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Recovery Wellness

Teens’ Guide to Nutritional Healing in Recovery

Addiction treatment centers around the idea of recovery – both in a physical and mental sense. Patients are given the necessary resources and tools to counteract the long-term effects of substance use and are encouraged to continue using these resources and tools in the future to try and deal with cravings, cope with stressors, and avoid relapses. Nutritional healing plays an important role in this process because many teens suffering from addiction tend to neglect their physical needs while high or withdrawn. Good food also helps provide an important foundation for other treatments, alongside social support, regular exercise, and healthy coping mechanisms.

The Role of Nutritional Healing During Recovery

Addiction recovery is always about more than sitting in a circle and talking. Group therapy is one of many modalities used to prepare teens for drug-free living in the real world by helping them empathize with others, learn from their experiences, mistakes, and breakthroughs, and learn how certain lessons taught during recovery might be applied in practice throughout the recovery journey.

But drug recovery needs a strong foundation to work. Teens aren’t pulled out of their drug habit and stuck right into a seminar about avoid maladaptive coping mechanisms and recognizing the signs of a substance use disorder. Regular drug use, particularly over months and years, takes a huge toll on the body.

Its effects are especially pronounced in teens, no matter what drug is being taken. This is because teens are younger, still growing, and more susceptible to the long-term effects of continued substance abuse. Reversing that damage – and helping teens learn to deal with their cravings – requires addressing many of the fundamental ways in which drugs can change a person’s body and mind.

People consider detox to be the first step towards recovering physically from addiction. Yet, the body needs much more time to really recover. Therefore, a solid nutritional healing plan is central to helping teens reconstitute themselves over the course of their treatment and continue to bring the benefits of a balanced diet into their long-term recovery journey.

Nutritional healing plans help address deficiencies that can contribute to the physical effects and mental health consequences of substance abuse, help improve and stabilize mood in the long-term, and provide an outlet for teens to learn self-sufficiency, learn new skills, and even apply therapeutic concepts such as mindfulness through the step-by-step cooking process of a healthy meal.

How Substance Use Disorder Can Affect Eating Habits

Nutrition doesn’t just play a role in recovery – the addiction itself plays a role in developing poor eating habits. So reinforcing a better diet can be an important step towards breaking those habits and their association with drug use. Addictive drugs affect the brain by manipulating the neurotransmitters our body relies on for communication and coordination, particularly ones like dopamine, which are heavily associated with reinforced behaviors and reward-seeking.

Many addictive drugs can also affect the way the body regulates satiety and hunger, increasing or reducing appetite and negatively impacting our body’s natural mechanisms for triggering food intake. This can lead to rapid weight gain or weight loss in teens with substance use issues, particularly for drugs like Adderall or methamphetamine (which can drastically reduce appetite) and marijuana or alcohol (which increase appetite or cause weight gain through excessive calorie consumption).

It is also noted that excessive drug use correlates with poor nutrient absorption and malnutrition. However, drugs alone – or at least, how they affect our appetite – aren’t always to blame. Other factors, including mood and mental health and eating disorders that may have begun before or after drug use.

The Link Between Substance Use and Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are an understudied yet perilous mental health issue, causing more deaths per case than any other set of mental health conditions. Therefore, teaching good nutritional healing habits is crucial when treating a case of substance use disorder rooted or related to the diagnosis of eating disorders, such as:

These are complex mental health conditions that require both medical and psychological attention to treat. Addiction can complicate things further, and a team of specialists is usually needed to develop a patient-specific treatment plan that helps address their patient’s physical and mental needs, help introduce healthier eating and behavioral habits, and ensure the development of a strong support network around the patient to build on their long-term health.

Even so, nutrition is often just one part of a much bigger treatment plan. In such cases, nutritional healing advice takes time to introduce and internalize. Thus, overwhelming a teen patient with food advice can be counterproductive, especially when they are mentally susceptible to taking certain guidelines too far or misinterpreting flexible dietary suggestions as hardline rules.

