Treating Anxiety Naturally

Treating Anxiety Naturally

Anxiety is something that many people experience throughout their lifetime. Some may struggle with it daily, while for others, it may come in waves or be situational. Studies show that over 40 million adults in the United States have an anxiety disorder, a little more than 19% of the population.

This number doesn't include the hundreds of thousands of people who are likely undiagnosed, chalking their symptoms up to circumstantial stressors. The truth is, some degree of anxiety can be normal, and can even be a good thing in moderation. When symptoms become excessive, however, it can become problematic.

Treatment for anxiety can vary widely. Some may choose to manage symptoms with medication. Others may opt for psychotherapy or counseling. Many elect to receive a combination of both medication and therapy.

How to Identify Anxiety

Temporary fear or worry about things such as finances, family, or health issues is totally normal. An anxiety disorder is present when the worry or fear does not pass, increases over time, or interferes with day-to-day life such as work, school, or relationships.

There are several different types of anxiety disorders. These include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and various phobia-related disorders. Symptoms can vary for each type, but a few common symptoms of each can include:

  • Feeling restless or on edge
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Struggling to focus
  • Irritability or mood shifts
  • Aches and pains such as headaches, muscle aches, stomach discomfort
  • Feelings of worry or dread that are hard to control or irrational
  • Insomnia or difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Feeling self-conscious
  • Increased heart rate
  • Excess and uncontrollable sweating
  • Shaking
  • Chest pain
  • Feeling a loss of control
  • Increased heart rate
  • Trouble with eye contact
  • Feeling judged

Benzos for Anxiety

Anxiety is often treated with benzodiazepines, more commonly known as benzos. These medications are also widely prescribed for insomnia, stress, epilepsy, and for sedation purposes. With anxiety and the other mentioned challenges being so prevalent, benzos are among the most frequently prescribed medications in the United States.

Benzos work by slowing down the central nervous system as they increase the activity of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid. This produces a calm feeling and can even lead to drowsiness. It is for this reason that benzos can also be used to treat insomnia.

Benzos are only to be used temporarily or for short periods. This usually involves only a few days to weeks of usage at a time. Unfortunately, however, some providers continue to prescribe them to be used for longer durations. This creates a tolerance for the suggested dosage, often resulting in the misuse of the medication. More is required to get the calming effect once achieved with the prescribed dosage. Just like that, a habit is formed. There is also the risk of overdose when mixing benzos with alcohol or other drugs.

Alternative Treatment Options

Benzos should be considered a small piece of the full treatment plan for anxiety – if included at all. Psychotherapy is an excellent addition to medication therapy or an alternative form of treatment for anxiety. Psychotherapy can include techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), experiential therapy, and holistic therapy. Each of these options can be highly effective in treating anxiety and can be used to supplement, reduce, or replace the use of benzos for treating anxiety and related symptoms.

CBT increases cognitive awareness and encourages eliminating negative thought patterns. This form of therapy creates an increased understanding of how one's thoughts and emotions are affecting their actions and behaviors.

Experiential therapy involves the reenactment or recreating of significant events or experiences in a person's life. Various activities, tools, or props are often used in this form of treatment. Role-playing can commonly be incorporated to help one re-live and process the experience. Activities could include horseback riding, surfing, kayaking, acting, and more.

Holistic therapy refers to treating the whole person. This approach focuses on the mind, body, and spirit and is very integrative. Examples of holistic treatment modalities could include art therapy, music therapy, chiropractic, yoga, meditation, and consuming organic foods. Holistic therapies often involve lifestyle changes and healthy routines to improve one's overall quality of life.

Depending on the source, severity, and frequency of one's anxiety, choosing a therapeutic approach may be just as beneficial as prescription anxiety medication and, in many cases, can be a more sustainable treatment option in the long term. Knowing the habit-forming risks of benzos, it could be worth considering alternate options to treat anxiety before or in addition to seeking medication. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer a range of evidence-based therapies to treat addiction to prescription drugs, including benzos.

