Feeling alone when we're so connected

feeling alone connected
Advances in technology has made our lives more convenient, easier, and more connected. If that’s the case, why are we so easily and quickly distracted by our devices? Why are we less productive, spending hours scrolling through our social media feeds? It seems like there’s a strange phenomenon happening these days. We’re becoming more disconnected in a world more connected than ever.

How technology helps us connect

Don’t get it the wrong way, we’re not saying technology is a bad thing. It’s great that we can connect with loved ones far away and stay updated with their lives. We can even see each other on screens from miles (even oceans) away. It’s great to know you’ll always find your way with a navigation app. People are even meeting their significant others through the internet. Technology is even connecting us together right now as you read this article (hi there!). We have immediate access to so much information, more than ever. There’s definitely a lot of good that comes out of technology, no doubt about that.

So it’s not technology we’re apprehensive about; it’s the way we allow ourselves to be affected by it. We’re letting it take us places we don’t want to go.

How technology changes our social behaviour

While standing in line at the checkout, we feel the urge to reach into our pocket and look at our phone. We’re checking our Facebook and Instagram while we’re at work; maybe even in a meeting. Families have breakfast together, but don’t even talk to one another. A group of friends can sit together with each person’s face glued to their phone. We’ve become so accustomed to not being together when we’re together.

We remove ourselves from reality, from the present moment, and go into our phones. This matters because it changes the way we relate to each other, but also how we relate to ourselves and our capacity for self-reflection. We’re learning how to be alone together. We want to be with each other, but also elsewhere.

We go in and out of the moment we’re actually living because what we prefer is controlling where we put our attention. We only want to pay attention to the parts that interest us. This makes us constantly disconnected from each other even when we’re “connecting.” We can’t get enough of each other, but only if we can have one another at a distance, in amounts we can control.

The fear of being alone

This is a problem for teenagers who need to develop face to face relationships. They don’t know how to have a conversation. Their attention spans are short. People rather text, post, or email because they’re able to edit what they say or respond when they feel like it. When we have conversations in real time, we can’t edit, and we need to respond immediately. A conversation can make people anxious now.

It’s the same anxiety we feel when we’re alone. Because we’re so “connected,” the second we are alone, we reach for a device. We can’t be alone anymore. To the point, people are on phones at stoplights or sitting in their room. Call it boredom or whatever you want, it comes down to the inability to sit in solitude. Solitude is important for us as humans. This is how we collect ourselves and build as individuals, how we learn who we are. If we can’t handle being with ourselves for periods of time, we struggle with knowing who we truly are. Being alone is what helps us to appreciate and know what we have when we are connecting with others.

Why do we feel so lonely?

This is why people are increasing lonely in a time when we’re most “connected.” We’re hiding ourselves from others when we’re together. We’re isolating ourselves and creating a distance from people and present moment by removing ourselves and diving into our phones. It’s instant gratification, yet it’s not a deep rich connection.

There’s a difference to being alone and feeling lonely. Because we’ve become addicted to the shallow, immediate, and controlled connection we have with our devices, we’re experiencing more loneliness even when we’re not alone - but especially, when we are alone.

What to do when you're feeling alone

The solution to all this, isn’t to remove technology from your lives or going phoneless. We need to be more aware of how we’re using technology, how it affects us, and the feelings we experience with and without it. We need to be present and connect with our relationships in real time. We need to raise our children to have richer engaging lives full of genuine experiences.

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Do you struggle with feelings of loneliness?

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Who we are and how we relate to others

Isn’t it so cool and amusing when you meet someone who seems just like you? You both think the same way, feel the same, and share a lot of the same opinions. You guys could even have the same mannerisms, behaviors, and instincts. It feels like you found your long lost twin. You also get a sense of feeling understood. Who doesn’t like feeling relatable or meeting someone who can relate to them? We feel a peaceful aligning kind of connection with people who seem just like that. On the other hand, we also come across people who are completely different than us. You behave totally different, you have opposite instincts, and what makes sense to them, doesn’t make sense to you.

Personalities are so interesting in that way. It’s what makes us similar to one another, yet very unique the same time. How can that be? To be the same, but different, are two contradicting concepts. Basically, personalities can be grouped by different types. These types more general which makes us feel more relatable to many people.

When you think of personalities, think OCEAN. It’s an acronym for general personality types. When we identify with one of these letters, we can relate to other people sharing the same letter. “O” stands for “open to experience,” versus those who are more closed. “C” stands for “conscientiousness,” versus a lackadaisical approach to life. “E” stands for “extraversion,” in contrast to more introverted people. “A” stands for “agreeable individuals,” in contrast to those decidedly not agreeable. “N” stands for “neurotic individuals,” in contrast to those who are more stable.

These personalities do influence our well being in life. For example, more openness and conscientiousness are good predictors of success. The open people usually achieve that success with audaciousness and being more odd. The conscientious people achieve it by sticking to deadlines, persevering, and having passion. Extroversion and agreeableness are also seen to lead to success in working well with others.

Contrasting personalities can be so different from each other, seeming like they're from two separate planets. It’s not an introvert's nature to say something bluntly. They’d rather take the long descriptive way alluding to their point. Extroverts are more comfortable saying exactly how they feel, getting straight to the point. Extroverts love to socialize and enjoy constant stimulation. Introverts get overwhelmed by too much stimulation. In fact, they gather themselves best with less stimulation.

While introverts can relate and understand other introverts, they’re still not exactly the same. There’s other combination of traits that make us different. And often times, an introvert will need to adopt extrovert qualities depending on the situation. For example, an introverted professor, who loves teaching how students the latest information, needs to pull extroverted qualities to give a lecture in front of a crowd.

So while we can relate to many people and feel like one of the rest, we’re each unique in our own ways.That’s what makes us special. We share personality traits, but we adopt a combination of others based on our unique personal experiences. This also helps us to understand and relate to different personality types because we’re a little of everything in different ways.

If you or someone you know is struggling with their personal identity, please contact Crownview Medical Group to get in touch with trained medical professional who can help the get to know themselves better.



sleep and anxiety

How Anxiety Affects Sleep

A good night’s sleep is an important component of good health, something that may seem obvious, but is also confirmed by research. Yet, many of us go to bed each night and struggle to sleep, and this is especially true for people suffering from anxiety. Given that seven out of 10 Americans report experiencing stress or anxiety daily, this is cause for concern.

A 2007 study found that eight out of 10 American adults experienced some type of sleep-related difficulty, such as trouble falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep or not feeling rested after sleeping.

Anxiety and Sleep Disorders

Those who don’t sleep well are at risk for any number of more serious health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure. They are at risk for being involved in traffic accidents, since drowsiness while driving has an impact akin to that of drunkenness.

Sleeplessness also impairs cognitive processes, affecting attention, alertness, concentration, problem solving and reasoning, all functions necessary to a productive work day. It can also interfere with the libido; sleep deprived men and women report lower sex drives, which can affect their intimate relationships.

How Anxiety Causes Sleep Problems

Research has shown that people who worry incessantly and those suffering from clinical anxiety disorder are very vulnerable to the deleterious effects of sleeplessness. Lack of sleep heightens anxiety by firing up the regions of the brain associated with emotional processing, the amygdale and insular cortex, actions that are similar to the neural activity seen in people with anxiety disorders.

How to Deal with Anxiety and Sleep Disorders

Given that anxiety and sleeplessness are so closely related, it’s important to look for ways to reduce anxiety. Consider employing the following strategies:

  • Get moving: Exercise improves both mental and physical health. During exercise, the body releases mood-enhancing endorphins.
  • Salute the sun: For centuries, yoga and its renowned poses, such as sun salutations, downward dogs and warrior, have been associated with helping the mind to calm itself through focus on breathing and posture.
  • Meditate mindfully: Various types of meditation, including mindfulness meditation, help you to stay in the present moment, rather than allowing your mind to focus on worries or run through mental to-do list.
  • More music: Listen to some soft, calming music to relax your body and mind and lower your blood pressure.
  • Pick priorities: Review your to-do list and focus your energies on the items that are important. Try dividing larger endeavors into smaller, manageable chunks and find ways to delegate some of the tasks.
  • Turn outward: Get involved in some volunteer work or assist a family member or friend with some chores. Giving someone else a helping hand has the dual benefits of making you feel good about yourself and diverting your energy from your worries.
  • Get help: There is nothing to be ashamed of in talking with a professional about your concerns. They are trained to assist you in coping with anxieties.