What Constitutes Proper Nutrition?

One of the hardest things about introducing and teaching teens good nutritional healing habits is that everybody has different needs when it comes to food. In addition, there are genetic differences in how we process and react to certain foods. So, while it is helpful to understand concepts such as calories in and calories out for healthy weight management, there is much more to having a complete understanding of good nutrition.

In general, teens will be given healthy, balanced meals to help them recover strength, both physically and mentally, throughout the treatment process. In addition, many recovery programs will also cover nutrition to help give teens an idea of the importance of food in their overall well-being. Most nutritional lessons won’t focus on the pros and cons of a vegan diet versus a paleo diet or whether you should go low-carb to lose weight.

Instead, some of the basics in helping teens achieve good nutritional healing habits throughout and after recovery include consistent mealtimes, learning to choose healthier ingredients, cooking basics, and even cooking healthy on a budget. Most teens aren’t financially independent and will likely rely on their parents or siblings to help put food on the table – so, sometimes, it’s important to involve the family in nutritional healing lessons.

This can mean prioritizing filling foods (high in protein or fiber) and nutrition-dense foods (so-called “superfoods,” which provide a variety of minerals and vitamins per portion), cutting down on snacking, substituting high-calorie snack options for cheap and healthy alternatives, learning about (and internalizing) healthy portion sizes, and more.

Teens with special nutritional healing needs might need to work with a nutritionist to figure out what foods to avoid for better overall health and incorporate nutritious alternatives that don’t break the bank. After all, we are what we eat – and good nutritional habits are a cornerstone of physical and mental health during addiction recovery.

Categories
Mental Health Recovery Self-Care Wellness

Asking for Help and Self-Care are for Everyone

Asking for help is a radical act of self-care.

Removing oneself from the isolation of overwhelm and exhaustion and stepping into vulnerability is part and parcel to taking care of our own needs. It’s not necessarily a sign of strength to strong-arm our way through our difficulties; however, we often get stuck in this idea that we have to “soldier on,” regardless of our own immediate needs.

 

Emotions come in waves. They can be placid waves or they can feel hurricane-like in their strength. It’s ok to fall apart and feel what we are feeling. It’s how we heal, how we lean into the shadow side, and how we traverse the difficult path of getting the help and support we need.

 

For some of us, we were taught early on that asking for help is a good thing. We were shown by example that it’s ok to take breaks to nourish our mind, body and spirit. We were shown that by engaging in acts of self-care, the ability to show up for others is greater.

 

Many of us have had different experiences and were shown that asking for help is a sign of weakness. The indication here is to place others first and do what we need to do for ourselves later.  In a worse case scenario, “later” ends up being in the ER with symptoms of hypertension, a heart attack, or a stroke. Not taking care of ourselves sends the wrong message to our loved ones.

 

Self-care, asking for help and developing resilience are healthy practices for everyone. They are not limited to someone in recovery or someone who has experienced difficulties. If we engage in these practices and teach our loved ones to do the same, self-care and asking for help become second nature.

 

What is resilience anyway?

 

Simply put, resilience is being able to recover quickly from difficulties—to “spring back into shape.” More definitively it is,

1. the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity.

2. ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.

Resilience isn’t something we are born with – it is cultivated through the development of self-regulatory and self-management skills. The more informed and aware we become around our feelings and needs, the more we cultivate and develop resilience.  We become skilled in the ways we work through our difficulties. The more we are fortified (by self-care and asking for help), the easier it becomes to “spring back.”

 

Resilience is fostered by:

  • Having healthy and close relationships with family and friends
  • Having a positive view on yourself and and confidence in your abilities – Yes, you are enough.
  • The ability to self-regulate
  • Wise communication skills
  • Asking for help when you need it, and seeking resources outside of yourself when necessary
  • Viewing yourself as resilient and not as a victim.
  • Healthy coping skills (instead of substance abuse)
  • Being of service and helping others
  • Being able to notice the good and the positive things that are happening around you.

