How Stress Contributes to Substance Abuse

How Stress Contributes to Substance Abuse

Stress doesn’t cause addiction, but there is an absolute correlation between high cortisol levels and substance use. For many people, the push to use drugs or alcohol comes from an inability to manage stress or anxiety in healthy ways. Substances, then, become a means of “escape” from dealing with uncomfortable emotions or circumstances.

Here we will explore the link between stress and substance use. Enlightened Solutions, a holistic facility that helps people recover from addiction and mental health disorders, offers a variety of programs and assistance for handling stress in sustainable, natural ways.

The Link Between Stress and Substance Use

Like many physical and mental health conditions, there is no single cause of substance abuse. It has its roots in both genetic and environmental factors. People from families where substance abuse is prevalent may be more at risk, though certainly not guaranteed, to struggle with addiction themselves. Those who work or live in high-stress environments may also be more at risk. One common denominator in both scenarios is stress. Those who experience chronic stress are more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol than those who don’t.

Stress, of course, is a part of life. In our early history, stress was critical for humans to protect themselves from environmental threats. Today, stress can still serve that purpose, but in many cases, it is brought on by factors in our personal lives as well. Some people may thrive in stressful, fast-paced environments, but many others do not. The increase in stress in certain people can enable them to seek quick fixes for overwhelming emotions. This is how addiction can begin.

Stress that is not dealt with properly can have consequences on both physical and mental health. When combined with accumulated damage from substance use, the effects can be more disastrous. Some health issues related to stress include high blood pressure and heart rate, cardiovascular disease, and migraines. A combination of lifestyle changes and medical interventions may be needed to help reduce stress levels and address the “need” for drugs or alcohol to feel calmer and more relaxed.

How Substance Use Affects Stress

Substance use and stress can feed each other in an unhealthy cycle. Alcohol can affect parts of the brain that manage feelings of pleasure, behavior, and impulse control. The consequences of prolonged substance use can lead to losing a job, housing, or damaging relationships – all contributors to feelings of stress. The discomfort associated with withdrawal can also contribute to stress, which is why many people who undergo the detox process by themselves often fall into relapse.

Suggestions for Managing Stress in Healthy Ways

The mind and body both benefit from managing stress without substances. Some helpful techniques include the following.

Reach Out for Help

Addiction is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to conquer alone. Having a supportive community is paramount for reducing stress and having a successful recovery. This can include family members, close friends, people in 12-Step meetings, or a sponsor.

Practice Meditation or Mindfulness

Promote feelings of calmness and relaxation by focusing on the present, practicing breathing exercises, observing thoughts without judgment, or observing the beauty of nature. If an individual does not have the means to attend a meditative program, there are plenty of free meditative apps to download.

Eat and Sleep Well

It sounds basic, but it’s incredible how much better we feel when we eat healthily and get the right amount of sleep. Insomnia and poor diet can contribute to stress because our bodies and minds are more equipped to handle it. Experts recommend three healthy meals a day and eight hours of sleep at night.

Make Time for Exercise

Just 15-20 minutes a day of physical activity can go a long way toward reducing stress. This is because the endorphins, or “feel good” chemicals, released from the brain can help us feel more relaxed and happy. Take a lap or two around the neighborhood, do some jumping jacks, ride a bike, or join a local gym to help relieve chronic stress.

When Stress and Addiction Become a Co-occurring Disorder

The phrase “co-occurring disorder” is how medical professionals refer to more than one mental or physical health condition occurring at the same time in a person. Stress is one of the most common co-occurring disorders associated with substance abuse. Others may be diagnosed with anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, or clinical depression alongside addiction. Those with existing mental health disorders are more likely to develop a substance addiction, though this is not guaranteed. It’s also common for prolonged substance use to trigger or cause mental health conditions.

If an individual is experiencing a co-occurring disorder, it’s recommended that they seek treatment from a facility that specializes in that condition. This way, both disorders can be treated together rather than separately. This is the most effective way of treating co-occurring disorders.

Manage Stress and Substance Abuse With Enlightened Solutions

Enlightened Solutions is a treatment facility specializing in holistic practices for a “whole-person” approach to health. Whether a person is dealing with high levels of stress, substance abuse, or both, our treatment programs can help. We offer inpatient detox, outpatient programs, 12-Step programs, individual and family therapy, and more to address and treat both conditions at once. We are also passionate about incorporating healthy life choices, such as clean eating and exercise, to promote both physical and mental health.