More Sleep Techniques for Anxiety

In addition, there are a variety of healthy sleep habits, known as good sleep hygiene, which can be used to help improve your bedtime experience. Try them out to see which ones work best for you:

  • Stay on schedule: Stick to a regular bedtime and waking hour, even on days off from work. This will help to regulate your body clock and may help you sleep through the night.
  • Relish your routine: Establish a relaxing nightly routine that prepares you to sleep. For example, brush your teeth, turn down your bed, turn out the lights and listen to some soothing music while you visualize pleasant experiences or beautiful scenery.
  • Power down: Turn off your brightly lit electronics an hour or so before you retire. Televisions, computers and e-readers stimulate, rather than relax, the mind.
  • No napping: Naps may revive you in the short term, but they may also interfere with your ability to fall asleep at night.
  • Cool and calm: Make sure your bedroom is designed with comfortable sleep in mind. Keep it cool -- 60 to 67 degrees. Make sure it is dark enough; blackout curtains can be a lifesaver, and sleep masks are also an option. Keep it quiet, too. If you are sensitive to noise, earplugs are a possible solution.
  • Create comfort: Choose a comfortable, supportive mattress and pillows. If your mattress has outlived its life expectancy – usually nine or 10 years – it may be interfering with your ability to sleep well, so consider replacing it.
  • Sleep country: Use your bedroom only for sleep and relaxation; watch television or use your computer in other rooms of the house.

These strategies are designed to reduce anxiety and promote sleep. If they don’t work as well as you would like, perhaps it’s time to talk with a mental health professional and address some of the root causes of your anxiety.

What you think about addiction is wrong

It’s crazy to think that it’s been around a hundred years since the country decided to ban drugs. Since then we’ve been incarcerating addicts, punishing them with criminal records (making it difficult for them to get jobs), and being judging them as a nuisance in society. This approach is meant to make addicts suffer as an incentive to stop or avoid using. However, has this been working? Do we even know what causes addiction to begin with? Is there a better approach we could be trying?

With new research on addiction emerging, we’re learning that everything we thought we knew about addiction is wrong. If we were to absorb this new research, we would realize our current drug policies need to change. Based on the common understanding of addiction, if people were to go on a 20 day heroin binge, what would we expect to happen? Most people would say, they’d expect these people to turn into heroin addicts. This is because science has taught us about chemical hooks, making our bodies dependent on a substance. However, what happens when someone gets in an accident and winds up on diamorphine at the hospital? Diamorphine is actually heroin; in fact it’s medical grade heroin, better than anything found on the streets. With the idea of chemical hooks in mind, wouldn’t all these people be addicted to diamorphine? Interestingly, we don’t see this happen the same way as a heroin addicts.

Our beliefs about addiction stem from experiments performed in the early 20th century. They were very simple experiments. Basically, a rat was put into a cage with 2 bottles of water: one filled with regular water and the other with heroin water. Majority of the time. the rat preferred the heroin water again and again until it killed itself. It wasn’t until the 70’s when professor Bruce Alexander from Vancouver noticed we were putting a rat in an empty cage alone with nothing to do but use these drugs. So he decided to build the “rat park.” This was rat cage heaven! It had lots of cheese, toys, and friends for socializing and sex, along with both water bottles. Interestingly enough, the rats in rat park did not like the heroin water. They rarely drank it, there was no compulsive drinking, and zero overdoses. We went from a 100% overdose rate in the initial study to a 0% overdose rate in the rat park study.

Around the same time, we saw a human experiment at the same time called the Vietnam war. 20% of American troops were using heroin. The country was worried a ton of junkies would be returning home. Those who used heroin were followed home and the archives of general psychiatry did a detailed general study on them. It turned out that none of them went to rehab or went into withdrawals; in fact, 95% of them just stopped using. This brings up the question, is it less about the chemical hooks and more about their cage that makes them addicted? Is it the connection they have to their environment and how they adapt?

Another professor from the Netherlands, Peter Cowen, said we shouldn’t call it addict, but instead we should call it bonding. Humans have an innate need to bond. So if people are happy and connected, we’re bonding with each other. But if someone can’t do that because they are isolated, struggling, and beat down by life, they will bond with anything that will give the a sense of relief. This could be anything from gambling, to drugs, to alcohol.

We all have the capability to be drug or high everyday, but why don’t we? No one is holding us back? It’s because we have connections we want to be present for. We have people we love, work, things we love doing. Addiction happens when we just can’t deal to be present in life.

Instead of punishing and shaming addicts, we should follow Portugal’s steps. In 2000, Portugal had one of the worst drug problems with a large chunk of their population being addicted to heroin. Because they’re current system (like the US) wasn’t working, the prime minister decided to get a group of medical experts to figure something out. They dove into research and decided to completely decriminalize drugs and instead spend all their money they would spend on disconnecting them, to reconnect them into society. Not only were they rehabilitating them and providing therapy, but they had a program that placed them in jobs and provided micro loans for them to start businesses. The program would ask employers to hire addicts provided they would cover half their wages. Since initiating this change 15 years ago, Portugal has seen a 50% decrease in injecting drug use, according to the British Journal of Criminology. That meant overdoses, HIV, and addiction in all studies were decreased.

We shouldn’t be disconnecting addicts from society, instead we should be reaching out to connect with them. Some people say we’re living in a more connected world, but friends on social media won’t be there for you immediately like a present friend can. While we focus on individual recovery, we should be focusing on social recovery as well.

Addictions come in many forms, like our phones, the internet, social media, food, and exercise. People don’t only reach out to drugs and alcohol for those connections in life. If you or a loved one struggles with addiction, please contact Crownview Medical Group to get in touch with a medical professional who specializes in individual treatments - both in and out patient.

Source: https://www.ted.com/talks/johann_hari_everything_you_think_you_know_about_addiction_is_wrong

Change the way you view stress

All our lives we’ve been told that stress makes us sick. Stress causes diseases like cardiovascular disease. “Don’t stress!” But let’s rethink stress for a moment. A study tracked 300,000 adults in the US over a course of 8 years. Participants were asked two questions: How much stress have you in the last year? and Do you believe that stress is harmful for your health? Then researchers looked at public death records to see who died. What they found out was that people who had a lot of stress in the last year had a 43% increased chance of dying. However, this was only true for those who thought stress was harmful. In comparison, people who had a lot of stress but didn’t think it as harmful had the lowest rest of dying - even lower than those who had very little stress. Over the 8 years of tracking deaths, 182,000 Americans died not from stress, but from the belief of stress being harmful. That’s 20, 000 deaths a year!

We should be teaching people that stress is unhealthy. Instead we should adjust the way we think about stress in order to adjust its effect on us.

There’s something known as the social stress test. It’s a test made to stress people out. When participants come into the study, they’re told they need to make a speech on their personal weaknesses in front of a panel of expert evaluators. To add more pressure and stress, there’s bring lights and cameras in their faces. The evaluators are also trained to give discouraging non verbal feedback. Then to top it off, they’re given a math test with an experimenter who’s trained to bully and harass the participants. So by now, everyone is nervous, maybe sweating with their hearts pounding. Usually, we would see these as signs of anxiety, on the verge of a breakdown. However, this is actually how your body energizes itself to prepare you to meet this challenge.

In contrast, participants doing the same study, another time around, were told that when they feel physical symptoms of stress and anxiety it’s actually a good thing. They were told it’s their body preparing them to face the challenge and to see those signs as helpful. Participants knowing this before taking the test actually provided different results. They actually had less signs of stress and more confidence.

When our heart rate goes up and blood pressure rises, yes it’s unhealthy to be in that state too much. This is why cardio vascular disease is connected to chronic stress. Yet, in the study with participants who viewed stress as helpful, their blood vessels stayed in a healthy state. They didn’t constrict and those cardiovascular effects didn’t even occur.

This tells us that stress isn’t the bad guy, but we need to be better at handling it. And how do we handle it? We view it as a good thing. It’s not about stressing less, it’s about understanding your body helping you to rise to the challenge. When we believe this, our body believes us, so our body’s stress response becomes healthier.