Benzodiazepines are the most frequently prescribed medications in the United States. They are very commonly prescribed for the treatment of anxiety and several other disorders. Because of the risk of misuse, addiction, and even harm when taken in excess or combined with other substances, other more natural options should be considered. Therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, experiential therapy, and holistic therapy can serve as an excellent addition or alternative to benzos for the treatment of anxiety. Enlightened Solutions specializes in holistic therapy, and utilizes treatments such as art therapy, music therapy, and yoga, in addition to chiropractic, meditation, and organic food programs as part of individualized treatment plans. Our highly trained staff encourages healing and restores hope through these treatment modalities and can assist you in regaining control of your life. If you or someone you love could benefit from our treatment offerings, call Enlightened Solutions today at (833) 801-LIVE.


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.

 


Bed

“Make Your Bed”: The Importance of Routine in Addiction Recovery

“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day….Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.”

Retired Navy Adm. William H. McRaven first gave that advice in 2014 as part of his commencement speech at the University of Texas, Austin. His speech evidently touched a nerve, because it went viral and became a basis for his book Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life...and Maybe the World. Making sure that you have time for, and take care of, the little things ensures that the big things will happen too.

Sobriety: A Huge Change

Your decision to say goodbye to addiction and embrace sobriety is a huge change. When you went through a treatment program, you made many positive changes in your life. Embracing sobriety isn’t just about overcoming addiction; it’s also about creating a new, healthy lifestyle.

In treatment, your schedule was provided for you. You knew when to get up when to eat, when to workout, when to go to therapy, when to go to your support group, and when to go to bed. The routine was established to make sure that everything you needed for your recovery happened and to establish healthy habits. Now that you have finished treatment, you need to create a routine to ensure that you continue with those healthy habits.

Routine Provides Structure and Stability

When you were struggling with your addiction, your life was out of your control and your substance of choice was in charge. Through treatment, you regained control of your life. Having a stable routine will help you remain in control.

Routine provides us with structure. Knowing what we are going to do and when we are going to do it gives us control of our lives and a sense of self-efficacy. We know what to expect and we can prepare. A routine can even give us a sense of accomplishment because if we have a plan for our day, we will know that we have completed what we set out to do.

How to Create a Routine

When you start creating your routine, begin with what could be called your anchor points. Another way to think of it is to begin creating your routine by starting with the non-negotiable items. While those will vary from person to person, for many of us they will revolve around our work schedule and when our children (if we have children) need to be in school. Remember to include the time that it takes to get to and from the places that you go routinely. Time spent in transit may not be as important during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many people are working from home and some children are attending school online, but it is still something to consider.

Another set of vital anchor points to pin down is the time you go to bed and the time you wake up. When you go to bed and get up at roughly the same time every day, it improves the quality of your sleep. And a good night’s sleep makes the next day so much better.

When you have established a few key anchors, you can begin linking other important activities to these points. For example, you may decide that after you wake up, you will meditate or go for a run. You might set out your clothes for the next day as part of getting ready for bed.

When you are creating your routine, remember that not every day will look the same and that’s okay. On some days you may be ferrying children to practice or rehearsal (although not so much during the pandemic) and on other days you may be attending your support group. What’s important is that you have a plan and you know what to expect.

What to Include in Your Routine

As you establish your routine, you will want to make sure you have time for activities that nourish your body and your soul and support your sobriety. You will want to make time to attend your support group. Many people in early sobriety go to several meetings a week. You will want to make time for appointments with your therapist. Exercise is important to your physical and mental well-being, so you will want to be sure that you include time for exercise several times a week. Include time to plan and prepare nutritious meals and be sure to include some time for self-care and household maintenance.

Having a routine does not mean that everything will be within your control, but it does mean that more of your day will go as planned. In addition to reducing feelings of anxiety, this will give you a sense of efficacy and accomplishment, and that feels really good.

