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child

Signs That Your Child is Self-Harming

As a parent, you want nothing more for your children than to be safe, happy, and healthy. The thought of your child hurting themselves can stop you in your tracks. If you learn or suspect that your child is hurting themselves, you might feel shocked, afraid, or even angry. You may feel guilty, as though you could have done something to prevent it. It’s hard to understand, and it can leave you at a loss. Your first step is to figure out how you can help. It’s important to be able to identify the signs of psychological distress that can lead to self-harm.

What is Self-Harm and What Causes It?

Self-harm is when a person deliberately hurts themselves to help them manage or cope with strong negative emotions. It can allow the individual to gain control over the overwhelming feelings they are experiencing or serve as a means of finding relief. Some turn to self-harm to feel something other than the loneliness, emptiness, or hopelessness that they are experiencing. Ultimately, self-harm is a sign of distress. It’s crucial to find out why your child is self-harming to allow you to find the right solution to their problems. 

Forms of Self-Harm

Whether obvious or subtle, physically dangerous or symbolic, self-harm can look different for everyone. Forms of self-harm can include:

  • Cutting, scratching, or carving themselves
  • Branding or marking the body
  • Pulling hair, or ripping it out altogether
  • Picking at scabs to prevent them from healing
  • Burning themselves
  • Biting or hitting themselves
  • Hitting their body against something

Signs That Your Child is Hurting Themselves

Most people who self-harm attempt to hide their wounds. They may feel ashamed of their behavior or worry that others will be angry, judge them, or won’t understand. If you’re concerned that your child might be self-harming, look out for these signs:

  • Injuries from cutting or scratching as if with a razor, paperclip, tack, or anything that can break the skin
  • Multiple similar marks in one area
  • Any wound or injury that your child cannot clearly explain
  • A sudden fascination with or desire to learn about self-harm and other destructive behaviors
  • A desire to hide certain body parts by covering them up unusually, such as by wearing long-sleeved shirts on hot days, constantly wearing band-aids, or other means of covering specific areas
  • An increase in symptoms of anxiety, stress, or depression
  • A traumatic or emotional event that can trigger distress such as a breakup with a boyfriend/girlfriend, ending a friendship, pandemic isolation, or rejection from a university
  • A dramatic change in behavior, such as isolating themselves from friends and family

Talking to Your Child About Self-Harm

One of the most productive and powerful things you can do for your child is to let them know that you are there to listen and that you love them no matter what. If your child does open up to you, listen to them carefully and validate their feelings. Remember that they are in distress. Even if it doesn’t make sense to you, they feel the way they do for a reason. Do your best to understand and validate their feelings to maintain a safe environment where they can feel heard and respected. 

Speak calmly, directly, and without judgment. Make compassionate statements like “I can tell you’re upset about this,” “I’m here to listen to you, and I won’t get angry.” Avoid saying counterproductive things like “you’re only doing this for attention” or “just grow up already.” Most self-harm isn’t about getting attention, and even if that’s the source, it still indicates a dangerous emotional imbalance.

Finding a Solution for Self-Harm

Your child may feel ashamed to talk about self-harm, so be sensitive in initiating the conversation and let them know that you are there for them. You can say things such as “I noticed the scars are your arm. Would you like to talk about them?” At the same time, limit your questions. While it’s normal for you to want to know why this is happening, bombarding your child with questions on a subject that makes them uneasy can overwhelm them and limit their willingness to continue the conversation. 

If you witness any cuts or injuries, address them calmly. Most kids who self-harm hide their injuries from their parents to prevent them from worrying. Do your best not to overreact or make them feel uncomfortable about the injuries they’ve caused themselves. Get medical attention as necessary. Reach out to a mental health counselor who can recommend different therapies depending on your child’s needs. Treatment might include psychological therapy for your child as well as for your family. 

