Getting the Most Out of Your Recovery With Yoga

Yoga is a practice that uses physical poses to connect the mind, body and breath. The benefits of yoga include stress relief, pain management, and a general improvement in overall well-being. It also helps you gain self-awareness and explore your spirituality. 

Yoga is a powerful tool for holistic healing and recovery from addiction. Substance abuse treatment programs use yoga to help prevent relapse, ease withdrawal symptoms, and provide a healthy way to cope with stress and other negative emotions. It can be an integral part of your daily routine at a treatment center and for the rest of your recovery journey.

How Can Yoga Help You Cope With Stress and Anxiety?

Almost half of the people with a substance use disorder also suffer from an underlying mental health condition. Feelings of anxiety, stress, or depression can cause people to turn to drug abuse - drugs and alcohol may produce temporary calming effects or provide an escape from reality.

Part of the addiction recovery process is learning to reduce anxiety and stress and deal with these feelings in healthier ways. Feelings of anxiety stem from the central nervous system - it is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. Yoga can help regulate your nervous systems, making you feel calmer and more relaxed, which in turn reduces the urge to seek a substance.

Yoga can affect your nervous system by impacting GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) levels in the brain. GABA is a chemical that inhibits brain activity and calms your central nervous system. Research has found that yoga increases GABA levels, improving mood and reducing anxiety.

Yoga may also affect the ‘vagus nerve’, a powerful nerve that delivers messages from the brain to the digestive, respiratory, and nervous systems. The vagus nerve causes a calming response in your nervous system, reducing feelings of anxiety and stress. Yoga involves breathing exercises and other practices that can activate this nerve, helping you manage stress and experience feelings of oneness.

How Does Yoga Help to Manage Pain?

Many people start using prescription drugs like opioids to relieve chronic physical pain and later become addicted. People in recovery may search for another way to ease their pain and yoga can help. 

Lower back pain is one of the most common forms of chronic pain and affects millions of people in the United States. Research has shown Iyengar yoga can be used to decrease the intensity of lower back pain of participants and increase their health-related quality of life - that is, improve the aspects of their well-being that their health impacts. In addition, it can help prevent someone from returning to drugs to relieve pain and the feelings of depression that often accompany it.

How Can You Use Yoga Alongside the 12-Step Program?

The 12-steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are a set of guiding principles for overcoming addiction and maintaining sobriety. They focus on self-acceptance, spiritual well-being, and the development of meaningful bonds between one another. Yoga can support addiction recovery and offer a holistic healing experience that is cognitive, spiritual, and somatic - so it works very well alongside the 12-step program.

Practicing yoga is a way to explore these principles from a body-mind approach. It is an opportunity for introspection where you can learn to accept yourself as a whole. Yoga and meditation also further the development of your spirituality. They can help fulfill the sense of longing for connection or deeper experience that many recovering addicts (people in recovery) recognize as an underlying cause of their addiction.

Enlightened Solutions is a licensed co-occurring treatment center that focuses on healing the whole person rather than merely treating the addiction. Our treatment program is rooted in the 12-step philosophy and offers each client an individualized recovery plan.

At Enlightened Solutions, we offer a range of treatment modalities to provide a holistic healing experience. Our treatment plans include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family constellation therapy, art and music therapy, yoga and meditation, acupuncture and chiropractic work, and equine-assisted therapy. You will find us near the southern shore of New Jersey, where we provide optimal healing and relaxation.

If you seek relief from addiction, or if someone close to you does, please call us at (833) 801-5483 to learn more about our treatment options.


Somatoform Disorder Is Scary, but What Is It?

Somatoform disorders are a group of psychiatric conditions where you experience unexplained pain and other bodily symptoms. Somatoform symptoms cause serious distress but are not entirely attributable to any known medical condition or other mental disorder, and they can have a considerable impact on your daily life and well-being.

Symptoms of somatoform disorder manifest in different ways. These include:

  • Pain
  • Neurological disorders relating to your central nervous system 
  • Problems in your stomach, gut, and digestive system
  • Sexual problems

Having a somatoform disorder can be stressful and frustrating. You may feel unsatisfied that there is not a simple medical cause that doctors can treat to end the pain. Sometimes friends, loved ones, and others around you do not appreciate the levels of distress and the challenges you face as a result of the illness. However, the distress and sensation of pain you experience are real, even if there isn’t an underlying medical explanation.

While it may not be possible to find a medical cause, you can still treat and recover from somatoform disorders. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, medication, and treatment for co-occurring disorders can all help to manage symptoms so you can enjoy your daily life.

What Are Some Types of Somatoform Disorder?

There are many types of somatoform disorder, including:

  • Somatization disorder - where you experience several different kinds of physical symptoms
  • Undifferentiated somatoform disorder - which causes a smaller range of symptoms
  • Conversion disorder - causing only voluntary motor or sensory function symptoms
  • Pain disorder - where psychological factors cause or worsen pain
  • Body dysmorphic disorder - where you become overly concerned by a real or imaginary defect on your body
  • Hypochondriasis - an illness anxiety disorder where you are extremely worried about your health

How Does Somatoform Disorder Relate to Depression and Anxiety?

