Mental Illness

The Huff Post wrote, ” Only 25 percent of people with mental health issues feel that people are caring and sympathetic toward their struggles, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” They stated that sufferers of mental illness feel isolated and hopeless due to a lack of understanding from other people.

Those who have never struggled with mental illness often criticize, judge harshly, misunderstand, and treat poorly those who struggle with depression, anxiety, mood disorders, ADHD, etc.

By educating yourself on what mental illness is, how it affects those who struggle with it and recognizing the prevalence of mental illness, you will be able to better understand, have greater empathy, and support others who struggle with mental illness.

14 Quotes that describe mental Illness

Mental strength is not the same as mental health. Just like someone with diabetes could still be physically strong, someone with depression can still be mentally strong. Many people with mental health issues are incredibly mentally strong. Anyone can make choices to build mental strength, regardless of whether they have a mental health issue. – Amy Morin

Sometimes, mental illness is terrifying because you feel like you’ve lost control of your mind and nothing makes sense. It’s like watching yourself on autopilot and having little to no control.” – Author Unknown

You know when you’re in a bad dream and you’re trying to run, punch, kick, or scream, and your body just won’t move? You open your mouth and nothing comes out. You feel frozen or in slow motion, and no matter how hard you try to fight it, nothing changes. That’s how it feels to battle mental illness – Evyenia

“She is a beautiful piece of broken pottery, put back together by her own hands. And a critical world judges her cracks while missing the beauty of how she made herself whole again.”– J.M. Storm

”Don’t tell someone to get over it; help them to get through it.” Author Unknown

Just because you don’t understand it doesn’t mean it isn’t so.” – Lemony Snicket

“We are all looking for places to put our pain.” – Author Unknown

And sometimes I have kept my feelings to myself because I could find no language to describe them in.”– Jane Austen

“People who die by suicide don’t want to end their lives, they want to end their pain. I appreciate people who are patient with me while I am distant and trying to figure things out.”

“Not all scars show. Not all wounds heal. Sometimes you can’t see the pain someone feels.”

“Recovery is not one and done. It is a lifelong journey that takes place one day, one step at a time.” – Author Unknown

”When I make a mistake, I know it. I feel it. I tear myself apart. I lose sleep. I don’t stop thinking about it. So when I say I’m sorry, know that I mean it. I’m my own toughest critic.” – Author Unknown

I’m not faking being sick. I’m actually faking being well.” – Author Unknown

Nothing in this world can torment you as much as your own thoughts.” – Author Unknown

5 quotes on Fighting mental health Stigma

The only way to get more people reaching out for help when they are struggling is to remove the stigma surrounding mental illness. As long as the stigma persists, people will feel ashamed, embarrassed, and will continue to struggle in silence.

So how do we break down the stigma surrounding mental health? Here are five quotes describing how to start.

” We need to learn to identify the signs of mental health issues. We need to have the courage to reach out and have tough conversations with our friends and family members- and get help ourselves when we need it.” – Michelle Obama

Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all. – Bill Clinton

We need to change the culture of this topic and make it OK to speak about mental health and suicide.- Luke Richardson

“We know that mental illness is not something that happens to other people. It touches us all. Why then is mental illness met with so much misunderstanding and fear?” – Tipper Gore

“When it comes to mental health conditions, we often treat them differently from other diseases like cancer, diabetes or asthma. Whether an illness affects your heart, your leg or your brain, it’s still an illness, and there should be no distinction.” – Michelle Obama

11 quotes For those with Mental Illness

Facing mental illness can be challenging and can make you feel alone. If you are struggling with mental illness here are 11 quotes for you.

“Healing isn’t about changing who you are; it’s about changing your relationship to who you are. A fundamental part of that is honoring how you feel.” -Suzanne Heyn

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars. – Khalil Gibran

“You can’t fix yourself out of a mental health issue. You can’t wake up and say, ‘Today I’m not being depressed!’ It’s a process to get well, but there is recovery. ” -Margaret Trudeau

“To that one soul reading this: I know you’re tired, you’re fed up, you’re close to breaking, but there’s a strength within you, even when you feel weak. Keep fighting.” – Author Unknown

“Emotional pain is not something that should be hidden away and never spoken about. There is truth in your pain, there is growth in your pain, but only if it’s first brought out into the open.” – Steven Aitchison

Love all the hurt, traumatized, and abandoned parts of yourself. Honoring al of you gives your wholeness a voice.” – Author Unknown

“Turn your demons into art, your shadow into a friend, your fear into fuel, your failures into teachers, your weaknesses into reasons to keep fighting. Don’t waste your pain. Recycle your heart. ” – Andrea Balt

“Your mental health is more important than the test, the interview, the lunch date, the meeting, the family dinner, and the grocery-run. Take care of yourself.” – Author Unknown

“None of your scars make you less worthy or lovable.” Author Unknown

Friendly reminder that doing your best does not mean working yourself to the point of a mental breakdown.” – Author Unknown

 “You don’t have to be positive all the time. It’s perfectly okay to feel sad, angry, annoyed, frustrated, scared and anxious. Having feelings doesn’t make you a negative person. It makes you human.” Author Unknown

What is Abuse?

Did you know that according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence ” 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking with impacts such as injury, fearfulness, post-traumatic stress disorder… etc?”

No one intentionally becomes involved with an abusive partner, but it happens all the time. Some victims of intimate relationship abuse don’t realize that is what they are experiencing?

abuse definition

Abuse is defined as,

“Treat[ing] (a person or an animal) with cruelty or violence, especially regularly or repeatedly.”

Google Dictionary
Physical abuse

Physical abuse is intentionally causing physical harm. This includes, but is not limited to, punching, hitting, cutting, slapping, burning, bruising, pushing, or restraining another individual.

Physical harm that is inflicted from another person is defined as physical abuse regardless if bruising, bleeding, or breaking of bones is present. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. This includes a range of behaviors (e.g. slapping, shoving, pushing) and in some cases might not be considered “domestic violence.”

Emotional and Psychological Abuse

Those who abuse try to inflict fear or pain on others to gain power over them. This fear or pain can be caused by any combination of physical, emotional, psychological, or sexual means.

