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Hygiene and Mental Health: From Obsession to Neglect

Talking to others about the inner workings of your personal struggles can be a difficult thing to do. One of the many “open secrets” about mental and emotional health struggles is centered around personal hygiene. Depression, anxiety, and other issues can affect the day-to-day routine of our lives in various ways. One of these is how we take care of ourselves.

How Mental Health Can Affect Hygiene

For some, depression and anxiety can make even the most mundane and routine hygienic tasks seem near impossible. Maybe you forget to brush your teeth in the mornings or skip out on showers. It’s not that you don’t care; it’s just that keeping up with your hygiene has taken a backseat to your struggles.

For others, hygiene and cleanliness become an obsessive activity that causes more stress and strife. Constant cleaning and grooming become a part of the anxiety cycle. You may find that talking about this aspect of your mental health struggle is difficult due to the stigma associated with maintaining your hygiene in a responsible, healthy way.

Hygiene Neglect and Mental Health 

On one end of the spectrum, misery and anxiety can cause many problems with your hygiene routine. On the “neglect” end of the spectrum, suffering through mental health crises like depressive episodes may make it difficult for you to keep up with things like brushing your teeth, showering, and maintaining a clean living space.

If you suffer from major depressive disorder or are in the throes of a depressive episode, your interest in activities and hobbies may be diminished. You may find that you stay inside more and spend less time working on things you enjoy; this also hurts your hygiene routines.

Fatigue and a general lack of interest and energy make it difficult to do the things you love, let alone keep track of your cleanliness. As a result, you may let your hygiene deteriorate out of exhaustion. You may stop showering and brushing your teeth. You may find that getting ready for work in the morning is more challenging than usual, and your living spaces’ general level of cleanliness may also deteriorate.

Hygiene can be challenging to discuss with others, as personal hygiene is seen as a basic requirement of day-to-day life. However, your loved ones most likely want to help you in your mental health journey. In some cases, those struggling with personal hygiene and mental health issues find that they don’t realize they have been neglecting their hygiene until reminded by a friend or family member.

Obsessive Cleanliness and Hygiene Rituals 

On the other end of the spectrum, you may find that some people who suffer from mental health issues like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and anxiety treat cleanliness and hygiene like a ritual. OCD isn’t always about cleanliness — and even when it is, it’s often misunderstood. OCD involves obsessions (distressing thoughts that you can’t stop thinking about) and compulsions (rituals or actions you take to reduce your distress).

With OCD, obsessions can be about hygiene, but they can also be a fear like burning down your house, hurting someone or yourself, or angering God. When it does involve hygiene rituals, like washing your hands, the fear might be about germs, but it can also be about something else.

You may find that your hands can never be clean enough or that your living space needs to be reorganized constantly. These compulsive rituals may cause you more stress and strife in your day-to-day life because if you don’t do them, you feel anxious, uncomfortable, and upset.

The connection between OCD and obsessive cleanliness lies within how those who suffer from OCD struggle with their specific rituals and habits. Cleanliness and impulses like obsessive reorganization are just different rituals that people who struggle with OCD may find themselves practicing. The need for everything to be in its rightful place, spotless, and perfect can stem from various issues. As these issues worsen, they can interfere with your daily life in a variety of ways.

Being Mindful of Hygiene

Mental health issues can affect your hygiene routines in many ways. Being mindful of these changes in your routines can help you determine if they are worsening and beginning to affect your life negatively. If you are struggling to shower and maintain cleanliness, or you’re obsessively scrubbing and washing, it may be time to reach out to a professional for help.

You Aren’t Alone 

Regardless of whether or not you are unable to maintain your hygiene routine or obsessed with cleanliness, it’s essential to know that you aren’t alone. There is help available for the underlying mental health issues you are experiencing that may be affecting your hygiene routine. With a combination of medication, traditional therapies, and holistic therapies, you can heal.

Many people struggle with hygiene in different ways. Some people become too depressed to shower, brush their teeth, and maintain their living spaces. Others compulsively clean, scrub and reorganize their homes out of ritualistic need. These interruptions of daily life can sometimes be caused by underlying mental and emotional issues, and they can be challenging to address and talk about. What’s important to know is that you are not alone. Achieve Concierge is here to help. Our team of professionals and experts tailor treatment plans to help our members regain control of their lives. Our litany of services includes cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychopharmacology, and others. If you have COVID-19 concerns but still want to reach out to a professional for help, we also offer telemedicine services to our members. If you feel you are struggling with your mental and emotional health, please do not wait or hesitate. Reach out to us today at (858) 221-0344.

The Differences Between Panic Attacks and Anxiety Attack

Panic attacks and anxiety attacks are often described similarly, and many people may experience both at the same time. Feelings of panic and anxiety typically feel alike, as both trigger the fight-or-flight response in the body. Although the two share similar emotional and physical responses, panic attacks and anxiety attacks are different conditions. 

 

What Is a Panic Attack?

 

Before we look at the differences between panic attacks and anxiety attacks, we need to understand each condition on its own. First, a panic attack is a brief, temporary episode of intense anxiety that produces physical sensations of fear. Panic attacks occur frequently, may come unexpectedly, and may or may not be related to an external threat. They may only be a few minutes or last up to half an hour, but long-lasting physical and emotional effects may persist for longer. Symptoms may include:

 

  • Anxious or irrational thinking
  • Fear of going mad, losing control, or dying
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Hot flashes
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Trembling
  • Muscle tension
  • Feelings of detachment from the environment

 

What Is an Anxiety Attack?