If you're struggling with substance abuse and stress, you are not alone. Many people turn to substances as a means of coping with uncomfortable situations, but it doesn't have to be that way. Enlightened Solutions is uniquely equipped to help you deal with both addiction and stress. Through a variety of therapies, inpatient and outpatient treatment, an emphasis on holistic care, and healthy eating, we can address your mental and physical health to support your overall wellness. Our facility has helped many people recover from addiction, develop healthier coping mechanisms for stress, and achieve long-lasting sobriety. To learn more about the services we offer, please call us today at (833) 801-LIVE.

How to Cope with Occupational Stress in a Healthy Way

How to Cope With Occupational Stress in a Healthy Way

Work is often stressful. Whether you have tension with a coworker, a boss that always seems to be breathing down your neck, or endless deadlines that have you on edge, there will always be stressors when it comes to work. Of course, some jobs are more stressful than others. Some days or seasons may be more stressful than others as well. Because stress is inevitable, it is important to know how to cope with stress at work in a healthy way.

Stress can be a major trigger for substance use and abuse. It is well known that work can be one of the main stressors for many, so coping well with work-related stress is critical. You might be tempted to turn to drugs or alcohol after a long day or week at work. While this may start in moderation, often, as the stress increases, so does the amount or frequency of substance use.

There are many healthy ways of coping with work-related stress that do not involve drugs or alcohol. A few healthy ways to cope with stress at work can include:

  • Exercise and eat healthy foods
  • Take breaks and time off
  • Try therapy or counseling
  • Consider a job or role change

Exercise and Eat Well

One tip for stress management is making sure you are living a healthy lifestyle. While this may sound cliché, it is true. If you are living a healthy lifestyle by eating nutritious meals and incorporating some physical activity into your weekly or daily routine, you are more likely to handle stress better. This is because these things promote better sleep, better mood, more energy, and better focus.

With all of these advantages comes better functioning. When you function better at work, you are more efficient. Often, when you are more efficient, you have less work-related stress. You are better able to meet your deadlines, can focus better on your specific job tasks and duties, and have a better mood for interacting with your coworkers and supervisors.

Take a Break

By law, you are legally entitled to breaks throughout your workday. Of course, the number of breaks and duration of each break can vary depending on the length of your shift. It is advisable to take advantage of these breaks.

It can be easy to get so focused on a project or task that you forget to take breaks during the workday. You may be so busy that you forget to even take a lunch break. This is not healthy. It is so important to take breaks when appropriate at work. This gives your mind and body time to refresh and re-energize and focus on something other than work just for a moment.

Taking a break can also mean taking a day off. If you work full time, you are often allotted some paid time off throughout the year. Giving yourself time to decompress and relax, even just for a few minutes, can be very beneficial to your stress levels.

Go to Therapy

Therapy can be very beneficial when it comes to managing stress. Sometimes, just talking about problems and issues that stress you out can be helpful. Therapists can also provide some ideas for coping with your specific situation and challenges.

Therapy can also help you process your thoughts and feelings about your job and help you discover areas in which you may need to make changes. This could involve changes to your daily routine, changes to any extracurricular activities that may be causing stress, or appropriate changes to your job or role.

Make a Change

Sometimes, a change of job or career is what is most appropriate. Burnout is absolutely a real experience and often results in built-up and unresolved stress and tension. Sometimes, a job that is generating a lot of stress and anxiety may just not be a good fit. If this is the case, it is okay.

You might try several different career paths before settling into something you feel is a really good fit for you. Being self-aware and acknowledging when a change is needed is important. Many services and resources are available to help you discover career options that could be a good fit.

Again, it can be common for work-related stress to be a trigger for substance use, which can eventually lead to addiction. At Enlightened Solutions, we can help you develop strategies for coping with stress in healthy ways. We can teach you how to incorporate healthy habits and routines into your lifestyle to help you respond well when you feel stressed.

