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Managing Your Mental Health During the Holidays

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The holidays often bring the happiness of gathering with close family and friends. We imagine exchanging gifts, delicious meals, and lots of time spent connecting with others. However, for some people this time of year can be challenging, especially if there are difficult relationships to manage, recent losses, and/or financial concerns. Additionally, many people spend the holidays alone and experience isolation and sadness. Therefore, managing mood and anxiety becomes an important endeavor to make sure you survive the holidays and find moments of joy.

If you find yourself struggling with the holidays or know of someone who is, here are some tips to help.  

Go for a walk

o   If large gatherings are overwhelming for you, step outside and go for a walk. The fresh air, open space, and movement all help to improve your mood and/or reduce anxiety.

o   If you are alone for the holiday, getting outside and connecting with nature on a walk can help alleviate loneliness.

o   If you have mobility issues, breathing fresh air and notice your surroundings can be helpful.

Volunteer

o   Helping others in need connects you to the generosity of the holidays. It will also help you feel less alone and isolated.

Practice Gratitude

o   Focus on all the people and things for which you are grateful. Research has shown that practicing gratitude increases happiness and life satisfaction, decreases materialism, and improves physical health.

Increase self-care

o   Self-care might mean saying no to holiday events that you do not want to attend or saying yes to the ones that will bring happiness and connection.

o   Do kind things for yourself like buy a healthy dinner instead of cooking, ask friends or family for help with big tasks, set limits on how you spend your time and money, and take time out of your day for an extra-long hot shower, short walk, or time playing with kids or pets.

o   If you’ve had a loss that makes enjoying the holidays difficult, take time to grieve as a form of self-care. Allowing yourself the time and space to grieve honors the loss and is important in your bereavement process.  The holidays are not always “merry and bright,” and it’s alright that you feel sadness at this time of year.

Set healthy boundaries

o   The holidays sometimes result in us having to connect with people with whom we do not have a positive relationship, or whom drain our energy, lower mood, and increase anxiety. If you can avoid distressful situations, that is best. However, if you find yourself near a person such as this, do your best to set healthy boundaries in a direct, calm, and simple way.

o   Be clear in what your needs are going into each situation, and then work to either meet those needs yourself, or ask for assistance from others.

o   Say No. You do not owe anyone an explanation for your actions. If they push the issue, state “no” again and add, “thank you for understanding.”

o   Create physical space between you and the person. Say no to interactions with him/her by excusing yourself for a trip to the restroom or outside.

In general, take notice of your needs, and do your best to meet them. The more you take care of yourself, the more likely you will find some moments of joy. Wishing you well at the holidays and always!

'Tis the season...for the cold & flu

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BY DR LUCY PUN

Winter is here and so is the cold and flu season. Although many people get sick, there are ways to get better quick and many other ways to stay healthy and to prevent the spread of germs.

Most illness are caused by a virus, so an Antibiotic will not be effective. Antibiotics may even make things worse causing diarrhea, rash and decreasing your overall immunity. Instead, we focus on symptom reduction until your immune system is able to fight off the virus.

Here are some things you can do to help your body stay healthy through the colds:

-       Wash your hands- the number one way that germs are spread is through direct contact. This is the cheapest and easiest way to prevent getting sick. If you cough or sneeze, wash your hands. Before you touch your face or eat, wash your hands. Hand sanitizer is also effective but washing with warm water and soap is always preferred.

-       Eat lots of whole fruits and vegetables. Mandarins, oranges, lemons – all high in vitamin C, which helps support a healthy immune system. And it’s not just vitamin C that keeps you healthy; eating a variety of foods and cutting back on processed foods, keeps your body at optimum levels, ready to fight what gets in its way.

-       Water, Water, Water! Increasing water intake helps your body get rid of the toxins formed during illness. Hydration is important to stay healthy. Some studies compared water to cough medication and showed that people who drank only water had a shorter duration of cough than those who had a cough suppressant medication. Water helps you cough up all the junk in your lungs. So drink up!