Somatoform disorders often lead to general health anxiety and fears about the cause of the bodily symptoms. However, stress and other mental health issues may also be a driving force behind the disorder. A study by the American Psychiatric Journal found strong associations between somatoform disorders and other psychiatric symptoms such as anxiety and depression. 

How Does Somatoform Disorder Lead to Substance Abuse?

Somatic symptoms and other related disorders cause bodily pain that can be severe and difficult to manage. As a result, you may turn to drugs or alcohol to try to ease symptoms and escape from feelings of stress and frustration.

Marijuana, opioid painkillers, and benzodiazepines can all help to relieve pain and anxiety. However, these drugs are also addictive. Using illicit drugs or prescription drugs in ways other than your doctor prescribes may lead to substance use disorders that can devastate your health and social life.

How Does Drug Use Affect Somatoform Disorder?

Drug abuse and addiction may also affect somatic symptoms. Medications like opioid painkillers can make you hypersensitive to pain and exacerbate the symptoms of somatoform disorders. In addition, withdrawal symptoms and side effects of drug abuse may worsen gastrointestinal, sexual, and coordination problems.

How Can You Treat Somatoform Disorder?

Somatic disorder treatment often involves different kinds of therapy and treatment for co-occurring disorders like substance use disorders, anxiety, and depression which may underlie somatic symptoms. 

Treatment is more successful if doctors recognize the disorder quickly and avoid unnecessary testing and ineffective treatments. In addition, health care professionals should deliver diagnosis and treatment with empathy and a complete understanding of the pain and distress the patient is experiencing.

Treatment for co-occurring substance use and somatic form disorders should treat both illnesses simultaneously. Somatoform disorders can be a driving factor behind substance abuse, and if ignored, drug-seeking behaviors can re-emerge, even after long periods of sobriety. Holistic treatment that focuses on underlying mental and physical conditions is fundamental to recovering from both kinds of disorder.  

Enlightened Solutions is a licensed co-occurring treatment center. We offer a holistic treatment program that treats underlying mental health issues alongside addiction. Our location on the picturesque south shores of New Jersey provides an optimal setting for healing and relaxation.

Our treatment program is rooted in the 12-step philosophy, and we provide each client with an individualized recovery plan. We offer a range of treatment modalities, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family constellation therapy, yoga and meditation, acupuncture and chiropractic work, and equine-assisted therapy. If you or someone close to you seeks relief from addiction, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information about our treatment options.

 


managing anxiety

7 Tips for Managing Anxiety in Addiction Recovery

Anxiety disorders are the most common class of mental health issues. About 30 percent of Americans will have issues with anxiety at some point in their lives. What’s more, anxiety significantly increases your risk of developing a substance use disorder. The National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions interviewed more than 43,000 people and found that among people who had struggled with anxiety in the past year, 15 percent met the criteria for having a substance use disorder—about twice the prevalence in the general population. Part of a strong recovery from addiction entails making healthy lifestyle changes to manage anxiety overall and learning to cope with individual episodes. Here are some suggestions for managing anxiety in addiction recovery.

 

See a Therapist

First, if you have issues with anxiety and you haven’t seen a therapist, see one as soon as possible. An anxiety disorder is a serious mental health issue, sometimes with a biological basis, and you should take it seriously. It’s not just a matter of telling yourself to calm down; there are other issues driving your anxiety. A therapist can help you work through it, perhaps with the help of medication.

 

Breathe deeply.

Deep breathing is one of the most effective tools there is for calming anxiety. When you’re anxious, your body’s sympathetic nervous system, the fight-or-flight system, is in control. You feel threatened—perhaps by something that’s not really threatening or perhaps by nothing at all—and your body prepares to deal with that threat. But since anxiety can feed on itself, the sympathetic nervous system never backs off. To do that, you have to intentionally activate your parasympathetic nervous system, otherwise known as your rest-and-digest system. 

 

You can activate your parasympathetic nervous system by taking a few slow, deep breaths. The exhale is especially important, since this is what stimulates the vagus nerve and helps you calm down. When you feel stressed, panicked, or overwhelmed, take a few deep breaths. A common pattern is to inhale for a count of four, hold for a count of seven, exhale for a count of eight, and repeat. Five or 10 breaths should help you calm down and think more clearly.

 

Examine Your Thinking

Most anxiety comes not from any particular situation but from your thinking about the situation. Sometimes the brain can conjure up anxiety from nothing at all. When you’re anxious, it helps to notice what thoughts are causing the anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, has identified a number of common cognitive distortions that cause mental distress. These include black-and-white thinking, catastrophizing, discounting the positive, and others. You typically learn about these distortions and how to combat them as part of addiction treatment or individual therapy. Learning to spot these distortions takes a bit of practice and guidance but will significantly cut down on your anxiety once you get the hang of it.

 

Get Enough Sleep

Getting enough quality sleep is one of the best things you can do for your mental and physical health. Inadequate sleep has been linked to a number of mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. When you are sleep deprived, or when you run a chronic sleep deficit, you significantly impair several important cognitive functions, including attention, working memory, foresight, and prioritization. Perhaps the biggest problem for anxiety is that lack of sleep also impairs emotional regulation. There is an area of the prefrontal cortex that essentially acts as a brake on anxiety and when you don’t get enough sleep, that brake doesn’t work very well. Getting enough sleep makes everything in life easier.