Work is sometimes stressful. For some, work can be stressful often. Sometimes, the lack of work or a job can be a stressor. Stress can lead to substance use, which can eventually lead to addiction. Learning to cope with stress in a healthy way is crucial. At Enlightened Solutions, we teach clients how to handle stressful situations throughout their recovery without using drugs or alcohol. You will learn strategies for reducing stress independently such as deep breathing techniques and meditation. You will also learn to identify when it might be time to get help or seek guidance. We incorporate holistic activities to benefit your overall health, which reduces stress and improves overall mood and mental health. If you or someone you care about is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, we would love to help. Give Enlightened Solutions a call today at (833) 801-LIVE.


Healing From the Outside In

A big part of addiction recovery is psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy. When most people think of therapy, that’s what they think of. The patient and the therapist talk. The patient talks about issues of concern and the therapist actively listens, guiding the conversation as necessary to help the client. Many types of talk therapy are used today and can be extremely beneficial.

But sometimes, we might feel like we are “talked out.” Maybe we have talked and talked and talked and it seems as if nothing has changed. We are tired of talking or we don’t want to talk. In the case of unresolved trauma, we might not be able to talk.

Fortunately, healing can happen in other ways. In addiction recovery, both the mind and the body need to heal. We can use the mind-body connection for healing. We can access the mind through the body. We can use various forms of touch in a therapeutic setting.

The Power of Massage

If you have had the good fortune to have a massage from a licensed massage therapist, you know how relaxing it can be--it’s hard for your mind to stay anxious when your body is relaxed. That is the mind-body connection in action. Psychological stress can be stored in our muscles and it can be massaged away. Although being in treatment for addiction is very beneficial in the long run--lifesaving even--it can be very hard work and stress can arise during treatment. In addition, anxiety is a common withdrawal symptom and a frequent co-occurring mental health disorder. Massaging away that anxiety is good for both the mind and the body and can create a profound sense of calm.

Acupuncture: An Ancient Healing Modality

Acupuncture is an ancient method of healing that originated in China. Very thin needles are placed at specific points in the patient’s body to treat various health conditions, both physical and mental. (The needles usually don’t hurt and many patients don’t feel them at all.) The goal of acupuncture is to improve the flow of the body’s energy, called the chi, along the body’s energy pathways, called meridians.

In the 1970s, acupuncture began to be used in addiction treatment and was found to reduce the stress experienced during withdrawal and cravings. The protocol used to treat addiction concentrates on five points on the ear and calms the nervous system, relieves anxiety, promotes healing of your organs, supports the work done by your liver, regulates emotions, and increases the strength of your breath. The benefits of acupuncture include increased energy, improved mood, reduced cravings, better sleep, inner peace, and relaxation. In fact, some patients become so relaxed during acupuncture sessions that they fall asleep.

Chiropractic Care: Connecting the Body and the Mind

A chiropractor once told a patient that the phrase “pain in the neck” was more than just a figure of speech. The idea that the weight of the world is on your shoulders is more than just a commonly used phrase. Many of us carry emotional stress and pain which manifests as physical pain in our bodies, particularly in our neck, back, and shoulders. If we are struggling with an addiction, the stress and pain we carry are even greater.

Chiropractic care is another treatment modality in which treating the body can have a powerful healing effect on the mind. The theory behind chiropractic care is that proper alignment of the skeleton and muscles, especially in the spine, will allow the body to heal itself. Chiropractic care is particularly effective for conditions involving muscles,  joints, bones, and connective tissue throughout the body. Chiropractic adjustments can be a very powerful way to relieve pain. Chiropractors also work to improve the range of motion in the body’s joints and include exercise and physical rehabilitation in the treatment plans they develop for patients. The overall goal is to restore function and prevent injury in addition to relieving pain.

In treating addiction, a chiropractor will correct misalignments in the spinal column. When the spinal column is in alignment, the nervous system can function properly and can better process the natural “feel-good” chemicals that the brain produces. When this happens, addiction is easier to treat. Also, because the patient’s physical health has been restored, addiction is easier to treat.

The Value of Human Touch

Massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic care are all holistic treatment modalities that involve therapeutic touch--direct human contact. The therapeutic relationship--the bond between the patient and the provider--is part of the healing. When we were in the life of addiction, our relationships with other people may not have been healthy or based on trust. Part of recovery is learning to trust again. Building a therapeutic relationship with a health-care provider can be part of that process.

