You’ve got this! Kathleen asks: How can I deal with my constant anxiety?

By Tracy Becker

Licensed Counselor

Kathleen asks: How can I deal with my constant anxiety?

Kathleen. I’m so sorry you haven’t found any relief for the anxiety you are experiencing. Any mental health professional would want to know how long you have been having anxiety; what you’ve done thus far to help yourself; if you have seen a counselor or doctor; are you on any medications for anxiety, if so, what are they and how long have they not been working; and if you know the original source or timeframe in which it started?

Having said that, it makes it bit difficult to specifically guide you. However, I would ask you to visit YouTube and search for Solfeggio Tones (also known as Binaural Tones). These tones come in 9 different hertz, you must take the time to listen to all 9 hertz with earbuds to find the one that creates a relaxing sensation in your body, i.e., your shoulders drop, your stomach softens and you begin to breathe easier.

Make sure you note what hertz it is, as that is the hertz that activates your own Parasympathetic Nervous System (PSNS), the rest and recover aspect of your nervous system. Listening to this with earbuds twice a day for 20 minutes will help “rewire” your neurotransmitters so the PSNS will kick into action resulting in relaxation and ease. This allows you to respond with a more reasonable and rational approach.

When we have anxiety for extended periods of time our Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) can get “stuck” in on. Resulting in our Fight or Flight system to be in overdrive. When this happens, we filter many incoming situations as a “warning” or even “danger”, much like a traffic light that is constantly on yellow or red.

Of course, Kathleen, this is just one of many tools that can help. If you are not under the care of a counselor or a psychiatrist, I would highly recommend it, mostly because no one doesn’t deserve to live like this. Wishing you all the best.

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Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor:
April is Alcohol Awareness Month. Founded and sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) since 1987, this year’s theme is: “Changing Attitudes: It’s not a ‘rite of passage’.” No other substance is more widely used and abused by America’s youth than alcohol, making alcoholism and alcohol-related problems the number one public health problem in the United States.
Fostering healthy and responsible attitudes, talking openly and honestly, encouraging supportive relationships, and showing children that their opinions and decisions matter, are all ways to help prevent the use of alcohol and drugs. Parents often forgive underage drinking as a “rite of passage.” They can simply sit back and hope their kids will “get through it,” or they can change their attitude and take an active role in learning about alcohol and drugs and help their kids do the same.
It can be challenging to develop the communications skills needed to talk with your children about drinking and drugs, but it will be well work the effort you put into it, as you get to know your children a little better and help them build the coping skills they need to handle the anger, stress, peer pressure, loneliness and disappointment that are part of being an adolescent.
So let’s get started. We can’t afford to wait any longer.

Denise Woods
Prevention Coordinator, A.C.T.I.O.N Coalition, Inc.

You’ve got this! Licensed counselor Tracy Becker answers your questions.

Michael asks: How do I know if someone is depressed?

Great question, Michael, as we often overlook symptoms. Thus, I will go over each clinical symptom of depression for you and our readers.

Anxiety, irrational fears, apathy, guilt, hopelessness, loss of interests, shame, decrease in fun activities and increase in sadness.

Sleeping issues
Sleep issues are also a major part of depression. Waking early, excessive sleepiness, insomnia in all its forms and restless sleep. i.e., waking tired, napping.

Physical symptoms
Physical symptoms can be excessive hunger or loss of appetite – resulting in weight gain or loss, fatigue, restlessness, unaccounted for aches and pains to include headaches and/or digestion issues triggered by thoughts or feelings, decrease in exercise and/or physical strength. Self-harming activities. Loss of desire to shower, dress and take care of one’s appearance.

Emotional changes
Emotional changes can include agitation, anger, rages, irritable, excessive crying spells and a desire to isolate.

Mental cues
Mental cues are an inability to concentrate, loss of focus, loss of memory, slow to get things done or get motivated and not wanting to wake-up in the mornings. Ruminating on a single thought with a seeming inability to let it go.

Addictions, if the person has a history with them will likely increase be it drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc. Addictions come in many forms.

Suicidal thoughts
Suicidal thoughts must be attending to by a professional immediately. In addition, if they have a plan and a means to carry out the plan call the police, an ambulance or to take the person to the nearest emergency room instantly.

The age range for suicides is highest for people between 45-54. A very close second is 85 years old and over. However, do not underestimate the younger community. If you know anyone who is consistently experiencing a combination of these symptoms for 2 weeks or more, it is recommended that you assist them in getting professional help.