 

Exercise

After getting enough sleep, regular exercise is the second biggest lifestyle change you can make to manage anxiety. Many scientific studies now support exercise’s many mental health benefits, including reducing anxiety. Exercise does a number of things, including increasing the brain’s levels of endorphins, serotonin, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which helps grow neurons in certain areas of the brain. It is also thought that exercise affects the brain’s hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal, or HPA, axis, which reduces your reactivity to stress.  

 

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness meditation is one of the best ways to learn to manage your anxiety. Most people reflexively try to push anxiety away, ignore it, or stifle it, but these only make it worse. Mindfulness teaches you to accept anxiety and not compound it by being anxious about it. Instead, you observe your anxiety without judgment, noticing where it comes from, what thoughts arise with it, where you feel it in your body and so on. You gradually learn that anxiety is nothing to be afraid of. 

 

Reduce Your Caffeine Intake

For most people recovering from addiction, moderate caffeine intake is not a big deal. If that caffeine is in the form of tea or coffee rather than sugary energy drinks, it may even have some moderate benefits. However, if you are prone to anxiety, caffeine may raise your baseline of stress. Caffeine’s effects are similar to those of anxiety—faster heart rate, increased energy and focus, and so on. It can make you more sensitive to stress or even trigger an anxiety feedback loop. Perhaps more importantly, caffeine can interfere with sleep. Even a cup of coffee at noon may leave quite a bit of caffeine in your system at bedtime. It can either keep you up or prevent you from sleeping deeply. This is especially problematic since many people already experience insomnia early in recovery. And as noted above, a chronic sleep deficit can significantly increase your anxiety.

 

Anxiety isn’t just a matter of being on edge or tightly wound. You can’t “just relax.” It’s a real mental health issue that typically requires professional help. You normally get treatment for co-occurring conditions, such as anxiety, when you enter an addiction treatment program, but not if you only attend mutual-aid meetings like AA. However, an untreated anxiety disorder can make recovery far more difficult, since it’s often the anxiety that caused the substance use issue in the first place. 

 

At Enlightened Solutions, we know that recovering from addiction requires healing the whole person. Our holistic treatment program incorporates modern treatment methods, wellness practices, and modalities such as yoga and meditation to help our clients overcome addiction. To learn more, call us today at 833-801-LIVE.


5 Tips to Help You Stop Ruminating

5 Tips to Help You Stop Ruminating

Rumination is a repetitive pattern of thinking about something negative, either something from your past or something you’re worried might happen later. Rumination is a way of being mentally stuck.

All your energy goes into these repetitive thoughts. Not only does rumination distract you from more useful things but it also tends to make you depressed and anxious. 

 

According to the American Psychological Association, many studies have linked rumination to depression, including one study of more than 1,300 people, which found that ruminators were four times as likely as non-ruminators to develop major depression. Rumination is a bad habit in itself and if you are recovering from a substance use disorder, rumination can be a major liability.

An episode of anxiety or major depression is often a prelude to relapse. Therefore, if you are prone to rumination, it’s a good idea to do something about it as soon as possible. Here are some tips for stopping rumination.

 

Notice When You Ruminate

 

The first step is to notice when you’re ruminating. Part of what makes it so difficult to stop is that we get swept up in our thoughts and we don’t even notice it’s happening. When you do catch yourself ruminating, it’s important that you don’t beat yourself up.

Your first reflex might be to think something like, “Idiot! Knock that off!” What you want to do instead is pat yourself on the back for noticing that you were ruminating. “Oh, there I go again, but great job noticing!” You want to positively reinforce the act of catching rumination rather than punish yourself for ruminating. 

 

Once you do catch yourself ruminating, pay attention to the circumstances. There is typically a trigger; see if you can figure out what it is.

Our brains are highly associative so something as innocuous as a phrase in a news article might remind you of something embarrassing you did as a child and before you know it, you’ve been staring at the same article for 20 minutes, replaying that humiliating moment that no one else on the planet remembers. Just being aware of these rumination triggers can help keep you from getting stuck in a rut. 

 

Distract Yourself or Change Your Situation

 

As noted above, rumination is often triggered by specific situations. If you notice that’s the case, one thing you can do is just change your environment, at least temporarily. This gets you out of the ruminating frame of mind.

The sooner you do this, the easier it is to break the rumination cycle. Another similar strategy is to distract yourself. In other words, instead of changing your surroundings, change your focus.

Since rumination typically makes it hard to concentrate, it’s best to distract yourself with something engaging. Playing a video game, having a conversation with a friend, going for a walk, or listening to music are often effective distractions.

 

Practice Mindfulness

 

In a way, mindfulness is the opposite of distracting yourself. Instead of trying to break the cycle of rumination, you allow it to happen and you observe it nonjudgmentally. See what you can notice about your rumination.

What are you ruminating about? What part keeps repeating? Why is your mind so attached to that part? What emotions arise as you ruminate? Where do you feel those emotions in your body? 

