Heather Boerner

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Mental Health

Freelance health writer Heather Boerne writes about body image, making families healthier, stress management, parenting, navigating the healthcare system and the effect of severe mental illnesses on families. Find what you’re looking for faster searching the site.

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“Positively Healing: Yoga helps HIV patients strengthen their immune systems and their spirits”
Yoga Journal, 06.09

Ken Lowstetter considers it nothing short of miraculous that he has lived nearly half of his 48 years with HIV when many of his friends who also had the human immunodeficiency virus have died from AIDS. When he received his diagnosis in 1985, he didn’t think he’d last the year. After he progressed to AIDS, the late stage of the HIV disease, in 1995, he had to adjust to having less energy and new health risks, but he remained optimistic. He attributes his longevity and hopeful attitude to a combination of antiretroviral medications and his 15-year yoga practice, which relies heavily on poses such as Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand) and Matsyasana (Fish Pose).
“Drugs, I believe, are keeping me alive. But yoga,” he says, “keeps my spirit alive.”
Download a PDF of this article here.

“Five Threats to your Job-Hunting Stamina”
Yahoo! Hot Jobs, 04.09
Marathon runners know that the key to crossing the finish line first isn't brute strength but stamina. The same goes for the job hunt.
"A job search is always a mind game," says independent career counselor Cathy Severson of Santa Barbara, California. "You don't know if this is going to be a sprint or a marathon. Assume it will be a marathon, and you'll be pleasantly surprised if it's a sprint."
But it's easy to lose stamina -- and motivation -- especially in this economy. Watch for these stamina killers and their solutions.
Read the full article here.
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“Think About It: Meditation can help your brain work more efficiently”
Yoga Journal, 03.09
Sitting in meditation can be challenging. You might feel anxious to get back to your busy day. Your mind wanders. Your foot falls asleep. But consider this: A regular meditation practice can make your brain work better.
Download a PDF of this article here.

“Moments of Lucidity: Why do people with mental illness have good days and bad ones?”
APA Monitor on Psychology, 11.08
Some days, Lisa Halpern can get quite a fright from a soccer ball. Other days, an empty grocery aisle sends her leaping behind displays.
But Halpern isn't baffled by such experiences; she's prepared. She asks herself: Is that really a skull or will it turn into a soccer ball when I glance back at it? Is the person in the grocery aisle someone I should avoid or just a shadow on the floor?
Halpern, who has undergraduate and graduate degrees in public policy from Duke and Harvard universities, knows her brain plays tricks on her. She has schizophrenia. And she's learned that monitoring her reactions can tell her if she's getting worse.
"It's my way of trying to piece together a barometer of my health," she says. "If it takes me a half an hour to notice that the skull is really a soccer ball, then my brain health is not doing that well. If it takes a split second, my brain health is doing pretty well."
She pauses and adds thoughtfully, "After all, everyone mistakes what they see every now and then."
It's true; everyone has good days and bad. But new research is explaining why people with conditions such as schizophrenia, traumatic brain injury, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and dementia may have more extreme inconsistencies. The explanation is rooted in the fact that all these disorders are linked to damage in the frontal lobe. Psychologists are discovering what Halpern already knows intuitively: Wide swings in thought and perception may foreshadow worsening symptoms or even a psychotic episode.
Read the full article here.
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“Avoiding Compassion Fatigue at Work”
Yahoo! Hot Jobs, 05.08
If you're a teacher, social worker, police officer, nurse, therapist, or even a newspaper
reporter -- any job where you talk to traumatized people every day -- you could be at risk for compassion fatigue. And it could be keeping you from helping others and excelling at your job.
People with compassion fatigue love their jobs, but they start to feel just as traumatized as the people they serve. Symptoms include bad dreams, stomach aches, insomnia, withdrawal, and feelings of inadequacy.
"You can become so walled off (to your client's trauma) that you end up missing a lot of signs for help on the part of the people you're serving," said Charles Figley, author of "Treating Compassion Fatigue." "Or you become so overwhelmed by feelings that the people you serve begin to attend to you. Either way, you're less effective in your job."
The good news is that you don't have to quit your job to recover.
Read the full article here.
Download a PDF of this article here.

“Lighten Up: When winter’s gloom darkens your mood, yoga can brighten your days”
Yoga Journal, 01.08
During much of the year, Becky Hahn cheerfully heads to her yoga mat in the morning, enjoying the deep breaths and Sun Salutations that leave her body humming.
But in the wintertime, it’s a different story. From mid-October through April, Hahn feels mentally and physically drained. She struggles to get out of bed in the morning, withdraws from family and friends, and has a tough time coping with unexpected obstacles.
Sometimes she has to drag herself to her mat, but the 26-year-old Pennsylvania resident makes sure not to miss her practice. Her regular yoga sessions make her seasonal depression manageable. When she started doing yoga five years ago, the change in her mood took a few weeks. But once she started feeling an effect, she said, “The sunshine was back.”
Read the full article here.
Download a PDF of this article here.

“Do You Really Deserve That Job?”
Yahoo! Hot Jobs, 01.08
Applying for your dream job is a thrilling prospect. But if you're like 70 percent of Americans, you may feel like you don't deserve to get that dream job. The application process could make you feel, ironically, like a fraud.
"People who identify with the 'impostor syndrome' feel they've somehow 'fooled' others into thinking they're smarter and more capable than they believe themselves to be," says Valerie Young, who does workshops on the syndrome. "They have a skewed definition of competence. As a result, they hold back and don't go after that killer job they really want."
But the impostor syndrome doesn't have to handicap your chances to advance. Instead, consider these tips to have -- and enjoy -- the career of your dreams.
Read the full article here.
Download a PDF of this article here.

