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The Impact of Comparison on Mental Health

The Impact of Comparison on Mental Health

The comparison starts at an early age. Perhaps we wish we had the same toys as one of our friends or the backpack they have. As we grow older, this turns into comparing our appearances, grades, popularity, and successes to others. When you don’t make it a habit to avoid comparison, it can continue well into adulthood. You may find yourself comparing how much money you make to others or where you are in terms of relationships, education, or careers. Comparison is often referred to as “the thief of joy,” and this title is very accurate. Comparison causes you to look away from the good things in your life and focus on what you don’t have instead. If it is not addressed, comparison can lead to poor mental health and issues like anxiety and depression. The good news is that you can train yourself to stop this habit and focus on gratitude instead.

How Comparison Can Damage Mental Health

Everyone is on a different path in life, and everyone faces personal and unique challenges along the way. You may look at someone who has accomplished more than you in the professional world and wonder what you have done wrong. You might not know about the possible connections and assistance that individuals had to get to where they are at today that you may not have received. When you spend all your time wishing you had more or were at a different place in life, you are missing out on the current moment and forgetting to celebrate where you are at right now. This can lead to unnecessary stress, anxiety, and even unintentional resentment toward the person you are comparing yourself to.

Comparison and Social Media

In this day and age, much comparison occurs based on social media. There are many problems with this, but the biggest one is that so many people forget or do not realize that what people post on social media is the highlight of their life. They are sharing their successes, happy moments throughout their day, or good things that happen to them. They are likely not going to show the difficult times, the setbacks, the disappointments, or the relationship problems. While they may appear happy and smiling in their latest selfie, they could be struggling with private battles behind the scenes that we know nothing about. Thus, because social media does not paint a full and accurate picture of someone’s life, it is illogical to use it as a way of comparing ourselves to others.

Learning to Practice Gratitude

You may not yet be where you want to be in life, and that’s ok. It is good to have goals and dreams to look forward to and push yourself towards. However, it is also important to remember to celebrate where you are right now at this very moment. Learning to practice gratitude on a daily basis is incredibly important for fostering good mental health and having a more positive mindset. You can train yourself to practice gratitude on a daily basis. For starters, consider getting a journal and writing down at least three things that you’re grateful for each day before bed. This could include something good that happened to you during the day or something more simple like your family, friends, or even your health. On some days, this practice may be easier than others, and that is okay. By doing this before bed, you are more likely to go to bed with a grateful, positive mindset that can carry through to the next morning. When you start making a habit of practicing gratitude, you’ll find yourself doing it without having to think about it.

Another great way to practice gratitude is to take the time to celebrate the smaller successes in life. This could include getting a promotion, getting recognized for a project you completed, or reaching a certain goal you set for yourself. While it might not seem like a big deal to you, you worked hard to accomplish it, and you deserve to celebrate it. Don’t be afraid to share your successes with others and allow them to celebrate with you. You can also reward yourself in some way to mark your success.

It can be helpful to physically track your progress towards accomplishing a certain goal either by journaling or logging milestones on a digital platform. This way, on the more challenging days, you can always look back and see how far you’ve come. You may have accomplished much more than you even realized. 

Comparison is a very easy habit to fall into and it can start at an early age. While it may start innocently enough, it can lead to problems like low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression when it carries through adulthood. Comparison is bad for your mental health because it takes your attention away from the good in yourself and instead causes you to focus on what you don’t have. The good news is that you can take steps toward breaking this habit. This includes recognizing that everyone is on their own path in life and social media typically depicts only the highlights and not the disappointments or setbacks. This also includes learning to practice gratitude on a daily basis. You can do this by celebrating your successes in life and reflecting on what you’re grateful for. At Achieve Concierge we can help you achieve great mental health. Call (858) 221-0344 today. 

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Learning to Recognize Your Anxiety Triggers

Anxiety is a very common mental health disorder that affects many people throughout the world. Regardless of race, age, gender, or background, it can affect anyone. Even if you are receiving treatment for your anxiety, there are likely still going to be days from time to time when you feel anxious. Sometimes these feelings may seem to come out of nowhere or sneak up on you. When they aren’t dealt with properly, they can spiral out of control. This is why it is so important to be able to recognize what triggers your anxiety and how to deal with the feelings associated with them.