Establishing a routine to follow in recovery may sound trivial, but it helps ensure that you attend to all the little details that require attention. When you succeed at the little things, you are set up to meet your big goals as well, like remaining sober. A routine provides your life with structure and ensures that you have time for the activities that nourish your body and soul. Learning to create routines is one of the life skills you will gain at Enlightened Solutions. Enlightened Solutions is a drug and alcohol treatment center located on New Jersey’s southern shore. We are licensed to treat co-occurring disorders, which means that we can help with the mental health issues that frequently go hand-in-hand with substance abuse. Our focus is on healing the whole person, not just treating an addiction. In addition, to talk therapy and group support, we offer a range of holistic treatment modalities including yoga, meditation, art and music therapy, family constellation therapy, and acupuncture. If you have been struggling with an addiction, please call us at (833) 801-5483. We are here to help you.


Kind

Why Kindness Matters

When you head out for your morning walk, you take a bag with you and pick up trash that you find on your route. You leave a post-it note on the mirror in the restroom of a local restaurant that reads “You are amazing.” You donate books you’ve finished reading to your community library. All of these acts are examples of kindness and could make someone’s day a little bit brighter.

In 2021, Random Acts of Kindness Day is on February 17 and the week beginning February 14 has been designated Random Acts of Kindness Week. This day--and week-- is sponsored by the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, a nonprofit organization started in 1995 and sustained by financial contributions from an anonymous donor.

The “Helper’s High”

According to the Random Acts of Kindness website, being kind to others is good for your health. Seeing or performing a kind act increases the production of serotonin, the “love hormone.” This boosts self-esteem and optimism, lowers blood pressure, and improves cardiovascular health. Kindness also results in higher serotonin levels, which improves sleep, lessens anxiety and depression, and contributes to bone density. In addition, those of us who volunteer or make a point of being kind to others have reported that they have more energy and are happier. Researchers at Emory University found that when you do something for someone else, the brain’s reward and pleasure centers activate. This occurrence is called the “helper’s high.” In addition, performing acts of kindness could even cause you to live longer.

Performing acts of kindness reduce physical pain, stress, anxiety, depression, and blood pressure, according to the Random Acts of Kindness website. Pain is lessened because acts of kindness stimulate the production of endorphins, which are considered “the brain’s natural painkillers.” Those of us who volunteer in our communities or make it a point to be kind to others have a 23% lower level of cortisol (the stress hormone), resulting in less perceived stress. In a study conducted at the University of British Columbia, individuals diagnosed with social anxiety disorder performed a minimum of six acts of kindness per week. After one month, this group had a more positive mood, indicated more satisfaction with their personal relationships, and showed less social avoidance. A professor at Case Western Reserve says that doing good for others decreases depression and improves feelings of overall well-being. And finally, being kind to others lowers our blood pressure because of increased serotonin levels.

Turning Your Focus Outward Can Aid Recovery

Performing acts of kindness for others can also help us in our recovery from substance use disorder. When we were drinking, using drugs, or engaging in other harmful addictive behaviors (gambling, for example), we were thinking almost exclusively about ourselves and our addiction. Our focus was on our next drink, wondering where we would get the money for more meth, hoping someone at the party had ecstasy, or whatever our craving was. Our focus was inward. When we perform an act of kindness or service, our focus turns outward to other people and their needs.

Doing good deeds can also help us form connections with other people and with our communities. If we are volunteering as part of an organization, we can bond with others who choose to support the same cause, be it holding a clothing drive to aid people who are returning to the workforce after being homeless, cleaning cages at an animal shelter, or spending a week building a home for a family through Habitat for Humanity.

If you are fairly new to your recovery, you may find yourself feeling bored and with time on your hands. Boredom can lead to relapse, so it is important to have activities to fill the time that you used to spend drinking or doing drugs. Doing a good deed, be it for an individual or a group, will give you something else to think about and to do while helping someone else at the same time. Volunteering with an organization whose mission you believe in can give your life structure and an additional sense of purpose, which will aid your recovery.

