Review: Healthy Self for Healthy Communication: Improving Our Effectiveness

By Rachel Cansler, AWCSB Intern

How does health impact our effectiveness to become better communicators?  This question was answered by an expert panel presenting on February 1 at AWCSB’s bi-monthly meeting.  Making up the panel were Dr. Ellie Corigliano, local private practice owner; Dr. Noemi “Mimi” Doohan, founder and Medical Director of Doctors Without Walls-Santa Barbara Street Medicine; Dr. Kathy Gruver , author of The Alternative Medicine Cabinet and local natural health and medical massage practitioner; and Dr. Lynn K. Jones, personal and executive coach and AWC-SB’s own president.  The panel was moderated by board member Karen O’Hara, who guided the discussion with questions about the stresses women face and must overcome for their own well-being.

feb 1 health panel

O’Hara asked the panelists what they believed to be the biggest challenge women and students face in the field of communications.  Dr. Doohan replied that achieving balance and having courage were the foremost, advising women to “be comfortable with the uncomfortable.”  Building on this, Dr. Gruver suggested that women with strong, “type A” personalities struggle with balance, because of their willingness to help and heal others while sometimes ignoring their own needs. Dr. Doohan agreed and further suggested that by maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, lowering our stress level, finding and enjoying love, and working through cognitive challenges, women can achieve balance and gain control of themselves.  The “super woman complex,” as Dr. Corigliano phrased it, drives women to reach far beyond any limitations and to put their all into everything they do.  She advised the crowd that we need to strive for what we need but also say no to the things we don’t want; this way we will avoid regret and still be a “super woman.”  Dr. Jones explained that women don’t always have the time to balance it all, even if they could.  She added that women tend to weigh the positives and negatives of their accomplishments, and focus only on the negatives and those achievements they have yet to attain, which can hinder their success and effectiveness.

The discussion shifted to some biological concerns when O’Hara asked the panelists what they recommended for screening and relieving pre- and post-menopause symptoms.  Dr. Corigliano reported that women are having problems with PMS at a younger and younger age, and it would be better, she advised, for younger women to avoid the standard solution of going on birth control.  Dr. Gruver informed the group that women’s magnesium levels drop during PMS, which causes some of these issues to surface and why we crave chocolate and other substances high in magnesium during this time.  She advised introducing B vitamins into our daily regimen can help suppress those unwanted symptoms and mood swings. Dr. Doohan added that because health care is so convoluted in its current state, we should be aware and ask our doctors about the risks and benefits of procedures taken in patient care situations.

In recommending how women can lower their stress levels, Dr. Corigliano emphasized that women should not be running themselves into the ground or waiting until their body is “screaming” at them to lower their levels of stress. She suggested getting into a strict vitamin regimen to help with metabolism, doing deep breathing exercises throughout the day, going outside and walking into nature, and simply taking action on what we truly need to get done each day.  Dr. Jones added that working hard during our peak times and allowing ourselves to recoup during the low points of each day (during the later afternoon), can help us maintain a healthy energy level.  Dr. Gruver stressed the importance of being up to date with medical research and taking supplements like Omega 3s into our diets.  All panelists agreed that touch, even a little hug, can be a huge help when our hormones seem unbalanced.

As the night wrapped up, the panelists gave their final recommendations for how we can become healthy and increase our effectiveness.  Dr. Jones suggested that taking the time each night to reflect on the things you did well and accomplished that day can increase positivity in the mind, body, and spirit.  Circular living, or converging the things you want to get done with your actions everyday, is a great way to achieve lower stress and increase productivity.  Lastly, Dr. Gruver left us with essential advice: eat well, think positively, and continue educating those around us as we move forward in life.

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