Sometimes when you are in therapy, you reach a point where you feel like you are “talked out.” You might have an issue that you don’t want to talk about or you may have experienced trauma and are not able to talk about it. Fortunately, the mind can be reached through the body and healing can be brought about that way. This can happen through treatment modalities that involve therapeutic touch, including massage therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractic care. These treatment methods are among the holistic treatment modalities that we offer at Enlightened Solutions. We are a drug and alcohol treatment center located on New Jersey’s southern shore. We are licensed to treat co-occurring disorders that frequently accompany substance use disorder. If you are struggling with an addiction and are ready to seek treatment, call us at (833) 801-5483. We can help you build a life free from the pain and destruction of substance abuse.

The Powerful Effect of Touch in Addiction Recovery

The Powerful Effect of Touch in Addiction Recovery

The mind-body connection opens the doorway to a variety of techniques for healing during recovery. Sometimes, to heal from our mental pain and anguish, we must heal our bodies and allow our minds to follow. Physical touch can be a powerful tool in addiction recovery.

The physical touch from a trained professional can reinvigorate the mind by stimulating and awakening our bodily sensations. We may have numbed not only our feelings and our emotions by turning to addictions--we may have also numbed our bodies.

Sometimes, we turn to addictions for reasons that are not bad in and of themselves. For example, we may turn to alcohol or drugs as a way of relaxing. While relaxing is not an issue, alcohol or other substances can create other health concerns or create multiple issues in our lives.

We frequently experience emotional stress in our bodies. Releasing this bodily stress through acupuncture can help to release mental stress through the mind-body connection. Physical touch by massage, acupuncture, or chiropractic work can help restore the vital pathway of the mind-body connection.

Massage: Basic Therapeutic Touch

Massage is one of the most basic forms of therapeutic touch. We can use the technique ourselves by rubbing our faces or kneading the muscles of our necks. We might massage our legs or arms following exercise or physical activity.

Professionals can also do the work for us. Massage therapists are trained to use the power of touch to reduce pain and alleviate stress. In recovery from addiction, we may benefit from the release of bodily tension in order to relax our minds and better cope with stress.

Massage can produce a variety of health benefits and help our healing during the challenges of the recovery process. Therapeutic massage can also help us if we have experienced traumatic relationships by allowing us to experience human contact in a safe environment.

Acupuncture: Unlocking the Body With Needles

Most of us have heard of acupuncture as a way of relaxing or stimulating muscles to relieve pain. Acupuncture, however, can also be used to help heal our emotional and mental states of mind. Acupuncture is a way of releasing tension in the body that is often built up by mental stress.

Acupuncture is an ancient technique where a trained practitioner uses extremely thin needles to stimulate the body’s healing response systems. The needles are inserted into the skin in specific spots to release tension and to activate positive feelings throughout the body.

The needles may seem intimidating, however, they cause little to no discomfort to us during the process. The insertion of needles stimulates blood flow throughout the body and triggers positive feelings throughout the body.

Chiropractic Work: Spine As the Direct Mind-Body Connection

When talking about the mind-body connection, we cannot forget to mention the most direct representation of this connection: the spine. Our spine consists of nerve fibers that connect to every part of the body and then relay sensory information to the brain.

The spine is quite literally the part of our bodies where the mind-body connection exists! Our bodies send information through the spinal column to the brain and our brains send information through the spinal column to the body.

By undergoing sessions with a chiropractor, those of us in recovery can heal and stimulate the mind-body connection. Much of the stress that we experience manifests itself in our backs, creating postural issues and bodily tension.

By addressing the physical issues of the spine and back, our minds can heal as they follow the body’s response to chiropractic work. We can release the emotional stress of our minds that has been held within our bodies by directly stimulating the spine and back.

Chiropractic work can strengthen the communication between the mind and body, helping us to heal from our stress and pain.

The Value of Human Contact and Trust

Another, perhaps overlooked, benefit of massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic work is the therapeutic value of human contact. Some of us in recovery from addiction may have had turbulent relationships with others. We may have come from traumatic backgrounds or abusive relationships.

Sometimes, holistic and mind-body approaches can have the side benefit of teaching us to trust others again. We are also building a relationship with another person during our sessions as we speak to the practitioner about our pain and recovery.

Whether we are learning to trust someone to touch us directly with their hands, putting needles into our skin, or readjusting our spine, we can benefit from the value of trained professionals providing a therapeutic touch.