 

You will probably notice some patterns very quickly. For example, you may notice that you feel strongly attached to your rumination and why you try to think about something else, it sort of pulls you back.

Why is that? Is there some sense in which you enjoy ruminating? Mindfully exploring your rumination can give you a lot of insight. It works best if you have a regular mindfulness meditation practice. Even 20 or 30 minutes a day will help you relax and gain insight into your thought processes.

 

Write It Down

 

One thing you may discover about rumination, if you watch it mindfully, is that you feel, deep down, like you’re solving a very important problem. So, for example, you said something embarrassing at work and your brain wants to replay the situation to figure out what happened and how you could have handled the situation better.

That’s actually pretty helpful. However, this often turns into replaying an embarrassing incident over and over, which is not helpful.

One reason a rumination tends to repeat is that you don’t want to forget the bit that you’ve worked through. Unfortunately, that means you never make much progress in solving the problem. 

 

One way to break out of the trap is to write down what you’re ruminating about. This brings your rumination into your conscious awareness—as noted above—and it gives your brain permission to stop rehearsing it.

Your very important problem is now safely down on paper and you can either continue thinking it through logically, on paper, or you can think about something else. 

 

Take Steps Toward Solving the Problem.

 

If you do continue writing about a problem, it may help you break the cycle of rumination. As noted, rumination is the desire to solve a problem run amok.

If you are able to state the problem clearly and perhaps take concrete steps toward solving it, you will immediately worry about it less. You don’t have to solve the whole problem at once; you really only need a clear idea of the first step and a workable plan for following through.

 

Rumination, like any bad habit, takes time and patience to quit, but it’s well worth the effort. Awareness and attention are the keys.

It’s also helpful to remember that your brain is trying to do something useful. Once you better understand how rumination works, in general, and for you specifically, it’s easier to get out of the trap.

 At Enlightened Solutions, we use a variety of holistic methods, including evidence-based therapeutic methods, yoga, mindfulness, and others, to help our clients cope with challenging emotions and lead more fulfilling lives. For more information, call us at 833-801-LIVE.


Wil Wheaton’s Journey of Anxiety and Depression

Wil Wheaton’s Journey of Anxiety and Depression

Wil Wheaton is a 45-year-old actor with a wife and two children. He has worked on hit television shows like “The Big Bang Theory” and “Star Trek- The Next Generation,” has been a New York Times Bestselling Audiobook narrator, has received numerous awards for his work, and has struggled with anxiety and depression despite it all. By learning about Wil Wheaton’s experiences of anxiety and depression, it shows us that everyone has their struggles no matter how successful you are in your career and how important it is to talk about it.

Wil Wheaton’s Childhood with Anxiety and Depression

When Wheaton was seven or eight years old, he started having panic attacks. Adults back then thought that he was just suffering from nightmares since there were no names for panic attacks. Wheaton would wake up in terror with the blanket being off the bed by the end of the night. He would sleep on the floor of his sister’s room because he was afraid of being alone. Despite having normal moments as a child, the panic attacks would keep returning always worse than before. 

At the age of 13, Wheaton’s anxiety would kick in where he would worry about everything. He was tired, irritable, lack self-confidence, and low self-esteem. Wheaton felt like he could not trust anyone because he was convinced people only wanted to be around him for his fame since he considered himself worthless without it. Wheaton was taught that his anxiety was shameful in that it would reflect poorly on his parents and should be kept a secret. Adults did not take his anxiety symptoms seriously. When he would have trouble breathing while on set, in fear of messing up or being fired, directors and producers claimed he was too difficult to work with. This was when his anxiety turned into depression.

The Stigma of Mental Illness

Wheaton has told Medium that he wished he knew what mental illness was. Because he did not know what was wrong with him, he did not know how to ask for help. He also had no idea that mental illness could be treated and that he does not have to continue feeling lousy. Wheaton’s parents did not like to talk about mental illness as they felt like it would be a reflection on them. Wheaton does not blame his parents for not addressing his mental illness because he believed they were blind to the symptoms. His parents grew up believing that mental illness was a sign of weakness and taught their son that. When Wheaton would try to reach for help, he did not know what questions to ask and adults did not know what answers to give.

Wil Wheaton in His Twenties

When Wheaton was 22, he suffered another panic attack in the middle of the night. This caused him to drive to his parent’s house, sleep on the floor of his sister’s room again, and asked his mom the next morning what was wrong with him. Even though his mother knew mental illness ran in the family, she still could not connect the dots that the same thing was happening to her son. 

In his twenties, Wheaton started having obsessive behaviors. He would worry about the world around him, holding his breath when he would drive under bridges to avoid crashing his car, tap the side of airplanes to avoid the plane crashing, and would feel like every time he said goodbye to someone would be the last. 

How Anxiety Interferred in Wil Wheaton’s Life

Whenever Wheaton wanted to have fun with his friends, he felt like his anxiety would always stop him. Traffic would be too stressful and he would have trouble finding parking. Wheaton would think of all of the “what-if” scenarios that would make him think negatively about every experience. He wished his brain would ask him what would happen if he actually had fun. Wheaton felt like his anxiety would prevent him from living and just solely existing. 