“Get Smart: Alternative treatments for focus and memory”
Yoga Journal, 10.07
Intense focus may come easily on the yoga mat—but what about on the job? Jay Lombard, chief of neurology at Bronx Lebanon Hospital and author of The Brain Wellness Plan: Breakthrough Medical, Nutritional and Immune-Boosting Therapies, says mental focus (and good memory) requires healthy neurotransmitters and a calm emotional state.
Here are some herbs that may help keep you at your mental peak.
Read the full article here.
Download a PDF of this article here.

“Stop the Gossip, Save Your Career”
Yahoo! Hot Jobs, 10.07
Getting ahead at work may hinge on resisting the urge to spread the latest news about your coworkers.
"You may think gossip is harmless, but you might just be shooting yourself in the foot as far as your credibility goes," said Rachel Weingarten, author of "Career and Corporate Cool: How to Look, Dress and Act the Part at Every Stage of Your Career." She continues, "Let your work speak for itself. You don't need to be the one making yourself look better by talking down someone else."
Read the full story here.
Download a PDF of this article here.

“Four Steps to Better Workplace Boundaries”
Yahoo! Hot Jobs, 09.07
Want to advance your career? Saying "no" may be the key.
"It's wonderful to be the go-to person to a point -- until you find you're totally overwhelmed, exhausted, resentful and in a time crunch," said Susan Newman, author of "The Book of No: 250 Ways to Say It -- And Mean It and Stop People-Pleasing Forever." "Setting workplace boundaries means you will be doing better work and not spreading yourself all over the lot."
Here's how to get there.
Read the full story here.
Download a PDF of this article here.

“Homophobic Bullying”
teenwire.com, 07.24.07
Homophobic bullying can be anything from teasing people for being gay or for being perceived as gay to calling them anti-gay names, even in jest, to spreading rumors about people's sexual orientation for the purpose of making fun of them to hitting, throwing rocks at, and isolating people who are believed to be gay.
According to a study in the Journal of Early Adolescence, such behavior is more than just a joke — it can have some serious, negative health effects for the people who go through it. Like Kayla, people who experience homophobic bullying are more likely to become depressed, anxious, feel like they don't belong, and to withdraw from their social circles.
Read the full story here.
Download a PDF of this article here.

“A Questioning Mind: The questions Deborah Tolman asked have changed the way people think about teenage girls and sexuality”
SFSU Magazine, Spring.07
Professor Deborah Tolman uses her hands as she talks, sweeping them up in an imaginary bell curve. She is mapping the way teen girls behave and think about their sexuality. The ends of that curve, where teens are either more chaste or more aggressive, are getting longer, she says, “as if someone has grabbed them and pulled them out a bit. But for the vast middle, my sense is that it’s still a minefield, and girls are still not entitled to their own sexuality.”
As the director of the San Francisco state center for Research on Gender and Sexuality, Tolman is one of the country’s preeminent experts on teenage sexuality and sexual health. From the classroom to the set of ABC’s “Nightline,” she challenges commonly held beliefs on these subjects and asks thought-provoking questions. “We only know what we ask,” she says. “The tagline of our center is, ‘Producing new knowledge to advance social justice and social change.’ But I’m thinking that ‘Asking new questions to advance social justice and social change’ is more accurate.”
Read the full story here.
Download a PDF of this article here.

“Are You a Supergirl?”
teenwire.com, 03.27.07
Sixteen-year-old Maggie (not her real name) plays soccer and the piano, gets nearly straight-A's in her honors classes, tutors other kids, has a part-time job, is a member of her student government, and participates in an after-school peer counseling program. She's also thinking ahead to getting into a good college like UC Berkeley.
It's a lot of pressure, admits Maggie, who lives in Castro Valley, California. Most of it, she says, comes from herself. Her parents support whatever she wants to do "as long as it's positive." Still, all this positive stuff takes its toll on Maggie and she says sometimes she loses perspective.
A recent survey from the national nonprofit organization, Girls Incorporated, found that girls are getting pressure at younger and younger ages "to be everything to everyone all of the time."
Download a PDF of this article here.

“Eat Taste, Feel: Teaching your kids (and yourself) the ABCs of mindful eating.”
Alternative Medicine Magazine, 01.07
Finishing her vegetables is the least of Tina Daniel’s problems. An adventurous eater, Daniel loves everything from brussel sprouts to sushi to corn chips. But she also loves lots of all that food, and that worries her mother, Angie.
“As a baby, she would eat until she threw up if I let her. She doesn’t recognize feelings of fullness,” Angie says. “As she's getting older, she’s really conscious of how different she looks from other girls and is comparing herself to them. She's starting to get upset.”
The solution starts with your child's mind, not mouth.
Download a PDF of this article here.

“All in Your Mind: How to Develop a Healthy Body Image”
Ikana Media, 05.06
Article available upon request

“Passing on the Love: Teaching Your Child to Love Her Body”
Ikana Media, 05.06
Article available upon request

“Find The Right Therapist for You”
Ikana Media, 11.05
Article available upon request

“Eight Great Ways to Put a Lid on Stress”
Ikana Media, 09.05
Article available upon request

“Short, Terrifying Fight with Mental Illness Ends with Death, Hope”
Santa Cruz Sentinel, 05.08.04
When, as a teenager, Kelsey Wilshusen Pfotenhauer told her parents she didn’t like strangers, they couldn’t have known her nervousness would blossom into overwhelming anxiety and delusions and eventually lead her to kill herself at Four Mile Beach earlier this week.
Read the full article here.
Download a PDF of this article here.

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Writing with a human face