Kindness and Service in Recovery Groups

If you are in recovery from an addiction, you are probably in a support group. The most common are the 12-Step programs (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, to name a few) and SMART Recovery. Both organizations provide free support to people struggling with or in recovery from substance use disorders on an international level and rely on volunteers. In both groups, volunteers facilitate meetings, both in-person and online. If you are volunteering with your support group, whether you are running the meeting, making coffee, or setting up chairs, it’s a great way to perform an act of kindness and connect with other people. Serving in this way also means that you have made a commitment beyond going to meetings, and this can get you to a meeting when you don’t feel like going, and that can support your recovery.

Performing an act of kindness for someone else, no matter how large or how small, benefits the giver as much or more than it does the recipient.

Random Acts of Kindness Day--and Week--celebrates acts of kindness large and small. As it turns out, doing good deeds is good for your physical and mental health and being of service to others is part of the 12-Step tradition. At Enlightened Solutions, a drug and alcohol treatment center licensed to treat co-occurring disorders, service opportunities are built into some of the healing modalities that we offer. For example, in the horticultural therapy modality, patients participate in the work of the organic farm that supplies the produce for the center. We are located on New Jersey’s southern shore and our focus is on healing the whole person, not just treating the addiction. We will individualize treatment for you based on your own unique needs. The treatment we offer includes talk therapy and support groups as well as a range of holistic treatment modalities including yoga, meditation, art and music therapy, family constellation therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic care, and equine therapy. If you have been trapped in a life controlled by drugs and alcohol and are ready to break free, call us at (833) 801-5483.


Reduce Anxiety

“The Sky Is Falling”: Anxiety and Addiction

Most of us are familiar with the old folktale about Chicken Little. In one of the more familiar versions, an acorn falls from a tree and hits Chicken Little in the head. Chicken Little decides that the sky must be falling and that the king needs to be warned. He (or she in some versions) sets out, proclaiming “the sky is falling, the sky is falling!” Along the way, he meets other animals who join him. Different morals have been drawn from the fable, among them that you have to have courage and that you shouldn’t believe everything you hear.

The term “Chicken Little” has come to refer to a person who is unreasonably anxious or afraid and who spreads unreasonable fear or anxiety to other people. In psychological terms, Chicken Little was probably suffering from generalized anxiety disorder and had a tendency to catastrophize--that is, to always expect the worst possible outcome from a situation.

What Is Anxiety?

Everyone gets anxious or nervous from time to time--you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t--but an actual anxiety disorder is not just something you experience from time to time and it doesn’t just go away. People who suffer from anxiety tend to be easily irritated and to think the worst of any given situation. They frequently have trouble sleeping, difficulty in making decisions, and are plagued by self-doubt. 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety can interfere with daily activities and can have a negative effect on job performance, school work, and relationships. Several types of anxiety disorder have been identified. People with generalized anxiety disorder worry excessively about everyday concerns including their health, work, and social interactions. Symptoms include irritability, feeling restless or edgy, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, and a general feeling of worry. Panic disorder is diagnosed when a person has recurring, unexpected panic attacks. Symptoms include heart palpitations, pounding or accelerated heart rate, sweating, trembling or shaking, feeling short of breath or as if you are choking or smothering, and a general feeling of impending doom. Panic attacks can mimic the symptoms of a heart attack and people who have had panic attacks tend to become afraid and worried about the panic attacks themselves.

Phobias are described as “an intense fear of a particular object or circumstance,” but the fear the person experiences is out of proportion to the actual danger. Examples of phobias include fear of heights, flying, spiders, or snakes. If a person has a phobia of a particular object, say spiders, the person will worry a lot about encountering a spider, take extreme measures to avoid spiders, and become extremely and immediately anxious if they come across a spider. Agoraphobia is a specific phobia in which the person is very anxious about two or more of the following situations: using public transportation, being in an open or an enclosed space, crowds or lines, or being alone outside of his or her home. Social anxiety disorder is a fear of being in social or performance situations, and if a person has separation anxiety disorder, he or she will be very fearful of being away from the person that he or she is attached to. Although separation anxiety disorder is often associated with children, adults can suffer from the disorder as well.