The Start of Treatment

After Wheaton had a panic attack and a meltdown at the Los Angeles International Airport, his wife suggested that he get help. He knew how important his wife was to him and that she did not want to see him suffer anymore. When Wheaton went to see a doctor, the doctor said to him, “Please let me help you.” It was not until he was 34 that he realized mental illness was not a weakness. Wheaton started on a low dose of an antidepressant and noticed a big change after taking a walk with his wife in ten years. He noticed the smell of the flowers, the breeze, and the birds without feeling any negativity. 

Wil Wheaton’s Advice

Wheaton started talking about his mental illnesses in 2012. After that, a bunch of people reached out to him online. They shared stories with him and asked him questions about how he got through a bad day or week. He would tell them that his depression feels like a lead blanket weighing him down. While that happens, depression feeds you lies. Wheaton wants people to know how important it is to take care of yourself and the awful feelings do not stick with you forever. Wil Wheaton’s wish is for the government to put more funding into mental health treatments and for more people to be comfortable talking about what they are going through. 

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


How Binaural Beats Can Make a Difference in Mental Health

How Binaural Beats Can Make a Difference in Mental Health

You may want to have a nice sleep but are not in the right state of mind to do so from anxiety. In order to do so, you need to quiet your mind and be in a state of peace. Binaural beats can help your brain respond to sound to move you to a deep relaxation which can help you get better sleep.

Binaural Beats

Binaural beats are when you combine two different sound frequencies to create a new frequency tone. It is said that when you experience two different sound frequencies with one in each ear, the brain perceives it as one tone. If your left ear gets a 300-hertz tone and your right ear gets a 280-hertz tone, your brain will think of this as a 10-hertz tone which is a low-frequency sound that you cannot hear. Being exposed to these binaural beats can create low-frequency sounds to slow down brain activity to help you sleep better.

Four Types of Brainwaves

There are four different types of brainwaves that determine our state of consciousness, emotion, and mental state. Beta waves are where we are the most alert. This helps us focus, concentrate, make decisions, and be analytical thinkers. These waves are fast with high frequencies between 10-15 hertz which are associated with anxiety. Alpha brainwaves are when you are alert but still relaxed. With hertz between 9-14, alpha waves are associated with meditation and to be creative. 

Theta waves are associated with deep relaxation and non-REM sleep. They are of lower frequency between 5-10 hertz in the state where we feel we are drifting in and out of sleep. Delta waves are slow frequency waves of 1.5-4 hertz that dominate deep sleep. Being exposed to binaural beats can influence brainwaves that achieve slower frequencies that put you in deep relaxation.

Improving Sleep

Being exposed to binaural beats can change three hormones that are associated with sleep. One hormone is DHEA which strengthens your immune system and fights disease. DHEA suppresses cortisol which stimulates alertness and provokes stress. Binaural beats help with cortisol production in that this hormone at high levels normally causes insomnia. Melatonin levels tend to rise dramatically in the evening by relaxing your body and mind to fall asleep. Listening to binaural beats will strengthen the hormones that make you relax and help you fall asleep more easily. 

Relieves Anxiety

One study showed how binaural beats can help beat anxiety. The study showed how binaural beats had an effect on those who felt anxiety going through surgery. For six months, patients would spend half an hour listening to binaural beats on the day of their surgery. Compared to those who listened to music without binaural beats and those who listened to no beats at all, the ones listening to binaural beats had greater decreases in anxiety levels. Another study showed how binaural beats helped reduce the anxiety and blood pressure levels of those about to undergo cataract surgery.   

Increases Meditation

In order to get into a meditative state, you have to calm the posterior cingulate cortex which is known as the non-focused state. When you listen to binaural beats, it accomplishes the job of calming that part of the brain. It enhances the other part of the brain that easily brings you to a flow state. Using binaural beats will give you the same effects of meditation but done much faster.

How to Use Binaural Beats

All you need to have with you is binaural beat audio and a pair of headphones or earplugs. You can find online audio files of binaural beats music on YouTube or Spotify. There are also CDs you can purchase that you can download to your phone or MP3 player. In order for binaural beats to work, the two tones have to have frequencies of less than 1000 hertz with the difference not being more than 30 hertz. Look for beats based on which soundwaves you are trying to influence. Find a comfortable place to listen free of distraction and listen for half an hour every day to make sure that the rhythm is synched in your brain. How much you listen to all depends on your mental health symptoms. For example, those experiencing high anxiety symptoms can try listening for an hour to binaural beats or longer. You can also try closing your eyes to avoid any distractions. 

Binaural Beats Versus Meditation

While meditation is a good practice to help yourself be calm and live in the moment, you may want to use binaural beats to achieve a faster effect. Meditation can provide a lot of obstacles like having trouble focusing or taking too long to achieve the desired effect. Binaural beats are simple in that you put on your headphones, relax, and listen.

Side Effects of Binaural Beats

There are no known side effects other than making sure that the volume in your headphones is not too high to hurt your ears. Listening to these sounds at or above 85 decibels, which can equate to heavy traffic, can cause hearing loss over time. If you have epilepsy, it is best to speak to your doctor before trying it. If you are having trouble sleeping or need to quiet your mind of anxious thoughts, binaural beats are the way to go in order to teach your brainwaves to calm down which in turn will make you calm enough to sleep.