Feeling good physically and feeling good mentally are interrelated. When you feel healthy and free from physical pain, you generally feel mentally and spiritually healthy as well. The mind-body connection can influence us to try numerous alternative therapies for recovery. Professionals can help us alleviate stress by using massage, acupuncture, or chiropractic work. These therapies can help our bodies release tension and stress, which then helps our minds feel at ease. Other ways to tap into the healing power of the mind-body connection can include things like yoga, physical exercise, breathing exercises, and other alternative therapies. Enlightened Solutions understands the importance of the mind-body connection during the recovery process and uses holistic approaches to treatment. We have trained professionals on staff at our care program to address your healing needs. Call us at (833) 801-5483 to begin your recovery from addictive behaviors today!

Exercise Addiction

Can You Exercise Your Way Out of Addiction?

Exercise is now an integral part of many addiction recovery programs. This may include mind-body exercise like yoga or tai chi, more intense physical activity like weightlifting—or outdoor sports, which is somewhere in the middle. In a similar vein, many therapists are now incorporating exercise into their treatment for substance use issues and other mental health issues. It seems like we are always seeing new studies about how exercise can improve your mental health and help you stay sober, so a lot of people get the idea that maybe exercise is all they need. Can you really exercise your way out of addiction?

Exercise supports recovery.

First of all, it’s clear that exercise does support recovery and that addiction treatment programs know what they’re doing when they make physical activity an integral part of treatment. Several animal studies and a few small studies in humans have found that exercise can help reduce the risk of relapse. [] In this case, the animal studies may be more compelling, since rats rarely respond to therapy. There are three primary ways exercise supports recovery.

Improves Physical Health

Addiction can take a terrible toll on your health, leading to a range of problems including malnutrition, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer, and infections. Exercise can help offset many of these risks, especially cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Improves Mental Health

While the physical health benefits are certainly nice, the mental health benefits of exercise likely contribute more to a prolonged recovery. Exercise increases levels of the feel-good neurotransmitter, serotonin, as well as dopamine, endorphins, and BDNF, a hormone that actually grows neurons in certain areas of the brain. Exercise can improve your mood within minutes and regular exercise can actually create structural changes in your brain, such as thickening the prefrontal cortex, which helps improve your self-control and emotional regulation. Exercise also improves your sleep, which has both mental and physical benefits.

Reduces Your Reactivity to Stress

Perhaps the biggest benefit of exercise—and the one responsible for many of the other benefits—is that it makes you less reactive to stress. Chronic stress obviously increases anxiety, but it also disrupts your sleep, increases your levels of hormones such as cortisol that can damage your cardiovascular health, and increases inflammation, which has been linked with depression. Researchers believe that among the benefits noted above, regular exercise affects the brain’s hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal, or HPA, axis, making you less vulnerable to stress and also less vulnerable to depression and anxiety—two challenges that commonly go along with substance use disorders. []

However, exercise alone is not enough.

The benefits outlined above certainly tip the odds in your favor. Since most people cite stress as their biggest trigger of craving, anything that makes you feel less anxious or overwhelmed is certainly going to help you stay sober. The same is true for depression and other mental health challenges. However, there’s much more to recovery than turning down the volume on challenging emotions.

Doesn’t Teach Recovery Skills

While exercise is one lifestyle change that broadly supports sobriety, it’s certainly not a silver bullet. You won’t magically stay sober just by running 30 minutes a day. There are many skills specific to recovery. You have to know your triggers, learn to tolerate discomfort, devise behavioral strategies to avoid temptation and deal with peer pressure, learn to regulate your emotions, learn healthy strategies for managing and coping with stress, and other things that exercise alone won’t teach you.

One way to think of it is if you’re training for a sport—say, boxing. Obviously, a boxer has to be in good physical shape, which means running, push ups, weights, jumping rope, and so on, but no matter how fit they are, they won’t necessarily get better at boxing unless they actually train for boxing. It’s a high-skill activity that requires technique, timing, and knowing how to handle getting punched in the face. Similarly, in addiction recovery, you need both specific skills and lifestyle changes.

Doesn’t Address Mental Health Issues

Most people recovering from addiction will have co-occurring mental health issues, such as an anxiety disorder, major depression, PTSD, ADHD, a personality disorder, or others. As discussed above, exercise can help with these issues, but exercise alone is typically not enough. Some mental health issues require medication and most require some kind of specific therapeutic intervention. No matter how much you run, for example, you’re not likely to process your trauma or overcome your intense fear of social situations. That typically requires therapy. Exercise can improve your mood, but it often doesn’t change your thinking or behavior.