Can Anxiety Lead to Addiction?

Anxiety disorders are commonly associated with substance use disorder. If you suffer from an anxiety disorder, you might turn to alcohol or drugs in an effort to lessen the anxiety and make the symptoms more bearable. You may get relief that way, but only in the short-term. In the long-term, drugs or alcohol can actually increase your anxiety, so you can find yourself in a repeating circle: You feel anxious, so you have a few drinks; the alcohol (in the long-term) increases your anxiety, so you have a few more drinks, and on and on it goes. You could end up with two problems--the original anxiety disorder and a resulting alcohol use disorder. A study conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) interviewed more than 43,000 people who had suffered from anxiety in the previous year and found that fifteen percent of them met the criteria for a diagnosis of alcohol use disorder, about twice the rate for the general population.

Treatment for Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are usually treated with psychotherapy, medications, or a combination of both. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is frequently used in treating anxiety because it helps people to see the ways in which their thinking is unhelpful or distorted. Clients learn ways to reframe their thinking with respect to their phobia. 

Treatment for anxiety can also include mindfulness exercises and meditation, both of which calm our minds. Breathing exercises can bring us back to a calm place very quickly. These techniques can retrain our brains, so we realize that we aren’t in actual danger--that the snake dozing in its habitat at the local pet store probably won’t break the glass, escape, and destroy everything in its path.  

Like Chicken Little, when an acorn falls on our head, we need to realize that it’s just an acorn. The sky is not falling.

If you suffer from an anxiety disorder as well as an alcohol or drug addiction, both conditions need to be treated. If only the addiction is treated and not the underlying anxiety, it will be very difficult for treatment to be successful. Enlightened Solutions is a licensed co-occurring treatment center, meaning that we can treat substance use disorders and the mental health issues that so often accompany addiction. Our treatment program is rooted in the 12-Step philosophy. We offer traditional talk therapy and many alternative therapies, including yoga, meditation, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments, art and music therapy, sound therapy, equine therapy, and horticultural therapy. We customize treatment for each client and our focus is on healing the whole person, not just the addiction. We are located near the southern New Jersey shore. If you are seeking recovery and relief from addiction and anxiety, please call us at (833) 801-5483.


routine

Why Is a Regular Routine Good for Addiction Recovery?

If you go through an inpatient addiction treatment program, you’ll find that almost everything happens on a schedule. You get up at a regular time, eat meals at regular times, go to therapy at regular times, and go to bed at a regular time. Obviously, it helps to have a schedule when you’re trying to organize the activities of many people but it’s also important that this routine is fairly regular. Establishing and following a regular routine in recovery has many benefits, including the following.

 

A Routine Makes Healthy Decisions Automatic

 

Perhaps the most important reason to have a regular routine is that it helps to automate healthy behaviors. You don’t have to decide whether to get up at a reasonable hour or sleep all day; you don’t have to decide when you’re going to eat or if you’re going to exercise. Once you’ve established a regular routine, you don’t have to put much effort into making these decisions. So, for example, if you go to a 12-Step meeting at the same time every day, you don’t have to equivocate and think, “Do I want to go today? Should I maybe try a different meeting? Can I skip one?” You’re in the habit of going to a meeting at that time so you just go. The same is true of any recovery activity. The less thought and effort you have to put into healthy behaviors, the more likely you are to continue doing them.

 

A Routine Reduces Anxiety

 

Anxiety is a common issue among people with substance use disorders and uncertainty is one of the biggest drivers of anxiety. If you have no idea what each day will bring or if you know you will face an unfamiliar situation, you will often feel more anxious than if you know you will have to deal with something bad. 