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


How Social Media Can Be Less Toxic For Our Mental Health

How Social Media Can Be Less Toxic For Our Mental Health

Social media may have good intentions in trying to provide strong connections with others on a professional and personal level, but it can also shatter the mental health and body image of others as well. We may not be able to control what others post, but social media can control the functions they have set up that can fuel the damage that inflicts social media. By social media sites taking responsibility for the functions that make an impact on a person’s mental health, more companies can follow suit and be more aware of their actions.

New Policies on Instagram

A 2017 study showed that Instagram has had the worst effect on a person’s mental health, including eating disorders and body image issues. Facebook is trying to change all of that. They announced two new policies to ensure the wellbeing of members is improved as well as creating a healthier culture around dieting. One of them is that Instagram will prevent those under 18 from being shown any ads that are related to dieting. Another is that it will ban any ads that will glorify certain diets or weight loss products. Facebook has also announced that it is trying to hide likes. While these policies are heading in the right direction, we need to ask if there is a limit to what can be done for social media to not touch the mental health of others.

Commentary From the Experts

Emily Brunner, CEO of the Recovery Clinic and psychotherapist in eating disorders and body image issues, believes there needs to be a stronger relationship between users and social media companies. She believes that these companies need to take the feedback of users more seriously. Brunner also believes that the biggest problem is that users do not have the ability to be specific when it comes to reporting harmful content. When you flag it, it does not tell you why it is reported, problematic, or offensive. This can help companies decide whether this content is personal for one person or could make a negative impact on the masses. Brunner believes that the problem does beyond diet ads.

Dr. Ysabel Gerrard, a lecturer at the University of Sheffield, believes in the opposite in that Facebook’s efforts should be appreciated. That Facebook is speaking to experts, activists, and health practitioners, showing that they care. Dr. Gerrard thinks that there is no point in calling what Facebook is doing a PR stunt as they did not have to engage in any of these efforts. Despite admiring Facebook's efforts, Dr. Gerrard still believes that these policies are not perfect. Deciding what is considered a “glamorous diet ad” is subjective. There may not be a way to know what ads should not be seen.

Recommended Content

Dr. Gerrard worries about the content that gets recommended to people. Liking a certain post or engaging with certain people can make you see more and more content with the potential of it being harmful. For example, if you like a post on Instagram about eating disorders, all you will get is more posts about eating disorders flooding your home feed. Just when you want one day where you do not see the same familiar content, you cannot get that as it is all run by an algorithm. For example, British teenager Molly Russell killed herself after getting graphic images of suicide and self-harm that was recommended by her Instagram account months before. Pinterest was sending her automatic emails of violent images of death that said: “things you might love.”

Social Media’s Pressure to Compare

In reality, there is only so much that social media companies can do. You cannot control the dialogue that people on social media have with each other about eating disorders and mental health. But, fixing one policy will not fix the lengths of time when women were told how to look, the ads of products and creams, and what the standards are beauty are. The cosmetic and beauty industry is to blame for centuries of putting pressure on women while social media is just another addition to the pressure. We are constantly comparing ourselves to others and the lives they lead which makes us feel small. Before social media, people would compare themselves to models. Now, social media allows us to compare ourselves to average people. Our friends on social media could be making us feel like they exercise more or can afford more than others. 

Where to Go From Here

Because Facebook is the largest social media site, the company most likely feels a responsibility to ensure that no member on their sites is harmed by functions that the company places. Removing the like button and controlling the ads may not be the sole solution to solving how social media affects mental health, but it is a start. Big companies like Facebook do have a responsibility to ensure that their websites are making others happy and making any changes to ensure that. While these social media sites may be addictive now, accounts will be deleted and fewer people will join when they realize what these accounts are doing to their mental health. People will find other ways to communicate compared to continuing to go on a site that will make them feel lousy. Facebook taking the first steps to protect the mental health of its members shows just what a priority our mental state is.

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Hurricane Anxiety and Trauma

Hurricane Anxiety and Trauma

When you know that a hurricane is approaching, you may start to feel anxiety like shaking, sadness, obsessively watching news updates on it, or even being afraid to leave your home. This is because hurricanes are beyond anybody’s control. By doing everything you can to prepare for a hurricane and making sure you are not alone, you are doing the best you can.

The Anxiety of Hurricanes

Hurricanes have a tendency to make us feel anxious and scared because we have no control over them. It does not help when the news tells us about how the hurricane will hit our area and seeing businesses being closed down. This can make us go into a frenzy where we overspend on groceries, keep our eyes glued to the news, or keep thinking of all of the what-if scenarios. It hurts us more because our fear of hurricanes is not going to keep them away.  

Preparing for a Hurricane

The best way to decrease your anxiety symptoms before a hurricane comes is to prepare. This will give you more control over the situation and will show that you are making efforts to protect yourself and others. This means making sure that you have enough dry and canned food, batteries, water, candles, etc. It also helps to stay up to date on the weather to see how close the storm is and how serious it is. At the same time, though, do not watch the news too much as it will make you more nervous as it gets more serious. Storms can be unpredictable and have a tendency to change direction. Just check every few hours and focus more on preparations for it. 