 

Finding out or even entertaining the notion that your child is cutting or otherwise hurting themselves in any way can leave you feeling shocked, sad, guilty, and overwhelmed. It can be extremely painful to figure out how to help your child while also managing your feelings. Although you might feel angry or want to ask your child a barrage of questions, the best thing you can do is to remain calm and provide a space for your child to feel loved and free of judgment. While self-harm stems from a variety of causes, the signs are often consistent. If you are concerned that your child is practicing self-harm, you must seek professional help right away. The expert professionals at Achieve Concierge specialize in youth mental health services. Our mission is to provide individualized services to your child or teen at the deepest mental level. Let us help you to help your child through this difficult time. Call us at (858) 221-0344 to learn more.

gender

Understanding Gender Dysphoria

Gender dysphoria is an extreme discomfort that arises from a discrepancy between the gender that a person was assigned at birth and their experienced or expressed gender. People with gender dysphoria can experience severe anguish from the inability to relate to their assigned gender, leaving them to feel overwhelmed by a deep feeling of being trapped inside a body that doesn’t match the person they feel themselves to be. 

On top of immense feelings of isolation, interpersonal conflicts, rejection, and judgment from family, friends, and society at large, dysphoric individuals struggle with intensely elevated risks of depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, self-harm, and suicide. 

What Contributes to a Diagnosis?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines gender dysphoria in children, adolescents, and adults as a marked incongruence or incompatibility between one’s expressed gender and their assigned gender, lasting for at least 6 months. Before diagnosing patients with gender dysphoria, most healthcare providers take into account the quantity and intensity of the following symptoms, especially if any of them are impairing the individual’s ability to function at school, home, or in social settings:

In Children

  • A strong desire to be a different gender or the insistence that they are another gender and the desire to be treated accordingly
  • A strong preference for wearing clothes that are typically associated with the expressed gender and resistance to wear clothing associated with the assigned gender at birth
  • A strong preference for cross-gender roles during make-believe and fantasy play
  • A severe dislike for one’s sexual anatomy
  • A firm conviction that they have the typical feelings and reaction of their expressed gender

In Adults and Adolescents

  • An incongruence between the individual’s expressed gender and their primary and secondary sex characteristics, lasting for at least six months 
  • A strong desire to change or remove one’s primary and/or secondary sex characteristics
  • A strong desire for the primary and secondary sex characteristics of the expressed gender
  • A strong conviction to be and be treated as their expressed gender 
  • A strong conviction that they have the typical feelings and reaction of their expressed gender

Finding Support for Yourself or Your Loved Ones

There are several ways individuals can receive support to help alleviate distress surrounding their gender identity. Most often, patients engage with an effective form of psychotherapy such as dialectical behavior therapy. DBT helps patients interpret and more effectively manage their emotions while also working with a therapist to validate and process their feelings. The therapist can also help a dysphoric patient develop effective coping skills designed to reduce risks of self-harm and suicide.

If an individual is experiencing mental health symptoms such as those associated with depression or anxiety, treatment for these symptoms can be incorporated into their DBT session, which can function as a combination of talk therapy and skills building. DBT can also serve as a great way for families to understand better and support their loved ones struggling with gender dysphoria. 

How to Support Your Child

As a parent looking to support your child who may be struggling with gender dysphoria, it’s important to do your research and adopt the right approach. Some suggestions include:

  • Provide a safe space for your child to feel accepted and supported. You can do this by allowing your child to express themselves freely in front of you without judgment. Rejection and judgment are enormous obstacles for those suffering from gender dysphoria. 
  • Be patient. Dysphoria is profoundly personal and can be intensely challenging to discuss with another person. Your child will come to you when they are ready. Be sure to let them know that you are there to listen any time they want to talk.
  • Do your research. If you’re reading this right now, chances are you are looking for ways to help yourself or someone you love. You’re doing the right thing. Look into which forms of support are available at your child’s school or from local services. Find supportive groups they can attend that can help reduce their sense of isolation.
  • Communication is everything. Listen to what they are saying and validate their feelings. You can serve as their biggest advocate by showering them with the support they need. Individuals with supportive families tend to have a decrease in mental health symptoms and reduced risks of self-injury and suicide. 
  • Ask your child how you can better support them. They will let you know how they want to be addressed. Respect their wishes and do your best to adapt to their preferences. 