Physical Health Concerns

Some people obsessively worry about their own physical health and the physical health of those they care about. Even though they may be primarily healthy, they may get unnecessarily concerned over every little symptom they may experience. They may search for different symptoms online and convince themselves that they are suffering from some serious health condition when they’re really not. This can cause anxiety and cause physical problems as well, like trouble sleeping and eating.

If this is something that you struggle with, make sure to avoid searching symptoms online but instead talk to your doctor about your concerns. They can help to put your mind at ease. In addition, ensure that you are doing everything possible to take care of your body by getting enough sleep, eating nutritious meals, and exercising regularly. This can help reduce health-related anxiety.

Work-Related Concerns

Many people work in high-stress work environments where they are expected to keep up with a multitude of different responsibilities at once. Some people may have trouble coping with this stress. They may have irrational fears of failing, letting their team down, or letting an important task slip through the cracks.

If you’re struggling with work-related anxiety, it is important to learn healthy stress management techniques. For example, this may include deep breathing, taking breaks throughout the day, journaling, or practicing yoga.

Social Environment Concerns

Social situations or large gatherings trigger many people who struggle with anxiety. They may worry that they will be judged or will embarrass themselves in some way. This may even keep them from wanting to socialize at all.

If this is something that you deal with, consider taking a friend with you when you are attending a social gathering. Being able to show up at the same time and know that you’ll have someone by your side throughout the event can help ease your anxiety. It may also help to work with a professional to learn coping mechanisms for this type of social anxiety.

Financial Related Concerns

Finances are often the most common triggers for stress and anxiety. For some people, even talking about money, bills, or debt can be extremely triggering. They may obsess over every dollar they spend, check their bank account constantly, and worry about receiving unexpected bills.

Having a decent saving in the bank can help ease financial-related anxiety. If this is an anxiety trigger for you, you may consider working with a financial advisor who can help you practice good money management practices. They can also help you come up with a budget to ensure that your money is going to the right things. By practicing good financial habits, you can begin to save money.

Public Speaking Concerns

Many people dislike public speaking and may stress out over it. However, for some people, even the thought of having to get up and talk to a group of people can be terrifying and can send them into extreme anxiety. The truth is that just about everyone will have to engage in public speaking at some time or another, whether it be for work or a school project. Thus, it is important to learn how to cope with this type of anxiety.

If this is something you struggle with, consider writing out your speech ahead of time and practicing in front of family and friends. Having this practice in front of people you’re comfortable with, and knowing they are not going to judge you, can help you to become more confident. They can also help provide you with positive reinforcement so that you go into the speaking event feeling reassured and confident in your own abilities. If you don’t want to practice your speech in front of family or friends, you could practice it in front of a pet or even in front of a mirror. You may find that the more you engage in public speaking, the less afraid of it you become.

Anxiety is a very common disorder that many people experience throughout the world. It can affect anyone, regardless of race, gender, age, or background. Even if you’re undergoing treatment for your anxiety, you may still struggle on certain days. That’s why it is very important to learn to identify what your anxiety triggers are and learn how to cope with them. Some of the most common triggers are health concerns, work concerns, financial concerns, social environment concerns, and public speaking concerns. You can find relief by learning healthy stress management concerns, practicing self-care, and working alongside a mental health professional. At Achieve Concierge, we have helped countless patients achieve better overall mental health and begin living happier lives. We want to help you too. If you are struggling with your mental health, reach out to our team today at (858) 221-0344

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The Difference Between Occasional Anxiety and an Anxiety Disorder

It’s normal to feel anxious from time to time due to the typical stresses of day-to-day life. Whether it be related to work, school, or issues within one’s personal life, everyone is bound to experience this feeling at one point or another. Common symptoms included an upset stomach, sweaty palms, and a racing heart. In many cases, these symptoms subside when whatever the stressful issue is has been resolved. However, for some people, anxiety is not just an occasional thing, but that something occurs on a regular basis, and it can be very debilitating. It’s essential to be able to recognize the difference between occasional anxiety and having an anxiety disorder so you can seek treatment if necessary. 