 

Having a regular routine reduces anxiety in two ways. First, it’s a way of controlling the things you can control. You have a certain amount of free time each day and making deliberate decisions about how to spend it increases your feelings of self-efficacy. If you use that time wisely, such as going to meetings, going to therapy, getting some exercise, and so on, that will further reduce anxiety.

 

Second, having a regular routine means you will generally know what you can expect from each day. Of course, we don’t have total control over what will happen but most days you will have a general idea. And just having a reasonable expectation that you know what the day will be like can reduce your anxiety about it.

 

A Routine Keeps You Busy, but Not Too Busy

 

When you’re recovering from addiction, especially early on, you want to strike a good balance. You want to stay busy enough that you don’t feel bored, restless, or lonely but you don’t want to be so busy that you feel stressed and overwhelmed. Having a routine gives you a baseline of activity to prevent long stretches of idleness and it also helps you meet your responsibilities in a more or less organized way.

 

A Routine Boosts Conscientiousness

 

Conscientiousness is perhaps the single most important personality trait related to substance use issues. A number of studies have found that people with substance use issues typically score high on neuroticism and low on conscientiousness. Although high neuroticism is associated with mental health challenges such as major depression, anxiety disorders, and others, it appears that people who are high in neuroticism and also high in conscientiousness are relatively protected against substance use issues. 

 

One way to boost conscientiousness is to have a regular routine. We all live on a spectrum somewhere between rigid order and total chaos. If you have struggled with substance use issues, you are more likely toward the chaotic end. Imposing a bit of order on your life in the form of a regular routine can help you make progress on your recovery goals, keep your commitments, and generally feel like you have life more under control. 

 

How to Establish a Routine

 

If you’re not generally an organized person, you may not even know how to begin establishing a regular routine. One way is to enter an inpatient addiction treatment program. Most of your time will be structured and you will have to devote very little effort to create a routine. After 30 or 90 days of this, you may not be locked into the treatment routine but it shouldn’t be very hard to continue with some of the main things like when you get up, when you eat, when you go to meetings, and so on.

 

If you have to create a routine from scratch, the key is to start by creating anchor points. So, for example, your first anchor point might be going to a 12-Step meeting at a regular time each day. If you need a reason to get out of bed, see if you can find an earlier meeting. Another good place to start is with a regular wake-up time. This helps ensure you start your day in about the same place, rather than rushing to catch up on some days. Starting with a regular wake-up time will probably make you go to bed a bit earlier without even trying because you’ll be tired.

 

Once you’ve established some anchor points of things you do every day, or most days, you can begin to add new things. So, for example, if you decide you want to exercise regularly, start by connecting it to one of your anchor points, perhaps getting out of bed. Another point about adding things to your routine is that you should start small. So instead of jumping out of bed and running 10 miles, you might start by getting up and walking for five minutes or even just getting out of bed and putting on your exercise clothes, even if you don’t do any exercise at all. Then, once that connection is established, build the new behavior gradually. It’s also best to only add one new thing at a time and give yourself time to get used to it.

 

A routine is an important part of addiction recovery. It makes healthy decisions easier, it reduces anxiety, it structures your day, and it makes you more conscientious. You can build a routine gradually, starting with anchor points, or you can enter an inpatient treatment program, which will help you establish a daily routine more quickly. 

 

At Enlightened Solutions, we know that recovery from addiction isn’t just a matter of abstaining from drugs and alcohol, but rather about creating a happier, more fulfilling life. To learn more about our treatment options, call us today at 833-801-LIVE.


comparison

Why You Shouldn’t Compare Yourself to Others in Addiction Recovery

When you first start recovering from a substance use disorder, whether you enter treatment, start going to 12-Step meetings, or some other method, you’re taking your first steps into unfamiliar territory. You’re never quite sure if you’re doing the right things or if you have any chance of succeeding. It’s normal to look around and compare your progress to others to try to reassure yourself or at least estimate your progress. However, making these kinds of comparisons only make you feel worse and endangers your recovery. Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t compare yourself to others while recovering from addiction, or, really, at any other time.