Types of emotional and/or psychological abuse include

  • Humiliation,
  • Using guilt
  • Criticizing
  • Public embarrassment
  • Patronizing
  • Yelling
  • Belittling your accomplishments
  • Commenting negatively on your appearance,
  • Threats,
  • Monitoring and controlling your actions
  • Jealousy
  • Blaming you for their problems
  • Withholding socialization
  • Name-calling
Sexual abuse

The legal definition of sexual abuse is

1: a: the infliction of sexual contact upon a person by forcible compulsion

b: the engaging in sexual contact with a person who is below a specified age or who is incapable of giving consent because of age or mental or physical incapacity

2: the crime of engaging in or inflicting sexual abuse”

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Sexual abuse is when someone is sexually contacted against their will. Sexual abuse can come from a stranger, from someone on a date, and from romantic partners or spouses.

Types of power and intimidation tactics include verbal abuse, interrupting and not letting you speak, blaming you, calling you stupid, public humiliation, strict enforcement of their “rules”, pointing out your “flaws”, seemingly having a dual personality so you never know what to expect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and isolating you or taking away your freedoms.

getting out

Abusers can crush self-esteem, cut off outside relationships, and inflict so much fear that abusees may believe that if they left no one else would want them, they have nowhere else to go, or may fear for their lives if they were to leave. Abusers want their abusees to depend on them and continue controlling them.

The Help Guide has many great articles about how to go about leaving, how to plan for leaving, how to stay safe if you do stay with your abuser, etc. One such article is How to Get Out of an Abusive Relationship.

For additional help, there are a number of hotlines you can call. Some of these include www.thehotline.org, https://www.rainn.org, and https://www.acf.hhs.gov.

Does Your Child Have ADHD?

Raising kids is hard enough as it is as each child comes with their own unique challenges. But does it seem your child is especially challenging and wonder if they might have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

what is ADHD?

ADHD is a condition caused by problems related to the structure and wiring of the brain and can affect one’s ability to focus, sit still, and make appropriate decisions. Scientists aren’t sure exactly how ADHD is developed, but we know it can be linked to family history as well as brain injury. It is usually diagnosed in childhood but can often continue into adulthood.

What does ADHD look like in children?

Psychologists have categorized ADHD into three groups or “types” based on their symptoms: inattentive type, hyperactive/impulsive type, or combined type.

If your child has been showing six to nine of ADHD symptoms for the past 6 months, it is likely that they could have ADHD. It’s important to note that you as a parent might not see all these symptoms displayed in the home. Be sure to talk to your child’s teachers, parents of friends, and other adults who they interact with to get a better picture of how your child is behaving in various situations.

Here are the two types of ADHD and their corresponding symptoms:

Inattentive type:

  • They don’t pay close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in school or tasks
  • They have problems staying focused on tasks or activities
  • They don’t seem to listen when spoken to (seems to be elsewhere)
  • They don’t follow through on instructions and doesn’t complete schoolwork or chores
  • They have problems organizing tasks and work
  • They avoid or dislike tasks that require sustained mental effort
  • They often misplace important things
  • They are easily distracted
  • They forget daily tasks, such as doing chores and running errands

Hyperactive/impulsive type:

  • They fidget with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat
  • They are unable to stay seated (in the classroom, workplace)
  • They run about or climb where it is inappropriate
  • They are unable to play or do leisure activities quietly
  • They are always “on the go,” as if driven by a motor
  • They talk too much
  • They blurt out an answer before a question has been finished
  • They have difficulty waiting for his or her turn, such as while waiting in line
  • They interrupt or intrude on others
adhd, adhd awareness, adhd in children, therapy in orem utah, aspen valley counseling, neurofeedback

HOW CAN I KNOW FOR SURE IF MY CHILD HAS ADHD?

If you have wondered if your child might have ADHD, the first step to managing your child’s behavior is to first find out if your child does indeed have ADHD.

First start by talking to your child’s pediatrician, a psychologist, a psychiatrist, or a therapist who specializes in ADHD. They can help set your child up with a treatment plan based on their diagnosis. If your child’s pediatrician is unfamiliar with diagnosing and treating ADHD, they may refer you to a child psychologist. Some mental health clinics may offer ADHD screenings as well.

You can go to this website to look for psychologists in your area that can better help with diagnosis. You can even go to your child’s school counselor to seek help.

From there, you can work with professionals to find the best form of treatment for whatever diagnosis your child has.

What treatment is available for ADHD?

An ongoing study from the National Institute of mental health has shown that the most effective treatment for ADHD in children is stimulant medication. This type of medication is designed to help children in their interactions with others, reduce symptoms of hyperactivity, and help them focus more. Ritalin, Adderall, and Vyvanse are some of the common brands of stimulant medication. Talk to your child’s pediatrician or a psychiatrist about whether or not your child can benefit from this treatment.

Psychologists and counselors will not be able to prescribe medication for your child, but they can help your child with behavioral issues that come with ADHD. Studies have shown that a combination of medication and behavioral therapy can significantly improve symptoms, especially if your child is struggling with any other type of emotional disorder.

You should also look into neurofeedback as a non-medication option for ADHD. It has been shown to help kids with ADHD think more clearly.

adhd, adhd awareness, adhd in children, therapy in orem utah, aspen valley counseling, neurofeedback

What can I do to help as a parent?

Catching and treating ADHD early is crucial to your child’s social and educational development. One of the most important things you can do is to praise them for their efforts and notice when they show good behavior. Reinforcing good behavior and appropriately addressing bad behavior will not only help their self-esteem but also help them learn right from wrong.

ADDitude Magazine has outlined 12 “Dos and Don’ts” for how to best help your child with ADHD. Some of them include punishment and positive reinforcement, avoiding blame, and modeling appropriate behavior.

Depression– The Basics

While everyone will experience high points and low points in their lifetime, the degree to which everyone experiences their highs and lows varies greatly.

For those who experience more extreme low points, it can be hard to know if or when you should seek help. In this post, we will discuss the symptoms of depression and where you can find help to better manage your low points in life.