 

Self-Care can include any of these things and many more:

  • Taking a bath
  • Getting a massage
  • Restorative yoga
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Taking a dip in the ocean
  • Going for a hike
  • Gardening
  • Playing with a dog
  • Going to a park
  • Walking

 

Remember to ask for help. It’s not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength and self-preservation. You are worth it. You deserve to be supported.

Categories
Addiction Mental Health Recovery Wellness

Finding Hope in Recovery and Beyond

Hope is fleeting or nonexistent for someone locked in the downward spiral of mental illness and substance abuse. In many ways, the transient quality of hope in the mind of the sufferer creates a sense of dissonance; it always seems to be out of reach. Recovery makes space for a more tangible kind of hope to develop and take root.  The hope we do have when we are in our diseases is hope for an escape. However, the hope we have in recovery is revised to resemble its true meaning: a desire for something good to happen and the capability to see its fruition.

 

We need to integrate hope into our lives as part of our recovery, viewing it as an action rather than as a “thing” to grasp. If we are going to recover, we have to have a life worth living, and building a foundation for hope is one of the actions needed to create such a life. This provides us with something to reach for and hope becomes something actively fostered in our lives.

 

There are some basic things one can do to work toward bringing hope into their lives:

 

Connection: Connect with others and begin to develop healthy relationships with people. The fellowship in 12-step meetings is helpful in creating connection with others. Fellowship provides opportunities to build new relationships with people who are on the same path. Within that context, one can begin to heal old relationships and build new ones.

 

Have fun: How often does someone come into recovery and assume that because they aren’t drinking and using that “fun” is off the list? Guess what—it’s not. When you realize you can laugh, and I mean, a stomach-clutching-falling-over kind of laugh all without the use of drugs or alcohol, it is liberating.

 

Get an education: This is a positive step to building hope for a fuller, better future.  Feeding your mind with knowledge and realizing your potential is a powerful thing. An education provides fertile soil for hope to take root and blossom.  It puts our foot on the path toward building a future that we want to be a part of.

 

We recognize that many of our teens and their families have lost hope. We support families in developing courage to change, and we foster the desire to heal. Every week, Visions facilitates Recovery Fun outings where we encourage teens to have fun, to laugh, and to find joy in their recovery.  We host yearly alumni and client events such as: the Big Bear ski trip, our staff vs. alumni softball game, our Catalina Adventure, and Halloween Fright Night. Fostering joy and laughter breeds healing and it leads to hope. Having fun reminds us that we are alive!  Just because we are dealing with heavy issues doesn’t mean that joy doesn’t exist.  We won’t let kids give up on themselves—we want them to start to recognize their potential. We give them skills that provide them with the knowledge that they are capable, and with that, they build an environment of hope.

 

Categories
Adolescence Recovery Self-Care Wellness

3 Things in the Way of Asking for Help

Help! (Photo credit: Rainier N.)

Is asking for help a challenge for you or someone you love?

 

We often create more suffering as a result of our desire to control the outcome of a situation versus lessoning our suffering by asking for help. Frequently for those in recovery, whether from substance abuse, mental illness, or a combination thereof, asking for help is a learned skill. It’s something that is derived from doing step work, working with a therapist, and going to process groups. Sometimes asking for help requires that we confront the very thing we are struggling with: ego.

 

What does not asking for help look like?

 

1. Loss of Control. Assuming that one will lose control of a situation if they ask for help will inevitably create higher levels of stress. The fact is, we cannot do everything ourselves, at least not efficiently or without risk to our mental health. In our efforts to be in control, we end up feeling out of control and overwhelmed.

Ask yourself: “Would I rather do several things that are mediocre or one or two that are phenomenal?”  Or “Would it be better for me to do a little bit less but with more awareness and less stress and more effectively?”  I have honestly found that slowing down and asking for help increases one’s efficiency and lowers stress.