Stress actually helps us to produce oxytocin in our brains. This is a hormone also known as the cuddle hormone because it is released when you’re cuddling someone. This encourages us to do things that make us feel more socially connected. It helps us to be more affectionate and compassionate. But what people don’t know, is that it’s also release during times of stress. It’s like the body’s way of pushing us to connect with someone, pushing us to hug someone or vent about our stresses. This also helps us to recognize when other people are struggling, pushing us to be care for them. Oxytocin is a natural anti inflammatory and even acts as a natural protection from cardiovascular disease. But wait, both can happen from stress? Oxytocin actually helps our hearts regenerate cells and heal from stress induced damage. The more hormones released, the faster we can recover through reaching out or asking for support. This is the body’s natural mechanism for stress resilience - human connection.

Another study followed 1,000 adults in the US from ages 34-95 over the course of 5 years. Participants were asked: How much stress have you experienced in the last year? and How much time have you spent helping others? Again, researchers looked at public death records and found that for every major stressful life experience, people had a 30% increase in chance of death. But the people who more spent time caring for others showed absolutely no stress related increases in their chance of dying. Caring for others created that stress resilience.

The point is, it’s the way we view stress that determines how it will actually affect us. When we view it as helpful, we’re more confident and resilient. It even helps us to connect with each other as well as healing our own hearts. Trust yourself in times of stress.

If you or a loved one struggles with overwhelming stress, please contact Crownview Medical Group to get in touch with a medical professional who can look at your individual needs.

Source: https://www.ted.com/playlists/315/talks_to_help_you_manage_stres

Alternative approach to depression

What’s the opposite of depression? Most would say happiness, but that’s not the case. Depression doesn’t mean you’re unhappy. It’s more than that. The opposite of depression is vitality. We’re able to understand depression through metaphors, poems, and paintings. Art is an effective way to express these states. But depression isn’t an easy thing to understand. Mostly because it’s unique to each person. Depression is more than just sadness.

When you’re depressed, you know a lot of your symptoms are ridiculous. But not while you’re feeling it. You know other people are able to manage simple things and go through their day to day routines without the dread. You know they’re able to enjoy things and experience life as a part of it. When you’re in it’s grip, you’re unable to feel your way around it. You’re more so paralyzed. You feel less and less until all you feel is anxiety. You’re so afraid and you have no clue what you’re afraid of. Things get darker and darker to the point of wondering what’s the point of living anymore. Then you may start medications and therapies. Are they working? Are they making you feel more like yourself or someone else? Who are you anyway? Is it a chemical problem or a psychological problem, what kind of cure do you need?

What’s interesting is that depression has kind of been bred into us as a part of our character and personality. It can be seen as the natural flaw in love. We can’t marry someone and nonchalantly think, “Well if they die I’ll just find someone else.” There’s no love without loss. Love needs that fear of despair to drive intimacy. That’s where we find meaning a relationship, that’s how we appreciate someone being with us. We’re meant to feel the highs and the lows.

But like previously mentioned, everyone’s experience with depression is unique to them. Some people can have a mild depression but feel completely broken and torn, while others can have severe depression but remain able to function. What is it that makes someone more resilient than others? Some people refer to their depression like they’re dying. It’s that scary feeling that kills people.

It takes time, an open mind, and trial and error to find a successful treatment for each person. Here’s an example. If someone with brain cancer says standing on their head makes them feel better, they will still have brain cancer. On the other hand, if someone with depression says standing on their head makes them feel better, then they’re cured! This is because depression is an illness of how we feel. So if we feel better, somehow/in whatever way it may be, then that’s what makes them feel better. And if they feel better, they cured their depression. Examples of these kinds of treatments could be anything from starting a new hobby like knitting, working out, going to the beach regularly, volunteering in the community, journaling, attending a church, etc.. An alternative approach could be your answer.

If you or a loved one struggles with symptoms of depression, please contact Crownview Medical Group to get in touch with a medical professional who can help you find your unique treatment.

Source: https://www.ted.com/playlists/175/the_struggle_of_mental_health

how do I find my own happiness

How do I find my own happiness within?

People chase happiness because no one wants to be unhappy. Some people are happy with the way they are, the way life turns out, and what they have. Others feel the need to find happiness in other things, people, and places.

It’s highly likely that those people have heard the saying “happiness comes from within” at least once in their lives. All that is usually easier said than done. And how are we supposed to feel that happiness within us anyway? Should we already be feeling it all the time? The truth is, you do!

The Prefrontal Cortex: Our Very Own Simulator

In the front of our brain we’ll find our prefrontal lobe. And here we’ll find our prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain is similar to flight simulators that pilots use in training. This helps them to practice emergency flying before it actually happens in real life. Our prefrontal cortex works the same way by helping us to experience things in our head before we actually do in real life.

Making Decisions and Weighing Options

We experience this happening when we imagine an outcome of a situation. This happens when we make decisions and weigh out our options. Here’s an example, here are two different future outcomes and decide which one you would prefer: winning the lottery or being paraplegic.

Assuming you chose winning the lottery, most people would usually pick that option. People usually start to simulate in their minds the life of a paraplegic to be challenging while the life of a lottery winner is so luxurious.

Since we all want to live happy lives, we would choose the lottery winner. However, research has shown that after the hype of a gain and the sadness of a loss, lottery winners and paraplegics lives equally happy lives.

Impact Bias

This is an example of impact bias. Your simulator is giving you that quick preview of an experience before it happens. But this is how the simulator would perform poorly. Because you chose lottery winner, when both outcomes actually have equal outcomes as far as happiness. You simulator made something seem worse than it really is.

Find Your Own Happiness

Luckily, we have a psychological immune system. This gives us the ability to change the way we think about happiness or what makes us happy. This is where we can find that happiness within. We’re able to create our own happiness. Not necessarily fake it till we make it, but actually feeling happiness especially when it’s unexpected.

Synthetic Happiness vs. Natural Happiness

This would be a synthetic happiness. Some people view this kind of happiness as inferior to natural happiness. But whats the difference between natural and synthetic happiness?

Natural happiness happens when we get what we want. Synthetic happiness what we make when we don’t get what we want. Of course our modern society and the economy reinforces the idea that we can ind happiness in particular things that we want so we should get it.

Happiness Recovery

However, synthetic happiness is just as meaningful. Here’s an example of synthetic happiness. We’re given two choices, option A and B. We want to choose option A because it’s better for all the right reasons. But then we’re told that we can’t have it and instead we will be given option B (the one we didn’t want because it didn’t seem as good).

Later, to our surprise, we actually really like option B and maybe we realize that it turned out to be better than option A would have been. This sort of “happiness recovery” is the psychological immune system working. We’re able to find happiness in what happened, not in something we were after.

Not feeling happy?

We need to remember that happiness isn’t something we need to chase after because we have the capacity in ourselves to create that very commodity. If you or a loved one seems to be down in a rut, unsatisfied with life, and feel like they need more than what they have to feel happy (or don’t even know what makes you happy), please contact Crownview Medical Group to get in touch with a medical professional who will work with you to be happy again.

Source: https://www.ted.com/playlists/4/what_makes_you_happy

The real problem with procrastination

It seems like procrastination is becoming increasing popular these days. Everyone seems to relate on the stress of waiting till the very last minute to do something - or the lack of concern with waiting till the very last minute to do something. Students seem to be the most common victims of procrastination. Everyone has papers and assignments thrown at them left and right, yet never in the mood to do it. Is that what ultimately controls us? Our mood?


When given a deadline, there’s a gap of safety space to spread out the workload. There might be a schedule, a little work here and a little work there, leading up to completion right up to the day before it’s due. Seems like a logical plan right? It would be if we stuck to it. When life happens or we struggle to find motivation, we start to see that gap of safety space a little wider. Maybe it’s safe to start working on our project a little later than plan, we can afford that time. We do this all the way up to the day before it’s due to start the project. Yikes! Then we’re rushed, feeling the pressure, and stressed. Some might be able to pull it off, other’s won’t deliver to the best of their ability.


Why do we do this? Let’s look at the minds of procrastinators. We have a responsible character who knows what should and shouldn’t be done. This character steers us through our day. Then we have a instant gratification monkey, this monkey convinces us why we should do about anything other than what we should be doing. When that monkey takes control of the wheel and steers our day, the responsible character steps aside and we miss out on productivity. As the deadline gets closer and the monkey is running us into awesome fun chaos, this “get it done” monster is awaken! And then our mind runs into a panic of hysteria, the responsible character is freaking out and the instant gratification monkey runs away. Then we are able to snap into gear.