Recognizing Common Anxiety Symptoms 

Not everyone who experiences anxiety occasionally has an actual anxiety disorder. However, it can still be helpful to recognize the most common symptoms related to experiencing anxiety. Some examples include: 

  • Feelings of tension and nervousness
  • High heart rate
  • Heavy breathing 
  • Sweating 
  • Shaking
  • Feelings of weakness or fatigue
  • Feeling a sense of panic
  • An inability to control one’s sense of worry
  • Digestive issues
  • Trouble sleeping 
  • Trouble focusing on the task at hand. 

Determining if Your Anxiety is Excessive 

There are some main factors to consider when determining whether you have occasional anxiety or deal with an anxiety disorder. Some questions to ask yourself include: 

  • Does your anxiety prevent you from keeping up with your personal and professional responsibilities? 
  • Does your anxiety persist over an extended period of time? 
  • Does your anxiety cause you to avoid social situations? 
  • Has your anxiety begun affecting your relationships with others? 
  • Do you feel that your anxiety is beginning to affect your overall quality of life? 

If your answer was yes to these questions, you may consider seeking treatment for an anxiety disorder. 

The Different Types of Anxiety Disorders 

There are multiple types of anxiety disorders, and treatment may vary depending on which one a patient is suffering from. It is also possible to have more than one type of anxiety. 

#1.) Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Someone who suffers from this condition will deal with constant and excessive worrying. They may frequently overthink things and blow things out of proportion in their mind, making them out to be a bigger problem than necessary. Someone with this condition will typically find it difficult or impossible to control their worrying. It can occur at any age in both men and women. 

#2.) Social Anxiety Disorder: Someone with a social anxiety disorder will become very anxious when placed in social situations, especially in large groups or when meeting people for the first time. They may have difficulty making conversation in social situations and may fear that people are judging them. They may overthink their words and fear embarrassing themselves in front of others. 

#3.) Panic Disorder: Some with this disorder will experience a sudden and very intense sense of overwhelmingness that they are unable to control. It can last anywhere from several minutes to hours and can be very excruciating. It is often associated with physical symptoms like nausea, throat tightness, shortness of breath, chest pain, and stomach cramps. In fact, it can be so intense that it can even be mistaken for a serious health complication like a heart attack or stroke. 

Treating an Anxiety Disorder  

Anxiety disorders are prevalent, and there is nothing to be ashamed of. Luckily, there are multiple types of treatment that can help alleviate symptoms or eliminate them completely. If you are struggling with an anxiety disorder, don’t hesitate to ask your primary care provider for help. Your doctor will likely recommend that you attend therapy which can help you work through your emotions in a productive way and learn how to handle stress better. In some cases, prescription medication is also recommended to treat anxiety. 

In addition to traditional treatment, there are some other things you can do every day that may help with your anxiety. Some examples include: 

  • Get out into nature 
  • Make sure you’re eating healthy, well-balanced meals
  • Take frequent breaks from social media 
  • Turn off the news if it causes you stress 
  • Make sure you’re exercising frequently 
  • Try out yoga or a different type of meditation
  • Use journaling to help work through your emotions 
  • Spend time speaking with a trusted family member or friend 
  • Listen to soothing music 
  • Spend time with an emotional support animal 

If you are receiving treatment for anxiety and don’t find that you’re experiencing any relief as time goes on, be sure to reach back out to your doctor as your treatment plan may need to be adjusted. 

While it is normal to be anxious from time to time due to stressful situations in life, anxiety is an everyday battle and can be very debilitating for some people. Some of the most common anxiety symptoms include feelings of tension, heavy breathing, sweating, a sense of panic, and digestive issues. If you’re wondering whether or not your anxiety is excessive and requires treatment, consider how frequently it occurs and what impact, if any, it has on your ability to keep up with day-to-day tasks. Your doctor can help provide you with a diagnosis and help you begin treatment. Therapy and, in some cases, prescription medication, are typical treatment options. You can also try out some other ways to alleviate anxiety symptoms, such as journaling, meditation, and physical exercise. At Achieve Concierge, we can help you achieve better mental health. Call (858) 221-0344 today. 

food-table

The Tie Between Nutrition and Mental Health

Everyone knows that eating well-balanced, nutritious meals is essential to staying fit and physically healthy. However, many people do not realize the true extent to proper nutrition, or lack thereof can impact the quality of one’s mental health. Regularly eating food full of fat and processed sugars can decrease one’s energy and impede their ability to focus. It can even impact things like mood, sleep, and performance at work or school. However, perhaps most importantly, a poor diet can cause and worsen mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. If you feel like your mental health is suffering and don’t know why it may be worth looking at the types of food you’re eating and investing the time to learn how to prepare nutritious meals. 