 

2. Fear.  Fear is another component in one’s unwillingness to ask for help. It could be a fear of not being good enough, a fear of being viewed as less than, or a fear of failure. We can turn our backs on fear or we can face it. In order to healing and evolve in our recovery, the only way out of this mess is through it. Think of it this way, the shadow on a wall is far larger than the person or thing making the shadow. That shadow tantamount to your fear: far larger than what is creating it. Asking for help is liberating. You are good enough; you are not a failure.

 

3. Perfectionism. “It has to be perfect!” “If I don’t do it, then it won’t be done ‘right.'” Does this sound familiar? You know how to do what needs to be done, and you can do it “right,” or faster than anyone else, right? Wrong. This sense that something won’t be done correctly unless we do it ourselves is a lie we tell ourselves to justify our inability or fear of asking for help. I am a perfectionist, and I can tell you, this character defect gets in my way more often than not. It is the “shadow” I work with when I struggle with asking for help. What I have started to learn is that perfection is in everything: it is in the flaws, the nicks, and the wrinkles. Embracing that has enabled me to ask for help.

Whether you are the control freak, in fear, or a perfectionist or a combination of all three, take this opportunity to pause and take some steps toward change. There is no reason you should have to do everything on your own, or from fear of judgment. With each new venture is an opportunity to do it with less suffering, and less drama.

Remember:

1: It’s ok to “not know.”

2: Perfection is a perspective.

3. Letting go is liberating.

4. Asking for help leads to self-care.

5. You cannot do this alone.

Categories
Adolescence Mental Health Recovery Self-Care Wellness

Emotional Sobriety: 5 Tools For Self-Regulation

Angry Kid (Photo credits: Giphy)

What is Emotional sobriety?

Is it perfection? Is it always feeling good or being happy, or optimistic? And what happens if you don’t meet perfection, or you have a bad day, feel anxious, angry, sad, or gasp, pessimistic?

 

Emotional sobriety is the ability to self-regulate– to self-soothe in times of duress. It is not a call to perfection. For an alcoholic, addict, or one with fragile mental health, learning to self-regulate is a foundational tool for their recovery and something they begin to learn in treatment. Therapists and counselors work tirelessly to encourage clients to begin the process of looking inward, learning to nurture themselves and hold space for the difficulties human beings often face.  Emotional sobriety is something that forms after the first stage of sobriety is attained. With it comes the ability to be present for your emotions and the ultimate goal is to become nonreactive. Sometimes, that may mean sitting with the discomfort of your emotions until they pass, and that isn’t easy.

 

Ingrid Mathieu, Ph.D, author of Recovering Spirituality talks about Emotional Sobriety with uncomplicated clarity. In her Psychology Today blog “Stop the Self-Diagnosis,” she says, “Emotional sobriety is less about the quality of the feeling (“good” or “bad”) and more about the general ability to feel one’s feelings. Being restored to sanity isn’t about getting the brass ring—or cash and prizes—or being ‘happy, joyous, and free’ all the time, but it is about being in the present moment, whatever it happens to look like.” You can enjoy the rest of her article here.

 

Here are 5 tools for self-regulation that can help you with attaining Emotional Sobriety:

 

1. Take a time out: Walk away, take 10 breaths or 20 if you’re still heated. Do some work to ground yourself and come back to your body. When we are not regulated, we tend to be outside of our bodies, placing our hands to our bellies, or on the ground or on something solid can help remind us to be present.

 

2. Meditation: I often suggest that one practices what are called the brahma viharas (a Pali word–the language of the Buddha–which means “heavenly abode”): they are often referred to as the heart practices in Buddhist meditation. They include: Metta (lovingkindess), Compassion, Forgiveness, and Sympathetic joy  and Equanimity (the ability to be like a tree in the wind: fluid and non-reactive to the “weather.”).

 

3. Yoga: Yoga can be a workout or it can be what it was meant to be: a moving meditation. Trust me, if you are not breathing, and focused, you will fall over in your tree pose. Yoga will allow you to learn to recognize your reactions to discomfort and respond to them differently.

 

4. Take a walk or go on a hike: Just moving our bodies can help us calm down. A walk around the block can make sometimes get you out of your anger and despair.