 

Comparisons Lead to Depression and Anxiety

 

Teddy Roosevelt famously said that “Comparison is the thief of joy.” In our hearts, we know this is true. You might be thrilled with your new car until you see your friend’s new car, for example. There’s always something better out there that can ruin our enjoyment of what we have. 

 

What’s more, there appears to be something inherent in comparisons that makes us unhappy. One pair of studies found that spending more time on Facebook correlated with more feelings of depression. Perhaps more to the point, the second study in the pair found that people who made more comparisons on Facebook had worse depressive symptoms, even when they felt they were the same or better than the people they were comparing themselves to. 

 

Perhaps this effect is a mix of uncertainty, self-consciousness, and critical judgment. Either way, making fewer comparisons is an easy way to protect your mental health. This is especially important for addiction recovery, given that at least half of people with substance use disorders have a co-occurring mental health issue, chief among which are mood disorders and anxiety disorders.

 

Comparisons Can Give You an Excuse to Quit

 

It’s important to keep in mind that pretty much everyone who enters treatment is deeply ambivalent about staying sober. You feel obligated to say and act like you want to get sober and you might even believe it, but the addicted mind is tricky. 

 

One common problem people face early in recovery is called “terminal uniqueness” in 12-Step circles. It’s the belief that you’re unlike everyone else there in some fundamental way. For example, you may see your own substance use issues as situational and temporary while seeing your peers in treatment or in the rooms as “addicts.” Therefore, you feel you shouldn’t have to engage with treatment in the same way as others. This can be a huge barrier to progress.

 

On the other hand, you may see someone doing very well in recovery and feel like that person has some fundamental advantage that you lack. You can’t imagine that person starting where you are and ending where they are. You feel like you’ll never be that person, so you might as well quit. Addiction is always looking for a way to get back into the game and comparisons—good and bad—provide that opportunity.

 

Comparisons Are Never Accurate

 

If comparisons are estimating your own position, progress, and potential, they are not even particularly helpful for that. No one ever enters recovery in the exact same circumstances. They have different addictions, different mental health issues, different personal histories, different personalities, and different resources. There is an essentially infinite number of combinations, which is why it’s so important for treatment to be individualized. However, it also means any comparison you make is not going to be accurate or valid. 

 

What’s more, you’re always making comparisons based on limited information. Not only do other people have different advantages and disadvantages, but you never really know what those are. And you never really know how they are doing in recovery. So much of recovery is in your head. Someone may outwardly appear to be doing well but inwardly feel like a train wreck. Furthermore, the future is inherently unpredictable. You never really know who is going to end up having a strong, lasting recovery.

 

Comparisons are Never Useful

 

Aside from helping you figure out where you are, you might hope that comparing yourself to others might prove useful in some way. However, that’s typically not the case. While you should certainly listen to others and learn what you can, it’s crucial not to make the mistake of assuming you will have the same needs in recovery as anyone else. Again, this is why individualized care is important. You have to be aware of your own priorities in recovery and stay focused on those, rather than trying to win someone else’s race. It hardly matters if you outdo someone else in some area if it doesn’t help you achieve your own goals.

 

Comparisons Turn Recovery Into a Competition

 

Finally, it’s important to remember that recovery is not a competition. Recovery should be about cooperation and mutual support. The more connected you feel to people in your sober network, the more likely your recovery will last. If you want to undermine that connection, one of the fastest ways is to regard all of your peers in recovery as rivals and feel diminished by their successes. In fact, the opposite is true. When one person in your sober network succeeds, it helps everyone. Not only does it show that recovery is possible, but feeling happy for other people’s success improves your sense of wellbeing.

 

Comparing ourselves to others is one of those things we all do sometimes but we would all be better off if we stopped. Comparisons make us unhappy and don’t provide us with any useful information. It’s far better to focus on the things that matter to us and the things under our control.