We’re really in trouble when that “get it done” monster doesn’t wake up, when that monkey keeps steering us in the wrong direction. So when does that monster not wake up? That monster is only awoken when that deadline is creeping up and nothing is done. So say nothing gets done, but there’s no deadline…That’s when the “get it done” monster stays dormant. This is when procrastination is a problem. When we set goals and have plans for the future and the future becomes the present, it’s depressing to realize we got nothing done. That’s because procrastination only works with deadlines. If we don’t set deadlines for our personal plans, that gap of safety space spans over our lifetime. But we don’t want our last day on earth to be our deadline.


If we start making personal deadlines for ourselves, we’ll be able to awaken that “get it done” monster and scare off that instant gratification monkey. We’ll be able to make those achievements and be proud of ourselves and live fulfilled lives. If you’re struggling to find motivation and make personal progress, please contact Crownview Medical Group to get in touch with a trained professional who can guide you.




Frustration improves problem solving

We can all agree that we life would be pretty luxurious is it were easy. No one really desires for difficulty, resistance, or challenges to happen in life. No way! Every parent would prefer their children to behave like angels every minute of each day. Every boss would prefer their employees working seamlessly and customers to be completely satisfied. Puppy owners would prefer their fur babies to be potty trained over night and never chewing on the furniture. Every athlete would prefer to win. Ever musician prefers to improve and perform flawlessly. You can see where this is going.


Some of you might disagree, “Nope, I love challenges in my life.” And that’s great! You’re the example we all should follow because that means you see the bright side to challenges; which would also tell us that you’ve overcome them successfully. Challenges should be welcomed into our lives and embraced. Not only does it help us to improve and strengthen, but it actually makes us more creative. We’re not only talking about artistic creativity, but creative problem solving as well.


When we’re frustrated, it pushes us out of our comfort zone. Out of the familiar. Out of the box! And this is when we come up with out-of-the-box solutions, creative approaches, and new ideas. When things get messy, we’re able to rethink the way something is working.


There’s a study that worked with high school students. Over a semester, teachers were asked to give their handouts in different styled fonts. Some students were give fonts that were simple and easy to read, while others were given fonts that were harder to read. At the end of the semester, student took a test. The outcome resulted in those who read with font styles that were difficult to read actually scored higher on the exam. This is because the font forced them to slow down, examine the words, and really make sense of things. Long term results also showed that these students would be successful in the future because they were able to think out of the box more easily. This is because their box was full of holes.


When we’re problem solving, disruptions often feel like they’re getting in the way. They frustrate us and make us feel very uncomfortable. So we resist them. But really, they force us to see things from a different perspective, which is how we come up with new ideas, by seeing things differently. And how would you see something differently than you always have? - By throwing in some form of random disruption, an obstacle, a challenge.


If challenges are really weighing you down or you’re not able to come out of them successfully and healthily, please contact Crownview Medical Group and get in touch with a medical professional who can help guide you with another perspective. Challenges should be coped with and approached in a healthy way to result in healthy outcomes. It’s not always easy for people to be open to obstacles and if you’re one of these people, let us help you harness your creative problem solving and help you improve!




Childhood trauma's effect on physical health

Did you know health issues you have today could be related to past childhood trauma? Knowledge of this connection helps us to realize how sensitive children are during developmental years. Trauma doesn’t only affect them emotionally, but physically as well. Early adversity can affect a person’s health for a lifetime.


As a part of a study, 17,500 adults were asked about their history with Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE). ACE’s include: physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, physical and emotional neglect, parental mental illness, parental substance dependence, parental incarceration, parental separation/divorce, and domestic violence. For every “yes” answered, they got a point added to their ACE score. The study compared the adults ACE scores with their health outcomes. There was an interesting connection.


ACE’s are very common, 67% of adults had at least one, while 12.6% had 4 or more ACE’s. The study showed that the higher the ACE score, the worst health outcomes the adults had. People with 4 or more ACE scores are 2.5x more likely to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 2.5x more likely to get hepatitis, 4.5x more likely to suffer from depression, and have a12x greater risk of suicide. Those with ACE scores of 7 or more are 3x more at risk of lung cancer and 3x more at risk of ischemic heart disease (the #1 killer in America).


Some people look at this and think, “Yes, if you have a rough childhood, you’re more likely to drink and smoke and do things that ruin your health. That’s just bad behavior.” The truth is, this is science. There is science that proves early adversity affects developing brains and bodies of children. It affects the reward system part of the brain that influences substance dependence. It affects the part of the brain that controls impulse and executive decision making. It affects the fear response center.


Yes, those who grow up in adverse situations are more prone to high risk behaviors, but it turns out that even if you don’t engage in high risk behaviors, you’re still more likely to develop heart disease or cancer. How so? This happens because of the brain and body’s stress response center that governs our fight or flight impulse. This serves a great purpose in saving our lives in situations like getting attacked by a bear, but what if there is no bear? What if we always feel like there’s a bear ready to attack us everyday? When stress hormones are triggered repeatedly, it becomes harmful. These harmful stress hormones always being activated affects the development of a children’s brain, hormones, and immune system.


Children should be screened for ACE’s and those who test positive should be treated differently with home visits, mental health care, nutrition, holistic intervention, and parental education about ACE’s and toxic stress. It’s important we care for children especially in developmental years.


If you have a child living with adverse childhood experiences or if you’re struggling with your own past childhood trauma, please contact Crownview Medical Group to get in touch with a medical professional who can provide the care need for your individual needs.




Physical vs. Emotional Health

Ever notice the importance the body seems to have over the mind. People care more about tending to their bodies and making sure their teeth is brushed so they don’t get cavities, washing their hands to prevent the spread of bacteria, or putting a bandaid on a cut to avoid infection. But what about our tending to our mental health? Are we teaching our children emotional hygiene just as much as oral hygiene? Probably not.


We actually sustain emotional injuries more often than physical ones, such as failure, rejection, or loneliness. And they can get worse when we ignore them and they can also impact our lives. Yet we still don’t tend to our emotional wellness as much as physical, even though there are scientifically proven techniques to doing so. Instead we tell someone depressed to just shake it off and that it’s all in their head. We would never say this to someone with a broken leg. Physical and emotional health should be viewed and valued equally.


Something like loneliness, feeling disconnected from people, which just seems like a mental thing, actually affects us physically as well. Chronic loneliness can increase your chances of an early death by 14%. Loneliness causes high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and suppresses the immune system which makes you more susceptible to other diseases and illnesses. Scientists say that loneliness puts your longterm health and longevity at risk, just as much as smoking cigarettes. While cigarettes come with warning labels, loneliness doesn’t.


Failure also affects us in ways we don’t realize. Failure tricks our minds into thinking we aren’t capable of doing something. And the more we’re convinced, the more we’ll function below our true potential. Once we’re convinced of something, it’s difficult to change our mind.


Rejection is also damaging. After being rejected, we’re all guilty of criticizing ourselves or being cruel and judgmental towards our own selves. Why would we do this when our self esteem is already low? Why would we damage ourselves further? We wouldn’t cut through a physical wound to see how far we could go. Rejection and failure is harder to recover from. We need to care for ourselves better, like our emotional pain is bleeding physical wounds.


Rumination is when we replay hurtful, stressful, negative thoughts. When we do this over and over, it becomes a habit. A bad habit that can lead to clinical depression, alcoholism, eating disorders, and even cardiovascular disease. Rumination feels like a strong need, but it’s damaging and for some people even stifling. But yet, we can look physically healthy and be emotionally unhealthy. To stop rumination, it only takes a 2 minute distraction.


We’re able to gain control of our thoughts and only think positive thoughts. We’re able to overcome failure and feel positive towards ourselves. We’re able to go out and connect with others. We’re able to rebuild ourselves and pick ourselves up when we’re knocked down. We can do all these things only if we practice emotional first aid just as importantly as we do physical first aid. By tending to our emotional pain and needs, we’re able to practice and do the little things that strengthen us emotionally. Just like brushing our teeth to prevent cavities.


If you or a love one struggles with coping and overcoming emotional pain, please contact Crownview Medical Group to get in touch with medical professional who can help you learn emotional first aid.




Recovering from schizophrenia

Many of us have heard about schizophrenia, a mental disorder of delusions, hallucinations, internal voices, and a fragmented reality. People are so terrified of the word “schizophrenia”. A parent’s world shatters when their child is diagnosed with such a disorder. Some parents are so distraught, they would even wish for leukemia instead. Schizophrenia has such a negative reputation, making it very misunderstood.