There is a difference between feeling depressed and struggling with depression.

Feelings of depression are fleeting and don’t last longer than a day or two. Depression lasts for days, weeks, or other long periods of time and usually is accompanied by changes in weight, sleep, appetite, and mood.

Dealing With Depression: Symptoms

Depression Symptoms: Mood/ Cognitive
  • A feeling of hopelessness, helpless,
  • Mood swings
  • Intense sadness or feeling “empty”
  • Anxiety
  • Apathy
  • Loss of interest
  • Loss of pleasure
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Repetitive thoughts
  • Lack of concentration
  • A bleak outlook on life
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Self-criticism
Depression Symptoms: Behavioral
  • Isolation
Depression Symptoms: Physical
  • Weight gain
  • Emotional eating
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Restless sleep
  • insomnia
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Unexplainable aches and pains
  • Frequent upset stomach
Suicide Signs and symptoms

Suicide and suicidal thoughts are not only associated with depression but can be linked to other mental disorders. If you have any of the following symptoms, you may be at higher risk for suicide.

  • Hopelessness 
  • Excessive sadness
  • Excessive moodiness
  • Sleep problems
  • Sudden calmness
  • Withdrawal

“Choosing to be alone and avoiding friends or social activities also are possible symptoms of depression, a leading cause of suicide. This includes the loss of interest or pleasure in activities the person previously enjoyed.”

WebMD
  • Changes in personality and/or appearance

“A person who is considering suicide might exhibit a change in attitude or behavior, such as speaking or moving with unusual speed or slowness. In addition, the person might suddenly become less concerned about his or her personal appearance.”

WebMD
  • Dangerous or self-harmful behavior
  • Recent trauma or life crisis
  • Threatening Suicide
  • Making preparations

“Often, a person considering suicide will begin to put his or her personal business in order. This might include visiting friends and family members, giving away personal possessions, making a will, and cleaning up his or her room or home. Some people will write a note before committing suicide. Some will buy a firearm or other means like poison.”

WebMD

Finding a therapist

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, a therapist will be able to help you and can give you more resources or tools for recovery.

Are you nervous about going to see a therapist? Don’t worry, you still have options.

If dealing with depression is making it hard for you to get out of bed, you can talk to a therapist in your pajamas, from the comfort of your own home.

Today’s technologically enhanced world allows you the opportunity to talk with a licensed therapist through phone calls, online chats, or mobile apps. Such options include Talk Space, Better Help, Regain, Teen Counseling, and Break Through.

You can also set up a Skype or regular phone call with a therapist who does telehealth appointments. By visiting Psychology Today you can search for providers in your area. Once you put in your geographic area, on the left-hand side there is an option to search for providers who offer online services.

Living life with depression is hard enough. Don’t try to tackle it all on your own.

The National Network of Depression Centers also keeps a list of online resources that could be helpful.

To get more understanding about dealing with depression, watch this video called, “I had a blag dog, his name was depression” from the World Health Organization.

If you’re looking for more ways to help you deal with depression, the National Institute of Mental Health also gives great explanations about medication and other therapies that can be helpful for someone dealing with depression.

The Second Brain– How Food and Digestion Affect Mental Health

The information system of the body is most commonly thought of as the brain receiving information from, and relaying information to, the various parts of the body. While this is accurate, it’s not the whole picture.

Studies have shown that the brain isn’t the only one interpreting and relaying information. There is a second player in the game — the gut.

What does the research show?

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), found through a study on mice, that 90 percent of the serotonin in the body is made in the gut. Elaine Hsiao, the senior author of the study, said,

“It is estimated that 90 percent of the body’s serotonin is made in the digestive tract. More and more studies are showing that mice or other model organisms with changes in their gut microbes exhibit altered behaviors.”

Dr. Siri Carpenter stated similar findings from other researchers that confirm the findings of Elaine Hsiao. She stated that changes in the microbiome of the rat’s stomachs affect neural development, brain chemistry, and can affect different types of behaviors– such as– emotional behavior, pain perception, and stress responses.

The studies that have been done on rodents are starting to match what researchers are finding in humans.

In another study done by UCLA, their findings showed that bacteria ingested with food directly affects the human brain. Dr. Kristin Tillisch, the author of the study, said,

“Time and time again, we hear from patients that they never felt depressed or anxious until they started experiencing problems with their gut. Our study shows that the gut–brain connection is a two-way street.”

 As the research shows, the food you eat and the health of your gut flora play an immense role in your overall health and could affect your mental state.

Why does the food I eat matter?

Your gut health can be affected by diets high in carbohydrates, low in nutrient-dense food, high in sugar, and processed foods, which are high in chemicals and preservatives. Change in gut health can lead to adverse reactions through food sensitivities and changes in mood.

This means that if you’re not happy — either physicall or mentally — then looking into your gut health might be a good place to start.

The American Psychology Association had an article written by Kimberly Keys where she shared her own experience on eating the right food for your body. She said,

“What I can share is that not eating the fuel mix that your body requires can make you have a number of deleterious symptoms like weight gain or loss, foggy thinking, depression, moodiness, inability to focus, nervous system disorders, fatigue, nausea, cravings, digestive disorders, headaches and migraines, and a host of other conditions that get inflamed because the improper fuel is basically taxing your immune system.”

What is a food sensitivity?

During regular digestion, your body breaks down the food you eat into simple components that can be absorbed into your bloodstream. Once absorbed, the components are distributed and used by the rest of your body.

However, if your bacterial composition of the gut is not favorable to the breakdown of a specific food, then those bacteria communicate with the gut immune system and promote an intolerance to that food.

As a result, your immune system produces antibodies to attack the food that caused the intolerance. This process can cause adverse reactions in the body.

Some examples of food sensitivity reactions are as follows.

-Feeling bloated – Irritable Bowel Syndrom (IBS) -Mood swings -Chronic fatigue -Restlessness -Brain fog -Aggressiveness -Headaches -Insomnia -Asthma -Canker sores -Sinus problems -Excessive mucus -Acne -Eczema -Excessive sweating -Hair loss -Hives -Itchy sensations -Weight gain -Cravings -Compulsive eating -Water retention -Depression -Anxiety -Muscle soreness -Earaches -ADHD -Hyperactivity -Lethargy

If you have one or more of these symptoms, there’s a 95% probability that you have a food sensitivity and could benefit from food sensitivities testing.