Doesn’t Provide Social Support

Finally, it’s important to remember that social support is one of the keys to a strong recovery. Exercise can certainly be social. In fact, studies have shown that team sports and other forms of group exercise are the best overall for improving mental health, both because they improve consistency through accountability and because they add a socializing aspect to exercise. While this is certainly good, the people you play basketball with every Saturday probably have no idea what it’s like to struggle with addiction. Any social connection with positive, supportive people is a good thing, but for the purposes of recovery, it’s especially important to have a group of friends who know what you’re going through.

Exercise is one lifestyle change that should be part of every recovery program. There are mountains of evidence that it improves mental and physical health and improves recovery outcomes. However, exercise in itself is typically not enough to keep you sober. Addiction is caused by many factors and a comprehensive treatment plan needs to recognize the specific factors relevant to you. At Enlightened Solutions, we know there is no one-size-fits-all in addiction recovery. We incorporate exercise and other activities into our individualized and holistic treatment programs. For more information, call us today at 833-801-LIVE or explore our website.

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.


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.

Fighting Stress in Arthritis Patients

Fighting Stress in Arthritis Patients

Arthritis is a condition that causes a feeling of pain and stiffness in one or more of your joints. The stress that is occurring in your life can make your arthritis pain worse. By finding ways to fight through your stress, your symptoms can lessen, making you feel much healthier.

Stress Arthritis Patients Deal With

The mind and body are connected to each other. Dealing with stressful situations like losing a job, having to move to a new area, the death of a loved one, or other stressors causes our bodies to react with side effects such as stomach aches, headaches, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, etc. People with arthritis already have their own unique stressors like having to depend on family members and health care professionals instead of being able to independently take care of themselves. They also have to adapt to necessary changes they must make to their job, energy levels, and more. 

Effects of Stress Towards Arthritis

Being under stress can cause your muscles to tense up. This muscle tension can increase the pain that arthritis has already caused, and can ultimately lead to the development of depression. When you are stressed, the body releases chemicals into the blood that create a series of physical changes, such as a faster heartbeat and a higher breathing rate. When you deal with your stress in a positive way, your body will fix itself, including any damage that was caused by stress. A small amount of stress can be good for you, as it can motivate you to do your best; whereas too much stress can lead to an inability to function.

Find the Cause of Stress

Think about what causes you the most worry on a daily basis. Also, think about what makes you anxious and nervous. You can write down your daily experiences in a journal, then review your entries to help give you a clear picture of what is bothering you (as well as the physical symptoms you are experiencing). Once you are aware of the situations, you can identify ways to help prevent those situations from happening, which you may also want to write down. For example, if you get anxious when family members are coming over and they are expecting you to cook, find the recipe and buy the materials in advance. 

Share Your Feelings

Speak to a family member, friend, or co-worker about how you are feeling to help you see your problems differently. Be open to them about things that you cannot do—and do not be afraid to ask for help. Turning down extra responsibilities that you know you have difficulties accomplishing can help reduce your stress. Remember that your arthritis is a private matter. If your arthritis is interfering with your daily duties, it is best to mention it to someone, but when you choose to tell someone is up to you. Additionally, it is important to be able to show your anger in a healthy way that will not make you feel worse later. For example, you can simply say that you are feeling angry without blaming someone for making you angry. This should ideally lead to a calm discussion about what can be done to help you feel better. Opening up to people will help improve your relationships, which will ultimately better your mental health.

Avoid Feelings of Depression

Depression has a way of making those with arthritis feel miserable and increase their pain. It is possible you are feeling angry or sorry for yourself because of your daily struggles with arthritis. These feelings are very common for those with this chronic disease. You can help overcome your feelings of depression by getting out and finding ways to be happy with your loved ones, rather than letting yourself wallow in your sadness. You may also want to find creative outlets as a way to relieve the tension. Take care of yourself by seeing a therapist who can help you deal with your depressive symptoms. If you are experiencing the symptoms of depression for more than two weeks, it is a sign that you need to see a doctor.