 

An anxiety attack is also an episode of extreme and excessive worry or fear that is also accompanied by intense physical responses in the body. The anxiety experienced is typically a reaction to a thought-provoking or external threat, although it may not be related to a life-threatening situation. Anxiety attacks can also range in duration from seconds or minutes to a half-hour or longer. Symptoms for an anxiety attack looks similar to those of a panic attack and may include:

 

  • Lightheadedness
  • Sweating
  • Nausea or dizziness
  • Trembling 
  • Irritability
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tightening in the chest
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Intense feelings of panic or fear

 

Comparing Anxiety and Panic

 

Anxiety attacks and panic attacks both have very similar physical responses, including increased heart rate, shortness of breath, sweating, chest pain, and sweating. While both conditions share an emotional symptom of fear, they have other emotional responses that set them apart. Anxiety attacks include symptoms of worry, distress, and restlessness, while panic attacks include fear of dying or losing control, as well as a sense of detachment from their environment or themselves. 

 

Many other unique characteristics set both attack conditions apart, including:

 

Triggers

 

While anxiety attacks may or may not have a specific trigger, panic attacks do not have a specific trigger. Anxiety is a response to a specific worry or fear, while panic may show no obvious cause. 

 

Diagnosis

 

A panic attack is a symptom of panic disorder, which is a diagnosable mental health condition in the APA DSM-V (American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5th Edition) which is the manual for assessment and treatment of mental health diagnoses. Anxiety attacks are not listed in the DSM-V. Diagnosis of disorders can only be done by a mental health professional. 

 

Development

 

An anxiety attack is less severe than a panic attack and develops more gradually than a panic attack. A panic attack occurs suddenly and unexpectedly and can happen regardless if a person feels anxious or if they feel calm. 

 

Duration

 

While anxiety is more likely to be associated with a specific situation, symptoms of an anxiety attack tend to onset more gradually. A panic attack happens suddenly, with symptoms peaking after about 10 minutes. Effects vary from person to person on how long they may last, although panic attacks may last about a half-hour long. 

 

When to Get Help

 

Feelings of anxiety every so often are normal, as they are a cue that your natural fight-or-flight response is working. When this stress response becomes over-reactive and occurs when non-threatening triggers arise, it may be time to get help. Persistent anxiety or panic can lead to more severe diagnoses if not treated. It is important to take action to seek help and reduce anxiety if it becomes overwhelming or persistent. 

 

There are many routes of treatment one can seek if they are experiencing concerning or repetitive symptoms of anxiety. There are therapy options, such as psychotherapy, that are effective at reducing symptoms of anxiety, as well as reduce the frequency of such attacks. Other therapy options may include exposure therapy, where you are gradually exposed to frightening stimuli. Over time and through the process, you are taught coping mechanisms and other adaptive techniques that train your brain to understand that the stimuli are not as frightening as you have made them out to be. Medication is also an option for anxiety if your physician believes it would be a right fit. There are anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressant medication, and beta-blockers that help reduce the physical symptoms of panic and anxiety that may otherwise be difficult to stop. 

 

The terms “anxiety attack” and “panic attack” are often used synonymously, although the two terms define different experiences. Both conditions produce similar physical sensations, but there are many facets such as diagnosis, duration, development, and triggers that set these conditions apart. Feelings of anxiety are normal and tell us that our natural fight-or-flight response is working correctly. When feelings of anxiety become overwhelming or persistent, it may be a sign to seek help. Treatment options for abnormal experiences of anxiety or panic may include therapy and/or medication. Achieve Concierge offers comprehensive services for all of your mental health needs, including treatment programs for feelings of anxiety and/or panic. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one experiencing frequent or severe anxiety attacks or panic attacks, we are here to help. For more information about the resources that we offer, please give us a call at (858) 221-0344.

How Does Mindfulness Alleviate Stress and Anxiety?

People have been using mindfulness to enhance their peace of mind for thousands of years. It is still useful today to treat stress and anxiety.

 

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a form of self-care that calms both the mind and body, helping to slow down thoughts and increase concentration. Other benefits are physical and include lower blood pressure and improved circulation.

 

The point of mindfulness is to stay in the moment and quiet the mind. Staying in the here and now prevents people from spending time regretting the past or fearing the future. The past cannot be changed. The future is unknown and cannot be predicted. By focusing on the present moment, you are relieving your mind of the stress and anxiety caused by thinking about what has happened or what might happen.

 

There are countless forms of achieving mindfulness, including practicing meditation, yoga, and tai chi. Creating art and enjoying music are also mindful activities. Mindfulness can be applied to simple, everyday actions such as eating or watching the sunset. Paying attention to the senses can also help you stay in the moment. 

 

During moments of fierce tension that accompany anxiety or stress, the mind often races. The worst possible scenarios play out in the mind’s eye. At such times, it can be helpful to take a deep breath, close your eyes and focus on nothing more than what’s in front of you: the present moment. The best way to train the mind to slow down and focus on the present is through meditation.

 

How to Meditate

There are many ways to meditate, both as part of a group and alone. One place to start is to find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. You might have to get up earlier than the rest of the household or sit in the bathroom, if necessary. Once you are comfortable, close your eyes and clear your head. It’s good to take a few deep breaths when you start. Fill your lungs slowly and fully, from the bottom to the top. While inhaling, let the belly expand. Exhale slower than you inhaled. After three deep breaths, breathe normally.

 

Focus on the inhale and exhale of the breath. Recognize how it feels going in and out of your nose or lungs. Concentrate on the feeling you get in the back of the throat as air passes through. No matter how hard you try to focus on the breath, your mind will wander. Don’t get discouraged. The object is to slow the mind down, not to make it completely still. When thoughts wander, simply notice it and return to focusing on the breath. If it is challenging to stay focused for the recommended minimum of 20 minutes, start by setting a timer for five minutes. Over time, you can increase the time you spend meditating as you progress. 