How do I know if I have a food sensitivity?

It is almost impossible to detect the exact food(s) that you are sensitive to on your own. Reactions can present themselves several hours to several days after the food is ingested thus making it hard to pinpoint the exact food that you are sensitive to.

The best way to determine which food(s) you have sensitivities to is through a simple blood test called Food Sensitivity Assay. This test measures your immunoglobulin immune response when different foods are introduced. The results include the foods that your body is sensitive to.

By identifying and eliminating foods that cause food sensitivities, you can help repair your gut health, potentially reverse food sensitivities, and decrease adverse reactions that can range from bloating to depression.

Addiction Recovery– 3 Steps to Getting Better

People used to believe that people with addictions just needed to “try harder.” Through science, we now know that this isn’t necessarily the case. Addiction has a direct effect on the chemical processes and structures of the brain.

Anyone who has struggled with addiction can tell you it’s a difficult journey and recovery will take time. But where do you even start? Addiction recovery usually requires professional help, but there are some things you can do to help you get started or help you progress as you’re working with a professional.

step ONE: understanding addictions

Harvard medical school in their article How Addiction Hijacks the Brain said,

The brain registers all pleasures in the same way, whether they originate with a psychoactive drug, a monetary reward, a sexual encounter, or a satisfying meal. In the brain, pleasure has a distinct signature: the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the nucleus accumbens, a cluster of nerve cells lying underneath the cerebral cortex. Dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens is so consistently tied with pleasure that neuroscientists refer to the region as the brain’s pleasure center.

Dopamine not only contributes to the experience of pleasure but also plays a role in learning and memory — two key elements in the transition from liking something to becoming addicted to it.”

As your brain experiences something pleasurable, it releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine. When dopamine is released, it signals the brain to seek out further experiences that will create the same sense of pleasure.

Let’s say that you had alcohol for the first time. This is a new experience for you and your brain created a new neural pathway for that experience. You may have had a huge dopamine release while drinking and feel compelled to seek a drink again and again.

The more times you participate in this pleasurable activity of drinking, the deeper the neural pathway for drinking will be. The dopamine high along with deep neural pathways contribute to additions. Part of addiction recovery is rewiring these neural pathways.

With that being said, not everyone who has a drink will become an alcoholic. There are other factors that contribute to addictions. Factors such as how fast dopamine is released with the activity, the intensity of that release, and how reliable that release is contribute to how addicting an activity will be. For the example above, the speed, intensity, and reliability of a dopamine release were high.

Step two: notice your behavior

Addiction recovery isn’t just about getting rid of a bad habit; it’s about creating a lifestyle that will help you get rid of your addiction. So where do you start? You start by getting at the root of the addiction, creating new patterns, and noticing risky situations.

First, start thinking about what triggers your addiction. Is it when you feel sad? After you have a fight with a loved one? There could be many reasons. Write these down. These are your high-risk situations when you should be aware that you have a habit of giving in to your addiction.

Writing them down won’t change the fact that you have an addiction, but it will help you identify your behavior better so you can be aware that you’re reacting to something when you’re giving in to the addictive behavior.

Now, think of how you feel before you succumb to your addiction. Are you feeling angry, lonely, or tired? For each high-risk situation that you wrote down, write down how you feel in that situation. These are the emotions you’re going to want to watch out for. These emotions aren’t bad, but these are times when you might be more susceptible to your addiction because you’ve created a pattern of behavior. So, when you feel sad, you might automatically go to substance abuse to avoid sadness. These are patterns you want to identify so that you can interrupt them. If you notice you’re sad, then you can learn to acknowledge that feeling, and then use a different coping method rather than give in to the addiction.

Addiction recovery, therapy in Orem Utah, CBT, EMDR, motivational interviewing, neurofeedback

Step three: learning skills

Addiction recovery won’t be solved in a day with a list. You’ll have to learn new coping methods, change your lifestyle, and in some cases alter the way you think about things or heal from trauma.

Coping Skills

Sometimes we are faced with difficult situations or feelings we don’t know how to handle. In these cases, many people turn to their addictions. But there are other coping skills you can learn to replace your addictions with. Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Meditate: When you take time out of your day to recenter your mind on what’s important, you can let go of feelings of frustration.
  • Learn mindfulness: Mindfulness is something you can use whenever and wherever you are. All you have to do is learn to focus on the here and now. What can you see, smell, feel, hear? When you stop worrying about what’s going to happen, you can learn to calm down.
  • Breathe deeply: Breathe in through your nose for six seconds and then out through your mouth for six seconds. Do this until you notice your heart rate is at a calm pace.
  • Keep a journal: Sometimes writing things down will help you organize your thoughts and help you stop worrying so much.
  • Exercise: When you exercise, your body releases a chemical called endorphins that will make you feel happy.

When you find a coping method that fits you best, try it out when you notice yourself start to feel one of the emotions on your list or after you encounter a high-risk situation. Even if it doesn’t work the first time, stick to it. Your addiction recovery will take time after all.

Addiction recovery, therapy in Orem Utah, CBT, EMDR, motivational interviewing, neurofeedback

Being Patient With Yourself

And of course, through this addiction recovery process, be patient with yourself. Be kind to yourself. And don’t give up.

Yes, you will have to make a big lifestyle change, but it will be worth it. It’s important that you start to notice other parts of your life that will have to undergo changes. Are there people who encourage your addiction? Are there places where you go that encourage your addiction? Be aware of these and avoid them when you can. But of course, you won’t always be able to avoid these things, so build up your arsenal of good habits and coping skills.