 

Grappling with gender dysphoria can be a painful and confusing part of a person’s life. Having access to healthy sources of support can make an invaluable difference to your loved ones as they navigate their exploration of gender identity. The right forms of acceptance and assistance can lower mental health symptoms like depression and anxiety and reduce the risk of destructive behaviors like substance abuse, self-harm, and suicide. Learning the different terminology associated with gender dysphoria and gender identity can allow you to better process and understand what your loved ones are experiencing. There is a lot of information out there, so be sure to find trustworthy and factual resources. If you are unsure where to start or need any other kind of support, reach out to Achieve Concierge. Our team of professionals can help adults, children, and families on this journey. You do not need to figure this out all by yourself. Call us today at (858) 221-0344.

nutrition

The Link Between Nutrition and Mental Health

It’s common knowledge that your diet directly influences your health. Your eating choices affect your weight, skin, and gut health. They can put you at risk of chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes. The food you eat affects nearly every aspect of your life, from your athletic performance to the way you interact with your kids. Continued research indicates that nutrition also plays a vital role in your emotional well-being. Amid the recent rise in quantity and severity of mental health conditions, researchers are constantly looking for ways to bolster emotional stability. Changing your diet may be one such approach.

The Negative Impact of the Western Diet

The American Psychological Association conducted a study across ten countries to determine the extent to which dietary patterns may contribute to mental illnesses. The study focused in particular on depression, which the World Health Organization warns could become one of the top public health concerns in the next decade. Their findings conclusively linked a Western-style diet to an abundance of health complications.

As popularized in the United States, a “Western-style” diet includes a high intake of red and processed meats, refined grains, added sugars, saturated fats, and a low intake of fruits and vegetables. Research cemented the connection between this form of diet and clinical depression, also reporting a higher prevalence of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder diagnoses. An additional study focused on adults over the age of 60 found links between diets high in saturated fat and added sugars and significantly higher levels of anxiety.

Diet and Depression

Although there has been a limited amount of research on the link between dietary patterns and mental health, consistent data is beginning to reveal a trend between the negative effects of an unhealthy diet and numerous mental health disorders. 

One of the first randomized controlled trials that sought to determine the role of diet in treating depression was an examination of 67 individuals diagnosed with moderate or severe depression. The participants received either dietary counseling or social support in addition to their current treatment. The group that followed a diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy oils, legumes, raw nuts, and conservative amounts of red meat and dairy experienced significant improvement in their depressive symptoms. 

It is important to note that both the observational studies and the randomized controlled trials work under limitations and cannot definitively prove cause and effect. This makes additional research on the standardized definition of a healthy diet very important. The more studies we conduct, the better we’ll understand the connection between nutrition and mental health. This understanding will allow us to develop targeted dietary interventions to help people overcome various illnesses.

Healthy Eating Habits Make a Difference

Paying attention to your eating choices can help you to make healthier decisions in the interest of your long-term wellness. To make positive dietary changes in your life, consult with your healthcare provider about your personal needs, then try introducing more of these options into your regular meals:

  • Whole Foods – Research has shown that preservatives, food colorings, and other additives can cause or worsen depression, anxiety, and ADHD. Choose foods that are fresh, minimally processed, and contain healthy ingredients.
  • Fiber – Plant-based foods help slow your body’s absorption of glucose, allowing you to avoid sugar rushes and crashes. You can find fiber-rich foods in the produce department or whole grains and beans. 
  • Antioxidants – Antioxidants help your body fight inflammation. You can find these in your local grocery store in the form of berries, leafy green vegetables, and foods containing Omega-3 fatty acids, like fish and plant seed oils. 
  • Folate – Folate is a B vitamin that has been shown to help with dopamine production. Folate can be found in leafy greens, lentils, and cantaloupes. 
  • Vitamin D – Vitamin D helps your body produce serotonin. Sunlight is a great source of natural vitamin D; for a tasty dietary alternative, try mushrooms, especially Reishi, cordyceps, and maitake. 
  • Magnesium – This multi-tasking mineral is essential to keeping your body thriving by contributing to nerve health, muscle function, and heart stability. Studies have also shown that a mineral deficiency can negatively affect your gut and cause depression and anxiety. Magnesium is found in dark chocolate, cacao nibs, almonds, spinach, and bananas. 
  • Fermented foods – While they can be something of an acquired taste, fermented foods are packed with probiotics that are great for your digestive tract. Examples include sauerkraut, miso, and the fermented drink kombucha. 