 

5. Stop the negative self-talk: This one is tough. We tend to berate ourselves on a regular basis, “ugh, I’m so dumb,” “I’m fat,” “I can’t do this.” I could go on and on. Think about it this way, would you say that to someone you love? I didn’t’ think so.

6. Find and work with a therapist if you need to. A skilled clinician can facilitate a path to self-discovery, healing, and self-care. There’s nothing wrong with seeing a therapist; if anything, it’s mental health insurance. Being human is tough work!

 

I leave you with one of my favorite stories, applicable to Emotional Sobriety and the work it requires to obtain:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

 

Which wolf are you feeding?

Categories
Adolescence Holidays Mental Health Mindfulness Recovery Self-Care Service Spirituality Teen Activism Wellness

Resolution, Schmesolution: Create a New Year Theme

© 2013 sarit z. rogers — all rights reserved

It’s that time: New Year’s Eve celebrations are upon us! For many, it’s the time of year often met with party plans and resolutions. Parties and resolutions together sound like a juxtaposition and affect some legitimate irony, but nevertheless, they go together for most people every 31st of December. However, if you are in recovery, have clearer eyes and hopefully a wiser mind, things might look a bit different during this time of year.

 

There are several articles offering tips and guidelines for setting up the “perfect” New Year resolutions, 0r embarking on a New Year cleanse, or signing up for a New Year workout plan. The one thing all of these have in common is the idea that you can and will actually commit to changing a bevy of major things just because it’s the New Year. Sadly, many fail or abandon those impassioned resolutions after a few weeks. One article in particular stuck out to me. This article suggests creating a theme for the New Year rather than a resolution. A New Year’s Theme! That is right in line with the New Year Intentions I have suggested in the past. Both of these, a theme or an intention, are something that can easily be created, worked with and maintained throughout the year. Rather than seeking perfection, or a grand, finite accomplishment, a theme or intention allows one to slowly change behaviors and invite the possibility of more long-term, sustainable changes.

 

What might your New Year’s Theme or Intention be for 2014?

 

Kindness: The wonderful quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. You can choose to practice random and not so random acts of kindness throughout the year. Make it a year of being kind when you might otherwise be gruff. Invite some personal curiosity and investigation about what it might be like to respond to difficulty with kindness instead of anger or fear. It’s an interesting one to work with, but everyone can be kind and deserves kindness in return.

 

Mindfulness: Also looked at as keen “awareness,” mindfulness is an astute awareness of reality and the present moment.  It is an acknowledgement that things are just as they are in that moment. If you make mindfulness your New Year theme, perhaps you will begin by investigating the contemplative practices of meditation and yoga. Or perhaps it might mean choosing not to use your cell phone when you are walking around and instead bringing your awareness to your surroundings and becoming more present. It might mean driving without the radio on, or not always having your cell phone nearby. It might mean eating dinner without the television on so you can be more present with your family. Remember, it is not about perfection; this is a practice.

 

Wellness: If you are desirous of changing your health or the way you eat or the amount of activity you engage in, this is a wonderful theme. You might do this by ruling out meat for one day a week, or by eating more greens. You may choose to limit your caffeine, or cut down on your cigarettes or vape pens: eventually you may even quit! You can increase your wellness, that healthy balance of mind, body and spirit, even if you start small. In fact, small changes over a long period of time have a longer lasting effect.

 

Movement: Increase your physicality in 2014. You can start with walking more or riding your bike. If you usually drive to the corner store or to a meeting that’s only a mile away, try riding a bike once a week! The more you do ride your bike or walk, the more it might become a habit. Honestly, there’s no concrete rule about how long habits take to form or break. Instead, look at this as small opportunities for personal change.

 

Service: Make 2014 your year of being of service! Take a commitment at a meeting and keep it for a year. Volunteer to feed the homeless. Volunteer at an animal shelter once a week. Find a cause you believe in and get involved in raising awareness about it. Being of service is the fulcrum of recovery; “We can’t keep it unless we give it away” is one of the most-often repeated sayings relating to being of service. Write it on something you can always see to remind you to get out of yourself and into action.