Getting professional help is going to be crucial in your recovery. If you don’t want to do an in-patient treatment program, or you have done one and need extra help, consider seeing a therapist who can help you. Here are some types of therapy that can help you in your journey of addiction recovery:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): This type of therapy will help you think more rationally and interrupt the thoughts that lead you into addictive behavior.
  • EMDR: If you are suffering from trauma, this type of therapy will help you heal and move forward with your addiction recovery.
  • Motivational interviewing: This therapy is very goal-oriented and will help you take steps toward recovery.
  • Neurofeedback: This therapy helps train your brainwaves so that you can think more clearly and make more progress in your addiction recovery.

How Neurofeedback can help

Because addiction is correlated with deep neural pathways of addictive behavior in the brain, one of the best ways to treat addiction is to rewire those pathways.

Neurofeedback can target those damaged areas and try to repair them by making different neural pathways.

Let’s compare addiction to a muscle that is overdeveloped and neurofeedback as an exercise for that underdeveloped muscle. With specific exercises tailored to the weaker muscles, those muscles grow. Since we are not working out the overdeveloped muscles, they weaken or deteriorate.

Neurofeedback is one of many treatments for addiction. For best results, it is better to go with a treatment that resonates with you and that you feel comfortable doing. Don’t be afraid to try different methodologies.

Remember, your road to addiction recovery will be your own, but you don’t have to do it alone. Understand how addictions work, understand how addiction shows up in your life and what your triggers are, and reach out for help. Get help from people who will encourage you to get rid of the addiction, therapists, specialists, and others who’ve recovered. And be patient. You’ll get there.

Happiness Just Happens… Or Does It? 8 Steps for a Happier You

What is happiness? True happiness goes beyond the fleeting, moment-to-moment emotion of being happy. The Merriam- Webster Dictionary states it as,

“: a state of well-being and contentment JOY

Happiness, or joy, is a state of being. For those who live in this state of being, it means that although they experience the ups and downs of life, they are happy more than they are not.

Here are 8 ways to help move your state of being to a state of happiness.

1- Smile. Smiling is contagious and for a good reason! When you smile your brain releases dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin– all the feel-good chemicals. By smiling you not only boost your mood but also lower your heart rate and blood pressure and relax your body. Periodically check in with yourself throughout the day and remind yourself to SMILE 🙂

“Of all the medicines in the inner life, a smile is by far the best medecine. “

– Sri Chinmoy

2- Shift your mindset. Most of us live in a state of scarcity, which means that we see most things as lacking. We see problems instead of blessings, what we lack instead of what we have, etc. We can move from a scarcity mindset by changing our focus to an abundance mindset.

An abundance mindset is believing that there are enough resources to meet your needs or achieve your goals and that there is enough success to share with others. It’s seeing the world through the eyes of possibility instead of limitations. This change in belief and mindset changes your view of the world. It can help see things in a positive light and create more happiness from within.

““If you always attach positive emotions to the things you want, and never attach negative emotions to the things you don’t, then that which you desire most will invariably come your way.” 

– Matt D. Miller

3- Clear your mind. Having a clear mind helps improve happiness, helps stay in the moment, helps shift your mindset, and helps improve your mental health.

Happiness flees when doubt, fear, worry, or anxiety fill our minds. Learning to clear your mind is a helpful way to relieve stress and anxiety, which in turn makes way for happiness.

“The mind is like water. When it’s turbulent, it’s difficult to see. When it’s calm, everything becomes clear. “

– Prasad Mahes

4- Stop comparing. Comparison is part of the scarcity mindset. It occurs because one feels they need to be as good as, or better than, those around them. It is a mindset where they desperately need to measure up and are failures if they do not.

Your worth does not come from being “better” than those around you. Your worth is innate. Embrace your individuality and unique talents and gifts. Loving yourself and knowing your own worth with help eliminate the need to compare yourself to others. Happiness will ensue as you stop questioning if you measure up.

“Comparison is the theif of joy.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

5- Sleep more. Depending on the severity, those who lack sleep can experience a weaker immune system, be at a higher risk of mental illness, and experience cognitive impairment.

Most people are more irritable if they do not get enough sleep; especially if they are chronically sleep-deprived. Getting enough sleep and being well-rested can make it easier to control your emotions, be positive, and be happy.

” Sleep is the golden chain that links health and our bodies together. “

– Thomas Dekker

6- Stop “pursuing” happiness. Be happy. Have you ever told yourself, “I will be happy when…”?

Do you postpone happiness until x, y, or z goal has been met? Sometimes you might think that attaining those goals will make you happy. What actually happens is that when the goal is reached, you end up feeling just as empty and unsatisfied inside as you were before. You do not need to accomplish something to deserve happiness.

As we explained before, happiness is not circumstantial nor dependent on our moment-to-moment emotions. Happiness is a choice and a state of being. We can choose to be happy and live in an abundant mindset while still moving towards our goals. Happiness requires being able to live in the moment and to choose happiness.

““Happiness is achieved when you stop waiting for your life to begin and start making the most of the moment you are in.”

― Germany Kent

7- Give. When we bless the lives of those around us there is an undeniable joy that comes into our lives. Service to our fellow men blesses both the giver and the receiver. There is nothing that combats hard times more than lovingly serving another person and to see their smile of joy or tears of gratitude. This is one of the purest forms of joy that we can experience in our lives.

“I’ve been searching for ways to heal myself, and I’ve found that kindness is the best way.”

– Lady Gaga

8- Focus on what is important. There are so many distractions in life that can take up all of your time if you let them and leave you with a hollow life.

It is hard to know which activities to choose and which to focus on. Here is an activity to help you identify the things that will bring you the most happiness in life.

Start by making a list of everything you would like to accomplish in your lifetime: finances, relationships, work, health, adventures, experiences, self-improvements, and anything else you can think of. Then, go through your list and whittle it down until you have your top three most meaningful accomplishments.

These goals are the things that you can base your life around. When you have to make a decision about how to spend your time, ask yourself, “Does this bring me closer to any of my three goals?” If it doesn’t, chances are it’s not worth your time. If it does, then make room for it.

Filling your life and time with experiences that lead you to the life you would like to live is the best way to experience happiness. Focus on your passions. Focus on those you love. Do things that make you happy. This is the key to happiness.

“I don’t care how much power, brilliance or energy you have, if you don’t harness it and focus it on a specific target, and hold it there you’re never going to accomplish as much as your ability warrants.”

