Would you and your spouse or significant other like to learn a few new tips to improve your relationship? A couple of the EAP counselors learned some new approaches to help people improve communication and understanding between partners. They would like to share them with you beginning in October, for 5 sessions. Call the EAP at 8-5860 to sign up or for additional information. Space is limited to 5 couples so sign up soon!
Do you or someone you love suffer from Road Rage? It can hurt you. If one person becomes more aggressive in his/her driving, it leads to others doing the same. Behind the wheel, before you are even aware of it, you can exhibit physical effects such as your hands gripping the wheel, blood pressure rising, heart rate increasing, neck and jaw muscles getting tense, etc. There are some things you can do. First, recognize what is happening to you. Set up your smart phone before you begin your trip to record you while you are driving. Play it back later and listen to yourself. You may be surprised as to how you sound. While you are driving, do some things to lighten your mood. Sing silly songs, make excuses for the driver (even if they are not true), such as “Oh, he must be trying to get to a job interview, after being out of work for 2 years. He can go ahead.” Try and remember that your perspective is what influences your feelings. Look at things differently and they may improve.
For further discussion about this, contact the EAP for individual sessions to help you cope with your anger or road rage. Call 8-5860
Facebook Can Make Users Feel Worse
A University of Michigan study found that time spent on Facebook could decrease a person’s mood. Other studies have found that increased envy can occur while reading other people’s Facebook pages. On the other hand, a study at the University of Wisconsin found that Facebook users could increase their self-esteem. In general, it seems that Facebook use, within which many activities take place, can have different effects on different people. Thus, it is important for users to be aware of their own responses as they use Facebook, monitor their moods and change behavior as needed.
If you think talking with someone would help you, call the EAP at 8-5860 and schedule an appointment to meet with a counselor
Couples’ Workshop Series
For You and Your Partner
The EAP will be holding a Workshop for couples interested in enhancing their relationships. The small group will meet for five sessions, Oct0ber 22- November 19, 2013 on Tuesdays, 4:30-6:30. Space is limited. You can sign up now to reserve your space. Please call us at 410.328.5860 or by email us at email@example.com.
Having Trouble Relaxing?
This might be the right tool for you!
One of our senior counselors, Cheryl Confer, recently attended a workshop on Coherent Breathing. This is a simple breathing practice that is designed to reduce stress and anxiety and create a relaxed state of mind and body. It is based on a scientific principle of regulating the body’s autonomic nervous system responsible for our feelings of calm and relaxation. If you are interested in learning about this practice, you are invited to schedule an appointment with Cheryl at the EAP.
Boston Marathon Tragedy
Want to Improve your Memory?
Gretchen Reynolds on the science of fitness.
Two new experiments, one involving people and the other animals, suggest that regular exercise can substantially improve memory, although different types of exercise seem to affect the brain quite differently. The news may offer consolation for the growing numbers of us who are entering age groups most at risk for cognitive decline.
It was back in the 1990s that scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., first discovered that exercise bulks up the brain. In groundbreaking experiments, they showed that mice given access to running wheels produced far more cells in an area of the brain controlling memory creation than animals that didn’t run. The exercised animals then performed better on memory tests than their sedentary labmates.
Since then, scientists have been working to understand precisely how, at a molecular level, exercise improves memory, as well as whether all types of exercise, including weight training, are beneficial.
The new studies provide some additional and inspiring clarity on those issues, as well as, incidentally, on how you can get lab rats to weight train.
For the human study, published in The Journal of Aging Research, scientists at the University of British Columbia recruited dozens of women ages 70 to 80 who had been found to have mild cognitive impairment, a condition that makes a person’s memory and thinking more muddled than would be expected at a given age.
Mild cognitive impairment is also a recognized risk factor for increasing dementia. Seniors with the condition develop Alzheimer’s disease at much higher rates than those of the same age with sharper memories.