-       As sweet as HONEY- honey has shown to be effective at suppressing cough in many studies, as well as helping with sore throat. It is the foundation of many cold remedies in the eastern part of the world. It has antibacterial properties as well. A teaspoon twice a day, and at bedtime can help with those coughing fits.

-       Salt water gargles for a sore throat- mix one teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and gargle for 30 seconds, 3 times per day.

-       Rest and sleep-the two are important to allow your body to be able to fight off illness and promote healing. Get the rest you need and re-charge!

As with anything, stay up to date on your health by visiting your doctor regularly

New Mental Health Online Courses Now Available

Elevated Health is now offering online courses to improve your overall wellbeing! Our goal is to provide affordable, easy access to helpful information that can improve your life.

We have two courses available now with additional courses coming soon, focused on depression, grief, sleep, addiction, and other helpful topics. The two courses now available are:

1. Anxiety Management:

Our first offering is an Anxiety Management course. We have developed this course to help you gain the information and skills that you need to better manage anxiety.

The course offers:

1.     Basic information about anxiety

2.     Specific coping strategies to help you better manage anxiety

3.     Guided relaxation recordings that reduce anxiety and stress

All of the material can easily be downloaded and used often. You can even download and take the relaxation recordings with you on your phone! You will have unlimited access to the material offered in this course.

This course is $199. Elevated Health Members get a 75% discount on the price, so you’ll only pay $49.75 for this excellent course! Click to enroll in the course, and then add the coupon*.

2. Relax with Dr. Steph:

If you are unsure if you need all the details provided in the Anxiety Management course, but you would benefit from increasing relaxation while better managing stress and anxiety, then this course is for you!

We have taken the guided relaxation recordings from the anxiety course and offered them on their own at a discounted price.

This course is $40. Elevated Health Members get a 75% discount on the price, so you’ll only pay $10 for these great relaxation tools! Click to enroll in the course, and then add the coupon*.

Access all courses at: https://elevatedhealth.teachable.com

Lower Carb Intake Burns More Calories

A new study published in the British Medical Journal found that overweight adults who followed a low carbohydrate, high fat diet burned 250 more calories a day than those on a high carbohydrate diet. This is the largest and longest study that challenges the belief that all calories are the same to the body.


As we lose weight, our body adapts by burning fewer calories. This makes long term, intentional weight loss challenging because our bodies are fighting this process in an attempt to maintain weight. The researchers in this study believe higher carbohydrate diets increase insulin levels which causes our bodies to store excess calories. With fewer calories available to the body, hunger increases and metabolism slows, which ultimately leads to weight gain.

How to Have a Happy and HEALTHY Holiday!

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It’s that time of year again. Turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie! Who could say no to that? You can have all of that and more but still stay healthy…it’s not always about what you eat, but how much and how often.

Here are some helpful tips to stay healthy during the holidays

  • Portions! Big plate, small plate, or medium plate? Choose a small plate to make your portion look large. If you are hosting a party, help out your guests by placing smaller plates rather than large ones.

  • Avoid piling food. Start with some turkey, mashed potatoes, and some salad. Finish that first before adding more to the plate. Plus, you can taste the different foods better that way.

  • Pace yourself! The slower you eat, the faster you feel full. Keep a good conversation going!

  • Drink a full glass of water before starting the meal. This makes your stomach expand, which starts the process of sending signals to your brain that you are full. In return, you will eat less during the meal.

  • Water, water, water! Avoid sugary drinks and alcohol as much as possible since they only add empty calories. Water should always be your best friend.

  • Have some pie! But maybe only a sliver, because like all holiday parties, there are many desserts to try. We all want to try them all, so eating small bits of each one will allow you to try all of them without feeling guilty.

  • Don’t eat until you feel like exploding. You don’t need to unbutton the top button on your pants, or move down a notch your belt. If it gets to that point, you probably have had enough to eat and it’s time to stop.

  • No gym membership? No problem! Take a 30 minute to 1 hour brisk walk around the neighborhood. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of low to moderate intensity exercise per week, spread out through the week. Exercise helps burn calories and helps maintain a healthy metabolism. And this is not just for the holidays; you can keep it up for the entire year

  • Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you maintain a good diet and exercise well throughout the year, a few holiday meals will only make a dent in your health.