– Zig Ziglar

Create a Meditation Practice

Meditation is a wonderful way to relax, relieve stress, and connect with your body and mind.

If you are new to meditation, you may not know what meditation is or how to do it effectively. You may even be tempted to give up as soon as you’ve started because it’s not just right for you.

While you may be tempted to quit, hang in there a bit longer. There are many health benefits to having a meditation practice and it’s a lot simpler than people think.

Change of thought

Unrealistic expectations are a big hindrance for those trying to implement a meditation practice. In western society, we focus a lot on outcome goals which are goals that are focused on having a specific, final product or outcome. When we approach meditation with the end in mind, we miss the whole of what meditation is.

Instead, think of thinking of meditation as a destination, think of it as a process. As you do meditation more frequently, you will learn and grow from each individual session. You will gain new insights, find beauty in the nuances, and have different experiences every time you meditate.

When you approach meditation in this way you are opening yourself up to learn from the process.

What is meditation?

Dr. Richard J Davidson told the New York Times,

“In Buddhist tradition, the word ‘meditation’ is equivalent to a word like ‘sports’ in the U.S. It’s a family of activities, not a single thing,”

In general, those who are not familiar with meditation do not realize that there are so many different types of meditation. As with sports, they all fall under the same umbrella but have unique areas of focus and different processes.

Here are some examples of different meditation types or techniques.

Concentration Meditation

To engage in concentration meditation, you start by placing your focus on one of the five senses: breath, touch, taste, sound, or sight.

Focusing on the different senses could mean staring at a candle flame, listen to repetitive music, speak a specific mantra that you repeat aloud over and over again, etc.

The key is to hyper-focus on the sense.

As you concentrate on your sense of choice, your mind will wander, especially if you are a beginner. THIS IS OKAY! It is part of the process. Gently refocus your attention.

Mindfulness meditation

In mindfulness meditation, you practice being in the present moment. It is hearing the sounds around you, noticing how the chair feels against your skin, or being aware of the thoughts as they come and go.

The goal in meditation is to keep the mind clear. For mindfulness, you may not be able to sit with a clear mind at first. As the stray thoughts come into your mind, acknowledge them, and let them go. The goal is to not engage in or continue with the thoughts.

The American Psychological Association wrote an article called What Are the Benefits of Mindfulness. They describe mindfulness as,

” Rather than dwelling on the past or dreading the future, mindfulness encourages awareness of a person’s existing surroundings. Crucial to this is a lack of judgment. So, rather than reflecting on the annoyance of a long wait, a practitioner will simply note the wait without judgment.

Mindfulness meditation is something people can do almost anywhere. While waiting in line at the grocery store, for example, a person might calmly notice their surroundings, including the sights, sounds, and smells they experience.”

They also went on to report research evidence that showed mindfulness helps:

  • reduce fixation on negative emotions
  • improve focus
  • improve memory
  • lessen impulsive, emotional reactions
  • improve relationship satisfaction
Loving-kindness meditation

The goal of the loving-kindness meditation is to foster a sense of love and kindness towards oneself, people in the practitioners’ lives, and a general feeling of love for life in general.

The loving-kindness meditation is done by the practitioner focusing on the feelings of love and kindness. They send love and kindness to themselves internally and send it outward to others.

The more you are able to feel these emotions in meditation, the more you will be able to feel them throughout the rest of the day. This meditation has been linked to the reduction of PTSD symptoms, anxiety, and depression as well as being a general mood booster overall.

Body scan or progressive relaxation

This meditation is known by both names, the body scan meditation or the progressive relaxation. To practice this meditation, you do a progressive scan of the body releasing tension as you go.

There are different variations of progressive relaxation. For one variation, you begin at one extremity of the body, moving through the body inch by inch, finding any tension and then releasing it. You focus on one body part at a time until you have worked through the whole body.

Another way to do progressive relaxation is to work through the body in a similar fashion to the one above. The difference is that instead of just releasing the tension in each body part, you purposefully tense up all of the muscles of each section and then release that tension. Repeat through each section of the body.

A third variation to help release the tension in the body is to imagine yourself floating on a cloud, drifting in the ocean, being weightless, or any other similar variation. The idea of floating weightlessly helps the body relax.

MOVEMENT MEDITATION:

Movement meditation combines rhythmic movement with meditation. The rhythm of the movement helps focus and center the mind. This type of meditation may be easier for some people as they don’t have to sit still.

The movement most associated with this meditation is yoga, but other types of movement can be movement meditations as well. Tai chi, swimming, or walking are examples of other movements that could be used for a movement meditation.

Meditation is a much simpler practice than it may seem at first glance. It is very individual and based on the practitioner’s intentions for each practice. Try one today and reap the many rewards meditation can bring!

14 Tip to Increase Overall Wellness

Wellness is a word that is highly used in our society today. What comes to your mind when you hear the word wellness? Chances are that you think of health and fitness which is just one of the seven aspects of wellness.

“The word ‘wellness‘ is generally defined as the process and end state of a quest for maximum human functioning that involves mind, body, and spirit. There are seven dimensions of wellness: social, vocational, intellectual, environmental, emotional, spiritual, and physical.”

The Wellness Council of America

The University of California, Davis had a great addition to the definition. They describe wellness as not just preventing or avoiding illness but making choices that promote change and growth in these seven areas of life.

Here are 14 ways to improve your overall wellness

Social

Social wellness is the connection we have with others. It is our sense of belonging.

1- Communication. The better we are at communicating, the better our relationships will be. Communication isn’t just us telling others what we want or need, but also the way we listen and act when others are talking to us. It is not limited to the words we say but includes our body language, our tone of voice, etc.

Communication is key because it is the way that relationships are strengthened. It is the way to exchange our needs, our wants, our hopes, our dreams, our expectations, etc with one another. When we are better communicators there is less miscommunication and hurt feelings.

2- Find others who enjoy a mutual hobby. Are you an avid Catholic? Do you really like anime? Maybe you’re a triathlon fanatic? Finding others who you identify with and who share your passions is a great way to bond and forge amazing friendships. It can be a starting point for developing trust and feeling a deeper connection with those around you.