Time Management

Having constant pain and limited energy can mean you are not giving it your all. You tend to work harder when you have the most energy. Instead of wearing yourself out by doing too much at once, plan your days out in advance. Be honest with yourself about how much you can realistically do each day and spread out your responsibilities during the week. Save the stressful tasks for earlier in the day to get them over with and schedule rest breaks in between to give yourself moments to breathe.

Stay Healthy 

It is important to remember that drugs and alcohol are not the answers or an escape to your problems. These substances will only make your health problems worse. In the long run, drugs and alcohol will only increase your stress instead of easing it. It is best to speak to a mental health counselor or hospital about the programs they offer for stress management. Even though arthritis could be at the top of your list to manage, it is important to take care of the rest of your body by exercising, sleeping well, eating three meals a day, and staying active. By being in control of your stress levels, you are in control of your arthritis. 

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 today at 833-801-LIVE. We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Anxiety Vs. Stress

Anxiety Vs. Stress

We all have our moments where we feel stressed at the moments life throws at us that wear us out. It is important not to confuse being stressed out with anxiety as anxiety is a serious mental illness that needs to be treated. By understanding the differences between anxiety and stress, this will better explain your constant states of worrying and will give you a better idea of whether or not to seek treatment.

Knowing What Stress Is

The Oxford Dictionary defines stress as “A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.” The one who coined this term, Hans Selye, believed that stress could be either good or bad for you as it would motivate you to change your behavior in order to do what needs to be done. Stress is about how we cope with what is occurring around us. Whenever we feel pressured, we develop stress such as if we have a deadline to meet, you have too much that you have to complete at once, taking care of someone, etc. The more pressure we feel, the more stressed out we are.

Knowing What Anxiety Is

The Oxford Dictionary says anxiety is “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.” Anxiety is very different from feeling stressed in that anxiety is formed mentally. We focus so much on what might happen, if we can handle it, if you have what it takes to fix the problem, and worrying if things do not turn out okay. We worry more about the potential danger than the actual danger itself.

Experiences Vs. What Might Be

One difference between anxiety and stress is that stress comes from our present experiences. We may have a deadline to meet or other expectations that we need to fulfill. Anxiety comes from worrying about the potential experience we may have and wondering how we will cope. For example, someone with anxiety could be waking up worrying that they will run into traffic before getting into the car without actually getting in the car and seeing the traffic for themselves. Someone who sees the traffic while on the road may develop stress and not have it be anxiety.

Present Vs. Future

Another difference is that stress is worrying about something happening in the present while anxiety is about worrying about the future. We may experience stress if we have a paper to write that is due tomorrow and have not gotten started on it yet. This worrying is based on a present demand that you have been told to do instead of something that you might be told to do later. Anxiety is about what we might experience or feel. For example, we could feel anxiety about what will happen after you graduate college. You could be feeling scared that you will not get that job in your field that you want or that you will be in debt by the time you graduate. These events have not happened yet, but you worry that they will.

Staying Vs. Going

Because we experience stress based on when life demands us something that we are afraid of failing at, our stress can go away once the problem is solved. For example, some people may experience stress when they take a test knowing how hard it will be. But then once they finish taking the test, the stress goes away and they can relax. Anxiety, on the other hand, stays with you despite the problem being over. There are those where even if they get a good grade on their test, their anxiety will still follow them for the next test of the intense worry they may experience in the unpredictable results. You cannot listen to relaxing music or go to the beach to take your stress away as anxiety involves more intense treatment than that.

Reason Vs. No Reason

Stress comes to you because a reason is being presented to you in why your heart is racing. A stress-related thought can be that you are at work and your boss gives you an important assignment that you have never done before. You could be having thoughts that you will not present your best work and that you will be fired. This is a reasonable thought as you are taking on a stress-inducing task. Anxiety works differently in that you are worrying for no particular reason at all. For example, you could be going for a job interview and you are in the waiting room. You have all of these thoughts in your head that your future boss will already not like you and tell you that you are not qualified for the position. These thoughts are unreasonable because you have not even gone in for the interview yet and you are thinking the worst.

Stress Leads to Anxiety

While stress and anxiety are two different things, stress can often lead to anxiety when chronic stress stays with you. For example, you may feel stressed in having to cook a big meal for your family and it comes out wrong. That stress can persist and turn into anxiety where you think you will not be able to do anything right going forward. By noting whether or not you have anxiety, you will be able to get help more quickly and learn how to relax during your everyday activities.

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 be 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.

