Total Health Guidance

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The Mask We Wear

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DJ Spigener, LMHC

With Halloween fast approaching, the traditions associated with this holiday are on many people’s minds.  Carving pumpkins, passing out candy to neighborhood children dressed up as their favorite characters, observing the change of seasons and harvest time, and getting together with friends in celebration are all common traditions.  Another Halloween tradition that many of us have practiced, at one time or another, is the wearing of masks.  When used for festive purposes, masks are typically worn in order to conceal our identities, or perhaps as part of a larger costume designed to present ourselves as a specific character/celebrity/person.  These masks are physical items that disguise us and make for new and unique interactions with the other participants around us.  But after the celebrations end, we remove these masks, and we return to our day-to-day lives.  Our masks get shoved into a closet, or a box, and are forgotten until next year’s Halloween.


If someone was to continue wearing their mask on the 1st of November, it might seem a little strange, but perhaps could be rationalized as just an overzealous fan of the spooky holiday who had a hard time letting it go.  Wearing it in the middle of July, though?  That would just be bizarre.  Right…?


In truth, we all wear masks, nearly every day, in any number of situations and settings.  The key difference is that these everyday masks are not visible to the naked eye, and as such, are not typically noticed or mentioned.  This phe

nomenon is not uncommon.  We all do it.  Whether done to impress potential employers, hide aspects of ourselves we deem inappropriate, or just to “fit in” with a certain social group, most people will attempt to alter their personality at one time or another.  But when taken to an extreme, the figurative donning of these masks can lead to a disconnection from our true identities – from the real “you” under the masks – and can result in all manner of emotional, cognitive, and behavioral difficulties.  In extreme cases, we may even louse touch with our own identity and become confused and uncertain of ourselves.  Fortunately, there are steps we can take to begin removing our masks and learning to embrace our authentic selves in the process.


The first step is awareness.  By taking the time to read this and being willing to engage in some self-reflection, you have already begun this step!


In our follow-up article, we will take a closer look at the other steps that can be taken to learn how to recognize and remove these masks, as well as how we can begin to embrace our authentic selves in social situations, leading to increased self-esteem, improved mood, and a better quality of life.

5 Tips for Dealing with Hurricane Related Anxiety

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Categories: Emotional

5 Tips for Dealing with Hurricane Related Anxiety

By John Stiteler, MA, LCCT (Owner of Total Health Guidance)


Most people are experiencing some level of stress related to Hurricane Irma. In fact, if you live in Florida, increased stress at this time is normal and even healthy. That’s right, some level of stress is actually healthy because it produces the hormone cortisol which provides extra motivation and energy to prepare for emergency situations. However, there is a difference between appropriate levels of stress and significant anxiety.


If cortisol levels become too elevated it can result in panic attacks, nightmares, intrusive images, intense fear, changes in appetite, sleep disturbances, and other physical illnesses. Here are five tips to help manage the excess stress caused by Irma:

  1. Limit media exposure. Obviously everyone needs to stay informed about the progress of the storm, evacuation orders, etc. However, that does not mean that you should be watching and listening to storm coverage 24 hours a day. Tune in periodically to get the latest information and then take a break. Too much exposure can lead to trauma producing reactions.
  2. Exercise. Exercise helps to reduce cortisol levels. If you find yourself not being able to avoid constant media coverage, at least try to do some exercise while you are watching it. For example: rotate between jumping jacks, sit-ups, and push-ups during every commercial break. Or, take a 15-minute walk (when it is safe to do so) for every 15 minutes of coverage you watch.
  3. Find time for activities you enjoy. Read a book, work on a puzzle, knit, or do something else you enjoy. These healthy activities can give your mind a temporary break from thinking about the devastation and keep stress in check. Your mind and your body will need these temporary breaks to remain sharp.
  4. Avoid drugs and excessive drinking. Drugs and alcohol may temporarily seem to remove stress, but in the long run they will only make it worse. If you smoke or drink coffee, try to limit your intake since nicotine and caffeine can both exasperate stress
  5. Ask for help when you need it. If your feelings do not go away or are so intense that they interfere with your ability to function in daily life – ask for help. Friends, family, and places of worship can all be good sources of relational, spiritual, emotional, and physical support. Don’t try to cope alone. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.

The staff at Total Health Guidance is available if professional help is needed. If you continue to experience significant anxiety once the storm has passed, please give us a call for a free over-the-phone anxiety evaluation. You can contact us at 321-332-6984 for this FREE consultation or take it online.


