stigma may stem from personal shame, and can even be familial stigma passed down through generations. Black people in particular are hesitant to “air family business,” aka share these issues with an outside party, and you may carry that notion with you far into adulthood.

Breaking away from those beliefs can be a major turning point for Black women seeking mental health care. In turn, you may be helping others. “Being open [about mental health care], can help you relate to a friend or family member; that really speaks volumes that we can be more open about pursuing help, “ says Dr. Armah.

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