Safe Haven Hotline: 423-727-1914; Suicide Lifeline: 1-800-928-8255 (TALK); Crisis Response: 1-877-928-9062; Crisis Center Bristol: 276-466-5246

Letter to the editor

Dear Editor,

It seems that Mr. Parson’s feels he is innocent of charges leveled by the Johnson County Sheriffs Office.
I have always been taught to respect the law enforcement community as they are the ones that place their lives on the line defending the citizens, this includes Mountain City and Johnson County.
From what I gather from the article in the Tomahawk, January 16, 2019 edition, it seems that after many requests from the Deputy and the Sheriff of Johnson County, Mr. Parsons continued to deny the name of the person present in his vehicle only that he was a friend. When Mr. Parsons refused to answer, the officer then asked the “friend” his name twice and the “friend” would not respond.
Now it seems that the Sheriff, Mr. Tester, arrives and asks Mr. Parsons if the passenger (friend) was his brother in law Mr. Parsons stated “I don’t know, I’m not at liberty to say that.” I wonder why Mr. Parsons was not at liberty to say who his passenger was other than to cover up that his passenger had active warrants for failure to pay child support (what about the child) again that “I don’t know”. Finally stating that “it’s my brother in law, yes.”
I believe this whole unpleasant event could have been averted if Mr. Parsons had been truthful and honest with the officers. I believe Mr. Parsons, feels Mountain City and Johnson County citizens should be open with one another in support of the law enforcement community.
It is those law enforcement officers that respond to the same incidents, day in and day out, sometimes with repeat offenders. This officer was only doing his job of following the law as the political process mandated in making the laws dictated. I believe that this incident should teach us all a lesson of showing respect to one another and be resolved amicably between Sheriff Tester, the Deputy and Mr. Parsons and the judiciary court system.
Let’s endeavor to put positive thoughts and lessons learned toward improving Mountain City and Johnson County without putting a bad light on our community.

George A. Spreyne

Can Frogs Adapt To Traffic Noise?

Laura Reinert, left, Louise Rollins-Smith, PhD, and colleagues are studying how frogs adapt to harmful traffic noise. Photo by Anne Rayner

Submitted by Craig Boerner

Frogs don’t like living near noisy highways any better than people do, but research from Vanderbilt suggests that frogs, like hardened city-dwellers, can learn to adapt to the constant din of rumbling trucks, rolling tires and honking horns. And, just like those urbanites who can’t get a good night’s sleep without the sporadic sounds of sirens, some frogs have grown accustomed to the rattle and hum of the highway.
“The broad interpretation is that frogs adapted to noise are better able to cope with noise,” said Vanderbilt professor Louise Rollins-Smith, PhD, who conducted the research in collaboration with Penn State and three other institutions. “It suggests that these populations that are exposed to noise from the time of road building, which is 1940s, 1960s onward, have actually kind of evolved to accept these kinds of noise conditions.”
Published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the study suggests that traffic noise is harmful to frogs, yet frogs can adapt.
To accomplish the study, researchers collected eggs of the wood frog Rana sylvatica from ponds in quiet locations and noisy locations, such as near major highways. Back in the laboratory, the eggs were allowed to hatch and undergo metamorphosis, and then the frogs were split into groups and exposed to a recording of either ambient noise or traffic noise for eight days.
“The main thrust of this,” said Rollins-Smith, “is that the ones from quiet places actually were stressed by the [traffic] noise and the ones that came from noisy places were not so much bothered.”
One of the findings was that traffic noise reduced the ability of frogs originally from quiet ponds to produce the antimicrobial peptide (AMP) brevinin-1SY. AMPs are short proteins which confer protection against a wide range of threats, including viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. In frogs, AMPs are secreted from specialized glands in the skin. “Most species [of Rana] make quite a number of them, and this [species] makes only one well defined and tested antimicrobial peptide,” said Rollins-Smith, a professor of Professor of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology.
AMPs, like brevinin-1SY, inhibit Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, an aquatic fungal pathogen that is associated with global amphibian declines. The fungal pathogen “enters through
the [frog] skin. And so, this layer of antimicrobial peptides in the mucus of the skin is one of the protective defenses,” Rollins-Smith said.
This finding suggests that traffic noise may contribute to global amphibian declines by reducing the ability of wood frogs to defend against infection.
Traffic noise also impacted frogs’ immune and stress responses. When frogs originally from quiet places were exposed to traffic noise, researchers saw an increase in the number of monocytes, a particular type of white blood cell. But for frogs from noisy places, it was ambient noise that caused an increase in the number of monocytes.
A similar trend was observed for a hormone that becomes elevated in response to stress. Rollins-Smith said, “they were more accustomed to noise, so when it was too quiet, they responded differently.”

The work was supported by The Pennsylvania State University, Sigma Xi, the American Society for Ichthyology and Herpetology, and by the National Science Foundation.

You’ve got this! By Tracy Becker, licensed counselor answers your questions

Jessica asks: I feel unheard and unimportant to my mate. Is there anything I can do about this?

That is so unfortunate, Jessica, when we feel this way about our loved ones. This causes so much stress and strain in a marriage, or any loving relationship.

For this question I am going to quote one of the greatest relationship teachers of our time, Dr John Gottman of The Gottman Institute and University of Washington in Seattle. I promise you, whatever you want to know about good, sound and lasting love you can learn it from him and his team.