 

If focusing on the breath doesn’t seem to be working, you can employ a mantra in your meditation practice. A mantra is repeating a word or short phrase as you meditate. Words and concepts such as “peace,” “love” and “relax” can be used in formulating a mantra. If your mind wanders or you become distracted, take note and return to repeating the mantra you have chosen.

 

Some people meditate best while doing exercises like running or walking. Focusing on anything positive that brings you into the present moment works as well, such as watching the sunset or thinking about your child’s smile. 

 

Resources for Starting Your Practice

For some time, meditating might seem boring or even impossible. If this is the case, seek guidance. YouTube has an endless selection of spoken-word guided meditations and music for meditation. Guided meditation can focus on breathing exercises, visualization, or muscle relaxation. Type “meditation for beginners” into the search bar on YouTube or any search engine to find articles and tips on where to begin. If you know someone who actively meditates, ask them for suggestions.

 

If you don’t have time to spend in the meditation practices mentioned above, another option is to ground yourself in the present. Using the five senses, you can focus on:

  • What you see
  • What you feel
  • What you hear
  • What you smell
  • Something you can taste

 

Eating mindfully means being aware of how your food looks and tastes. Pay attention to the texture and how it feels to eat, rather than passively eating while your mind wanders or races. 

 

It’s important to practice mindfulness and meditation regularly – daily, if possible – whether you are experiencing tense feelings or not. Regular meditation can foster acts of relaxation in everyday life. You might find yourself taking a deep, relaxing breath the very moment a stressor occurs. Mindfulness and meditation can also make it easier to accept difficult situations. Be patient while developing a mindfulness or meditation practice. It takes time, effort, and dedication. 

 

Mindfulness can ease symptoms of anxiety and stress while increasing your peace of mind. The intent of mindfulness is to focus on the present moment. This reduces the fear and regret associated with stress and anxiety. Meditating, performing yoga or tai chi, using the five senses, and exercising are some examples of activities that spur mindfulness. You can simply focus on the breath in a quiet, comfortable place to start a meditation practice. It can be a challenge to set aside time every day to meditate when establishing a mindfulness routine. Eating, watching the sunset, or focusing on your child’s smile are gateways to practicing mindfulness. If stress and anxiety are aggravating your mental illness, mindfulness can be an important part of your recovery journey. At Achieve Concierge, we offer comprehensive mental health services for adults, children, and families. Recovery is possible. Start your journey by calling us today at (858) 221-0344.

Managing Academic Stress in College

In 2020, approximately 20 million students were projected to be enrolled in colleges across the United States. The transition from high school to college that new cohorts of students go through every year can be an overwhelming change, filled with new faces, ideas, and experiences. Although there are many great things about college, such as increasing your chances of obtaining a stable, well-paying job, considerable stress is commonplace. 

 

Finding time to adjust and enjoy this new phase of your life can feel impossible, especially if your curriculum is jam-packed with readings, assignments, and exams. Some students need to work part-time to make ends meet, while others are struggling to get by with a mental health challenge. The good news is that there are many strategies and tools at your disposal to manage stress during your academic studies.

 

Recognizing ‘Normal’ Stress & Anxiety 

 

Although most people might think that stress is a bad thing, it is completely natural. It can even help you. By forcing you to become alert and focused in the event of a threat, you will be prepared to respond readily. For example, maybe you’ve felt stress due to an upcoming exam, but it pushed you to organize your schedule and carve out ample time to study.

 

Stress tends to last for short periods, and you can normally pinpoint what’s causing it (like that upcoming exam). Anxiety results from stress and can linger for longer periods. Determining the exact cause can be tricky. Symptoms of both conditions can be similar and may include increased heart rate, perspiration, and breathing, anxious thoughts, and irritability, feeling overwhelmed, tense, and restless, and general unhappiness coupled with a sense of dread.

 

It is important to monitor your stress and anxiety levels to ensure that your mental health is not beginning to deteriorate. Anxiety and depression are common disorders in the United States and these can severely impact your academic performance. If you continue to have daily disturbances due to stress and anxiety despite your best attempts to alleviate it through coping mechanisms, it may be time to get some help. Here are some red flags to be aware of:  

 

  • Excessive anxiety that undermines the completion of daily tasks  
  • Using drugs or alcohol to cope or escape 
  • Having irrational fears and intrusive thoughts
  • Significant changes in sleeping, eating, or personal hygiene habits
  • Having a prolonged low mood and feeling out of control
  • Self-harming, thinking about self-harming or suicide 

 

The Importance of Working-Memory 

 

Stress is a natural part of the college experience. However, it is a leading cause of poor performance among students. Stressful academic situations can “reduce the working memory available to attend to a task’s information processing requirements and to control its execution.” This is important because working memory allows a student to focus on the immediate task at hand, like retaining a sequence of events while trying to understand the main idea of a story.

 

Another example could be completing several steps of mental arithmetic necessary to solve the problem at large. In other words, working memory allows a person to keep a small amount of information in mind to be used at a moment’s notice. Although it might not seem that important, it is central to being able to plan, comprehend, reason, and problem-solve. Therefore, anything that disrupts this process (i.e., stress) can hinder the production of high-quality work and your ability to score high on an exam. In stress-filled environments, the brain’s working memory is in a game of tug-o-war between task execution and performance-related worries. 

 

Take Advantage of Campus Resources

 

Some stress may indeed be unavoidable, but getting a handle on it and ensuring you know how to deal with it healthily and consistently is essential to your mental health and grades. Most colleges and universities have numerous resources on-campus that are available to students free of charge. Check out your school’s mental health and psychiatric services, which may include options like prescribed medications and individual, group, art, and music therapies. You’ll have the opportunity to express your concerns, get creative, build inter-and intrapersonal skills, and develop healthy strategies for dealing with academic stress.