 

No matter your theme or plan, the New Year is a time of reflection and growth. It is an opportunity to reflect on the past year so we can grow into the new one. May you ring this New Year in with self-care, compassion, kindness, and great joy. We wish you a wonderful New Year celebration and look forward to celebrating and growing with you in 2014.

Categories
Feelings Holidays Mental Health Prevention Recovery Self-Care Stress Wellness

Compassion and Kindness Over Holiday Hustling

We are neck deep in last-minute holiday madness! Traffic is catawampus, and the stores

are loud and overly crowded. I am noticing and experiencing a real hustle and bustle to get things done for the upcoming Christmas holiday, but for many of us, holidays can represent added stress and perhaps anxiety.

 

How about flipping the holiday coin, so to speak, and leaning into the recovery work you’ve been doing around stress and anxiety? Try taking a look at this holiday as an opportune time to work with your discomfort and begin to hold some internal space for it. You may begin to notice some of the other amazing things that occur during this time of year: joy, friendship, abundance, and generosity, community and togetherness.

 

Here are some thoughts on how to do this while also taking care of yourself at the same time:

 

Self-care: You need to care for yourself first before you can care for others. You can’t do anything effectively if you are pulling from an empty well. So, what does that self-care look like for you?

 

Be of service: Do one random act of kindness every day (more if you are inspired).

 

1. Buy a coffee for the person behind you at Starbucks.

 

2. Buy a homeless person a meal.

 

3. Help someone with their groceries at the market.

 

4. Volunteer at an animal shelter.

 

5. Offer to help an elderly neighbor or with their groceries.

 

6. Take a commitment at a meeting. The greeter commitment is a favorite because you get to meet new people.

 

Be kind (to yourself and to others), even when you don’t want to.

 

Practice compassion. “Sympathetic concern for the sufferings and/or misfortunes of others.” There’s a difference between pity and concern: Compassion isn’t a way to feel sorry for someone. It’s an opportunity to show care and kindness to the suffering of others.

 

These small acts of kindness and service during the holidays may actually decrease our focus on stress and anxiety created around the holiday itself. Acts of kindness and compassion facilitate connection with others and allow us to let go of some of that stress and anxiety we are holding onto. Connected action allows us to reconnect with the roots of what the holiday is really about: community, love, and togetherness.  Ironically, all that running around to get last-minute items actually makes us disconnected.

 

So, I leave you with this: a video of two 16-year-olds engaging in random acts of kindness. They dress up as superheroes, wearing tights and capes, and running around paying for people’s food, giving tips to waitresses without even ordering, helping people out when they see they’re struggling to pay for something, and feeding a homeless guy. What can you do this holiday season to practice random acts of kindness? You don’t need a cape and tights, just some willingness to be kind.

 

 

Categories
Holidays Mental Health Recovery Teen Activism Wellness

Practicing Kindness, Compassion, and Generosity Every Day

Kindness (Photo credit: -Reji)

Every day is a day for practicing kindness, compassion, and generosity. In fact, these qualities and practices shouldn’t be relegated to once a year around the holidays. However, that’s often the time when we hear about it the most.  Around Thanksgiving, there’s a flood of people who commit to feeding the homeless. Ironically, that’s the one time of year that the homeless aren’t actually seeking food. The shelters, the food banks, the plethora of good Samaritans are all providing that one hot, nourishing meal. The day after Thanksgiving, however, many of us move on with our lives…until next year, when we commit to feeding the homeless of helping the helpless.

 

What happens if we consciously choose to practice kindness and compassion in this way every day? What if we decide to be of service, and practice kindness, compassion, and generosity as a way of living our lives? Would we be happier? Would we be less stressed? Would our mental health improve or at least be less overwhelming? I would garner a resounding yes to these questions.