Emotional Preparation for Hurricane Irma

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Categories: Emotional

We are obviously hearing a lot right now about how to prepare for Hurricane Irma. Long gas lines, no parking spots available at the super stores, and water flying off the shelves at your neighborhood grocer are all indications of how people are preparing for the storm. With that said, not much is being discussed about emotional preparation which is equally as important.

During stressful times, our bodies produce extra cortisol which is known as the stress hormone. Stress is not always a bad thing. In fact, this extra stress can be beneficial as it helps to provide energy to tackle all of our hurricane preparedness activities. However, when too much stress can have devastating effects on our physical and emotional health.

One way to limit the negative impact of excess stress is to “emotionally breathe.” When we breathe physically we exhale the carbon dioxide (poison) and inhale the life-giving oxygen. How often do we need to breathe physically? A lot! Emotional breathing is similar. We exhale the things that we cannot control (poison) and we inhale serenity and the courage to handle the things that we can control. How often do we need to breathe emotionally? A lot!

Emotional breathing can take the form of the “Serenity Prayer” for those with a Higher Power or can simply be an affirmation. Here is an example of how that might look.

“God, give me (or, “I have”…) the serenity to accept the things that I cannot change” (Name them: the direction of the storm, other people, traffic, etc.) and imagine yourself exhaling those things. “God, give me the courage to change the things I can” (Name them: physical preparation, emotionally breathing, self-care, etc.) and imagine yourself inhaling the courage to accomplish those tasks. Repeat this exercise often and especially when you notice yourself feeling stressed or anxious.

We don’t want to spend any energy, effort, money, etc. on trying to change things that we have no control over. While things may be flying round us physically, focusing on the things that we can change will help keep us emotionally grounded.


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Categories: Emotional Physical

Whether you have been diagnosed with ADHD or not, many people have issues with staying focused especially in this fast-paced world in which we now live. We at Total Health Guidance look for natural, non-invasive ways to help boost focus and promote clarity. There are a number of natural ways to treat focus and attention issues, but one specific item that has helped many of our clients recently is a specific essential oil blend crafted to help target attention issues.
The blend of oil is called “InTune” and it is a proprietary blend of essential oils carefully selected for their ability to enhance and sustain a sense of focus. No matter your age, staying focused on the task at hand is sometimes difficult. This is especially critical during the formative years when learning and growing create habits and a foundation for life. The carefully selected essential oils in “InTune” work together, supporting efforts of those who have difficulty paying attention and staying on task.

• Sandalwood, Frankincense, and Lime promote a sense of clarity,
• Patchouli, Ylang Ylang, and Roman Chamomile are calming and soothing.

The pleasing aroma of “InTune” makes this essential oil blend an easy and delightful one to use. The cost of “InTune” is $46 and the bottle usually lasts 2 months. For more information or to order “InTune,” contact Total Health Guidance at 321-332-6984. We can also provide services to diagnose ADHD along with other natural treatment options for attention and focus issues.

“My ADHD hindered my work significantly, especially when I was traveling and had to multi-task. I started using “InTune” about 6 months ago and my productivity has increased dramatically since then.” – E.L. Orlando

Acupuncture and Stress

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Categories: Physical

3 Ways Acupuncture Can Help with Stress!

 – Christian Disla



  • In Chinese medicine we view stress as a sign of stagnation for both energy and blood. This is why exercise is recommended in order to relieve stress; by taking the body through a certain degree of movements and rigor you are increasing the flow of blood and energy. Through acupuncture we correct this flow to its natural state by using specific points to calm the mind, promote deep breathing, and boost energy.


  • When you experience stress the body secretes certain hormones into the bloodstream in order to relieve that stress. These hormones are released through the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and the adrenal gland. This trifecta is known as the HPA axis. Another factor that is involved with stress is our “fight or flight” response which is induced by the increase of neuropeptide y (NPY) co-transmitter. Through acupuncture, we block the stress-induced elevations of the HPA axis hormones with the sympathetic NPY pathway while normalizing stress hormone levels.


  • During an acupuncture treatment you are given 20-30min on the treatment table, during this time patients usually fall asleep due to the calming effects of each point and soothing music that is often played in a treatment room. This is a good time to turn off the brain, forget about your worries, and allow yourself to take a moment to rest.


3 Ways Acupuncture Works

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Acupuncture is a system of medicine that has existed for 2000 years and it works by activating the body’s own healing mechanism to promote self-healing.


As Acupuncture Physicians, we are only a tool in helping to correct an imbalance within the body. Acupuncture can be used to treat a wide range of conditions including physical and emotional pain.  Despite its ability to effectively treat certain conditions, it is often categorized as a placebo effect. I assure you – it’s not. There’s scientific reasoning as to why acupuncture works.