 

 Finding time to be active and social is also essential to your physical and mental well-being, so find out about your school’s gym, sports teams, clubs, cultural events, and volunteer opportunities. A final piece of advice is to get organized. Taking a little time to plan your daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly schedule can make a world of difference when it comes to stress during the college experience. This will help you not only gain a sense of control over your life but also keep you on track to achieving your goals. Importantly, you’ll never miss a deadline again!

 

Millions of American students enroll in college each year.  A world of new faces, opinions, lifestyles, and ideas await them as they make their transition. The experience can be frightening, exciting, and adjusting can be downright challenging. As students embark on this new academic chapter, they will discover the great opportunities college has to offer, as well as the intense stress that comes along with it. Stress and anxiety are unavoidable aspects of the human experience. It helps us respond to threats and pushes us to get work done. Nonetheless, school can become so overwhelming that it impairs academic performance and mental health. Although there are often resources on campuses to help manage these stressors, some students need more support. If you or your child is struggling during this important time of their life, Achieve Concierge is here to help. Our flexible and same-day services are perfect for students’ hectic schedules. Schedule a consultation with us today: (858) 221-0344

social distancing covid 19

Returning to Work Post-COVID-19

Throughout the world, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to dramatically affect the lives of individuals. As our communities continue to reopen, many people are struggling to enter back into the workforce without any negative emotions. 

 

When the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic, hundreds of millions of people were forced to lockdown, abruptly transition to working from home, or for those that did not have that option, lose their jobs entirely.

 

For months the future looked and felt uncertain for so many people, and in some respects it still does. Even with a large portion of the U.S. population receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, the fear of returning to work and potentially being exposed lingers. 

 

As we all transition into this new normal, and as businesses start to bring back their employees, many individuals returning to work are struggling to feel safe. After more than a year of either not working, or working remotely, many employees are experiencing return-to-work anxiety coupled with stress at the thought of returning to an office setting. After all, for over a year, people have been repeatedly advised how deadly this virus is and how important it is to social distance. The thought of being close to others is terrifying for some individuals. Employees are inquiring as to what steps their employers are taking to keep them safe as they transition back to work amid a pandemic? We’ve compiled some information to help both employees and employers as we ease back into the workplace. 

What is the Risk of COVID-19 Contact in the Workplace?

 

The risk of exposure to COVID-19 depends on the likelihood of coming into prolonged, close contact with others, having frequent physical interaction with others who may be infected with the virus, as well as coming into contact with contaminated surfaces and objects. 

Are There Preventative Measures a Person Can Take to Avoid Exposure?

 

Many employers are seeking the support of an occupational health and safety advisor to carry out a rapid risk assessment. This is used for determining their staff’s exposure risk to implement preventative measures. Before returning to work, verify what, if any, preventative measures your employer has created. 

 

The WHO has created key measures that all employers should be implementing regardless of the industry. They include frequent hand-washing, disinfecting stations with alcohol-based hand sanitizer, respiratory hygiene (covering coughs, physical distancing, wearing face coverings, regular environmental cleaning, and disinfection, and limiting unnecessary travel). Employers should create and implement clear policies, training, and education for all staff members to inform them of COVID-19 protocols. Additionally, employers must encourage unwell workers or anyone who develops symptoms to stay home, self-isolate, and contact a medical professional immediately. Providing employees with COVID-19 information such as testing centers is a great way to keep employees informed. 

The Rights, Duties, and Responsibilities of Employers and Employees

 

Employers, workers, and their organizations should strive to collaborate with health authorities to help prevent and control COVID-19. Employers should implement measures that prevent and mitigate exposures at the workplace while also providing personal protective equipment determined necessary through the risk assessment. To protect workers at higher risk such as those ages 60 and over, or those with underlying medical conditions, special measures should be taken.

 

Workers must follow the measures for occupational safety and health to help control the spread of COVID within the workplace. Workers have the right to remove themselves from any work situation that presents an imminent and serious danger to their life or health and must be protected from any unseemly consequences.

Tips to Overcome Return-to-Work Anxiety

 

Plan Ahead. As you transition back to work, finding some control over the uncertainty can help ease your anxiety. These can be simple things such as revisiting your work wardrobe, prepping your lunch, or organizing any work-related items. 

 

Find the Good. This transition can be nerve-wracking, but do your best to seek the good in returning to work to help boost hope and optimism which in turn can help quiet your worry and anxiety. Think about the coworkers that you have missed or the customer’s smiles that brighten your day. 

 

Talk About It. Find your person and vent away or start utilizing a journal. Expressing our feelings is a great way to help ease our worries and anxieties about what we are feeling. It is easy to get lost in our thoughts and emotions, so we need to make time to express ourselves. Remember your feelings matter. Feel those feelings, but find a way to release them and not be consumed by them. 

 

As the world seeks some normalcy, many people are feeling anxious and uncomfortable to return to anything. Many individuals are returning to work full-time, forced to be near people – people they have been told to avoid for over a year. It is no wonder so many are consumed with negative emotions as they transition back to the workforce. Anxiety and stress are normal reactions to heavy situations. It is important to find outlets to help ease those stresses and worries such as knowing your rights as an employee and asking the right questions. Your safety within the workplace is vital and a requirement. When employers and employees work together to find measures that keep each person sane and safe, it creates a workspace that is much easier to come back to. If you are struggling with negative emotions due to COVID, reach out to Achieve Medical Concierge today. Call today (858) 221-0344.

loved one

Supporting the Mental Health of Your Loved Ones

There’s no sugarcoating it: watching someone you love struggle with symptoms of mental illness can be one of the most heart-wrenching and confusing experiences you will ever endure. Though you wish you could, you may not know how to help someone grappling with mental turmoil. Every person deals with mental illness uniquely; searching for answers on the internet can leave you more confused than before on how to support your loved one. 