It can take time for positive changes in your diet to produce results. The best thing you can do is to be mindful of what you’re putting into your body and indulge in moderation.

 

On top of the knowledge that your dietary choices directly affect your physical well-being, research has established multiple links between the food you choose to consume and your mental health. Eliminate processed foods and items high in preservatives or added sugar. Try increasing your fruits and vegetable intake and look into other healthy foods. Keep a journal to help you record the pros and cons that you experience as you introduce new foods into your diet. Everyone responds to dietary changes differently, so for best results, consult with a trusted healthcare professional about creating an individualized eating plan. If you’re ready to make decisions in the interest of your long-term wellness, reach out to Achieve Concierge today. We’re here to provide personalized support to help you navigate the exciting possibilities that a new approach to your diet can entail. Make positive changes that stick. Call us at (858) 221-0344 to learn more.

focus

Learning to Stay Focused Using the Pomodoro Effect

With more of us working from home than ever before, striking a balance between focusing on work and maintaining a quality home life can prove challenging. It can seem like there’s always something demanding your attention, from children to cleaning to the knock on the front door to the zoom meetings we need to attend; our focus can be stretched thin in many different directions each day.

Learning to manage your time more efficiently can start you on a new path towards achieving that balance. You’ve heard the phrase “work smarter, not harder.” The Pomodoro Technique is a popular time-management method that aims to help its practitioners power through distractions, sharpen their focus, and complete the tasks at hand in short bursts. The approach incorporates frequent breaks that allow you to relax and return to the task stronger than before. See if the Pomodoro Technique can help you navigate your responsibilities more effectively. 

How Does the Pomodoro Technique Work?

Named after the tomato-shaped timer, the Pomodoro Effect was invented in the early 1980s by Francesco Cirillo. As a developer, entrepreneur, and author, Francesco strived to develop a technique that would improve a person’s attention span and ability to concentrate. He learned that breaking work into short, timed intervals helps to train your brain to focus for short periods, allowing you to stay on top of deadlines with heightened concentration. The combination of short sprints and regular breaks helps to bolster your motivation while keeping you creative and focused. 

The core process of the Pomodoro Technique consists of six simple steps:

  1. Choose a task you want to complete: Whether large or small, pick a goal that you have been putting off forever. You can choose any task you like, as this method works for any purpose. What does matter is that you give it your undivided attention in the next step.
  2. Set your timer for 25 minutes: Commit yourself wholeheartedly to the task for 25 minutes without interruption or respite. Give the task 100% of your attention and effort, resisting all distractions. 
  3. Wait until your timer rings: For those 25 minutes, immerse yourself completely into the task. If you start to think of something else that needs your attention, quickly write it down and refocus yourself on the matter at hand. 
  4. Once your timer goes off, put a checkmark on your paper: You have just completed your first interruption-free interval. 
  5. Take a break: Indulge in a work-free break. Don’t even think about your obligations; allow your mind to reset. Your first few breaks should be short,  5-10 minutes at most.
  6. Once you have completed four Pomodoro breaks, start increasing your break time: Your longer breaks should be between 20-30 minutes. These breaks will give your brain time to assimilate new information while resting, allowing you to return to the next round with stronger focus and determination.

What Happens If I Get Interrupted?

Despite your best efforts, interruptions are going to happen. When using the Pomodoro method, Cirillo suggests a strategy of Inform, Negotiate, Schedule, and Call back:

Inform the person who interrupted your interval that you are working on something important.