  • Always remember, each human being is different. So whatever might have worked for your friends or family members might not work for you. It’s always best to have any of your health questions answered by your physician.

Eat (healthy), Drink (water) and be Merry! I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season!

Welcome to our newest Physician!

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Welcome to our Newest Doctor!

Please join us in welcoming the newest addition to the Elevated Health family, Dr. Lucy Pun!

Please find her bio below….We are happy to have such a well-rounded physician join the practice and are excited for all of you to meet her!

Dr. Pun has always loved being the medical caretaker of her family. Eventually, that passion motivated her to pursue a career in medicine and take care of many other families. Dr. Pun chose Direct Primary Care and Elevated Health because it allows her to spend quality time with her patients, provide education, and empower her patients to be in charge of their health.

Dr. Pun has a background in child development: she has done research on the diagnosis of autism in infants and children, and she was also a Montessori pre-school teacher prior to starting medical school. As much as she enjoys taking care of children, she chose Family Medicine because she enjoys taking care of people of all ages.

In addition to treating patients, Dr. Pun spends time educating medical students from Western University, teaching them clinical skills and how to be well-rounded physicians.

Dr. Pun has a bachelor’s degree from UC Irvine, medical degree from Western University of Health Sciences, and completed residency at PIH-Health Hospital in Downey.

Dr. Pun is happily married and currently has a 2 year-old son. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, shopping, traveling, and spending time with her family.

More Californians Selecting Alternative Health Coverage Options During 2019 Open Enrollment

October 15 marked the beginning of open enrollment for health insurance in California and many Orange County residents are scrambling to find alternative plans as Covered California rates continue to increase. In 2019, Covered California pricing is expected to rise an average of 9%, while some plans may soar as much as 32%. As rates fluctuate, alternative insurance options such as direct primary care or religious sharing groups, which often offer better pricing and coverage than traditional insurance, are becoming more of a mainstream and functional choice for many individuals.

Californians are now free to source alternative insurance options, independent of costly employer or private plans, now that the “individual mandate” is cancelled and penalties will not be applied for going without traditional coverage. Religious sharing group co-operatives have become more widespread thanks to their lower out-of-pocket expenses for individuals and families. However, because it is not regulated like traditional insurance, coverage for certain procedures and pre-existing conditions can be denied.

Alternatively, many people are discovering the benefits of belonging to a direct primary care (DPC) practice which works as a membership to a private medical practice where patients pay a monthly fee based on age. With DPC, patients have access to their own doctor around the clock through in-person appointments, phone calls, texts, emails, and video chat. Many DPC offices provide additional in-house services that can prevent unnecessary hospital trips and reduce healthcare spending while improving overall care.

Huntington Beach resident, Britt H, skipped a costly ER trip by directly reaching Dr. Matt Abinante, owner of Elevated Health, when her son’s ear began to bleed late in the evening. Dr. Abinante was able to diagnose the problem over the phone and call in medications to a local pharmacy, saving countless hours in the ER waiting room and thousands of dollars for the visit.

Elevated Health is the largest, fastest growing direct primary care practice in Southern California. They offer more doctors per patient and a host of patient benefits such as unlimited visits, wholesale lab pricing, various in-office procedures, and wholesale medication. “Our goal is to keep you as healthy as possible, while saving you time and money. We remove the barriers of traditional insurance and provide you with a modern take on the personal, old-fashioned care missing in today’s healthcare industry,” explains Dr. Matthew Abinante.

Resources for Sexual Assault Victims

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Sexual Assault is prominent in the news right now. Because of this, many people may have intrusive memories or heightened emotions resulting from their own histories of sexual violence. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, in the U.S., 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men have experienced some form of sexual violence in their lifetime.