Here are 3 ways that acupuncture works:


1. Acupuncture stimulates the release of powerful pain-killing and anti-inflammatory substances from the brain. Each treatment stimulates the release of enkephalin which is involved with regulating the nervous system’s response to harmful or potentially harmful stimuli. By creating this reaction we improve the body’s circulation of blood and energy to the affected area, thus promoting healing.


2. Acupuncture changes the way your brain responds to pain and can modify internal organ function to treat many complex diseases. The brain views areas of the body as according to the “cortical homunculus” – which is a distorted view of the body. Areas such as the head and fingers are viewed as a much larger image in comparison to other areas of the body. When we needle these larger images, we create a powerful reaction in the brain that allows for healing to occur. Needling these larger images can be described as distal acupuncture since we are needling far from the site of pain or the affected area. By doing so, the body releases beta-endorphins which are described to be much stronger than morphine. Beta-endorphins help numb and dull the pain. Each point has a nerve reaction. For example, the cardiac nerve is located within the deltoid, so when we needle this area we can stimulate the heart.


3. Acupuncture has many local effects including relaxation of contracted muscles and increase in blood circulation. When certain ailments arise, we believe that it’s due to a lack of circulation of blood and energy. So, by improving circulation we bring in new nutrients thus decreasing the symptoms of the disease at hand. When a patient is needled in the area in which the symptoms occur, it is enriched with new blood and nutrients. This causes a reduction in pain and inflammation along with relaxation of nerves and muscles.


Acupuncture works through a wide range of approaches, theories, and techniques in order to provide patients with an effective treatment. There are multiple ways of tackling a condition when it comes to acupuncture, and all with little side effects. If you’re interested in receiving acupuncture treatments, call 321-332-6984 to schedule an appointment. If you are curious but still not sure if this modality of healthcare can help you, call us to schedule a free consultation and learn more with no obligation.

Spot On – 4 reasons Everyone Should Try Cupping

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Earn your spots just like Olympic champion Michael Phelps

– Tony Ambush


The Olympic Games are an amazing gathering of athletes from all over the world.  During the Olympic season I feel connected to the world through sport.  That feeling is amplified when a member of our home team does exceptional work in their sport of choice. While watching Phelps during these 2016 games I have been excited to see all the spots on his body.  I have been a proponent of Traditional Chines Medicine (TCM) and acupuncture for many years.


4 Benefits of Cupping

  1. Increases blood flow and circulation
  2. Reduces of tension in muscles
  3. Improves muscle tone
  4. Removes toxins in body by activating the lymphatic system

Cupping is an ancient form of medicine that has been used to help with pain, inflammation, blood flow, relaxation and well-being and as a type of deep-tissue massage. Cupping therapy is typically practiced by traditional Chinese medicine practitioners. The theory behind cupping is that it moves or stimulates the body’s natural energy (Qi).


Cupping therapy involves heating the air inside a glass cup which creates a vacuum. The cup is then quickly placed on the skin resulting in the skin being pulled into the cup.   When removed the cup leaves behind a red, circular welt


Here are two common cupping techniques:

  1. Dry – (Fixed/Stationary) – The cups are placed on the skin in various locations, for varying periods of time. Location, cup size & length treatment will vary based on the focus of the treatment for that session.
  2. Wet – (Moving/ Gliding) – A lubricant such as massage lotion or oil is placed on the skin before the cups are set in place. After the cups have been placed they are pulled along the skin. This technique offers benefits similar to that of a deep tissue massage.

Cupping therapy may also be done with cups designed to work with a pump instead of heat.  This can allow an individual to apply cupping techniques on their own.

Regardless of which method you choose, be sure to have a professional practitioner work on your body. It is important that you seek advice from your medical doctor or an acupuncture physician before applying any cupping techniques.  Anjanette Mojica, our resident Acupuncture Physician, can help steer you toward a gold medal in your personal health. You might not win an Olympic gold medal, but you’ll feel like a winner when you add cupping therapy to your self-care plan. If you would like to know more about cupping, contact our office at (321) 332-6984.


Back to School Nutrition

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How 3 Colors Can Help Your Kids Steer Clear of Unhealthy Foods


It’s back to school for everyone!  Summer is over and kids are heading off to school.  The jam packed school year has begun.  Traffic Light Eating can show you how 3 simple colors can help you and your kids work towards better food choices.  Nutrition is the key to help students produce Olympic size growth, academically.  We’ve all heard, “Knowledge is power;” give your family the advantage. Help them stay on track and achieve their goals as they work towards the finish line.