 

Consciously choose to be kind, compassionate, and generous…every day:

 

By doing so, we have the opportunity to get out of ourselves and realize that we are not, in fact, the center of the universe. In the AA big book, alcoholics (and I am going to include addicts as well) are referred to as “selfish and self-seeking” or as the “actor, director, and producer” of their own show. By choosing to be kind, compassionate and generous in our daily lives, we have a chance to overcome this state of mind. Being of service is key.

 

Practice Joy:

 

Happiness is contagious. If you can find one joyful thing to focus on or go back to during your day, your day will be brighter. Surround yourself with joyful people, have random dance parties, revel in the little things that bring you joy. I giggle every time I hear my dog snore, or when little kids laugh, or when my son cracks a joke. Joy is everywhere, even when things feel dark.

 

Practice Gratitude:


Pay attention to the little things and find gratitude in that: the way the light hits a flower, the fact that you got a parking spot…right in front, waking up at home with family, seeing your kids, a shared smile with a stranger, or a shared joke with a coworker.  The list can go on. Essentially, begin looking at the seemingly banal and find some gratitude there.

 

Things that have gone wrong or which present difficulty for us is also something to be grateful for: These are often our greatest teaching moments.

 

Thanksgiving may have passed, but your ability to engage in compassionate acts, kindness, and gratitude are alive and well.  These practices contribute to better mental health, a fuller life, and a higher level of optimism. Being present and honoring what’s happening right now is a gift and an opportunity to open your heart.  When you show someone kindness, they are more apt to show someone else kindness. It’s a wonderfully positive domino effect!

__________________________________________________________

Great read and inspiration:

4 Happy Feelings That Are Contagious

Emotions Are Contagious–Choose Your Company Wisely

Categories
Feelings Mental Health Recovery Self-Care Trauma Wellness

Helpful Tools for Self-Regulation

Calm Lake (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)

Developing tools for self-regulation allows us to tap into our internal resources so we can be less reactive. Self-regulation will increase our ability to navigate difficult situations or work in challenging environments.  Self-regulation requires us to tap into our mind and body connection. When someone is dysregulated, they are disconnected. One of the steps to self-regulation is learning to connect with our physical sensations and our bodies. Think of it this way: When we are dysregulated, we are reactive rather than responsive. Likewise, when we are self-regulated, we are responsive rather than reactive.

 

Often times, parents have a tough time regulating their emotions. Imagine this: your child has done something infuriating—perhaps he’s lied, or she’s ditching school or doing drugs—and you respond by yelling. You are frustrated, and perhaps even triggered. You are dysregulated. At this point, you are ineffective in your parenting and your kids are apt to be dysregulated as well. You are essentially communicating with metaphorically closed fists. Stress and trauma both send the sympathetic nervous system into the fray.  However, self-regulation will engage the parasympathetic system, which is the body’s natural way of applying a salve. Your action here is to take a time out. Get yourself to a quiet space so you can begin to self-regulate.

 

The three main tools of self-regulation are:

Grounding, Resourcing, and Orienting.

 

Grounding allows you to reconnect with your emotions and physical sensations. Paying attention to your feet on the floor, or placing your hands on something solid can help you get back into your body. Taking deep breaths while you are doing this can help you track the sensations mindfully. Taking a time out when you are dysregulated is the first step to getting grounded.

 

Resourcing is the way in which you ground. We all have resources within us or outside of ourselves. Resources are tools with which we can reconnect with ourselves. For example, breath can be a resource. Your hands on your belly or lap can be a resource. Your pet can be a resource. A resource is something that helps you feel good when everything around you is dismal.

 

Orienting is a way of checking in with your surroundings. When we are not self-regulated, we check out. It can be a very disembodying experience–one that feels determinedly unsafe and out of control.  So when we orient, we do so by consciously noticing our surroundings: looking around the room, noticing where we are, where we are sitting, et cetera.

