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Archive for the ‘Tips for Healthy Living’ Category

Worried About Finances During this Pandemic?

Monday, March 23, 2020 @ 02:03 AM  posted by Dr. Siders

Financial stress is a common contributor to overall stress, depression, and anxiety, and it is something we definitely don’t need during this pandemic. But it’s unavoidable when some of us have been laid off or have lost freelance work. This is far from a comprehensive list, but it should get you started thinking about solutions and focusing on your goals rather than your fear.

Help in California

If you’re in California, it’s good to be aware of the new rules around government assistance during the pandemic.

I know some of you are thinking you don’t want “handouts.” But keep in mind that your taxes pay for this assistance and some of this assistance is actually structured like insurance… you pay in so that later, if you need it, it will pay you. If you were paying for health insurance and had to go to the hospital, would you decide to not use the insurance you paid for to pay the hospital?  Probably not.  So why deny yourself the unemployment insurance you’ve already paid for?  Decide to use the assistance available to you, and decide early, since applications may take a while to process.

Banding Together

Also, many companies and other groups are banding together to try to help people who are losing work. For example, guilds, charities, and other organizations have been raising money specifically for pandemic assistance, so please check their Web sites and social media for helpful options. We’ve heard of funds for Hollywood assistants, certain stadium workers, Amazon vendors, and so on. Various companies and philanthropists are also donating to community social support. One fund is being set up for daycare assistance for healthcare workers. Some guilds are discussing extending health care benefits for those who may no longer qualify for their guild’s insurance. Check social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), organization Web sites, and local Chamber of Commerce and government Web sites to see if any programs apply to you.

What about Freelancers?

There is a collection of resources for freelancers here:

Additional Work

Now is not the time to be picky about finding jobs. Be safe, but not picky. Check the usual job Web sites for work-from-home and delivery jobs. Not every company is experiencing a downturn. For example, Amazon is advertising that it needs help (and reportedly has some work-from-home jobs).


To help your dollars stretch farther, consider calling and negotiating with the companies you currently purchase from and suspending or cancelling non-essential services, like entertainment or subscriptions. While this may be hard when you are stuck at home with little to do, you can entertain yourself creatively. You may also be able to negotiate lower rates with various companies if you let them know you have been impacted financially. Or just because market rates are lower than what you are currently paying.  A while back, I noticed a lot of companies offering cellular phone service cheaper than mine, so I called my cell phone company to ask about switching to a different company.  To keep me, they cut my plan rate almost in half.

This type of negotiation is not charity.  This is part of doing business.  Many businesses will lose customers during the pandemic due to financial strain.  Some of them would rather work with you than lose you as a customer as well.  Your willingness to negotiate instead of outright cancel will likely help the business rather than hurt it.

So far, we’ve heard (unconfirmed) that Honda has already set up a program to suspend car payments for a few months during the pandemic. Also, many Anthem Blue Cross plans in California seem to be waiving member copays for telehealth services. So contacting these companies is worth a try.

Get creative, be well, try to stay positive, and if you have more resources to share, please post them in the comments below!

Want to Improve Your Mental Health? Volunteer!

Thursday, June 6, 2019 @ 07:06 PM  posted by Dr. Siders

Does volunteering sound stressful?  Think again!  There are so many reasons why volunteering can help improve a person’s mental health. For starters, just getting out of the house can boost your mood. So can hanging out with other people, especially when you’re making lasting social connections. Volunteering also gets your mind on something else besides your problems and anxiety.

For more information about the possible benefits of volunteering, check out this article:

At a loss for where to volunteer? Here are some ideas!

  • Check with your local Chamber of Commerce, such as the Sherman Oaks Chamber of Commerce.
  • Check Web sites that match volunteers with opportunities, such as (note: these Web sites may gather personal information like your e-mail address, so please be cautious.)
  • Google it! Use Google to search for volunteer opportunities in your area or regarding topics you’re interested in. For example, if you like horses, try Googling “horse volunteer MyCity.”
  • You can also search Yelp listings for your area.
  • Check Web sites of your favorite organizations for volunteer opportunities. Think about those that you admire or donate to. What causes are important to you?
  • Look for upcoming events in your city. Many events rely on volunteers, including concerts, street fairs, and school events.
  • Ask around. Check with friends and in online forums for places they like to volunteer and for suggestions suited to you. Are you part of a Facebook, Google, or Yahoo group? Your fellow group mates may be able to help.
  • Check with your church, synagogue, mosque, guild, or other community organization.

Where do you like to volunteer?  How does volunteering improve your mental health?  Feel free to comment below!

Want another boost? Play a video game!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018 @ 08:08 AM  posted by Dr. Siders

My last blog talked about how reading is generally good for you. Even reading fiction.  But what about playing video games?