Help your family stay healthy while on the go. This is a simple & fun way to help your kids learn about making better food choices.

RED, YELLOW and GREEN are a fun simple way to help you family stay health while on the go. Through the Traffic Light Eating model we help you identify which foods are best (GREEN); which foods to cut back on (YELLOW), and which are best to eliminate altogether (RED).  Our philosophy is; a diet isn’t something you do. Your diet is what you eat.  Through Traffic Light Eating we help explain why it is important to steer clear of food colorings, artificial sweeteners, and other food additives. We also increase understanding as to why fruits, vegetables and natural food sources are best for nutritional health.

Traffic Light Eating was developed by the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.  We offer classes in Traffic Light Eating to individuals, families, schools, corporate offices, and other groups.  To find out more about nutrition and Traffic Light Eating call our office or fill out the information request to the right on this page.

Happy Health Eating!








7 Tips for Dealing with the Recent Traumatic Events

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Tips for Dealing with the Recent Traumatic Events


Orlando has seen its share of tragic events recently. After prolonged exposure, some people experience reactions that are out of the ordinary for them.  Some of the more common reactions include: anxiety, withdrawal, grief, guilt, nightmares, intrusive images, increased alcohol or drug use, fear, depression, change in appetite, or sleep disturbances. Here are seven tips to help  manage the stress:

  1. Talk about it. By talking with others, you can relieve stress and realize that others share your feelings.
  2. Take care of yourself. Rest, exercise, and eat properly. If you smoke or drink coffee, try to limit your intake since nicotine and caffeine can exasperate stress.
  3. Limit exposure to images of the event. Watching or reading news about the incident over and over again will only increase your stress.
  4. Find time for activities you enjoy. Read a book, go for a walk, or do something else you enjoy. These healthy activities can get your mind off the disaster and keep stress in check.
  5. Take one thing at a time. When under stress an ordinary workload can sometimes seem unbearable. Pick one task at a time and work on it. “Checking off” tasks will give you a sense of accomplishment and make things feel less overwhelming.
  6. Avoid drugs and excessive drinking. Drugs and alcohol may temporarily seem to remove stress, but in the long run they will only make it worse.
  7. Ask for help when you need it. If your feelings do not go away or are so intense that they interfere with your ability to function in daily life – seek help from a counselor. You could also join a support group. Don’t try to cope alone. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.

As a result of generous contributions, the Mental Health Association of Central Florida is now offering FREE counseling for ANYONE impacted in any way as a result of the Pulse nightclub shooting and other recent tragedies in our community.  If you or someone you know are having difficulty managing after the recent tragic events in Orlando, please contact the Mental Health Association of Central Florida at (407) 898-0110.

Anxiety Following Orlando Shooting Tragedy

Categories: Emotional

Tips for dealing with anxiety and other troubling emotions following the shooting at Pulse nightclub


Earlier this morning I learned that over 50 people have been killed in a nightclub shooting and another 50 or more injured in the worst mass shooting in American history. As a resident of Orlando and as the owner of a counseling center I was immediately concerned for the safety of friends, neighbors, and clients. I was dealing with a host of intense emotions including anger, confusion, fear, and anxiety. I want to share some simple practical tips for dealing with this crisis and the uncomfortable feelings that will be present.


  1. Do something. Feelings of helplessness are inevitable during a tragedy like this. Doing some positive action such as giving blood or making a financial contribution to a charity like the Red Cross can restore some sense of personal empowerment.
  2. Connect with family and friends. Resist any temptation to isolate and avoid relational connection. Let those closest to you know how much you love them and what they mean to you.
  3. Stay healthy. Make sure you continue to eat nutritious food and get at least some type of mild exercise. Try to eat a fruit or veggie at every meal to help keep your blood sugar stabilized and balance your cortisol levels. Going for a walk around the block, jumping on the treadmill, or taking a dip in the pool will help burn off some of the excess stress.
  4. Limit your news time. While it is good to stay informed, over stimulation to negative news can take a toll on your health. Limit your exposure to the news to increments of 30 minutes or less. Do at least one of the suggestions above before watching or listening to another news cycle.
  5. Get professional help. If this event causes you to have severe anxiety, panic attacks, vivid nightmares, sleep disorders, or thoughts of wanting to harm yourself or others, than please seek professional help as soon as possible. The professional counselors at Total Health Guidance are available for in-person or over the phone therapy sessions from 8am to 8pm. You can reach a therapist for a free consultation by calling 321-332-6984.
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