 

 At Enlightened Solutions, we know that joy and happiness are essential to living a sober life. Our holistic programs combine evidence-based treatment with spiritual and wellness practices that help our clients live more fulfilling lives. To learn more about our programs, call us today 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 an Actor Should Take Care of Their Mental Health

How an Actor Should Take Care of Their Mental Health

Being an actor is hard work as you face rejection on a daily basis. If you go through a series of auditions and not get a single one, it can damage your self-esteem and throw you into a depression. By knowing how to take care of your mental health after an audition, you will be in good spirits for the next one. 

How to Deal With Rejection

All actors deal with rejection. Even if you are talented and gave a great audition, someone else could have given a better one. You should embrace rejection into your life if being an actor is your dream instead of dreading it. None of us wants to feel this pain and we will do whatever it takes to stop it. You should find the power in rejection. Whether or not you are an actor, not everything comes easily to everyone. After a series of rejections, you may finally get the part you have always wanted. Do not let rejection be an enemy, but embrace it instead.

How to Stay Motivated

When you act in an audition or an acting class, you must feel a rush of excitement and you feel proud of yourself. Remember through challenging moments why you decided to act. You can tell yourself that rejection is just part of the process that will take you a few steps forward towards your dream. You can also let yourself know that everyone loses. Just like your favorite sports team has probably lost the finals of an important game. They did not give up, but they pushed themselves every game. That is how you have to see yourself after every audition. 

How to Avoid Jealousy

It is easy to compare yourself to others in the business. You may be looking at other aspiring actors in the audition room and seeing what they look like or how much experience they have told you they have. You could also be thinking of how your favorite actor or actress started at a young age and are scared your time has passed to be cast. Once you know what you are jealous of, turn that negative statement into a positive one. For example, if you think you are not good enough, change that to you trusting your gifts and talents. Read the positive and negative statements out loud and see which ones sound stronger. You will know your jealousy is gone when instead of feeling negativity when seeing other actors, you are instead happy for them in their success.

How to Handle Audition Anxiety

You may enter the audition room and you hear your name being called out. Once you see the casting directors waiting for you, everything about your confidence changes. This is because when adrenaline rushes to your bloodstream, you tighten up, sweat, shake, have dry mouth, shortness of breath, and dizziness. This fight or flight response can lead to a panic attack. By trying to ignore these symptoms can actually make them worse if all of that energy is pent up. Expect this kind of reaction when you are in front of judges and just tell yourself that these casting directors want you to do well and are rooting you on. Casting directors are looking for the actor to embody the character they have imagined and want that person in front of them to be the one they have been looking for. This should build your confidence.

When to See a Therapist

People tend to be afraid to go to therapy because they are afraid that it will make them appear weak. The truth is that anyone can benefit from therapy as you speak about your problems to someone who is unbiased. Most insurance plans offer mental health coverage and you can find a therapist that has a sliding scale to help with costs. A therapist can help you figure out why you love what you do, help you cope or make necessary changes, and dealing with new challenges. Therapy can actually help benefit your acting career.

Change Your Intentions

Actors tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves during their audition. Instead of telling yourself that this will be the part that will make or break your career, find a new intention instead. Tell yourself that you are doing this audition as an opportunity to introduce casting directors to your new monologue or that this is just for practice. Focus only on that intention and let that be your goal so that you can walk out of the audition feeling like you accomplished something.

Emotional Health

You can find a community of other actors going through the same through online message boards on Facebook or in your acting class. Everything you are feeling is most likely what they have felt as well. While acting may be your main passion, it does not have to be your only passion. Find a hobby to engage in between auditions and to help take your mind off the last audition. You should also focus on what you need to improve on for the next audition such as cold reading too quickly, shakiness, forgetting your lines, etc. You can speak to your therapist about how to improve in these areas. It is important to realize that you need to improve your mental health to help benefit your acting career and your own personal 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.