 

All of these tools help us self-regulate and all of these tools can be taught to our kids regardless of their age or stage of development. In very young children, it starts with self-soothing and bringing awareness to feelings. As kids get older, the language can shift and become more detailed. Being a teen is frightening developmental state; they experience life more intensely because of where they are developmentally. Teens can learn to slow down. Count to 10 before you respond to something provocative, or take a deep, mindful breath. You may find that what you thought you had to say changes. You may discover that what you need to say comes out softer and kinder. Using your breath this way is a means of grounding and resourcing. When we do this, we are developing skills to be in relationship with our impulses and feelings. By reinforcing this awareness, we gain opportunities to change.  Self-regulation is a doorway to self-care. In caring for ourselves, we can more aptly care for others.

 

Parents, you can act as the conduit for this shift. Your kids want to learn from you, even as they push away. By developing these self-regulating tools yourself, your kids may follow. Teach by example, not by hard hands. By doing so, you will no longer communicate with closed fits; you will communicate with open palms and an open heart.

Read this for inspiration:

Getting to the Root of it All – Hala Khouri, M.A.

Categories
Adolescence Mental Health Recovery Treatment Wellness

The Best Adolescent Treatment

Finding the best adolescent treatment center for your teen entails finding the care that is most appropriate for their needs. Treating teens requires a different approach than adults because of their cognitive development, the significance of peer influence, and the differences in their values and beliefs. Teens are in the midst of their individuation process, and with that comes a natural rebellion and resistance to change and receptivity to outside influence. The best adolescent treatment center should be able to meet each client where they are.

 

The best adolescent treatment center will employ a team approach to problem solving and include the family, previous treatment professionals, educators, consultants, and any other specialist that may prove helpful to an adolescent’s recovery. To ensure success, the facility will create individualized plans for each client with regard to their specific needs; this will encourage emotional growth, provide academic support, and foster healthy family relationships to cultivate reparative functionality.

 

When a family is seeking treatment for their teen, they should look for a place that is dedicated and committed to the ultimate health and welfare of their family.

 

Key questions parents should ask

1. Is the facility licensed by the state?

 Find out what aspects of the program the license covers.

2. Does the facility provide an academic curriculum?

Is it available to all clients? Will academic credits transfer?

3. Does the facility have a clinical director? What are his/her credentials?

4. What are the credentials of the staff, especially the counselors and therapists, who will be working with my child?

How experienced is the staff? How long has the center been providing adolescent treatment? What is the staff turnover?

5. Does the facility conduct background checks on the employees?

If the facility doesn’t, consider that a red flag.

6. What are the criteria for admission? Do they conduct pre-admission assessments? Are they in person, by phone, or over the Internet? Who conducts them?

7. Will they provide an individualized program with a detailed explanation of the therapies, interventions, and supports that will address my child’s needs? When is this done? How often will my child be reassessed?

Confirm the frequency of therapy sessions, whether they are group, individual or both. Confirm that promised level of care is being received after admission to the program.

8. How does the facility handle medical issues like illness or injury? Is there a nurse or doctor on staff? Will you contact me? Will I be notified or consulted if there’s a change in treatment or medication?

Ask for copies of medical procedures followed in the event of a medical emergency.

9. How do you define success? What is your success rate? How is it measured?

Some programs make specific success claims in their advertising materials. To date, there is no systematic, independently collected descriptive or outcome data on these programs.

10. How do you discipline program participants?

11. Can I contact/speak with my child when I want? Can my child contact me when he/she wants?

Each program differs. Find out what is allowed prior to admission.

12. What are the costs? What is covered? What is your refund policy if the program doesn’t work out?

13. Do you have relationships with companies and individuals that provide educational and referral services?

The best adolescent treatment facility will want you to succeed. They will want you to thrive. They will want you to get well. They will nurture you so you can learn to feel good in your skin and they will provide you with the sense that you are part of a family. Ultimately, a facility will promote a process of healing that encourages and sustains a healthy lifestyle.

 

At Visions, we strive to provide the best treatment experience for every family. Our goal is to wholeheartedly support the adolescent treatment industry through leadership while we work shoulder to shoulder in a community and world that continues to evolve.