If you have a history of sexual violence and would like to obtain psychological support, please contact our office to schedule an appointment with me. If you are not comfortable discussing with office staff, please ask to speak to me directly, and I will find a time for you and I to meet. The sessions are offered in-person, or via phone or video. The first session is $80, and all follow-up sessions are $20 per 15-minute increment with most sessions lasting 30-60 minutes. If you are unsure if my style is a good fit for your needs, you can contact me for a free 15-minute consult to see if we connect.

Also, if you would like to access anonymous support, you can reach The National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or via chat.

Your physical health is equally important and often overlooked when there is a history of sexual violence. Women who have experienced sexual violence often have difficulty undergoing well-woman exams and avoid the necessary screenings to maintain good health. The primary reasons for skipping the exams are loss of control or vulnerability (29%) and fear and anxiety about the test and results (30%).

If you have skipped well-woman exams and would like to discuss your options at Elevated Health, please let us know. Dr. Lucy Pun is starting on October 15, so you can now choose a female provider to perform the exam.

Additionally, male survivors of sexual violence often avoid screenings and exams and suffer substantial risk to their long-term health. Research indicates that developing a trusting, long-term relationship with your medical provider can improve both mental and physical health outcomes. All of the staff at Elevated Health are committed to restoring your faith in health care and providing a patient relationship built on trust and respect.

If you would like emotional support during any medical exam, we provide an integrated approach to care and can coordinate your appointment, so that I can be present to offer the assistance you need.

We are committed to treating your overall health and are always happy to discuss the options for your care.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Obesity has long been known to be a risk factor for breast cancer after menopause, but there haven’t been studies in the past showing a consistent connection between weight loss and a reduction in breast cancer.  The average weight gain after menopause is about 10-15 pounds.

Results from a recent observational study in the journal Cancer showed that women who lost 5% or more body weight after menopause had a 12% lower risk of developing breast cancer than women with a stable weight.  Women who had a weight gain of 5% or more did not have an overall increased risk of breast cancer, but they did have a higher incidence of a type of breast cancer that can be more aggressive and challenging to treat.

These findings provide strong evidence that a weight loss program can reduce a woman’s risk for breast cancer.  The exciting thing about a study like this is it empowers women to realize that they have control over their risk for breast cancer, the #1 cancer in women.

Here at Elevated Health, we try to focus on prevention and helping our patients lead healthy lifestyles in an effort to reduce cancer.  We also realize the key to curing breast cancer is early detection. We as physicians make individualized decisions with each patient to determine when and the best ways to perform breast cancer screening.  Schedule an appointment with us to discuss ways we can help you decrease your risk for breast cancer as well as screen for it appropriately.


Live in the Moment

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Most of us juggle multiple responsibilities. We are constantly shifting from one role to another within our career, family, and community commitments. As we move through our day, we tend to worry about the past, or plan for the future, which leaves us not fully living in the present moment. Additionally, with the popularity of smartphones, we tend to spend our free moments staring at our devices, accessing more information. The chronic avoidance of the present, often results in unfulfilled and stressed lives.

Research indicates that spending more time fully aware in the present moment leads to many health benefits, such as improved mood and less stress, as well as lower levels of anxiety and depression and overall improved well-being. The improvements we experiencing are due not only to the experience of being in the moment, but also to the increase in coping self-efficacy that we develop. Coping self-efficacy is when you start believing you can handle whatever life brings your way. When you learn to be fully present in positive moments, you truly experience the joy, and you feel more capable of handling the stressors that may arise in the future.

One of the easiest ways to shift your attention to the present moment is focusing on your 5 senses. What do you see, smell, taste, touch, and hear? The next time you step outside, stop for a moment. Look around you, and notice the the sky, trees, ground. Notice the smells in the air. What do you hear? Taste? Reach out and touch something nearby and notice the texture. By doing this, you shift your focus to all that is right in front of you.

If you want to begin practicing these mindful moments more often, then link them to certain activities. During your shower, really notice the feel of the water, scent of the soap, sounds that are present. When you eat lunch, connect with each of your 5 senses as you slowly enjoy each bite. At every red light, take inventory of all that you see, hear, and smell around you.

Even brief moments of being fully present will improve your overall wellbeing.