Vocational

Google dictionary defines vocation as,

  • ” a strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation.
  • a person’s employment or main occupation, especially regarded as particularly worthy and requiring great dedication.”

Vocational wellness is not only feeling happy in the workplace but also feeling you belong in that particular field of work.

3- Do work you enjoy. You spend a significant amount of your life working so it is very important that you spend your time doing work that is personally rewarding to you.

If you are not currently in a job that you enjoy maybe think about going back to school and studying something you enjoy.

If you are doing work you enjoy but the company is stressful, maybe look at finding another company.

4- Create a vision for your future. We are programmed for growth as human beings and hate feeling stagnant. Part of vocational wellness is expansion and continual growth in our knowledge, skill sets, and involvement.

Create a vision for your future vocational goals and then make a plan of things you need to do to get there. A plan will help you know where you want to go and give you a rewarding feeling as you accomplish those goals.

Intellectual

Intellectual wellness refers to the exercise and nourishment of the mind. It is growth, learning, and enlightenment.

5- Read more often. Did you know that a study by Thomas Corley found that 85 percent of self-made millionaires read two or more books a month and spend 3o minutes or more a day reading?

Reading is a great way to unwind, to keep your mind sharp, improve your vocabulary, expose yourself to new ideas, expand your knowledge, increase your skillset, and always be growing.

6- Find ways to be creative. Creativity helps the brain be more innovative by improving thinking processes, problem-solving skills, and promoting self-expression.

Creativity allows your brain to make things up, to create what hasn’t ever been created, and to dream of a better future. Thinking outside of the box is something that cannot be taught in school, but can be learned through creativity.

Environmental

Environmental wellness addresses nature and our relationship with it. It is being conscientious of the earth and doing our part to protect it.

7- Go green. The popular slogan refers to doing our part in recycling or reducing our human fingerprint on earth.

If your community has a recycling program start participating in it. If it does not, find a local recycling facility where you can take your recyclables.

Recycling can have a great effect on the amount of waste that is dumped and can help clean our oceans.

8- Grow your own greens. Having a personal garden can be very beneficial. It can help decrease the extra materials used for buying store-bought goods, car transportation costs, and reduces water runoff.

Having your own garden and plants in and around your home are also beneficial in cleaning the air of carbon monoxide as well as other pollutants. Natural plants can help reduce chemicals and pesticide consumption.

Emotional

Emotional wellness is taking care of our mental and emotional states. It is making sure we are aware of and taking care of our inner worlds. This includes reducing stress, developing inner strength, and being aware of the positive and negative emotions that we experience on a day-to-day basis.

9- Embrace vulnerability. What?! Why in the world would this be a recommendation? No one likes being vulnerable.

Bear with me.

Dr. Brene Brown, the leading researcher on vulnerability and connection, describes vulnerability as, “uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.” She says that “vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity.”

With her definition not only is vulnerability something we all experience, but it is imperative in order to have what most of us crave emotionally, as uncomfortable as it may be.

10- Find a way to destress. Stress is one of the leading causes of emotional and physical illness. Finding a way to destress that you enjoy can significantly improve your emotional state of being. Different ways to destress are meditation, art or a creative outlet, deep breathing practices, yoga, journal writing, gratitude practices, taking a walk, being in nature, and many many more. There are endless possibilities, the trick is finding one that works for you.

Spiritual

11- Be a part of something greater than yourself. Most people think of spirituality as solely being religious. While this is a very common practice of spiritual wellness, it is not the only way.

To be connected to something greater than yourself could mean being a part of nature, meditating and being more connected with your inner self, or simply the act of looking for deeper meanings in the everyday events that surround you.

Don’t let the typical connotation of spirituality deter you from being curious and exploring your spirituality.

12- Have values that you live by. In Dr. Brene Browns book Dare to Lead she says,

“A value is a way of being or believing that you hold most important”.

– Brene Brown

In her book, she suggests identifying two values that you live by. These values are what help you decide how to act through conflict and hard decisions. They do not change based on the circumstances. These values are what keep you grounded.

You can find a list of values from her book Dare to Lead on page 188. In this list, she gives over a hundred different values to identify from. Identifying and sticking to these values helps create a connection to something greater.

Physical

13- Exercise. Exercise tends to have a negative connotation, but exercise doesn’t have to be grueling and strenuous. Exercise can be simple. The purpose is to get your body moving. Different types of movement include walking, bike riding, dancing, yoga, stretching, and so much more.

Finding a movement that is enjoyable and that resonates with your body has major health benefits. Exercise releases a happy hormone called endorphins, it can increase your energy and focus, aid in bone density, and decrease risks of chronic disease.

14- Diet. Diet affects everything in our bodies from hormones, energy levels, mental processing, emotional states, gut health, and illness.

The easiest way to better the quality of food consumed is to focus on small, manageable changes that move you closer to a healthier lifestyle. This could be changing one of your snacks to a healthier alternative, changing one or two processed carbohydrates that you routinely eat to more complex carbohydrates i.e. whole grains, oats, lentils, beans, fruits,  and vegetables, or substitute some of your caffeinated beverages/juices for water.

These are many simple ways to get a head start on your nutrition and taking care of your body from the inside out. You only have one body after all so take care of it.

11 Ways to Increase Your Inner Peace

August is International Peace Month and was founded in commemoration of WWI on August 16, 1926, at the Democratic Peace Conference in Germany.

While this month was created to foster world peace, this post addresses how we can first develop inner peace within ourselves.

Just as you cannot love others unless you first love yourself, you cannot be at peace with your neighbor if you are not first at peace with yourself. You cannot give what you do not have.

what is inner peace?

Wikipedia says:

Inner peace (or peace of mind) refers to a deliberate state of psychological or spiritual calm despite the potential presence of stressors. Being “at peace” is considered by many to be healthy (homeostasis) and the opposite of being stressed or anxious, and is considered to be a state where our mind performs at an optimal level with a positive outcome. Peace of mind is thus generally associated with blisshappiness and contentme nt.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inner_peace

Stress is the opposite of peace and is one of the leading causes of physical and mental illness in the United States. The American Institue of Stress did a study where they found that

77% of people regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress.
73% of people regularly experience psychological symptoms caused by stress.