It will also help to speak to friends, relatives, a counselor, or anyone else about what you are going through. They may help you by vowing to stay with you through the whole thing and giving you some insight on what they did the last hurricane to make themselves feel safe. The most important thing you can do to prepare is to accept what you cannot control. Excessive worrying about the path of a hurricane or the damage that can be inflicted will not prevent anything. All you can control is how to protect yourself. 

What You Can Do After the Hurricane

You may be having difficulty coping from the aftermath of a hurricane when you see the damage of your house, neighborhood, or if anyone you know got hurt. Instead of thinking hard about your feelings of sorrow, you should do something about them. This can mean donating blood to the people who were seriously hurt during the hurricane. You can make care packages to wish them well or volunteer to help the survivors to get a sense of control back. Try to keep up with your daily routine as normal as possible such as showing up to work, eating balanced meals, taking care of your family, etc. 

How to Manage Trauma After a Hurricane

The trauma you may experience after a hurricane can be increased headaches, muscle tension, nausea, and nightmares. It is first important to tell yourself that you can get through this. That you have dealt with hardships in the past and found ways to heal before. You should also limit your exposure to the news as seeing and listening to the damaged areas or the injuries others have suffered will not help. In order to increase ratings and get more people watching, the media will only show the worst-case scenarios. Things could still be looking better in your neighborhood compared to what is being shown in other areas.

You can also express your feelings to others who have been hit by the hurricane whether it is people you know or from support groups in your area who are suffering like you. It will help you feel less alone and you can get tips from others on how to cope. Commit to engaging in healthy behaviors to cope with your trauma like eating well-balanced meals or meditation before you go to bed to avoid any nightmares from occurring. Avoid drugs and alcohol as they will increase your feelings of depression and cause you to neglect taking care of yourself. 

Getting Help From Prolonged Feelings

Having these anxiety symptoms for several weeks can mean that you are dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. Speaking to a psychologist will help educate you on how you normally respond to extreme stress and how to move forward. You can trust psychologists with your worries and feel comfortable sharing your stories. Therapists can also use different types of talk therapy to best address your problems and fits your personality and preferences. Some therapists even use hypnosis to help manage pain and mood disorders. 

It is also important to be there for your children as they could be feeling shock and sadness from this hurricane. Encourage your kids to talk about their feelings as a way of telling them that it is okay to talk about it. Let your children know that you are feeling scared too so that they are aware that even adults can experience fear after terrifying moments like this. You should assure yourself and your children that hurricanes do not happen all of the time. You may not have control over a natural disaster, but you do have control in how to better take care of your mental health.

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Anxiety Rash

Anxiety Rash

Our brain tends to communicate with our bodies. When we are feeling anxiety, your body will not only have mental effects but physical effects as well in the form of a rash. It is important to seek professional help for your anxiety to avoid your rash from getting worse.

The Appearance of an Anxiety Rash

Anxiety rashes often look like hives which can appear anywhere on the body. They are generally red and blotchy and can either be really small or take up space on your body. Sometimes, these blotchy spots can form to create even bigger welts. This rash will most likely itch which will make it burn when you touch it. Generally, a single rash tends to go away in 24 hours, but new rashes can form when old rashes disappear. By not getting your anxious thoughts under control, you will continue to develop new rashes.

The Emotion Effects of an Anxiety Rash

It can be embarrassing for a person to have a rash. This is especially true if this occurs suddenly and unexpectedly. It is worse enough that you are trying to deal with your anxiety, but to have others notice these blotchy marks on you can make your anxiety worse. Imagine if you are at a fancy party and a photographer is taking your picture while you have this rash or you work a job that deals with customer interaction. It is too stress-inducing to worry about this rash and trying to hide it.

The Cause of an Anxiety Rash

It is not actually the anxiety that causes the rash but the stress that causes anxiety. Stress makes your body tense and releases cortisol and adrenaline into the bloodstream which leads to skin reactions. Stress can also make your body more prone to reactions if it focuses too much on the stress than protecting your body. If anxiety rashes are not treated, these rashes could turn into worse problems like eczema, psoriasis, acne, or herpes. Stress may not create these conditions, but it definitely will not help them from getting better.

How to Tell This Rash is From Anxiety

Unfortunately, it is hard to tell if the rash you are experiencing is directly linked to anxiety. It could be the result of an allergic reaction to a medication, a lotion you are wearing, or a sweat rash. The best way to know for sure if this rash is caused by anxiety is to eliminate all of the other causes that can come from this rash. If you hardly wear lotion, have no food allergies, or have not been out in the sun in a while, you know those are not the causes. You will know that the rash was brought on by anxiety if the rash starts to go away when you manage your anxiety.

Covering Up Anxiety Rash

Not doing anything about your anxiety will make your rash worse. There are those who prefer to cover up their rash than to admit that they are struggling with a mental illness. People with anxiety will tend to wear long sleeves so that no one can see their rash, only to prevent it from breathing. They may also wash their skin too much which will lead to skin irritation. The anxiety of covering up your rash can actually make it stay with you longer. You need to understand your anxiety and know that a rash will continue to come if you do not control it.

