Holiday Nutritional Tips for Your Body & Mind

As we close in on the last couple of holidays for the year, and all our favorite traditions, temptations of holiday treats can be trying even for those who have a good deal of willpower. The Average American gain about 7-8 pounds during the holiday seasons…… BUT, there are ways to savor festive flavors and enjoy fine food without packing on the pounds.

  1. Don’t skip meals during the day or try to “save appetite” for big party or feast – as it usually will result in overeating. Instead, try to focus on healthy food options that rich in fiber. Increased dietary fiber can reduce total calorie intake, which help prevent weight gain over the holidays.
  2. Eat small portions. Holiday meals tend to be large and include second and third helpings. A common mistake is eating large portions of foods that are perceived as healthy. And yes, you can have your favorite dessert – but eat only the amount that it will take for you to be satisfied.
  3. Limit liquid calories. Alcohol, soda, and other calorie-rich beverages are prevalent during the holidays. These drinks can contribute a significant amount of sugar and empty calories to your diet, which can cause weight gain. Additionally, alcohol consumption is often linked to increased appetite and is a risk factor for weight gain.
  4. Mindful eating. Some studies suggest that focusing on how your body feels through a short body scan meditation can help you to tune in how hungry you really are and adjust your sweet eating. Also, chew slowly and thoroughly will allow you to better recognize your body’s fullness signals and consume fewer calories.
  5. Maintain physically active with family and friends. Sedentary actives such as sitting on the couch watching TV are common holiday traditions for many families. Inactivity can contribute to weight gain, especially if accompanied by overeating. Exercises, as simple as a family walk can get your mind off food and allow you to bond with your loved ones. It may not make you lose weight, but it can definitely help you keep your metabolic rate at a higher level.
  6. Get plenty of sleep. Sleep deprivation is common during the holidays may cause weight gain. Sleep restriction is linked to increased hunger hormone levels, ultimately leading to higher calorie intake. In addition, inadequate sleep also decreases your metabolism, which makes it hard for your body to burn fat.
  7. Control your stress levels. A stressful lifestyle can cause more cravings for junk food. Stress-related hormone may also cause weight gain by consuming higher level of calories.

The bottom, make sure you are getting plenty of exercise and limiting your intake of holiday treats. If you are diligent, you may find that you have not only prevented weight gain but even lost a few pounds during this celebratory season.

How to Have A Stress Free Holiday

All is festive during the holidays with friends and families – people picture the smiles, laughter, and good food, but the holiday season can also bring out the worst of times for many. Believe it or not, many people experience high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression as soon as November comes around.

Gift-giving is one of the most remembered aspects of the holidays, and the pressure of the increased financial burden due to the costs of traveling, gifts, and hosting can take a toll on some.

Visiting loved ones can be overwhelming for others who have to prioritize the number of parties and people to adjust to at each party. The worrying of the stressful situation can spread to affecting everyday activities or responsibilities.

Loneliness can significantly contribute to the stress, anxiety, and depression that can plague a person’s holiday season. Some people may have no family or friends to share the holidays with.

Here are some tips for tackling these challenges during this holiday season.

  • Attend Therapy
  • Practice Mindfulness – Meditation
  • Avoid Drugs and Alcohol
  • Take a Neighborhood walk
  • Be honest with yourself and set realistic expectations.

To possess the ability to maintain and manage mental illness is challenging in every way, but the holiday season can heighten the challenge.

Remember, when the feeling of isolation becomes a struggle, you are not alone. It is ok to need help but, more importantly, to actively get the help you need.

November is Native American Heritage Month

November is Native American Heritage Month. This month is a time to recognize and celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, sacrifices, contributions, achievements, histories, and acknowledging our nation’s first peoples. It is an opportune time to educate the general public about tribes, to raise general awareness about the unique challenges Native people are continuing to face historically and presently.

Native Americans are very much alive and well in our country. Awareness and education to the general population are essential. Still, to this day, many misconceptions should be clarified. There are countless amenities utilized today that are derived from Native Americans. We consume many foods and medicines/remedies that we use, which were introduced by Native Americans. There is more than one highway that follows an Indian Trail. Native American contributions touch every bit of American Life, such as their literature and arts spew the wisdom and themes of Native American culture. And still, Native Americans have challenges to overcome and persevere when fighting for land rights, water rights, fishing rights, and shedding light on the concern of Missing Murdered Indigenous People is on-going today. There are approximately 326 reservations, and Native Americans make up about 1% of the Nation’s population. As the Nations’ first people, South Sound Behavioral Hospital acknowledges you.