Many people living with mental illness have been misdiagnosed or diagnosed unprofessionally, making it hard to recognize and interpret their symptoms. Whether you suspect your loved one has a specific diagnosis or you’re simply concerned for their well-being, trust your gut if you think something’s wrong. While you might have an idea of where to begin supporting your loved one’s mental health, you might benefit from further guidance, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Here are some ways that you can support your loved one or connect with a professional who can provide them with the help they need. 

Know the Warning Signs of Mental Health Problems

Everyone deals with bad days and challenging circumstances that make life seem dark and stressful. There is an enormous difference between normal anxiety and a state of depression. You know when your loved ones aren’t themselves. Keep an eye out for behaviors such as:

  • Withdrawal from social interaction or a loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed
  • Trouble functioning at work, school, or social activities
  • Dramatic changes in sleep and appetite
  • Intense changes in moods or behaviors
  • Problems with concentration, memory, or logical thought
  • Heightened sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells, or touch
  • Feeling disconnected from the world or a sense of unreality
  • Fear or suspicion of others, paranoia, and nervousness
  • Erratic, unusual, or unsafe behavior

Although these signs alone do not confirm mental illness in your loved one, any of them is a good reason to follow up with an evaluation from a medical professional to help get to the root of any problems.

Learn to Say “I See You”

Gut-wrenching and uncomfortable though it might be, initiating a heavy conversation with your loved one can play an invaluable role at this point in your relationship. You don’t have to be a psychological expert to let somebody you love know that you’re there for them. Chances are your loved one isn’t looking for you to solve their problems or banish their pain; they just want to be seen and understood. Dealing with mental illness can be intensely lonely. Opening up to someone who loves you can eliminate some of that loneliness. 

Express your concern in a non-judgment way, and let them know that you are willing to learn and to be there for them. Don’t let fear guide you; be proactive and ask questions. Reassure them that you are there because you care for them. Use “I” statements, such as “I am worried about you” and “I want to help you,” rather than “you” statements like “You are” or “You should.”

Encourage Your Loved One to Open Up

Be patient with your loved ones, and don’t pressure them to talk to you. When they want to talk, listen; don’t invalidate their feelings or perceptions, for they are their own. One of the worst things you can do during these tough conversations is to invalidate how the other person is feeling by using dismissive statements like “You’re crazy,” “That’s not true,” and “It’s not that big of a deal.” 

Encourage your loved one to talk with a mental health professional. If you have ever spoken with a therapist and feel comfortable talking about it, share your experience with them. One of the best ways to eliminate the stigmas surrounding mental health issues is to share your stories and normalize things like seeing a therapist. Seeking professional help is a sign of strength.

Be Prepared to Handle Objections in Advance

Before you bring up the possibility of seeking professional help with your loved ones, make sure to invest some time into researching and eliminating potential barriers that could arise. For example, have on hand a list of therapists who are taking on new clients, or look into childcare services if needed. Try to anticipate any objections or obstacles your loved ones might cite as objections to your suggestion for treatment. In the end, you want what’s best for them, and that means knowing when you can’t help them on your own.

 

It’s difficult to watch as someone you love struggles with mental illness. You may want to jump in and do anything you can to help, only to realize that you simply don’t know what to do. Don’t let yourself be overcome by feelings of helplessness when your loved one needs you. You don’t have to be an expert to take fundamental steps to provide the people you care about with effective help. Educate yourself on mental illness to learn which symptoms your loved one is experiencing and to identify behavioral red flags that signify the need for professional help. If you or someone close to you is battling mental health problems, reach out to Achieve Concierge. Our mission is to provide you with the tools and skills you need to make a tangible difference in the lives of the people you love. Call Achieve Concierge today at (858) 221-0344 to learn more.

worry

The Difference Between Anxiety and Worry

Although the words worry and anxiety are often used interchangeably, the way we experience them is incredibly distinct. The two are separate emotional states which each have unique effects on your current and long-term mental health. A person experiencing worry tends to feel it in their mind, while a person experiencing anxiety may feel it in their body as well. To some, anxiety brings nausea, hyperventilation, or digestive problems like irritable bowel syndrome.

Worry is considered a normal psychological state, while anxiety is not. For those suffering from anxiety, the only way to find relief may be psychological treatment.  Understanding the difference between the two can help you make the changes you need to achieve growth and stability.

The Symptoms of Worry Versus Anxiety

Worry is usually brought on by a specific cause, such as the need to get somewhere by a designated time. When you can resolve the source of concern, your worry can diminish or disappear. Developing problem-solving skills can help you navigate your worries with confidence and attain inner calm when facing challenges.

By comparison, anxiety can persist over a long period, even when the issue at hand is irrational or unrealistic. It can affect numerous areas of your life and interfere with your ability to function. Anxiety can spread from one source to another, causing you to spiral into an ever-deepening well of panic.

While worry tends to be temporary, anxiety is longstanding. While worry can be addressed through problem-solving, you may not be able to pinpoint the source of your anxiety, making it challenging to fix. Anxiety can be likened to a hamster wheel that continuously spins. No matter how long or how fast your mind spins in place, it may never lead you to a solution. 

Living With Worry and Anxiety

Worry is grounded by reality by a logical component, while anxiety is fueled by catastrophic thinking. When you experience worry, your brain is trying to make sense of potential danger or discomfort while leaving room to find a way to protect yourself or avoid the situation altogether. When you experience anxiety, your brain is constantly overestimating risk. People who suffer from anxiety tend to also underestimate their ability to cope with outcomes. 