How Diet Can Affect Mental Health 

  • Do you find yourself surviving on coffee all day and not eating a proper meal until you get home from work? This could be what is causing you to feel irritable and tired throughout the day. 
  • Consuming healthy food promotes the growth of good bacteria throughout the body. This, in turn, ensures that neurotransmitter production within the brain is functioning properly. Proper neurotransmitter production will positively affect your overall mood. 
  • Eating too much junk food can lead to inflammation, which can prevent neurotransmitter production from acting as intended. This can cause your mood to plummet. 
  • Eating too much sugar throughout the day can lead to a spike in the production of a chemical called dopamine within the brain. Dopamine is known as the feel-good hormone that helps to regulate one’s mood. Unfortunately, when you overeat sugar, you’ll later experience a crash that can be disastrous for your overall mood. 
  • There is an important relationship between the gut and the brain. When unhealthy foods are introduced to one’s diet, the good bacteria within the gut are disrupted. The inflammation that occurs, as a result, can lead to depression and anxiety. 

Ways to Change Your Diet to Improve Your Mental Health 

You don’t need to implement major changes within your diet to enjoy some positive mental health results. You can start simply by slowly introducing new, nutrient-rich foods into your meals each day. If you’re wondering what foods to look for the next time you go grocery shopping or plan what to make for dinner, consider the following. 

  • Include more whole foods. Whole food is considered to still be in its natural form without having been preserved or processed. Some examples include unprocessed meat, eggs, fish, nuts, and of course fruits and vegetables. Because these foods are not full of chemicals, they are less likely to cause anxiety or depression.
  • Look for foods that are high in fiber. High-fiber foods can help the body process glucose more productively, preventing crashes in energy. 
  • Try to include as much Vitamin D as possible. Vitamin D helps with the production of serotonin, another feel-good hormone that can help regulate your mood. Some examples of foods high in Vitamin D include salmon, tuna, egg yolk, and swordfish. If you want to kick your Vitamin D intake up a notch, you may even consider adding a supplement to your diet. 
  • Ensure you’re eating plenty of foods that are high in magnesium. Magnesium is essential for nerve and muscle function as well as heart health. Additionally, it can help prevent poor gut health that triggers symptoms of anxiety and depression. 
  • Include a variety of vegetables and fruits within your diet. They aren’t just important to stay physically healthy, but they contain valuable vitamins and minerals that your brain needs to continue to operate at its fullest capacity. 
  • Avoid drinking too much caffeine. This can lead to anxiety, restlessness, and problems sleeping. 
  • Make sure that you’re staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. This can help regulate your mood, improve your energy levels, and increase your ability to concentrate. 
  • Ensure that you include protein with every meal. If you don’t have enough protein throughout the day, you’ll find yourself consistently hungry and more likely to turn to processed foods that can be detrimental to your mental health. 

Taking Small Steps to Improve Your Diet

Consider trying out the following small steps to ensure you’re eating more nutritious meals. 

  • Meal prep at the start of the week
  • Prepare a list of foods and carry it with you while grocery shopping
  • Never grocery shop on an empty stomach 
  • Try cooking more at home as opposed to going out
  • Speak with a dietician to come up with meal plans that are right for you

While it is common knowledge that eating healthy, nutritious meals is vital to prevent weight gain and stay physically fit, not everyone realizes the real and powerful influence that diet has on one’s mental health. If you have found you’re often feeling sluggish or if your symptoms of anxiety and depression have recently worsened and you don’t know why you may consider changing up your diet. To ensure that your mental health is the best, make sure you’re staying hydrated, avoid too much caffeine, include as much Vitamin D as possible, and eat as many whole foods as possible. You may also want to consider meal prepping at the beginning of the week, planning out your grocery lists ahead of time, and speaking with a dietician. At Achieve Concierge, we want to ensure you are able to enjoy the best mental health possible. Call (858) 221-0344 today to learn more. 