An article in Reader’s Digest summarizes some of the beneficial effects video games can have on your health.  Unfortunately, it’s titled, “8 Reasons Video Games Might Just Be Better for You Than Books,” and many of the studies don’t actually compare playing video games to reading books.  I’ll chalk that up to Reader’s Digest trying to create a click-bait title and excusing itself by using the “might just” phrasing.  (The click bait worked for me; I did click on it, after all.)

While I don’t have access to all of the studies cited and can’t comment on their validity, many of their findings make sense.  Often for the same reasons reading fiction can be good for your mental health.

In case you need a reason to justify taking a break and playing a video game, check out the Reader’s Digest article below.

Just keep in mind a few things:

  • For optimal health benefits, use common sense and moderation.  Spending too much time playing games can cause problems for some people, including eye strain, tendinitis, and consequences resulting from shirking certain responsibilities.
  • Some benefits in the article call for specific types of games, such as ones that are “visual-heavy” like Tetris.
  • Your mileage may vary.  If you find a game frustrates you rather than makes you happy, try other games.

Here’s the article!  Enjoy!

And in case you’re wondering whether reading fiction is good for you, here’s my blog about an article discussing the health benefits of reading.

Want a boost? Read a book!

Saturday, July 28, 2018 @ 09:07 AM  posted by Dr. Siders

It’s probably no surprise that reading is generally good for you. But what about reading fiction?

This article doesn’t go into the research in depth, but it does contain some surprising research facts about the benefits of reading, including comparing reading fiction to reading non-fiction. (Hint: fiction has benefits!)

Read the news article to encourage yourself to read more books!

Online Mental Health Screenings

Wednesday, April 18, 2018 @ 09:04 AM  posted by Dr. Siders

There are many online tests out there, including mental health screenings.  Some online mental health screenings are meant to sell you things.  Not necessarily bad things.  For example, some online memory tests are designed to sell you brain training software, some of which may assist people with retaining brain capabilities as they age.

Other online screenings are meant to expose you to advertising.  Still others just want to make you aware of a condition and its symptoms.  While the latter is a good goal, it’s important to remember that online screening tools are no substitute for seeing your doctor, psychologist, or neuropsychologist.  If you’re having any sort of symptoms, seek medical help.

Still, since screenings can be educational, and scoring an interesting result on an online screening can encourage people to see their doctors, psychologists, or neuropsychologists for professional screening, I’m posting this link to Mental Health America’s online screenings.  They include screenings for:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Psychosis
  • Eating Disorder
  • PTSD
  • Alcohol and Substance Use
  • Childhood Emotional Disturbances

Please use these screenings responsibly and do not assume that if you score well on a screening that you do not need to speak to a professional.  If you have any questions, please see a professional.

Finding out you have a mental health issue may seem scary at first, but it is better to find out early, so you can get help early.  Often doctors and psychologists can help prevent a condition from stopping you from reaching your true potential in life.

Check out the screenings here:

Kick Your Mental Health Up a Notch

Tuesday, March 27, 2018 @ 08:03 AM  posted by Dr. Siders

If you read through my blogs, you’ll find various tips for improving your mental health.  Things like:

But these tips are all inside articles dealing with other, more specific topics.  I’ve been wanting to take some time to add more tips to help people cultivate mental health in general.  Some of these tips may seem like common sense to some people, but for others, they might be surprising.  For example:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Spend time with friends often.  A strong social support network (in person, not in social media) has been shown to boost mental health
  • Take breaks regularly to refresh your mind
  • Do a hobby or something else you enjoy at least once a week
  • Take time to enjoy small moments, or “live in the moment”

Tips  like that.  Helpful reminders.  And then I saw this article, which does a great job of summarizing many ideas for encouraging mental health.   So I thought I’d share it.  I hope you enjoy it!

A Link Between Alzheimer’s Disease and Sugar?

Saturday, January 27, 2018 @ 07:01 PM  posted by Dr. Siders

As you begin working on your goals for the new year, consider making healthy changes to your diet.  For many people in America, reducing sugar and simple carbohydrates is a good idea.  Here’s another reason why.  Studies suggest there may be a link between Alzheimer’s disease and the way our bodies process sugar and simple carbohydrates.  For some motivation to eat healthier, take a look at this article:

If you are serious about changing your diet, consider these helpful tips:

1. Instead of trying to cut something completely out of your diet, replace undesired components with desired ones.  For example, instead of avoiding pasta, try eating “pasta” sliced from fresh vegetables, like curls of squash.

2. Experiment with “paleo” recipes to substitute good fats for carbs.

3. Make small changes that you can continue for the long term.  Attempts to make radical changes to your diet are more likely to only last a short time.

Happy new year!  I hope the changes you make help you feel your personal best!