While worrying does not generally impact your ability to function in your personal and professional life, anxiety can make regular daily functioning seem impossible. Anxiety can make you feel constantly restless or uncomfortable, to the point that it can become a tremendous effort to even get out of bed. It’s not uncommon for people to take sick days from work or school because of debilitating anxiety. 

If You’re Consumed By Worry:

There’s never a shortage of things to worry about. The ongoing pandemic has dramatically changed our lives. You may have been forced to homeschool your children, lost your home or business, or encountered intense financial and personal strains. These are all legitimate causes of worry. If you’re struggling with excessive worrying or find yourself developing symptoms of consistent anxiety, there are steps you can take in pursuit of relief.

  • Take a break from the news and social media. Too much information can increase feelings of stress. It’s understandable to want to be informed – just remember to take a break from the endless digital cycle to bring yourself relief.
  • Engage in mindfulness activities. Take some time out each day to tune into yourself and enjoy the world around you. By going on a walk around your neighborhood, meditating, or cooking, you can reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Challenge yourself to reshape negative thoughts. If you often tell yourself, “I can’t do…” try to reshape this thought. An uncomfortable or anxious mind often fuels negative thoughts. Reset your mind by actively thinking in a new direction.
  • Accept the things that make you anxious. You don’t have to do everything that others do. There are plenty of people who find excitement in rock climbing and plenty who don’t. It doesn’t define you. Let yourself sit some activities out if it’ll help you feel better.
  • Learn how to tolerate things that make you uncomfortable. While it’s always acceptable to sit out trying situations, exposing yourself to small doses of the things that make you anxious can help you build up a tolerance. Desensitizing yourself to discomfort is a type of exposure treatment that has been shown to promote relaxation and inner calm. 
  • Reach out to people who bring you relief. Sometimes all we need is to hear someone else’s voice. While the pandemic has made it harder to connect in person, you can still communicate with your loved ones through smartphones and other devices. Set up zoom calls with the people you love and whose presence can soothe your mind. 

 

Although the words worry and anxiety are often used interchangeably, they are distinct emotional states that can negatively affect your mind. It is normal for you to feel worried throughout your lifetime. While you can often find solutions that reduce feelings of worry, it’s rarely that simple if you’re dealing with anxiety. Anxiety is a deep-rooted consistent experience that can have destructive consequences on your mind and body. Anxiety can make you feel stuck in a rut, surrounded by danger with no way out. Worry and anxiety can be debilitating, and you don’t have to fight them on your own. If you’re ready to reduce your negative emotions and access resources that can help manage your symptoms, reach out to Achieve Concierge today. We provide individualized care designed to help you overcome challenges in your mental health and reach your goal of living a balanced, successful life. Call us at (858) 221-0344 to learn more.

touch

How Touch Deprivation Can Affect Your Mental Health

Humans thrive off of positive physical touch. From the time of our birth, touch plays a fundamental role in how we communicate with one another. Whether it be a long, loving hug, a congratulatory high-five, or a sweet touch of endearment, affirming moments of human touch are a crucial factor in our physiological and psychological well-being.

Over the past year, we have all had to endure the complications that came with an unexpected and seemingly endless pandemic. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that all individuals socially distance themselves from those who do not live in the same household to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Many businesses closed down, causing people to lose their source of income and their access to people. School shut down, and some still are, causing children to lose access to their friends. As major holidays came and went, families were required to continue social distancing. No more games of tag to be had on the playground or hugs from your aunts and uncles. For many individuals, especially those who live alone, human interaction dwindled to a minimum. 

It’s More Than a Want

Humans don’t simply want touch; we need it. In the absence of positive human touch, you can develop a condition called touch deprivation. Touch deprivation can increase stress, depression, and anxiety, and lead to numerous additional negative physiological effects. Individuals who go without positive physical touch for a long period can even suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

The distancing requirements put in place to eliminate the spread of COVID-19 have led many people to experience profound sadness and overwhelming isolation. Human touch has real, measurable impacts on a person’s physical and mental health. From a hug to a high-five, positive moments of human touch can:

  • Calm the nervous system
  • Boost the immune system
  • Activate oxytocin, which is critical for bonding
  • Reduce stress
  • Lower pain levels
  • Improve healing
  • Lower blood and heart rate
  • Improve mood
  • Decrease anxiety and depression
  • Eliminate sleep disturbances
  • Provide comfort to eliminate feelings of loneliness and isolation

How to Cope When Physical Touch is Off Limits:

Social distancing mandates are still in full effect, as it is unclear when the COVID-19 outbreak will subside. In the meantime, it’s important to find ways to work around the negative impact brought on by the loss of physical touch.

  • Spend Time With Your Pets

Pets can provide you with meaningful interactions and combat touch deprivation. If you do not own a pet, consider checking with your local animal shelter. There are countless pets out there just waiting for a loving owner who will shower them with hugs and kisses. If adopting is not an option, check into fostering a pet for a short time.

  • Use a Weighted Blanket

Weighted blankets can help to simulate the sensation of physical touch and induce calm in individuals suffering from anxiety, depression, ADHD, and autism.

  • Schedule Video Conferences With Your Loved Ones

Although it will not replace a physical hug, being able to see your favorite people sprawled across your computer screen can put a smile on your face. We can now use our phones and computers to connect with the people who matter most to us, no matter where we are in the world. Try setting up a weekly video call with your loved ones to keep in touch and enjoy seeing one another face-to-face as much as possible.

  • Join a Club

If you are not comfortable joining a club that meets in person, there are plenty of opportunities for you to participate in online gatherings. Check the websites of your local recreational centers to see if they offer any online classes. Consider founding or joining a virtual book club, workout group, or Dungeons & Dragons campaign. Businesses are slowly opening and following CDC protocols to make their environments safe to inhabit.