woman-reads-newspaper

How to Cope When the News Becomes Too Much

In recent years, in particular, the news has featured a lot of very negative things. From the pandemic to war and violence, it may seem as if the bad news far outweighs the good. It comes at us from many different angles, whether through television, radio, or social media. This onslaught of negativity can become stressful and overwhelming. It can even lead to mental health problems like depression and anxiety in time. While it is normal to want to stay informed about the events around the world, if your news consumption is taking a toll on your mental health, it may be time for a change. This doesn’t mean that you have to give up watching the news entirely, but you may consider changing the way you consume media and implementing some rules for yourself in order to protect your own wellbeing.

How Negative News Can Affect You Mentally and Physically

In addition to causing stress, anxiety, and depression, too much negative news can also lead to other side effects. For example:

  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Changes in diet or lack of appetite
  • A lack of motivation
  • Low energy
  • A sense of dread or helplessness
  • Panic attacks
  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Decreased performance at work or school

Changing the Way, you Go About Media Consumption

How you decide to go about changing the way you consume the news is entirely up to you and your own personal needs. However, you may consider trying one of the following tips.

#1. Set time limits for yourself throughout the day to consume the news in whatever facet you choose. You can set alarms on your phone to alert you of when this pre-determined window has arrived and when it is over. Avoid watching the news or checking social media outside of these set time windows. This can help ensure that news consumption isn’t taking up too much of your time and you are able to focus on other things. This can take a lot of self-discipline but can lead to some great results.

#2. Consider taking a news detox. Sometimes, it can help to completely take some time away from the media and give yourself a break. Going on a news detox for a week or even longer can do wonders for your mental health. It can help you re-focus on what matters most in your life and change your perspective. You may find this time to be very restful and therapeutic, and you may even decide to extend the detox longer than you originally planned.

#3. Choose your news sources carefully and consider limiting them. Not every news station is going to broadcast negativity regularly. In fact, there are some news channels that make an effort to include a good news segment each day or on certain days throughout the week. You’ll also want to ensure that when you are choosing a particular news source, it is credible. Consuming misinformation can lead to excessive levels of stress and anxiety.

#4. Don’t watch the news or check social media before bed. When you are consuming news that could be very negative right before you go to bed, this information will be the last thing you’re thinking about that day before drifting off to sleep. Those negative stories can not only impact your quality of sleep but can stay with you and affect your mood going into the next day.

Taking Care of Yourself When it Becomes Too Much

Whenever you find yourself in a place where you’re overwhelmed by the events going on around the world, take some time to take care of yourself and recharge. Some ways to do this include:

  • Get out into nature. Being in the great outdoors can help if you feel overstimulated. There are fewer noises and distractions in nature, and you can regain your sense of focus.
  • Consider what activities help you to feel better when you’re stressed. Spend time doing an activity you enjoy while staying away from the media. This could be painting, playing with your dog, or spending some time with family and friends.
  • Consider practicing yoga or a type of meditation. This practice can help ground you and make you better aware of your mental and physical feelings.
  • Don’t be afraid to consider therapy. Speaking with a counselor can help you get a better understanding of your own emotions and learn how to handle stress in a much healthier manner and also help to reduce stress.

It’s no secret that the news, especially in recent years, has become scary at times. There is a lot of serious things going on in the world and when you’re hearing about them all on the news each evening, it is easy to become stressed and overwhelmed. This can also lead to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. This is why it is so important to stay in touch with how you’re feeling and make changes in how you consume news if necessary. This may involve only watching the news during certain time windows or even going on a news detox and giving it up for a while entirely. When you begin to feel yourself become overwhelmed by negative news, consider getting out into nature or speaking with a therapist. Good mental health is crucial for living a happy and healthy life. If you’re struggling, our team at Achieve Concierge can help. Call (858) 221-0344 today. 

