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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Stay Healthy with Good Humor

By Beth Healey, Director of Development and Marketing

“Good humor is a tonic for mind and body. It is the best antidote for anxiety and depression. It is a business asset. It attracts and keep friends. It lightens human burdens. It is the direct route to serenity and contentment.” - Greenville Kleisser

I met my lifelong friend, Joyce, when we were both in the third grade. Although our personalities could not have been more different—I was very shy and never broke rules; she was very outspoken and loved to challenge rules—we developed a friendship that has lasted for decades. Even though many years often passed when we didn't see one another, our friendship remains as strong today as it ever was.
Both Joyce and I experienced difficult childhoods. I have expressed many times that if it hadn’t been for our friendship, I probably would have never laughed during those years. She had—and still has—a very unique way of making me laugh. I mean the kind of intense laughter that causes tears to stream down my face.

When we get together, our conversations last for hours. As friends do, we talk about everything. But the one thing all of our conversations include is crazy, fun, healthy humor. I always feel refreshed and uplifted after spending time with her. But most of all, I feel very blessed to have her in my life.

Having the gift of good humor has made all the difference for me. I cannot imagine an existence without it. This I can tell you with complete certainty: humor and laughter are essential in life. If you’re missing good humor, find it. Share it. And cherish it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

What are Children 3X More Likely to Experience than Adults?
Beth Healey, Director of Development and Marketing, Samaritan Counseling Center
I try to focus on the good things in life…maintaining a positive attitude…spreading happiness and encouragement to others. However, none of us—including myself—can afford to ignore the horrendous wrongdoings in the world—one of them being child sexual abuse. The disturbing facts:
  • One in four girls and one in six boys under the age of 18 experience child sexual abuse in the United States
  • Children are three times more likely to be raped than adults.
  • It is more likely for a child to experience sexual abuse by a family member or other "supposedly" trusted adult than by a stranger.
Despite stricter reporting mandates, laws and heightened awareness (often brought about by shockers like the Jerry Sandusky horror story), this repulsive criminal act continues to occur. Right in our own families, neighborhoods, schools—and even in our churches. Chances are, you know someone who was sexually abused as a child. (I have a friend whose abuse began when she was a toddler. A toddler!)

The damage done by sexual abuse extends far beyond the physical effects—and well beyond childhood. Those who suffersexual abuse as children often experience the following as adults:
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Substance abuse
  • Other mental and emotional disorders
Without help and healing, a victim of child sexual abuse can face a lifetime of pain. So, if we’re not turning a deaf ear to this problem, what can we do?

Here are just a few ways to help prevent and address child sexual abuse:
  • Learn to recognize the signs that
-        a child may be the victim of sexual abuse
-     another child or an adult may be at-risk for harming a child
  • Report abuse to the authorities
  • Encourage survivors to seek professional counseling
  • Learn how to protect your own children; help them set healthy boundaries, etc.
  • Become involved in a prevention program
What, specifically, can churches do to help prevent and address the sexual abuse of children?
The answer is: a lot! The SafeChurch program is sweeping the nation, empowering hundreds of churches to play a key role in ending this epidemic. Here in Western Pennsylvania, SafeChurch training was initiated this past year by the Samaritan Counseling Center and Pittsburgh Pastoral Institute. To date, over 40 representatives from 11 area churches are engaged in this training.

SafeChurch training is set to begin again in the summer of 2016. For more information, contact bhealey@samaritancounseling.net.
Are you or someone you know a survivor of sexual abuse?
If so, please get professional help if you haven’t already done so. Call the Samaritan Counseling Center at 412-741-7430. Most counseling services are covered by health insurance. If you do not have insurance or cannot afford counseling, you may qualify for subsidies from Samaritan’s Client Aid Fund. You deserve hope, healing and happiness. Learn more at www.samaritancounseling.net

Helpful Articles and Resources



Pittsburgh Action Against Rape
81 South 19th Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15203
(866) 363-7273

 The Center for Victims
5916 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
(412) 392-8582

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

'Tis the Season to be Healthy

Healthy Eating over the Holidays
by Hannah Perry
Is that an oxymoron? Is this the time to splurge with your calorie counting and exercising and give in to the rich foods and sweets of the season? Well, before you say, “sure, why not!?” please consider your stress level.

As you know, the holidays can be a very stressful time. According to “The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale”, which is a tool that helps us measure the stress load we carry, Christmas alone adds stress. Then, there are the changes in eating and sleeping habits, social activities, the number of family get-togethers, arguments with your spouse and trouble with the in-laws...these are all items outlined on the stress scale that come with the holidays!

One way to manage stress is through healthy eating and exercise. This is the time of year we drink extra hot chocolate and eat too many cookies and fattening foods--and then, we all say “ho ho ho” and pass the eggnog! Yet, it should be the time of year we are most aware of our eating habits. I’m not saying you should insult Grandma by turning down her famous triple chocolate pudding cake. But, there are some tangible ways we can manage our health and wellness and in turn, our stress:

-        Before You Splurge...OK, eat grandma’s cake, but before you bite into your second slice, pause and eat a carrot, some celery, a piece of fruit or other healthy snack. . . You may find out that you’re no longer hungry for that extra slice after all.

-        Switch It Up. Instead of drinking that vanilla latté every morning, when you know you’re going to end up drinking eggnog at the holiday party that evening, make a switch. Switch the morning fat and sugar of the latté for an herbal tea and enjoy that eggnog later.

-        Appreciate Your Food. Concentrate on each bite and flavor of the food in front of you. This will help you to eat slower and appreciate what you’ve been given. It’s also the best time to pass on the manufactured food and savor the homemade goodness of local establishments.

-        Save It! Growing up with a dentist for a father during the holiday season we were bombarded with sweets and treats from patients (yes, even dentists' families eat sweets) which meant there was ALWAYS something around to eat. My mom started freezing some of the treats and saving them for later days to minimize our intake and the need to eat it all  before it went bad. By eliminating the presence of the treats we stopped reaching for them.

The best way to eat healthier over the holidays is to be aware of your weaknesses and use the tips above to tame the desire. Of course it’s not always that simple…but avoiding that sugar hangover you’ll have the next morning may very well be worth it!