In hearing the word, people generally think of that crazy person on the street flailing their arms around, talking to themselves, with outbursts of yelling, and probably violent behaviors. Yes, we see people like this, but that person does not represent everyone with schizophrenia. That person on the street is probably one of 89% of people with schizophrenia who report not getting the right support they need.


Believe it or not, but there are people with schizophrenia who hold jobs, attend college, and become scholars and highly respected professionals. People can live with schizophrenia. There is definitely hope for recovery and ways to cope. A study published in 2005 by psychologist Martin Harrow of the University of Illinois College of Medicine and his colleges looked at patients over 15 years and found that 40% experienced periods of substantial recovery (no significant symptoms, being able to hold a job, engage in social activities, and live outside of a hospital for a year or more). Yes, relapses could still occur post recovery, but patients are more aware about coping with their symptoms in healthy ways and know/trust the support they have that helped them reach recovery.


Let’s look at Eleanor Longden. She’s a great example of someone who overcame schizophrenia and continues to achieve great success. She was diagnosed in college, but managed to graduate with the highest level of a Bachelor’s Degree (BSc) and Master’s Degree (MSc) from the University of Leeds, England. She’s currently working on getting her PhD, gives lectures and writes about recovery-oriented approaches to psychosis, dissociation and complex trauma.


She’s a TED Talk speaker who details the voices in her head, the hostile things they would tell her, and how she turned those nasty voices into companions. She realized it wasn’t about “what’s wrong with her,” but rather “what happened to her.” Once she listened to the voices with empathy, she was able to connect each voice to a part of her that was screaming out from past trauma. The more damaging the trauma, the more hostile that particular voice was. In showing compassion to the voices, she was practicing self compassion and healing herself. She saw her schizophrenia as a creative survival strategy and meaningful experience to be explored.


If you or someone you know has symptoms of schizophrenia and need treatment and therapy, and live in the San Diego region, please contact Crownview Medical Group. You will be connected to a medical professional who will provide some advice, therapy, and an individualized treatment plan based on the patient’s specific needs.






The science of laughter

Who doesn’t love laughing? It either means you’re in a good mood or your mood is improving. Laughter can make you feel better when you’re sad, make something not seem as bad, or maybe remove embarrassment. But what is the science to laughter? Why do we do it? Is it important?


For starters, we’re 30 times more likely to laugh when interacting with others versus when we’re alone. This tells us that laughter is social. Believe it or not, we’re not the only animal who laughs. In fact, chimps and rats do it too! It’s a mammal thing. What’s interesting, is that by looking at other animals in addition to humans, we’re able to see different kinds of laughter. We see one type while they play versus when they’re being tickled. In humans, we see can tell a difference between a real laugh and a posed laugh. There’s that laugh we do when we get that social cue and then there’s that laugh we can’t control when something is extremely funny. We can hear that difference in pitch or in breathing. that’s the difference between a voluntary laugh and involuntary laugh. The involuntary, real, laugh actually contracts our ribcage and pushes out air in a way we can’t make ourselves do. The way we fake laugh is also not usually what happens naturally when we laugh uncontrollably. That’s why we spot those fake laughs.


A study shows how our brain responds when we hear a fake or real laugh. When we hear a real laugh, the auditory processing part of the brain gets activated. We process this complex sound. But when we hear a fake laugh, a different part of the brain lights up that’s more responsible for thinking and making sense of things. That has something to do with trying to figure out why someone is laughing (we’re thinking about it) versus when hearing someone crack up hysterically can be contagious.


Our ability to differentiate a fake and real laugh develops as we get older. And interestingly, we laugh more when hearing laughter when we’re younger. Hopefully we’re not just getting grouchier as we age, but perhaps this tells us because we understand laughter more as we get older, we need to hear more to get us laughing.


In terms of gender, females laugh much more than men - 126% more than men! We can see this in everyday life - the guy making the girl laugh, more male comedians than females, class clowns usually being a boy. Males tend to instigate humor more than females. This also explains why majority of women seek a man with a “great sense of humor” when dating.


Couples who are able to laugh TOGETHER during stressful times and conversations report to have happier and more successful relationships. There’s a social phenomenon that happens when a couple is able to laugh together that strengthens them. It’s a sign of a healthy relationship when the woman laughs.


Ever heard of the saying, “laughter is the best medicine.” It’s even mentioned in the bible and some ancient cultures. Not only does it put us in a happier mood, making us feel better, but it improves our physical health too. It gets our heart rate and blood pressure going. Our brain is activated in a way that reduces stress hormones and boosts our immune system.


Get together with friends or family, watch some comedy, get those giggles going and be the healthy happy person you’re meant to be. If you’re struggling to find things funny or interesting, not able to laugh at anything, contact Crownview Medical Group to get in touch with a medical professional who can help you find things funny again.





Effects of music on the brain

Ever wonder why music makes us feel so good? Everyone has a favorite song or type of music (which can actually reveal traits of your personality) - We love music! It has a magical ability to move us emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually - well, and physically of course - through its melodies, harmonies, and rhythms. Anthropologists and sociologists have never found a single tribe, culture, or society without music. Yet, some primitive tribes had forms of music before they developed a spoken or written language. Some primitive tribes and religious groups even used music as a form of healing and enlightenment practices. Fortunately, studies and modern technology has allowed us to see the effect of music on the brain.


One way music affects the brain is by boosting our creativity. Interestingly, our creative brain likes ambient music! While loud music is fun and gets you pumped, it actually doesn’t get the creative juices going like you may think. This is because our creative brain livens to a moderate noise level (not saying low noise levels). Moderate levels is loud enough to turn our brain on and gets our abstract processing working. High noise levels cranks turns our brain on too much, which actually becomes overwhelming and that abstract processing doesn’t work as efficiently.


Secondly, various organizations promote music being taught in schools because studies have shown how music advances development in children. One study has shown that “children who had three years or more musical instrument training performed better than those who didn’t learn an instrument in auditory discrimination abilities and fine motor skills.” These children also tested better on vocabulary, nonverbal reasoning skills (understanding and analyzing visual information - such as identifying relationships, similarities and differences between shapes and patterns.


When we listen to music while exercising, it actually does help us exercise. When our bodies start to tire down, our brain is signals us to stop working out or take a break. Listening to music has a way of competing for our brains attention and overriding that signal (like distracting us from how tired we actually are). This helps us to endure more than we would in silence. The tempos sync with the level of exercise too. So if you’re doing a more intense workout, a genre with a higher tempo does a better job at keeping your brain’s attention.


Also, music has a way of connecting with our emotions. Yes, we like to listen to slow melancholy songs when we’re sad, but songs can also make us sad - or happy. A study showed that after listening to a short song, participants were more likely to interpret a neutral expression as happy or sad, depending on the kind of music they heard.


There are two kinds of emotions associated with music: perceived emotions and felt emotions. Basically, we can understand the emotions of a song without feeling them (this is how we can enjoy sad songs without getting sad).


If for some reason, you’re stuck in a rut of sad songs and feeling depressed, please contact Crownview Medical Group to get in touch with a medical professional who can provide some advice based on your specific needs.







Addiction and mindfulness

When hearing the word “addiction,” people usually think of drug and alcohol addictions. But addiction can lure us towards all sorts of things. People are addicted to smoking, apps and mobile devices, social media, eating, relationships, etc.. It’s always fascinating to look at addiction and mindfulness - as the addict. We hear that, how mindfulness can help treat addictions. But how?


So when we see food, eat it, and feel good afterwards, our brain’s survival mode tells us “remember what you ate, how you felt, and where you got it.” It becomes a cycle of survival: hungry, get food, eat, feel better, hungry, get food, eat, feel better. This kind of reward system is how addictions grow. We remember what makes us feel a certain way and when we want that feeling, we know what to do.


Yes, sometimes addictions can turn physical, when our bodies start to rely on what we’re putting into it. These types of addiction to do need medical supervision for healthy detox. However, mindfulness is still useful for all addicted situations. Rather than forcing people to stop a habit, which is never successful long term, mindfulness encourages curiosity. That’s it! So if you’re trying to quit smoking, mindfulness doesn’t say stop smoking, it just says to observe your smoking experience. Be curious about it. Notice details. That’s it! Usually what happens is people start to think outside of that addiction reward cycle. Once that happens, the cycle is broken. Because curiosity is it’s own reward system too. When we’re curious and get an answer or observation, we feel rewarded, which feels good.