  • Organize a Quarantine Group

If you do feel comfortable meeting with people in an enclosed environment, ask a couple of friends to get together to walk around the park or hike nearby trails. Keep your group small and follow all necessary protocols to keep everyone safe. 

  • Be Deliberate in Your Encounters

If you live with children, pets, or a romantic partner, make sure to embrace your loved ones a little extra to get your daily fix of physical touch. If physical intimacy isn’t present in your household, you can still be deliberate in the interactions you do have. Wave to your neighbor on your morning walk or strike up a conversation with the grocery clerk. While these won’t replace the real deal, social substitutions can still improve your mental health. 

 

The lack of physical touch is a challenge that many of us are struggling with daily. Humans thrive off positive touch; any feelings of distress or loneliness you’re experiencing in its absence are completely valid. You’re not alone, either: the pandemic has caused many of us emotional, physical, and psychological distress. With no end in sight, the most effective investment you can make is to attain new methods of relieving negative emotions and fostering positivity. While it’s important to continue to social distance, finding ways to care for your mental and emotional wellness is a crucial part of your long-term happiness throughout the pandemic and beyond. If you or a loved one feel isolated or overwhelmed by negative emotions during this trying time, don’t go it alone. Achieve Concierge provides personalized support and guidance for overcoming mental health obstacles and building deep-rooted confidence in your daily life. Our goal is to treat you like family. Reach out to Achieve Concierge today at (858) 221-0344.

stress

How to Cope With Depression and Anxiety During the Holidays

“We can all help prevent suicide. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention, crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. Call 1-800-273-8255.”

Many people struggle to cope with depression and anxiety, especially during the holidays. The holiday season is a time of year when you get together with family and friends, laugh, have fun, and make memories that will last a lifetime. Unfortunately, this time of the year can bring a lot of pain and suffering for those who struggle with depression and anxiety. The isolation enforced by the COVID-19 pandemic makes those feelings even more unbearable and intense, as we are unable to gather and celebrate with our loved ones.

What is Depression?

Depression is more than sadness – it is debilitating and makes you feel alone, tired, and unable to participate in normal daily activities. Depression is a heaviness that makes you feel like you’re suffocating, and you cannot breathe. It disrupts eating habits, sleep patterns, can increase symptoms of anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

Depression impacts about 7% of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 2 million children in the United States have been diagnosed with depression. The symptoms of depression are challenging to cope with and often interfere with a person’s ability to enjoy life to the fullest.

Treatment For Depression

There are different modalities of treatment for depression. Treatments include medications, psychotherapy, light therapy, and exercise. Medicines for treating depression involve using an antidepressant, anti-anxiety, or antipsychotic drug to manage symptoms. Psychotherapy treatment involves a mental health counselor to discuss symptoms of depression and ways to cope with them.

Light therapy helps some patients who struggle with depression to improve their mood and sometimes is used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a form of depression related to the reduced sunlight during the colder winter months. Exercise is a natural, healthy way to increase the body’s production of endorphins, which significantly reduces symptoms of depression.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is more than feeling anxious or scared. Anxiety is the body’s response to stress and a feeling of despair and fear beyond a person’s control. It interferes with daily activities and can impair a person’s ability to work, go to school, and form new relationships. Anxiety can produce unrealistic feelings of hopelessness, obscurity, and insecurity.

There are several different forms of anxiety disorders:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Panic Disorder
  • Phobia
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Separation Anxiety Disorder
  • Seasonal Anxiety Disorder

Risk Factors For Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety can be linked to genetics, brain chemistry, and environmental factors. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, each type of anxiety disorder’s risk factors can vary. Still, there are some general risk factors for all kinds of anxiety disorders, which include:

  • Temperamental traits of shyness or behavioral inhibition in childhood
  • Exposure to stressful and negative life or environmental events in early childhood or adulthood
  • A history of anxiety or other mental illnesses in biological relatives
  • Some physical health conditions, such as thyroid problems or heart arrhythmias, or caffeine or other substances/medications, can produce or aggravate anxiety symptoms; a physical health examination is helpful in the evaluation of a possible anxiety disorder

Many people experience a wide range of symptoms, such as difficulty concentrating, rapid heart rate, and heavy breathing. Some anxiety disorders can induce an anxiety or panic attack, marked by an overwhelming fear or dread.

How to Cope With Anxiety Disorders

Unrealistic expectations, financial pressure, and excessive commitments can all contribute to holiday stress and anxiety. Poorly managed holiday stress can cause headaches, overeating, and insomnia. A lack of adequate social support, recent trauma, or co-occurring illness can make it hard to manage. Still, there are ways to cope with anxiety orders, especially during the holidays.

Anxiety disorders are usually treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both. Set realistic goals and expectations, reach out to family and friends for help, and find inexpensive ways to enjoy yourself. Share family responsibilities, limit commitments, and take time for self-care. Proper nutrition, daily exercise, and meditation are all healthy ways to cope with anxiety disorders.

Treatment is Available

Symptoms of depression and anxiety can worsen during the holidays. Isolation due to COVID-19 can also amplify depression and anxiety. Treatment is available, and at Achieve Concierge, we take a mind, body, spirit approach to treatment and help our patients discover the best ways to manage their depression and anxiety symptoms.