Negotiate a time when you can get back to them.

Schedule the follow-up.

Call back (or contact) the person once your Pomodoro interval is completed. 

While this method may not work in every situation, most interruptions can wait. If you’re working from home and you are interrupted by family members, as long as it’s not an emergency, having them wait until a more appropriate moment to receive your attention can help them understand the importance of your time. 

Who Can Benefit from the Pomodoro Technique?

This technique can be helpful for people who struggle with following a work schedule, maintaining a home/life balance, or are simply facing lots of obligations. The Pomodoro Technique can be especially effective for creative professionals and is remarkably adaptable to many different types of work. 

Stepping away from your computer screen and the mountain of paperwork on your desk can serve as a necessary catalyst for decreasing your stress level, allowing you to come back to your work with a clearer and more productive mindset. It is also important to note that if you’re in the zone and fully focused on the task when your timer goes off, it’s best to finish what you are doing and then take your break. 

The Pomodoro Technique has been shown to work to varying degrees for different people. It’s a productivity system that is worth trying; even if it does not work for you, it can help you better understand your work style and find a method that complements it. 

 

We could all benefit from becoming a little more productive, efficient, and focused. Between all our responsibilities and the myriads of demands on our attention each day, keeping your focus and completing your to-do list can pose an increasing challenge, especially for the many people who started working from home due to the pandemic and must now grapple with maintaining a healthy work-life balance. While no productivity method can offer a one size fits all solution, the Pomodoro Technique has been shown to help significant numbers of people become more focused and improve their ability to get work done on time. If you’re interested in learning more about finding ways to improve your focus, mental clarity, or other forms of personal efficacy, reach out for guidance from people who can provide practical help. Achieve Concierge offers personalized assistance and support in reaching your goals and becoming the best possible version of yourself. Call us at (858) 221-0344 to learn more.

therapy

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay

If you look around you, you’ll notice a growing trend of people encouraging one another to speak freely about their struggles with mental health. It’s become increasingly normal for people to share their experiences with mental illness in an attempt to let others know that they are not alone while striving to normalize mental health conversations in the long term.

For many generations, it was considered taboo to discuss any form of mental or psychological challenges you were facing. Suppose you did attempt to open up to your loved ones about issues like depression, anxiety, or hopelessness. In that case, you might have been told to just “suck it up,” and as anyone who struggles with mental illness already knows, “sucking it up” doesn’t work. If only it were that easy!

It can help to know that we have come a long way since then. These days, people of all backgrounds and identities are working together to spread the message loud and clear that it’s okay to not be okay. Life is hard, and the myriads of challenges you may face can become overwhelming, making you feel completely out of control. At one point or another, every single person faces low points where they feel consumed by negative emotions. These feelings are normal, and they can be addressed. Having the ability to talk openly about your destructive emotions is a necessary component of long-term health and happiness.

The Benefits of Sharing Your Struggle with Mental Illness

The National Alliance of Mental Illness reports that one in five adults in the United States will experience mental illness each year, yet fewer than half of them will seek treatment. Chances are that someone you know has or will struggle with some form of mental illness in their lifetime – it might even be you. 

The more we talk about mental illness, the more acceptable we make it for people everywhere to open up about their issues without shame. When high-visibility spokespeople like celebrities discuss their personal experiences, they invite a throng of commentators online to share their stories as well. Never underestimate the power of sharing your journey, no matter who you are. Choosing to open up about your struggles with mental illness can cause a powerful chain reaction effect. Some of the benefits include:

  • Helping reduce stigma: the more people speak up about their history of mental illness, the less fear someone else may have when admitting that they need help for similar reasons. This can empower people to get assistance and change the course of countless lives.
  • There is power in numbers: The more we make mental illness a genuine part of the national conversation, the greater comfort others will feel in talking about it. Together, we can create a supportive community. Feeling alone can keep you from opening up about important challenges. We can work to eliminate those feelings of loneliness by taking the first steps towards honesty.
  • We feel heard: Being listened to without judgment can relieve our stress, alleviate negative emotions, and inspire us towards positive change. Though our loved ones may not be mental health professionals, they can support you by making you feel heard and trusted in a major way.