This means that most of the citizens of the United States are at least experiencing one symptom of stress in their daily lives and that all of us are subject to it.

By decreasing our stress we allow peace to enter. Here are eleven things you can incorporate into your life for added peace.

11 Ways to increase inner peace

1. Find a way to unwind. You should strive to find one activity a day that helps you relieve stress, let go of negative energy, and take your mind off of the rest of the day.

These types of activities include, but are not limited to, exercising, reading, participating in a hobby, journaling, etc.

2. Breathe. Taking a moment every day to turn inward and focus on deep breathing has massive benefits for the body. It calms the mind down, increases blood flow, lowers your heart rate, lowers the stress hormone cortisol, reduces inflammation, and is a mood booster.

In as little as ten breaths you can reduce your risk of disease and illness while experiencing the positive side effects of deep breathing every day. You can set aside a time every day and make it part of your routine.

Deep breathing is also a handy tool for stressful situations. If you lose your temper, feel flustered, or are getting anxious you can use it as a coping mechanism to calm yourself, take control of your thoughts and emotions, and avoid reacting to the situation.

3. Forgive. Forgiveness can be a healing balm not only to relationships but to the heart as well.

When you forgive yourself and others, you remove the cancerous effects of holding on to pain, hurt, shame, or anger. When you let go of past errors you take your body out of flight or fight and can be at peace with yourself and those around you.

4. Self-compassion. Self-compassion is similar to self-forgiveness.

Kristin Neff’s definition of self-compassion goes as follows.

“Having compassion for oneself is really no different than having compassion for others… [For others], you feel warmth, caring, and the desire to help the suffering person in some way. Having compassion also means that you offer understanding and kindness to others when they fail or make mistakes, rather than judging them harshly. Finally, when you feel compassion for another (rather than mere pity), it means that you realize that suffering, failure, and imperfection is part of the shared human experience.

Self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself. Instead of just ignoring your pain with a ‘stiff upper lip’ mentality, you stop to tell yourself ‘this is really difficult right now. How can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?'”

Kristin Ness

In essence, self-compassion is allowing yourself to make mistakes and be gracious to those shortcomings. It is acknowledging your pain and letting it be okay.

Taking care of ourselves emotionally and mentally can relieve pain, suffering, and can increase our self-esteem because we are making ourselves a priority and taking care of ourselves. If we are feeling better, then our peace automatically increases.

5. Slow down. Slow down during your day. Take time to enjoy the moment and be present. Too many times in our culture we either ruminate about the past and what went wrong or are too focused on the future and worry about how we want it to go right.

But you cannot really be in the past or the future, you can only be at this precise moment in time. Being in the moment helps relieve depressive thoughts from the past and the anxiety you may feel about the future.

6. Plan ahead. Plan ahead to arrive at destinations ten minutes early. Being in a rush or driving frantically causes a stress response in our body. Taking the extra time to drive relaxed can make a difference in your day.

7. Set boundaries. Most of the time when we hold resentment or feel hurt by others it’s when they cross some type of boundary. A lot of times these boundaries have never been communicated to the other person.

Example. You make dinner for your significant other every night and then do the dishes and clean up afterward. You feel resentful that your partner doesn’t get up to help you, but you have never communicated this expectation to them.

The way to set up the boundary is to communicate with the person we feel resentful towards the need that is not being met. In the case of the example above you could say something like,

“Honey, I love cooking dinner for you every night, but it would be a huge help to me if you could pitch in and take care of cleaning up afterward. It would mean a lot to me to cook and not have to worry about the cleanup too.”

Setting these well-defined boundaries lets both parties know what the need and the expectation is. It also works for letting people know what is and is not okay.

Creating these boundaries is liberating. It allows you to stand up for yourself and to avoid holding on to dangerous emotions that nag at you. Boundaries make it easier to hold yourself and others accountable.

Letting go of resentment, feeling liberated, and standing up for yourself all contribute to your inner peace.

8. Ask instead of guessing.

PEOPLE ARE DISTURBED NOT BY A THING, BUT BY THEIR PERCEPTION OF A THING.”

— EPICTETUS

Similar to setting boundaries is to ask instead of guessing. Ask instead of guessing means to ask for clarification, for further detail, etc.

If we assume or guess at what the other people around us want or mean, then there is room for error, miscommunication, blame, anger, or hurt feelings.

Brene Brown has a fantastic quote that says,

“Fear is kind. Unclear is unkind.”

By being clear in our communication to others and by asking for clarification from others, we create an atmosphere of trust, understanding, and growth. When we feel assured in the situation our peace and calm increases. It also sets us up for future wins instead of future stress.

9. Accept and let go. There are so many things outside of our control. We feel we are in control when we worry about them or try to predict the outcome, but all we are really doing is adding stress to our lives for things we cannot control.

Instead of trying to predict the future or change someone, accept what the truth of the situation is and then let go. If it is outside of your control, let it go.

This doesn’t mean that you have to like the situation but is the acknowledgment that it is outside of your control and you don’t have to take it on as your responsibility. This change in thinking can avoid a lot of unnecessary stress.

10. Make time for nature. Nature has a calming effect and is good for the soul. It allows us to slow down, sit with our thoughts, and unplug.

Robert Puff Ph.D in an article by Psychology Today called, How to Find Inner Peace, says that to be out in nature doesn’t mean you have to be standing on top of a mountain. He describes it as, “an environment that fosters stillness and silence. “

This could mean sitting at your desk at work watching the rays of sunshine shine through the leaves of the tree next to your window. It could mean walking outside on your lunch break and enjoying the flowers at the nearby park. It is taking in the beauty of the nature around us and taking time to just… be.

11. Connect with a higher power. This means to connect with something greater than ourselves. This could be worshipping a God or deity, connecting with Mother Earth, the Universe, or good vibes.

Connecting with this higher power is unique to each individual. This increases inner peace by having the belief that there is something greater than us and that there is a purpose or meaning in this life.