Depression Awareness

October is Depression Awareness Month, and South Sound Behavioral Hospital is pleased to have the opportunity to partner with Bryan Hooper, Lacey WA, a local sought after mentor and coach. Bryan, who manages his Mental Health disorder, speaks on the importance of taking care of your mental health, from stabilization to long-term care, how we each have it in us to seek out the help we need when we need it; and that all we have to do to get started is do it!

In 2004, Bryan was at what he considers to be his lowest point. In 2015, using his natural talents and ability to inspire through words and visuals, he recorded a video that serves as a source of inspiration for many today suffering from depression. His motivation for awareness to make this video as a result of witnessing someone’s successful attempt at suicide jumping from a bridge. What he witnessed brought back all the feelings from 2004. He tells his story in hopes that no one would struggle again.

Suicide Prevention by Bryan Hooper

Thank you, Bryan, for sharing your story and talents with us and allowing us to share it with the community!

South Sound Behavioral Hospital is here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you or a loved one is struggling with depression, give us a call or just walk in so we can help get you on your path to recovery.

Music Therapy Facts, Daisie Sutton and How Its Used at South Sound

Did you know that music therapy has a clinical history of 70+ years? We began servicing World War I veterans within Psych Hospitals and have since then progressed to working in schools, prisons, clinics, group homes, hospitals, etc. and servicing a wide range of populations as well as their needs. We also have several studies published in medical and psychological journals and are using rhythm today to improve speech and movement in those that have had strokes as well as a wide variety of neurological disorders. One of our own fulltime music therapy employees here at South Sound is Daisie Sutton, whom is a master’s level music therapist that is board certified and has over 8 years working with older adults and currently holds 7 contracts with the state of Washington with her music therapy business, “Sutton Music Therapy, LLC”. As Covid-19 restrictions are lifted, she plans to hire music therapists to service these contracts as well as the 15 facilities she serviced prior to the pandemic from Renton to Tumwater, WA.

Daisie feels very blessed to be here at South Sound Hospital where she has the title of Music Therapist and has the privilege to participate in treatment team meetings. She plans to make South Sound a lifelong career and is excited for growing the music programs here with other recreational therapists. Here she is able to do more enhanced interventions than prior work as she incorporates songwriting, lyric analysis, movement and art with music and also gets to learn a wider variety of songs to incorporate patient preferred into her session groups. One of her song writings she created uses a blues form and incorporates patient responses to describe current stressors and future goals (shown below).. Many music therapy sessions, she creates incorporate themes with handouts that prompt group discussion to share thoughts towards different songs and lyrics. Example themes include change, growth, perseverance and hope. She is very excited to be working among a new colleague Ben Kendal who is a new PRN music therapist at South Sound. He also used to work at Smokey Point and graduated from Seattle Pacific University with his bachelors in music therapy. If you would like to learn more about music therapy, please don’t hesitate to contact Daisie Sutton or Ben Kendal. Here is an example of one of the blues songwriting’s:

“I ain’t got no hoodies or cell phone
I ain’t got no wallet or friends
I ain’t got no cappuccino or computer games
I’ve got to make some changes or I’ll have the South Sound Blues

I want to go fishing and hiking
I want to get my phone and take a road trip
I want to cook and BBQ
I want to find a home and make some money
I’ve got to make some changes or I’ll have the South Sound Blues”

Another songwriting: Theme on Dealing with Stressors (This song is piggy backed to the melody of, “I’m not Afraid” by Eminem) Daisie changed the lyrics and took them out to look like a madlib for patients to logically identify how they were going to deal with their stressors and input their thoughts in the underlined sections)

“I’m not afraid of myself
Everybody cares and loves
We can overcome and accomplish
Whatever comes we will conquer
Just letting you know that you are loved
And you can survive on this road of life”

Vitamin D and Mental Health

There are many things that can affect your mood; the foods that you eat and nutrients that you get (or miss) can be one such thing. Among all nutrients, Vitamin D has been linked to mood and mental health in different researches.

Studies have shown that risks of developing depression are higher in people with Vitamin D deficiency compared to people who have adequate levels of vitamin D. The same study also found that, statistically, people with low Vitamin D were at a much greater risk of depression. The researchers believe that Vitamin D is important to healthy brain function, insufficient nutrient levels may play a role in mental illnesses. Lack of Vitamin D is also thought to play a role in Seasonal Affective Disorder, which commonly starts in the fall, lasts through winter and subsides in the sunnier spring and summer months.

Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine” vitamin; your body absorbs Vitamin D primarily through sun exposure. The amount of sun exposure you need will depend on your climate, the time of day, and the time of year. People with lighter skin tend to absorb Vitamin D more quickly. You may need anywhere from 15 minutes to 3 hours of sun exposure per day to get enough Vitamin D from sun exposure alone. People who have darker skin have greater amounts of melanin, a natural pigment that gives skin its color. Melanin reduces Vitamin D production in the skin. Therefore, it is important to add more foods rich in Vitamin D to your diet.