Nevertheless, here is a simple format to consider – ATTUNE, sometimes referred to as attunement. Awareness of your partner’s experience and feelings; Tolerance that there are two different and valid viewpoints for negative emotions; Turning Toward one another by recognizing your partner’s needs; Understanding, or attempting as best you can, to understand your partner’s experienced, and their perspectives;

Non-defensive listening means to listening to your partner’s perspective without concentrating on victimizing yourself or reversing the blame; Empathizing by responding to your partner with an understanding, awareness and sensitivity to their experience and needs.

I want to emphasize that all of these aspects of ATTUNE are skills. And, as in most things in life, if you are WILLING to LEARN and PRACTICE NEW SKILLS you can easily change your life and your relationship for the positive.

I would also like to say, Jessica, these are basic needs in developing a long-lasting loving relationship. They are also basic needs of respect, honor, love and communion. I would suggest that you invite your husband to read together some of Dr Gottman’s books, watch the multitude of videos on YouTube, attend one of his seminars together, or find a counselor in your area who has studied with him.

May you both find the love that you want and intended to create.

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You’ve got this! By Tracy Becker, Licensed Counselor

Roseanne Asks: How do I stop myself from having so many negative thoughts?

What a great question, Roseanne. This is something that plagues many people as it is a difficult task. Research says that we have approximately 65-85 thousand thoughts a day, thus making the it nearly impossible to assess what you’re thinking.

Knowing this, one of the best ways to stop the negative thought pattern, and create new thought patterns. There are a multitude of ways to do this, but I would suggest by starting simple by finding ways to relax – through laying down listening to relaxing music, specifically binaural tones (found on YouTube), with your earbuds so that you aren’t disturbed. You can also practice deep breathing exercises, meditation or listening to an inspiring and uplifting lecture.

Get out in nature away from your typical noises. Allow yourself to simply listening to the wind, the trees, water flowing you can clear your mind from the clutter. After a big rain you can go and scoop up a mason jar full of water out of the creek and attempt to look through the jar.

It will be difficult because the water has been stirred up by the rain it will be cloudy. But if you let it sit on the counter for some time the sediment will sink to the bottom and the water will be clear. This is what you want for your mind on a regular basis.

Engage in a hobby. When you put your brain power toward learning something new you get distracted from the things that bug you. We are thinking new thoughts and creating new patterns of thinking and creativity. Creativity and eager learning always soothes the mind.

Recommending reading
The Biology of Belief by Dr. Bruce Lipton; Words Can Change Your Brain by Dr Andrew Newberg

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You’ve got this! Mark Asks: I seriously lack motivation, what can I do to get back on track?

By Tracy Becker

Licensed Counselor

Hey Mark, it sounds like your get-up-and-go got-up-and-went. We all go through spells like this, but it doesn’t make it any easier. There are several ways to look at this.

One is that motivation can be associated with things you are supposed to do, ought to do, need to do or someone wants me to do.

Causing feel bad about ourselves, maybe get depression. In this regard, I invite you to switch motivation to inspiration. Inspiration meaning to be inspired, lifted up and excited by. If you allow inspiration to be your guide this will bring a whole new approach to what you take action on without shirking your responsibilities.

Another approach is to take a good hard look at your life and see what is weighting you down. List 100 things in your life that you are tolerating.

From the condition of your vehicle or home, your health, your job, your finances, or maybe even a close relationship that isn’t working too well for you. Take a couple of days to do this as it will bring about a lot of clarity on what’s bugging you that you haven’t been dealing with.

Next, circle all the things on your list you have no control over – things that are what they are. These are the things you will need to accept and let go of.

Lastly, you are left with the things you do have control over. With these create a plan. Start with the easy (so you’ll feel some success) and work your way to the more difficult. Chip away at this list the best you can.By following these two steps you can be well on your way.

You’ve got this! Melissa Asks: How can we add more sunshine to the dreary winter months?

By Tracy Becker

Licensed Counselor

Thank you, Melissa, for this question. One thing for sure is that our natural circadian rhythms (our body clock) is impacted by the amount of sunlight we have in our days. According to sleep studies 7-9 hours a sleep is a healthy amount, yet in the dark cold winter months sometimes this can increase by 1-2 hours.

As a very productive-oriented society, this often causes us to feel as if we aren’t “doing” enough. Thus, an internal conflict brews: wanting to rest, sleep and be less active VS. being productive, getting everything done, and feeling anxious when we don’t.

If you forgive yourself when you aren’t as productive, and may not reach your goals you will feel better about yourself. Allow yourself time to rest, read and be at ease. Taking advantage of the Sun when it is out. Try a sunbath, even if its too cold to go outside, make yourself a spot where this sun is shinning in and let those healing rays wash over you.

Remind yourself of things to do with family and friends that lift your spirits and make you laugh. Get the games out, camp-out in the living room together, watch funny movies, make funny family videos, get creative with new crafts, learn something new, read a book as a family. There are many options to explore.
Eat lighter. If we eat a lot of complex carbohydrates and meats it makes us feel “heavier” in our bodies and more sluggish. Add more green vegetables and fruits. In addition, Get out in the fresh air whenever you can. Even if it is just a short walk. The cool clean air is good for you. Bundle up and have fun.

Resource: 85 Indoor Activities for Everyone