How to Reduce Anxiety Rash

To control your rash, you need to control your anxiety. You first need to decrease your anxiety symptoms to increase your chances of any improvement. You can try treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy, deep breathing, anxiety medications, talking to a therapist, and more. Rashes can take a few days to a week to go away. It may also take some time after your anxiety symptoms go away for your skin to relax. It is important to make sure that you are not scratching these bumps or wearing clothes or lotion that can make irritation worse. There are over-the-counter antihistamines like Benadryl, Zyrtec, Allegra, and Claritin. You can also try applying a cool compress on the areas or take a cool shower. 

When to See a Doctor

If your symptoms worsen or last longer than six weeks, it is best to talk to a doctor. Your doctor may prescribe prescription-strength antihistamines, Deltasone, Aczone, Xolair, or other medications that will help treat the redness and swelling. If you experience lip or face swelling, trouble breathing, or wheezing, you need to seek immediate medical attention. Having hard bumps or having them filled with pus can mean that you are suffering from an underlying condition which makes it all the more reason for you to seek a consultation. 

It is important to ask yourself if not dealing with your anxiety is worth the physical effects you are experiencing. Anxiety is a treatable mental illness that you can do something about in the office of a therapist or at home. You can try going to therapy so that a therapist can tell you what to do to prevent these rashes from developing again as well as meditation, yoga, exercising regularly, or making time for personal hobbies. Once you discover techniques that work for you, your rash will start to go away. Treating your anxiety will treat your rashes for years to come.

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


How to Respond to Stress-Inducing Emails

How to Respond to Stress-Inducing Emails

Emails have a way of bringing about anxiety when someone important like your boss, a relative, or even a friend wants you to accomplish a task that you feel you cannot handle or you get distressing news. It could be an unfriendly reminder that your deadline is approaching, a new project you have to do on your days off, or you get a negative email from someone who is in a bad mood. Instead of avoiding the email or letting your anxiety get the best of you, it is best to approach this email with a good attitude and take your time responding.

Notifications

You may get notifications on your phone or your computer where you hear a sound notification that makes your heart jump. You can see the sender’s name as well as a sentence of the message. This sets you on edge because you are afraid to see what they want you to do. If your company tends to send you a lot of emails at a time and that notification sound is stressing you out, it is not worth it to feel those anxiety symptoms every day over emails. You may need to change your notification settings. Instead of hearing a sound, you can remove the sound and the email previews. Just limit the email notifications to see that number at your inbox when you choose to look.

Talk with Your Voice Instead of Electronically

Remember that emails may appear as harsh when you cannot hear the tone behind it. The person on the other side of the email may not realize how they are sounding in the email. To further clarify what you are asked to do, call this person or do a video conference so that you both can speak to each other in a calming matter and hear the true tone of the person behind the email. You have more of a connection with that person when you hear the other person’s voice compared to staring at a computer screen. Take that extra step to show that person how much they mean to you and that you would like further clarification talking about this in a discussion instead of electronically.

Pause Before Sending

Sometimes, your nerves can get the better of you which makes you click send before making sure what you responded is what you want to say. If this is an important email, you want to make sure that you do not write anything that you will regret. Read it to yourself for a few minutes and see if you would find this email appropriate if someone sent this to you. You can even read it out loud to a friend or relative to see if they find it adequate. You want to be confident that the answer you send to someone is the one you are comfortable with. Click send when you get to that point.

Write a Draft

Instead of telling yourself that this is an email that needs to immediately be sent, write it as a draft first. Do not feel like you have to automatically send it as soon as you finish writing it. By saving it as a draft, you will feel less pressure. This will give you the opportunity to add something in or take something out. Do not keep it as a draft for too long as the sender is expecting an answer. At the same time, do not be in a rush to send it.

Empathize with the Sender

The sender of the email you just got may sound irrational or harsh. Instead of being quick to judge the sender for their subjective tone, empathize with them before you get yourself anxious. They may be feeling as much anxiety as you do right now. The sender could be telling you about a project that is so dire that it needs to be done by the end of the week. You may be thinking that the sender is not thinking about you in that you wanted a weekend to do no work. It is important for you to think about what the sender is going through in how they are depending on you. They do not mean to put pressure on you but are just doing their job. 

Prioritize Your Emails

On some email systems like Gmail, you can prioritize your emails by category. Gmail has it where the emails come through separate tabs like “priority,” “social,” or “promotions.” This will make it much simpler in that you know the emails that you get from your boss are the high priority that you should answer. Any emails from friends and family, as important as they may be to you, can wait. Any promotional emails from places you have subscribed to can also wait since they are just advertisements. 

Unplug for Awhile

While you should not be ignoring your boss’s emails, you should also reply to emails when you feel ready. If it is your day off or during the weekend, do not wake up earlier than you normally would to check your emails. Continue on with the plans you have for the day since everyone needs moments outside of work to take a breather. By taking your time replying to emails and answering them on your own terms, your anxiety regarding emails will get easier and you will no longer be scared to answer them.

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.