Learning to be Conscious of Our Stress Levels

Learning to be Conscious of Our Stress Levels

Many of us living with addiction have managed to bury our deepest emotions for so long that we aren’t aware of how much stress we’re actually living with on a daily basis. We prioritize everything over our mental health – our responsibilities and obligations, our daily schedules, our relationships and the people we take care of. When we experience toxic levels of stress on a regular basis, our overall health can slowly decline. Our mental, emotional and physical health can all suffer. Our addictions become our default coping mechanism. When we’re working towards recovery, it’s so important to learn how to be conscious of our stress levels so that we can manage them and find healthy ways to cope.

There are some signs that can help us to pinpoint when our stress has reached toxic levels. We can experience excessive anxiety, worry and panic that distract us from being able to focus and interfere with our ability to cope with daily life. When stress accumulates to dangerous levels, we can feel increasingly depressed and despondent. We feel unable to keep up with the demands of our responsibilities. We feel easily overwhelmed and triggered.

When we’re experiencing acute stress, we might have more severe mood swings than we’re normally used to. We might find that our emotions fluctuate dramatically. We might be more reactive with other people and take things personally more often. We might feel like people are out to get us, or like we’re being victimized. We might feel powerless to stand up for ourselves, and we may feel uncomfortable in our environment.

Heightened stress can affect our thought patterns. We can feel our minds race and feel as though our thoughts are out of our control. We might obsess more about the things that are bothering us. We might have a harder time controlling our emotions and feel like we can’t calm ourselves down whenever we’re upset.

Healing our stress levels requires investigating the underlying issues causing our stress. We have to look beyond the daily stressors and surface problems to examine the deeper factors increasing our stress levels. Sometimes our stress can be attributed to unhealed trauma, unresolved conflict or unhealed internal issues. We might need to do some conflict resolution and deeper inner healing before we see a reduction in our stress. It’s so important that we learn to practice self-care and mindfulness to help ourselves heal from stress. Meditating, committing to a spiritual practice and having a regular exercise routine are all especially helpful in managing stress.

At Enlightened Solutions, our unique treatment programs offer clients long-lasting results by focusing on all aspects of a natural recovery process. We believe in healing holistically – mind, body and spirit. Call us today: (833) 801-LIVE.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

Addictions are a coping mechanism for stress and trauma and the originating causes of addiction may vary greatly.  It might be an old trauma that needs healing or it can simply be the daily stresses of a complex life in a challenging world.  In these examples, one cause, trauma, can be healed.  However, the impact of the daily stresses of life can be reduced by healthy coping mechanisms.  This reduction increases the probability of continuous sobriety.  

Addicts are thought to be both mentally and bodily different from non-addicts.  The differences of the body must be accepted as a permanent condition. The mind enables the individual to overcome addiction.  It can also be harnessed as a powerful tool for coping with stresses.   Unharnessed, the mind zooms in on the source of stress.  It imagines the future involving the stress with the worst possible outcomes or spends tremendous focus imagining actions to avoid it.  Well-intended by the mind, all of this attention has the effect of amplifying the source of the stress.  

This highlights that the imagination of the mind often paints a worse picture than the reality of the experience.  You can engage mindfulness to quiet the mind about life stresses.  Mindfulness works because it does not ask the mind to stop imagining but gives it other focuses for its dreaming.  The following are some exercises to explore:

  • Engaging the senses: bring more of your attention to your senses by engaging touch, taste, sound, sight or smell.  For example, if you worry about what will happen at work, look more deeply at the environment as you walk there.  The deeper looking will consume some of the energy of worrying.  
  • Gratitude list: make a list of all that is good in your life.  This can be done generally, or in relationship to a specific stressor.  For example, if you are stressed about seeing your ex at a party, make a gratitude list of all the gifts of the relationship, of the break-up and other anticipated benefits of attending the party..  
  • Meditation: if repetitive thoughts are occurring during your practice, allow yourself to simply be with the thoughts without sinking deeply into them.  Explore how you can lightly be with thoughts without being consumed by them.  


If you are struggling with addiction, alcoholism, and/or mental health, know that there is hope. There is a solution. Harmoniously fusing together the best elements of clinical care, holistic healing, and 12-step philosophy, Enlightened Solutions has created a program of total transformation for men and women seeking recovery. Call 833-801-5483 today for information on our partial care programs in New Jersey.