Earlier, the same group of researchers had found that after weight training, older women with mild cognitive impairment improved their associative memory, or the ability to recall things in context — a stranger’s name and how you were introduced, for instance.
Now the scientists wanted to look at more essential types of memory, and at endurance exercise as well. So they randomly assigned their volunteers to six months of supervised exercise. Some of the women lifted weights twice a week. Others briskly walked. And some, as a control measure, skipped endurance exercise and instead stretched and toned.
At the start and end of the six months, the women completed a battery of tests designed to study their verbal and spatial memory. Verbal memory is, among other things, your ability to remember words, and spatial memory is your remembrance of where things once were placed in space. Both deteriorate with age, a loss that’s exaggerated in people with mild cognitive impairment.
And in this study, after six months, the women in the toning group scored worse on the memory tests than they had at the start of the study. Their cognitive impairment had grown.
But the women who had exercised, either by walking or weight training, performed better on almost all of the cognitive tests after six months than they had before.
There were, however, differences.
While both exercise groups improved almost equally on tests of spatial memory, the women who had walked showed greater gains in verbal memory than the women who had lifted weights.
What these findings suggest, the authors conclude, is that endurance training and weight training may have different physiological effects within the brain and cause improvements in different types of memory.
That idea tallies nicely with the results of the other recent study of exercise and memory, in which lab rats either ran on wheels or, to the extent possible, lifted weights. Specifically, the researchers taped weights to the animals’ tails and had them repeatedly climb little ladders to simulate resistance training.
After six weeks, the animals in both exercise groups scored better on memory tests than they had before they trained. But it was what was going on in their bodies and brains that was revelatory. The scientists found that the runners’ brains showed increased levels of a protein known as BDNF, or brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which is known to support the health of existing neurons and coax the creation of new brain cells. The rat weight-trainers’ brains did not show increased levels of BDNF.
The tail trainers, however, did have significantly higher levels of another protein, insulinlike growth factor, in their brains and blood than the runners did. This substance, too, promotes cell division and growth and most likely helps fragile newborn neurons to survive.
What all of this new research suggests, says Teresa Liu-Ambrose, an associate professor in the Brain Research Center at the University of British Columbia who oversaw the experiments with older women, is that for the most robust brain health, it’s probably advisable to incorporate both aerobic and resistance training. It seems that each type of exercise “selectively targets different aspects of cognition,” she says, probably by sparking the release of different proteins in the body and brain.
But, she continues, no need to worry if you choose to concentrate solely on aerobic or resistance training, at least in terms of memory improvements. The differences in the effects of each type of exercise were subtle, she says, while the effects of exercise — any exercise — on overall cognitive function were profound.
“When we started these experiments,” she says, “most of us thought that, at best, we’d see less decline” in memory function among the volunteers who exercised, which still would have represented success. But beyond merely stemming people’s memory loss, she says, “we saw actual improvements,” an outcome that, if you’re waffling about exercising today, is worth remembering.
Orioles Win Opening Day!
The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) would like to congratulate the Baltimore Orioles on their Home Opener win. We wish you many more!
Autism and Aspergers
Did you know April is National Autism Awareness Month?
Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum disorder” that affects individuals to varying degrees.
Are you living with a person with autism? Are you experiencing stress due to the high demands of caring for someone with autism? If so, you are not alone. The demands of living with a person with autism are great and families frequently experience high levels of stress and anxiety.
The Autism Society (www.autism-society.org) offers a variety of resources for families who are living with and/or caring for a person with autism. To talk with someone about how to cope with the stress and anxiety of autism, call the EAP at 410-328-5860.
Some people have a version of autism called Aspergers. People with Aspergers are often very intelligent and can figure out a variety of problems, but have trouble reading people’s faces, or interpreting sarcasm or social cues. If you would like help in improving your social skills, call the EAP to meet with a counselor today. Or, you can email Maureen McCarren, LCSW-C at firstname.lastname@example.org