Dr. Jodi Mahoney, Clinical Pyschologist (Pam Hudson)
The Ladies of Faith met July 15 to hear Dr. Jodi Mahoney speak about stress. Attendees enjoyed a dinner at the Concerned Citizens Center before the presentation.
Mahoney spoke first about the glass being half empty, talking about how stress causes many negative impacts to the body.It can cause headaches, feelings of despair, lack of energy, sadness, nervousness, anger, irritability, increased or decreased eating, trouble concentrating, memory problems, trouble sleeping, mental health problems such as panic attacks, anxiety, disorders and depression; acne and other skin problems; muscle aches and tension, especially in the neck, shoulders and back), increased risk of reduced bone density; faster heartbeat, rise in blood pressure, increased risk of high cholesterol and heart attack; nausea, stomach pain, heartburn, weight gain; increased risk of diabetes; diarrhea, constipation and other digestive problem; irregular or more painful periods for women, reduced sexual desire, impotence, lower sperm production; and lowered ability to fight or recover from illness.
Mahoney spoke about two coping strategies: active and avoidant. Active coping involves problem solving and regulating emotions. Avoidant behavior sometimes contributes to substance abuse and the avoidant coping methods include withdrawal, denial and repression. Avoidant coping is associated with poorer health. Mahoney used the analysis of a mother bear who displays her fierceness in a conflict. Women who express their negative emotions, including disappointment and anger, have better health outcomes.
She spoke about social support, saying that those without support have 2-1/2 times more of a chance of dying. She relayed that women in cancer support groups lived 18-24 months longer.
Mahoney challenged attendees to focus on the present, because depression is caused by focusing on the past (anger turned inward); and anxiety is a fear of the future (misperceptions of future threats).
When she spoke of the glass half full, she directed listeners to focus on exercise, self-care, cognitive restructuring, meditation (mindfullness), being with others, finding support and expressing emotions. She spoke briefly about how automatic thoughts cause emotion, which causes physical sensations, which results in behavior and action, either good or bad. She challenged the audience to restructure those automatic thoughts, which get things started in the wrong direction, and using exercise, relaxation and meditation throughout that process. Typical thinking errors include: all or nothing thinking; catastrophizing; disqualifying the positive and magnifying the negative; labeling; mind reading others; personalization; and using terms such as should and must.
Attendees were treated to a relaxation exercise at the end, which was enjoyed by all those participating.