So someone smoking might notice the smell of the smoke, the taste, the time it takes, the feeling they get, and they learn so much. Some people might be turned off by the details they notice, like “eww this actually tastes nasty,  why am I doing this?” And by letting curiosity take you further into “why am I doing this?” you can find the root to your addiction - maybe the reason why you started (which is the same reason you continue to do it). Once you address the root where it all stemmed from, the magic spell is lifted. You’re not controlled by it anymore because when you feel urges or cravings, you know why.


Mindfulness is a simple way to break a bad habit. Or at least a way to help make it easier on yourself. As mentioned earlier, some addictions and bad habits need medical supervision, so please contact a medical professional to guide you. If “rehab” turns you off, there are other outpatient options available to help you get your life back. If you’re in the San Diego area or in a nearby city, please contact Crownview Medical Group to get in touch with a trained medical professional in individualized addiction treatments.




How exercise fights depression

Research coming from University of California at Davis has shown how exercise reduces symptoms of depression and improves mental health. It specifically showed how short periods of intense exercise boost levels of glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) - two common neurotransmitters involved with chemical messaging between neurons in the brain.


GABA is regulates our central nervous system, reducing excitability of neurons. It’s also associated with the regulation of muscle tone. Meanwhile, glutamate is involved with neural activation. Researchers saw increased levels of glutamate and GABA in people who exercised but not those who didn’t.


In looking at GABA production with exercise, we see ways stress and anxiety are minimized. EEG brain power neurons start firing across the brain on various frequencies. Aerobic exercise increases gray matter and optimizes white matter.


The study from UC Davis looked at volunteers before and after intense exercising on a stationary bike, hitting 80 to 85 percent of maximum heart rates, to measure levels of glutamate and GABA. The control group didn’t exercise at all.


Brain metabolism and exercise together become a dynamic duo in fighting depression. It’s especially useful in fighting against side effects from antidepressants. There’s a connection between glutamate, GABA, and depression. Those who are more depressed often show lower levels of glutamate and GABA. Since these two neurotransmitters are proven to increase with exercise, we’re able to restore our mental health back to normal. Exercise actually works out our brain much more than math or chess.


This is why sedentary lifestyles can have a negative impact on our health. Not only for our bodies, but for our brain and neurotransmitter production. For best results, not only can you change the types of exercising you do, but also change up the levels of aerobic intensity. The latest research shows that the brain benefits from short bursts of intense exercise for producing more glutamate and GABA. Of course, intense exercise might not work for everyone. Especially, if you’re just starting out or getting back into shape. Take it slow, but challenge yourself, and build yourself up. The goal is to be able to do intervals such as jog, sprint, jog, sprint, jog. Hitting that heart rate up in bursts will give us the best mental results.


Also, remember to keep a well balanced nutrition, especially when adding exercise to your daily routine. If you’re in the San Diego area and would like to improve your mental and physical health, contact Crownview Medical Group to get in touch with a medical professional who can provide some helpful advice.





Why we cry when we're happy

All humans cry. It’s good for you. It’s healthy. Crying releases stress and toxins. Of course, we don’t want to be crying all the time. Especially, because we know what it feels like to be so sad, so hurt, so lost, so broke, so frustrated, so confused, etc.. We don’t want to feel that way. We want to feel happy and enjoy the sweetness of life. But sometimes that makes us cry too! Why is that? Why do we cry when we’re happy? Is our happiness making us sad?


In our brains, we have a tiny almond sized hypothalamus. This little part of the brain can’t really tell the difference between happy or sad, or other emotions. It just gets a strong neural signal from the amygdala (which registers our emotions), and then it activates the autonomic nervous system (which is involuntary). That involuntary system has two parts: sympathetic (fight or flight, affects our bodily reactions during stress) and parasympathetic (rest and digest, calms us during stress).


That calming part of the nervous system is actually connected to our tear ducts and that’s how they’re activated. So basically, we feel an intense emotion of any kind, our brain communicates within itself to calm us which results in tears.


From a psychological perspective, there’s a theory that says “all emotional crying arises from the notion of perceived helplessness, or the idea that one feels powerless when one can't influence what is going on around them.” So no matter what kind of emotion we feel, it could also be attached to a reflexive response to the uncontrollable. There’s another theory that says “crying is a social cue designed to show vulnerability, solicit sympathy from bystanders, and advertise social trust and a need for attachment.” That’s why people respond to our crying and why they’re responses make us feel better (assuming they respond comforting).


This all explains why we feel better after crying. That release feels good. That comfort feels good. Even if we’re happy. We shouldn’t hold back our tears because we’re meant to cry. If our body is triggering tears, it’s because our brain says we need it. Some people do cry more than others. This doesn’t make their tears worth any less. They probably just feel more intensely than others. Regardless, an involuntary part of the brain is involved in the process of activating our tears. However, it’s worth looking into if you’re always crying; to see why you feel so much, so intensely, and why you’re tears are easily and frequently triggered.


If you or someone you know experiences frequent crying and intense emotions and thoughts, contact Crownview Medical Group to get in touch with a medical professional who can provide some advice based on your individual needs.





Hasson, O. Emotional tears as biological signals. Evol Psychol 7: 363-370 (2009).


Miceli, M. and C. Castelfranchi. Crying: Discussing its basic reasons and uses. New Ideas Psychol 21: 247-273 (2003).


Mitchelson, F. Muscarinic receptor agonists and antagonists: Effects on ocular function. Handbook Exp Pharmacol 208: 263-298 (2012).

How to talk to defensive people

Have you ever offended someone in conversation unintentionally? Perhaps, you’re telling a story or sharing an observation; then the person you’re speaking with responds in defense. You know you didn’t mean it that way, but now you’re defensive to the fact they’re reacting that way towards you. Maybe you’re feeling attacked for no reason because of it? Do conversations with this person tend to turn out this way, making it difficult to talk to them? It’s possible the person you’re talking to is a defensive person.


When we have conversations with others, we generally feel safe. This allows us to communicate smoothly. Once that safety is shaken, that’s where the defense gets triggered. And once that defense is trigger, it can be difficult to turn off. Some people are more guarded than others, probably due to feeling unsafe or distrust. So their defenses could be easily triggered and more sensitive than your’s.


Because in an ideal world, we wouldn’t want to have defensive conversations (especially unintentional ones), here’s how to keep conversations cool when talking to defensive people.


If the person you are speaking with reacts defensively to your well-meant words, consider these tips when formulating your response:


Definitely try to steer clear of these type of phrases. This will only fuel the person’s reactions and make matters worse for the both of you. Instead, keep in mind this person is misunderstand you, not attacking you. Just apologize for the misunderstanding and tell the person your intentions were meant to help and give information - granted this is true.



Maybe the person thought you were being critical or judgemental towards them? Or maybe they felt threatened in some way by what you said? Try to understand how it could have been taken the wrong way and acknowledge that. Then explain what you really meant.



There’s a possibility you may owe this person an apology and admit that you didn’t express yourself well. This doesn’t mean you’re wrong or a bad person.



Because their defensiveness might catch you off guard. Just remember it’s not an attack. Don’t let it trigger feelings and emotions, making you feel aggressive inside.



Sometimes, you might be safer giving the other person space. Maybe they aren’t capable of hearing you out because they’re so riled up? Or you need to keep yourself calm. Give the person space, take some breaths, then maybe you both can come back to the conversation level headed.


If you or someone you know are always defensive and triggered easily, please contact Crownview Medical Group to get in touch with a medical professional who can provide you with some advice on how to handle those situations.




Children with older mothers

Many young girls grow up aspiring to be mothers in their futures. Some of those girls dream of being young hip moms, diving into motherhood in their early adult years. Interestingly, we’ve seen an increase with women choosing to have children later in adulthood - 30’s/40’s. Even more interesting, we’re seeing strong evidence that children with older mothers have more positive outcomes.

What about the medical risks and concerns with having babies as an older woman? Fortunately, medical advances and technologies have made it safer for women who want to wait till their ready. With options such as in-vitro fertilization, egg freezing, frozen embryos, donor eggs and surrogates, women are able to have the option of focusing on careers, traveling, and soul searching in their youthful years.