 

Depression and anxiety can increase during the holidays and can make you feel afraid and alone. Isolation due to COVID-19 can also worsen depression and anxiety symptoms as you experience feelings of boredom and isolation. This holiday season, ensure that you are taking care of yourself. Self-care is essential to the recovery process and managing the difficulties of mental health. You may want to consider setting boundaries with family, watching what you spend on gifts, and share family responsibilities with others. If your anxiety and depression seem unmanageable during this holiday season, you may want to consider seeking professional help. Sometimes, the stigma of mental health disorders prevents us from getting the help we so desperately need. At Achieve Concierge, we make you feel comfortable and offer same-day appointments with our caring and dedicated staff. We also offer telemedicine appointments if you prefer. For more information about our services and treatment modalities, call (858) 221-0344.

home

Stay Home for Therapy: Find Comfort in Your Space

Staying home to meet your therapist is an option for those who need therapy. In-home therapy provides a feeling of comfort while maintaining a sense of safety and privacy. The ability to feel safe while talking with someone who can meet your mental health needs is a perfect way to include support for addiction or mental health disorders at your convenience.

Imagine a therapy session you can schedule when you are available. You can talk with your therapist without the stress and anxiety of driving, worrying about people seeing you, or changing your calendar to fit your therapist’s schedule. The bonus of in-home therapy is you can feel protected.

What to Expect

In-home therapy is a time to discuss your feelings, mental health concerns, or alcohol or substance addictions. Setting up an appointment is easy, and many find our in-home therapy services are the beginning of their physical, emotional, and physical health journey. You are under no obligation to clean or prepare snacks when your therapist visits. Instead, take the time before your first visit to think about why you set up the appointment. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for your first in-home therapy appointment:

  • Prepare a list of questions before your therapist sees you. Asking questions focuses on why you scheduled an appointment while also easing your mind. Being comfortable in your own home and building a sense of trust with your therapist is integral to the therapy process.
  • Ask and re-ask questions if necessary. It’s okay to repeat a question. Sometimes an answer is unclear, or you aren’t sure how a form of therapy will benefit your needs. Going over your questions until you feel satisfied can help you understand the process and provide clarity and a sense of safety.
  • Don’t hide your feelings. Explain any hesitation or misgivings you have about therapy. Not feeling comfortable with treatment will build a barrier between you and your therapist. Your honesty about how you think, what led you to treatment, and your goals while in therapy help you and your therapist decide how to approach your sessions.
  • Listen to yourself. Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings regarding the session. Discuss how you feel with your therapist. Ways to address your feelings are available to you if you talk with your therapist.

 After the therapy session, take time to go over what happened during the appointment. Consider how at ease you were with your therapist. First therapy sessions are a way to interview your therapist. Sometimes you don’t feel a connection to the therapist. You have two options if you don’t feel a connection or feel uncomfortable: 

  • Schedule another appointment to see if there is a better connection
  • Try a different therapist. An understanding treatment center will work with you in your search for a positive patient-therapist relationship.

Why Staying at Home Works

Meeting with your therapist at home can take the discomfort or feeling of being vulnerable away from your appointments. Being at ease fosters your openness to treatment. An essential part of in-home therapy is a safe space—having familiar objects surround you aids in the journey to a healthy mind, body, and soul. Often, in an office visit, you cannot show how your environment affects your health. With in-home visits, your therapist can see how you react to your environment. For example, your therapist can assess how home life creates a positive or negative effect on your person. Once recognition of how you are affected by your relationships is established, healing will begin.

Function and Family

Working with your therapist in your home also provides an opportunity to create a safe space. Not every home is a safe or positive place. Dysfunction may surround you, causing you to fall into negative lifestyle patterns. Your therapist will work with you to identify and make the adjustments needed to increase the positive energy required to heal.

An act as simple as organizing your home environment will make a difference in maintaining order in your daily routine. Working on establishing a routine, coordinating schedules with family, friends, or others can help you regularly focus. The act of focusing benefits your emotional, physical, and inner well-being.

In-home therapy allows your therapist to observe the interactions you have with your loved ones. Families have patterns of behavior that either support a healthy lifestyle or damage a person. In some cases, the family or loved ones may adopt roles that protect them, but in turn, hurt you. Mental health disorders and alcohol or substance addiction creates unhealthy dynamics in personal relationships. Your therapist will work with you and your loved ones in adjusting behavior and adopted roles. Positive, supportive relationships foster a sense of well-being. Establishing healthy relationships starts with changing family roles, but it doesn’t stop there. 

Learn what your needs are through creating a safe space. The idea of a safe space can seem daunting, but it’s worthwhile. Discuss with the family what you need to feel comfortable, work on coping techniques, or re-focus. Safe spaces are essential in constructing a routine and an outlet.

Safe Spaces

Safe spaces are places you feel you can talk with your therapist, write, paint, exercise, or meditate. To work on your health and well-being, you need to have a place you feel is yours. Creating a safe space is achieved by following these steps:

  • Find an area in the house you feel is private.
  • Decorate the space with objects, pieces of art, or anything connected with positive feelings. Make this area your space, and ensure that it reflects your personality.
  • When you are ready or if you are ready, show your space to your family or therapist.
  •  Discuss boundaries with your loved ones. Let them know if you prefer they don’t go into your space, stay away while you are there, or if it is a place you want to share on your terms.

In-home therapy allows you to feel safe, comfortable, and open to treatment.

The process of healing begins at home. An open, supportive environment is essential to maintain your well-being. Working with your therapist in your home provides your therapist with an opportunity to observe how your family interacts. Comprehensive therapy fosters a sense of safety, control, and routine. Functioning within an organized, positive environment builds on the tools needed to continue your positive mental health journey. Your therapist is your partner in establishing a safe place for you to work on your well-being. Formulating a plan is essential. Contacting a treatment center that offers in-home therapy is the first step. Write down your questions before the first visit, ask, and re-ask questions until you understand what happens during a therapy session. Freely discuss your feelings with your therapist. Don’t be afraid to change therapists if you don’t feel connected. Find what feels right. Call Achieve Concierge to schedule your in-home therapy session at (858)-221-0344.