Overcoming Stigma

No matter how well your life is going, you’re going to have hard days. When they arise, you should be able to share your feelings without being received in a way that lacks support or empathy. Being unable to speak freely about mental illness contributes to the greater stigma that surrounds it. This stigma can have wide-reaching negative consequences, including:

  • Being subject to discrimination
  • Lack of understanding by friends and family
  • Fewer opportunities in your career, education, and social activities
  • Being bullied or harassed
  • Long-term negative emotional issues like depression and isolation
  • Lack of services made available by healthcare providers
  • Lack of services covered by health insurance

How Can We Help Normalize Mental Health?

Learning is a powerful tool that can allow us to eliminate judgment and reverse incorrect assumptions. Take the time to educate yourself about mental illness and share that information with others. If you are already comfortable talking about your mental illness struggles, share them with others. Although your story is unique, you may be surprised by its ability to touch the lives of numerous people by helping them feel comfortable enough to open up about their own experiences.

Remember to be conscious of the language you use when speaking about mental health conditions. Use care when considering calling someone “crazy.” We live in a world that is quick to judge in the absence of facts. Try to take a step back and actively treat other people with kindness. The reality is that we don’t know what someone else may be going through, so don’t make hasty assumptions for the negative. 

 

We all face challenges throughout our lives that impact our mental health. Having a place to speak freely and honestly about your struggles with mental health is a vital part of a successful recovery. The human race is continuously growing, and our society is beginning to realize that one of the most powerful ways to improve our collective mental health is to normalize the fact that we all struggle with it. We are not always okay, and that is okay. Make it a personal goal to do your part in destigmatizing mental health. Having a trusted support system is an integral part of mental wellness. If you need to speak with someone about your struggles with mental health, reach out to Achieve Concierge as soon as possible. We are here to listen, understand your circumstances, and connect you with effective treatments to find relief and clarity. You don’t have to grapple with the challenges of mental health on your own. Call Achieve Concierge today at (858) 221-0344.

health

The Link Between Heart Disease and Mental Health Disorders

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death for people in the United States. Heart disease includes several types of heart conditions. The most common type of heart disease in the United States is coronary heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease. Coronary heart disease transpires when the walls of arteries that carry blood to the heart are constricted by plaque.

Many people may not know this, but there is a link between heart disease and mental health disorders. Many people suffer from mental health symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and more. Mental health symptoms can cause extreme fatigue, inactivity, disruptive eating patterns, and can interfere with daily activities and responsibilities.

A study of more than 221,000 people ages 45 and older without any history of heart disease revealed, on average, “people who had reported high or very high levels of depression and anxiety were more likely to have had a heart attack or stroke than people without those symptoms.” However, according to Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, when a person suffers from psychological distress or mental health symptoms, it does not mean they will develop heart disease. 

How Mental Health Disorders Affect the Heart

Mental health disorders can disrupt every aspect of a person’s life, depending on the severity of symptoms. It affects a person’s mood, behavior, thinking, and ability to socialize with others. Specific mental health symptoms can be debilitating and make it extremely difficult for a person to perform at work or school.

Some mental health disorders can change a person’s eating habits, sleep schedule, and activity level. Depression and PTSD can significantly reduce a person’s motivation and willingness to engage in activities they once enjoyed. Eating unhealthy foods and over-eating can increase a person’s cholesterol, lead to high blood pressure, and cause damage to the heart. This damage creates a significant risk for stroke, heart failure, and abdominal arterial aneurysm. 

People who struggle with mental health disorders are at increased risk of adopting harmful behaviors, such as smoking and failure to take prescribed medications. Many people who drink alcohol also use tobacco products. Alcohol and tobacco are addictive substances that can lead to addiction. They can also cause serious health problems, such as certain types of cancer. One cigarette can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, and heavy alcohol use contributes to cardiomyopathy, which is a disorder that affects the heart muscle.