Here’s some evidence that break the negative stereotypes of “older mothers” and highlights the more positive outcomes of their children:

According to a study from Sweden, “Advanced Maternal Age and Offspring Outcomes: Reproductive Aging and Counterbalancing Period Trends,” postponing pregnancy due to factors such as career opportunities, is actually associated with long term outcomes for children. When analyzing siblings raised in the same environment, it was noted that the sibling born when the mother was older turned out to be taller, performed better academically, more likely to attend university, and scored higher on standardized tests compared to other siblings. It was also discovered that countries where mothers were older actually had improved health and expanded educations.

“The Relationship Between Maternal Education and Children’s Academic Outcomes,” has found that because older mothers probably stayed in school longer (and just gaining more social experience over the years), they use a more extensive vocabulary. This influences children at a young age. This enriches the child’s language and cognitive skills.

A child’s achievement is also indirectly influenced by the parents’ education and family income through educational expectations and parenting. This is shown in encouraging reading, constructive playing, and emotional support.

Because mothers spent their early years focusing on meeting their career goals and saving money over the years, this allows parents to give more attention to children while providing a security and stability. Older parents are also more likely to be married.

Thanks to advances in healthcare and a more positive attitude towards exercise, older mothers are stretching their life expectancies. There’s a motherly phenomenon that prolongs the mother’s life to be there for the children. According to a study in Menopause Journal, women who had children after 33 are likely live to see 95.

Overall, children benefit more from mother’s who choose to wait till their ready. With age does come more life experience, understanding, maturity, and skills which influences parenting for the best.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with the stresses of parenthood and you live in the general San Diego area, please contact Crownview Medical; get in touch with a medical professional who will provide you with some advice.

Barclay, K. and Myrskyla, M. “Advanced Maternal Age and Offspring Outcomes: Reproductive Aging and Counterbalancing Period Trends.” Population and Development Review, 2016. doi: 10.1111/j.1728-4457.2016.00105.x

Davis-Kean, Pamela. “The Influence of Parent Education and Family Income on Child Achievement: The Indirect Role of Parental Expectations and the Home Environment.” Journal of Family Psychology, 2005. doi: 10.1037/0893-3200.19.2.294

Harding, Jessica F., Pamela A. Morris, and Diane Hughes. “The Relationship Between Maternal Education and Children’s Academic Outcomes: A Theoretical Framework.” Journal of Marriage and Family, February 2015. pp. 60-75.



Horticultural Therapy for Anxiety and Depression

Just looking out the window at a blooming garden may make you smile, but did you know that the garden might also play a role in helping you fight depression or anxiety? As far back as the 1800s, Dr. Benjamin Rush, known as the “father of American psychiatry,” apparently documented the positive effect that working in the garden had on mental illness.

Approximately 20 per cent of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness, such as anxiety or depression, during their lifetimes, says the Canadian Mental Health Association, but 49 per cent of those who feel they have experienced anxiety or depression have never sought a doctor’s aid, even though there is effective treatment available.

Today, one approach that is gaining currency is horticultural therapy (HT) and the related practice of therapeutic horticulture.

Horticultural therapy is defined as “a formal practice that uses plants, horticultural activities and the garden landscape to promote well-being for its participants. HT is goal oriented with defined outcomes and assessment procedures.”

The related practice of therapeutic horticulture (TH) “is the purposeful use of plants and plant-related activities to promote health and wellness for an individual or group. A TH program leader is trained to use horticulture to promote well-being but goals and outcomes for individual participants are not clinically documented.”

Gardening Reduces our Stress

It should probably come as no surprise that working in the garden can have benefits for mental health. After all, gardening in considered moderate exercise, and exercise increases our levels of serotonin and dopamine, the hormones that make us feel good, while it lowers our level of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress. Combining the actual work of gardening with guided, therapeutic conversation seems like a match that is tailor made for healing.

“Horticultural therapy as a treatment for many psychological and physical disorders is a valid and increasingly popular intervention,” Mitchell Hewson told USA Today.

“Horticultural therapy stimulates thought, exercises the body and encourages awareness of the external environment,” he added. “Moreover, the clients who have benefited from this type of therapy report a renewed desire to live, decreased anxiety and improved self worth.”

Gardening and PTSD

A study conducted by Ulrika Stigsdotter, a professor of landscape architecture at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and her colleagues and published online this year in Health Psychology Open, demonstrated that nature-based therapy also has a positive effect on war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Their thrice-weekly sessions lasted for 10 weeks and consisted of mindfulness activities, nature-based activities such as tree-planting or watering plants and individual therapy. “…It can be argued that the information from the interviews indicate that the NBA increased their belief in their own capacity and improved their thinking about themselves and their situation,” wrote the authors.

“The veterans experienced that their conditions and needs due to their PTSD could be remedied
by simply being in the garden, and by performing the nature-based activities. … One year after the nature-based therapy had ended, most of the veterans were still using nature and nature-based activities.”

“Just being in the garden is very peaceful and tranquil and is a wonderful stress reliever for clients and it enables them to make a positive contribution and put their worries aside as they really focus on gardening and growing their own food. It’s physically, mentally and emotionally rewarding,” Liz Kirk, the program co-ordinator told Inside Toronto. “I think being a part of something that’s productive and beautiful helps people to focus on their recovery and resilience; it’s something positive in their lives.”

Health Benefits of Gardening

Sarah Rayner, blogging for Psychology Today, suggests a number of ways that gardening can benefit our mental health:

1. We gain a sense of responsibility: “Having to care for plants is a good way to learn responsibility for other living things.”
2. We can be nurturing: “Horticulture is a great equalizer: plants don’t give a fig who is tending them and for those with mental health problems to be able to contribute to such a transformative activity can help boost self-esteem.”
3. We can relax and let go: “Tending to plants allows us to tap into the carefree part of ourselves with no deadlines, mortgage or annoying colleagues to worry about.”
4. We are reminded to live in the present: Gardens offer us beautiful sights and scents and remind us to be aware of the delights of the present moment, rather than dwelling on our worries.

So, if you’re feeling blue, seek out a horticultural therapy professional or take the smaller step of heading outdoors to pull some weeds.

Foods that improve your mood

Even though we might associate our moods with our minds, they can be influenced physically as well. I’m talking about filling our tanks with fuel. When our bodies are our vehicles, what’s better fuel than yummy nutrients? Vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients can bump up our energy levels and give us that mood boost we need. Happy bodies and brains make for a happy human. Think about that afternoon slump we get during the week. All we want is a nap and nothing to worry about. We could avoid that fatigue with food! I’m not talking coffee and candy. I mean sustainable nutrients. Not only can we pick ourselves up, but we can avoid the slump entirely but staying nourished by eating these mood boosting foods:


Salmon - This fish is jam packed with omega-3 fatty acids. Our brain loves omega-3’s! It gets the energy up and circulation moving through the brain. This specific nutrient is very beneficial for mood disorders such as bipolar and depression.


Banana - Rich in potassium and B vitamins, no wonder it’s one of the world’s best energy boosting foods. The carbs and vitamins in bananas also help you to feel full. It has a sustained release of energy and keeps blood sugar levels stable.


Coconut - These oils are full of medium chain triglycerides which is a kind of fat that turns into energy quickly. Fat turning into energy sounds way better than being stored.


Eggs - These little fragile things are packed with iron, protein, and B vitamins. B vitamins help turn food into energy.


Kale - This leafy green has gotten pretty popular in recent years. No wonder! It’s loaded with vitamins and minerals. It has copper, potassium, iron, and phosphorus! Interestingly enough, it’s recommended to eat cooked rather than raw. Shocker! This is because the body can digest and absorb these nutrients much easier when cooked.


Goji Berries - Chinese medicine has been using this these little berries for years to increase energy and enhance the release of hormones. They aid the body in handling stress and support mood, mind, and memory. Who doesn’t love berries?


Raw Cacao - Yeeesssss chocolate! Well don’t expect Hershey’s, this chocolate is a bit more bitter. However, this chocolate helps stop those sugar binges. It’s enough of a treat, but you only need a little. It’s full of iron and magnesium and charges up that energy. Make sure the cacao you're eating is at least 70 percent. The higher the percentage, the more nutrient dense it is.


If you’re interested in looking at your diet, investigating possible vitamin/mineral deficiencies,  and understanding your moods, please contact Crownview Medical Group to get in touch with a nutritionist and medical professional.