Joyful family of four sitting in the back of an SUV

Hope for The Holidays: Mental Health and The Holiday Season

For many people, the holiday season is a time of celebration, relaxation, and quality time spent with family and friends. For others, the holiday season can drum up uncomfortable feelings and triggers. The holidays can also place us in sensitive environments around people that we may not want to speak to for the sake of our own health and well-being.

If you’re struggling with your mental health or are working through substance abuse issues, the holiday season can be a particularly troubling and difficult time. Fortunately, with proper planning, they don’t have to be. There are steps we can take and things we can keep in mind to prevent us from encountering harmful triggers and upsetting environments.

The Pressure to Be Joyful 

According to a study conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 64 percent of people surveyed found that the holiday season exacerbated their mental illness. There is both a cultural and societal pressure to be joyous, happy, and cheerful among large groups of people this time of year. For some, this can be a daunting task. People struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder may find themselves moving towards depression. Others may have anxiety about coming into contact with family that they do not have healthy relationships with, which can be uncomfortable.

No matter which camp you fall into, it is important to remember that your apprehension, anxiety, and feelings are valid. Family relationships are often extremely complicated. While it may be the case that in some cultures, cordialness and civility during the holidays are obligatory; you are not required to put yourself in situations that cause you stress. Planning can greatly reduce the discomfort that comes with being in large groups. If you know a person who has caused you harm in the past will be present at a certain event, you can avoid that event in favor of another. How other people interpret your absence is secondary to your own mental health.

Financial Burdens and Obligations 

The holiday season can be particularly stressful for people that are struggling to make ends meet. Between travel, gifts, lodging, and taking time off of work, the financial pressure to be present at holiday events can worsen anxiety caused by a lack of funds. If you find that you have a packed calendar but you are worried about money, it is important to remember that you are well within your rights to excuse yourself from certain gatherings and events for the sake of your mental health.

Loneliness and Loss During the Holidays 

Some people struggle with the burden of the pressure that comes with being present around family and large groups, and others struggle with feelings of loneliness and loss during the holidays. It is important to try and remember that with every holiday season comes the opportunity to make new memories. Coping with loss and loneliness in a healthy way can be incredibly difficult, especially during the holiday season, but it is not impossible.

Making new, happy memories is a fundamental part of the grieving process. If you can, take some time during the holiday break and treat yourself with kindness and care. Remember to keep your healthy habits and coping mechanisms during the holiday season.

Sobriety and the Holiday Season

A litany of factors come into play that can make recovery particularly difficult during the holidays. Changes in routine, holiday parties, and potentially uncomfortable gatherings are just a few of the circumstances that may trigger you. Despite all this, it is important to remember that relapse is not an inevitability or something to be expected during the holidays. There are many things you can do to keep yourself healthy and well.

If you are traveling for the holidays to meet with family, it is important to plan ahead. Keeping yourself away from potentially triggering places like bars and house parties is one potential tactic. It is also important to know how to avoid alcohol if it is offered by someone who doesn’t know you are in recovery. You could say “No not for me thanks, I have a big day planned tomorrow.” Sometimes it helps to have a non-alcoholic beverage in hand, so when someone offers you a drink you can give them a little tip of the glass. “Already got one, thanks!”

Conversations with strangers and family about sobriety can be difficult, but that’s okay! Your journey to recovery is your journey, and you don’t have to elaborate or explain if you do not feel compelled to.

There are many reasons why the holiday season can be particularly difficult for those who struggle with mental and emotional health issues as well as substance abuse issues. Whether it’s finances or family relationships, you can face the holiday season knowing that you have the strength and will to make decisions that are healthy for you.

For many, the holiday season can be a time of stress and discomfort. Being around large groups of people with potentially complicated relationships can be triggering. There is societal and cultural pressure to be joyous and cheerful during the holidays, but often for those that struggle with mental health and substance abuse disorders, this can be difficult. If you are feeling anxious about traveling or depressed and lonely during the holidays, we at Achieve Concierge are here to help you. Our team of professionals and experts is here to help our members with comprehensive plans for health and recovery that are tailored to their individual needs. We offer a variety of services to our members. Some of these are same-day services for mental health crises, telehealth services for those concerned about COVID-19, and many others. If you feel you need to speak with a professional, do not hesitate. Contact us today at +1 (858) 221-0344.

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