Foods that are naturally rich in Vitamin D include: salmon, mackerel, fish liver oils, animal fats, and Vitamin D fortified food products (like orange juice and cereal).

If you are not getting enough Vitamin D and you are worried about your health or overall wellness, a supplement might help. Working with your doctor and a dietitian could help you determine what sort of supplement you might need.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month

One of the ways SSBH has given back to the community is the involvement of awareness. The impacts of suicide in our society have hit home for many. To make a dent in the movement to provide understanding to Thurston County, SSBH has made it a point to provide suicide prevention awareness items for families who have lost a loved one to suicide. The items given to families affected are signs and symptom information flyers, pamphlets of options to help, community resources, stress balls, pens, notepads, etc. Every life lost is a losing position in this battle, but spreading the awareness for each loss can amplify the movement to gain an advantage in this battle. The knowledge of suicide awareness is so powerful and crucial to the campaign.


NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Health, NAMIWALKS is a fundraiser to raise awareness of mental health. NAMI walk consists of teams walking towards a 5k route. This year is a bit different since COVID-19 has reached the shores of the United States.

Why they walk?

  • Promote Awareness of mental health and reduce stigma by sharing stories and walking together
  • Fundraiser for NAMI’S mission of advocacy, education, support, and public Awareness.
  • Build a community to let people know they are not alone

At South Sound, we plan to raise as much as we can to help reach their goal of $275,000. Participate in some of the activities to help give back.

  • Casual Day Friday, Sept 4th and 11th $5/pp each day
  • Silent Bid for Front Row Parking – Receive one week of front row parking. The highest SEVEN bids will win one week of front row parking from September 21st- 25th 2020.
  • Flower/Candy Gram- Purchase a flower/candy for your “Work Battle Buddy” to show a co-worker appreciation with a message of encouragement.
  • Donate for Mental Health CHANGE- empty all your change from your cars, bags, pockets, and donate to support Mental Health Stigma Change!
  • Hydrate Challenge- during 64oz in 1-day cost to join $10

NAMIWALKS will go live on September 12th, hosting a virtual session for this event. Share what you are doing for NAMI walks on your favorite social media by posting a video or picture and hashtag #NotAlone and/or #MentalHealthForAll.

Tai Chi at SSBH

Tai Chi instructor Brian Weaver has brought another level of self-care to South Sound Behavioral Hospital patients. Tai Chi is an internal Chinese martial art practice known for its defense training, but also widely popular for its health benefits and meditation.

Tai Chi overcomes hardness with softness and is a full-body workout which improves balance, strength and flexibility, burns fat, and relaxes both the body and mind. We also explore self-defense techniques and the rich history and culture of Chinese martial arts. Styles and forms taught include the Yang style short and long forms, Chen Tai Chi, modern combined-style forms, Bagua, and others.

There are so many variations of forms in TaiChi which can conform to each person’s individual needs. Patients are able to utilize Tai Chi as a way to reconnect with oneself to find a balance.

September is National Recovery Month

Have You Assembled Your Recovery Support System?

When people talk about the future, the terms often used are journey, goals, work, career, plans, determination, responsibility, etc. Each person has their journey, and not all journeys travel in a straight line. Some people hit a bump in the road or have to take a detour, and for some the detour is recovery. Recovery is a personal journey with the goals of hope, empowerment, and determination; and for many people with mental health or substance abuse challenges, recovery is often possible.

Recovery could be physical, mental, or a combination of both, a personal journey that many have to overcome. One of the stabilizing factors for success in recovery is having a sound support system. The support system could consist of family members, friends, teachers, faith community members, neighbors, peers, a pet, or a co-worker. Whether the support member recognizes it or not, they are essential to a person in recovery in the way of ensuring they remain on the right road without deviations, as best as they can.

The support system is a vital and critical part in a person’s recovery journey, and the recovering person must trust the support person/people in their support system and feel comfortable talking about their experiences. These people are there for you when you need help with everyday situations, assist in making difficult decisions, and when in crisis.


Below are some ways to get started with building a support network:

  1. Stay Connected with friends and family.
  2. Utilize resources such as technology via email, text, phone, or video calls.
  3. Search for peer groups who are facing the same challenges.
  4. Recognize an opportunity to ask for help and then ask.
  5. Assemble a team of trusted professionals you can call on when in need.


Remember, recovery is a journey, not a race. Slow and steady is always the best course for any road!