Setting personal boundaries

We hear a lot about saying “yes” more often as a way to open opportunity and step out of our comfort zone. That’s an awesome concept! However, it’s also healthy to say “no.” (Not to make this confusing for you.) Saying “yes” is a good way to broaden our experiences, but we need to set healthy boundaries for ourselves. That’s where the “no’s” are important. Setting boundaries can be a difficult thing, especially with our relationship, yet that’s where it matters the most. We need to set boundaries to protect us from unnecessary damaging stress and to allow ourselves to freedom to focus more energy on the things that energize us.


The first step to setting personal boundaries, is to practice tuning in to your intuition. We have to look into ourselves for guidance in determining if we should say “yes” or “no.” If we focus on the being in the moment, we’re able to feel our comfort and needs. It’s as if we have an internal compass within that either points to a “yes” or “no.” That’s what we need to look at. The struggle often times for most people is not being able to tune in to their intuition. They can’t find the answers within. This usually happens when we start to argue or reason with our voice within. We know what our internal voice says, but because we add to that or second guess it, then we become confused.


When we start listening to ourselves and say “yes” and “no,” we might experience some resistance. Others may get angry or disappointed by that boundary. We need to learn how to tolerate the responses of others. We need to stay firm and maintain the boundaries we set. Even though they may react that way, setting boundaries actually helps to improve our relationships in the long run. Don’t bring down your boundaries in fear of someone else’s reaction. That only leads to bitterness and resentment which worsens the relationship in the future. Plus, you want to surround yourself with people who respect your boundaries even if they’re unhappy with it.


When we start to care more about someone else’s reaction, we’re caring more about them than ourselves. And yes, it’s important to care about others and share compassion, but we should be willing to do the same for ourselves. The boundaries we set are types of self care and compassion, which is critical. Set time aside for yourself. To focus on self care and enriching the soul. Cook a good meal, take a bubble bath, light candles, read a book, get a manicure, do yoga, go for a walk. These are all examples of setting time aside for self care. Hold yourself accountable to these times, schedule dates with yourself. This helps us to be more in touch with ourselves and that inner compass.


If you are interested in exploring your boundaries more or learning how to be more fearless of other’s reactions, please contact Crownview Medical Group to get in touch with a medical professional who can help you based on your individual needs.




How to triumph over adversity

Times get hard, not going to lie. However, it gets hard for everyone. So if everyone has trials and tribulations, why do some people thrive while others get dragged down? When we look at athletes, they’re faced with some of the same adversities such as injuries or losing a game. But why do some athletes keep pushing to improve while others get down on themselves and quit? That difference is what makes a champion. Yes, talent and skill have a big part in the game, but attitude and resilience is what sets them apart from the rest. They’re able to find motivation and purpose in adversity. It doesn’t stop them, they push harder. Here’s how to face adversity, get unstuck, and work harder like a champion:


  1. Just get up - Sometimes just standing up and moving around can bring motivation. It’s easy to sink into depression or laziness while lying down. Just get up, walk outside, and take a few deep breaths. Changing your scenery alone can be motivating.


  1. Work in intervals - Research says that only stay focused for 20 minutes at a time. Don’t make work feel exhausting and forceful. Work for 20 minutes then take a break and jump back to it. We can see more productivity in high focused chunks.


  1. Find gratitude - Sometimes when we feel stuck or depressed, instead of complaining or whiny, let’s not fuss over the little things. Let’s look for the little things to be grateful for. This makes situations lighter and actually shifts our perspectives, pulling us out of that negative downward spiral. Usually when something is going wrong, we zoom in on that one thing, forgetting the gazillion great things that are happening at the same time. If you’re struggling with this, in the moment of stress, just blurt something out.


  1. Get over yourself - Yes, there are hassles in our days, but they’re all things we can handle. Sometimes you really just need to get over yourself and shift your perspective. Things happen, just deal with it and move on. Having that kind of attitude keeps things light and stops them from dragging you down, while giving you energy of putting something into action.


  1. Look forward to something - When we have something to look forward to, it motivates us to work our way towards it. Keep your eye on the prize.


Whatever you do, just don’t stay stuck. Get unstuck. Free yourself into progress and productivity in reaching your goals and ultimate satisfaction in life. If you think you need help getting unstuck, please contact Crownview Medical Group and get in touch with a medical professional who can help you reach your truest potential.




Can anger be good?

We can unanimously agree that we all want to be happy. That’s what we strive for in life - making ourselves and others happy. No one likes being angry, infact we try to avoid getting upset or making others angry. What if anger turned out to be a good thing, would you believe it? Really, can anger be good? Yes it can! And here’s how:


  1. Anger shows us our needs and limits - When things make us happy, it’s easy to learn what makes us feel good. But how do we know what makes us feel not so good? Anger is that alert. Anger tells us what sets us on fire and gets us worked up. It also lets us know when we’re spreading ourselves too thin or how much overwhelms us. It can show us how much we can handle.


  1. Anger helps us to set our boundaries - We’ve talked about the importance of setting personal boundaries. Anger helps us to identify where we draw those boundaries. If you get anxious to see your parents because you know they’re going to ask when you’re getting married or if you’re going to get a better job, that’s anger signalling something to us. It’s telling you it’s time to talk with your parents and draw a line, asking them to please not ask those questions anymore.


  1. Anger can turn into motivation - Does it make you angry when your boss doesn’t appreciate your hard work? Or maybe you didn’t perform your best in that game? That anger can be turned into motivation that can propel towards a greater reward. If inequality or gender wage gap upsets you, turn that anger into motivation to get involved in politics or your community.


  1. Anger can strengthen our relationships (believe it or not) - This might come as a shocker to some people because no one likes being angry at their partner or their partner being angry with them. Here’s how it’s helpful to us; in conflicts and disagreements, we learn more about our partners (they’re needs, boundaries, desires). When we learn those things and agree to have an equally respectful relationship, we’re able to compromise and grow together, seeing things from the other’s perspective.


When we’re avoiding anger or being afraid of someone else being angry, sometimes this commits us to inaction. Anger helps us to broaden our perspectives and grow. Of course, we need to remember there’s healthy anger and unhealthy anger. We aren’t encouraging rage. Let your emotions and the emotions of others speak.

If you’re struggling with controlling your anger in a healthy way or struggling handling someone else’s anger, please contact Crownview Medical Group and get in touch with a medical professional who can guide you.




Child brains and screen time

Every kid can be bribed with an iPad. They go crazy for screen time. Or maybe it’s the screen time that’s making them crazy. Kids as young as two years old are navigating through apps, playing games, and taking selfies. The US Department of Health and Human Services estimates that American children spend seven hours a day in front of electronic media. That’s almost an entire work or school day! There’s a number of troubling studies that reveal a delayed cognitive develop in kids, even though it seems like technology use is making them smarter.


Dr. Aric Sigman, an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society and a Fellow of Britain’s Royal Society of Medicine, said when a young child gets hooked on electronic media, it actually does damage to their developing brain. It actually has a counterproductive to what the proud parents are trying to foster in their kids: the ability to focus, to concentrate, to lend attention, to sense other people’s attitudes and communicate with them, to build a large vocabulary—all those abilities are harmed. When parents view technology as something “smart,” they’re proud of their children for being capable of using a device. However, it’s doing more harm than good.


Between birth and the age of 3, that’s considered a critical period for developing brains. This is when a permanent foundation is set for later brain functioning. A child’s neural networks are developed by picking up specific stimuli from the outside world. Unfortunately, this stimuli can’t be found in a tablet, hence stunting the child’s development. If damage occurs during the crucial years, the effects can last forever.


Devices are an easy shortcut for parents. It gives them a break and keeps the child occupied/entertained/”learning.” However, by allowing your device to tell your child a bedtime story instead of them hearing your own voice, there’s other elements to that interaction that are crucial for development that are being left out. Human interaction is the only way to teach children nonverbal cues such as facial expression, tone of voice, and more. When that part of the brain doesn't develop in the years it should, child struggle with social interaction and making friends.


The immediate stimuli and response children are used to getting on electronic devices are not the same in real life. They become addicted to the high stimulus from experiencing the hits of dopamine they get when they swipe the screen and see a photo with bright colors. This is a pattern that resembles the dangerous cycle medical professionals see in drug and alcohol addicts.


If you think your child might be addicted to electronic media, please contact Crownview Medical Group to get in touch with a medical professional who can provide advice based on your child’s individual needs.