Over an extended period, mental health symptoms can impose physiologicical effects on the body, including increased heart rate and blood pressure, reduced blood flow to the heart, and elevated cortisone levels. These physiologic effects can contribute to a surge of calcium in the arteries, metabolic disease, and heart disease.

Lifestyle Changes to Improve Mental and Physical Health

Living with a mental health condition can be very challenging, especially when it comes to making healthy lifestyle changes. The following changes can significantly improve mental and physical health:

  • Eat healthy foods. Maintaining a healthy diet will improve mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and promote heart health. Good nutrition can improve energy levels, help regulate sleep patterns, and decrease the risk of heart disease.
  • Limit or abstain from alcohol. Since alcohol is a depressant, depression can worsen with alcohol intake because it lowers serotonin levels. Alcohol consumption increases blood pressure, which can contribute to a heart attack or stroke.
  • Exercise regularly. Staying active and exercising regularly will improve anxiety and depression and lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes. It will also improve cognition, including memory and attention. Staying active will give you a better quality of life and sense of wellbeing.
  • Stop smoking. When you stop smoking, you decrease the risk of cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Smoking affects every organ in the body and damages cells that line blood vessels. Smoking also lowers good cholesterol and raises fat in the blood known as triglycerides.

Getting Help for Mental Health

Mental health disorders can make every aspect of a person’s life challenging. Deciding to get help can be difficult for many people due to the stigma behind mental health disorders. However, when you take care of your mental health, you can lower the risk of developing heart disease. With the right treatment, you can feel better mentally and physically.

At Achieve Concierge, we take a holistic approach to treatment for healing the mind, body, and spirit for a complete lifestyle balance. We treat depression, anxiety, PTSD, ADHD, bipolar, and other mental health conditions. We offer comprehensive mental health services that can include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), psychotherapy, and mindfulness. Sometimes, a patient may need medication and life coaching.

Our team of medical professionals will conduct a full health assessment to determine a treatment plan that works best for your needs. We will help you manage your mental health symptoms and explore healthy ways to cope. We also monitor your progress in our mental health treatment program and can adjust treatment if necessary. Our program wants to give you the tools to safely and effectively manage mental health symptoms so you can enjoy a fulfilling, healthy, balanced lifestyle.

 

People who suffer from mental health disorders are at increased risk of developing severe health complications, such as heart disease or stroke. At Achieve Concierge, we offer same-day, in-person mental health services so patients can get help quickly and effectively. We work with our patients to develop the best plan to manage mental health symptoms. Our team of expert clinicians is prepared to plan the best treatment strategies for you. Every person who struggles with mental health symptoms responds differently to treatment and medication. At Achieve Concierge, we offer youth and adult mental health services to help ease symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders so you can have balance in your overall health. Appointments with our clinicians can be made in-person or via telemedicine. We want to help you by determining the best course of action to improve your quality of life. To learn more about our treatment options, call us today at (858) 221-0344.

holistic

Taking a Holistic Approach to Mental Health

Many people who struggle with mental health disorders may hesitate to get help due to their stigma. Some may also not get help because they are not comfortable taking medication that might produce side effects. If a person has a mental health disorder, such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD, the symptoms can interfere with every aspect of their life. Taking a holistic approach to mental health focuses on treating the whole person instead of just the symptoms of the disorder. 

What Are the Symptoms of a Mental Health Disorder?

A mental health disorder can make it challenging for a person to do the things they usually enjoy. The Mayo Clinic states that mental health disorders can cause different symptoms and affect mood, thinking, and behavior. Examples of mental health disorders include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and addictive behaviors.

Struggling with mental health challenges can affect your job performance, create financial hardships and job loss, cause social isolation, and disrupt sleep patterns. Many people who experience mental illness may also experience fatigue, sleeplessness or oversleeping, and decreased nutritional consumption. 

Leaving a mental health disorder untreated can cause physical pain, such as headaches and stomach pains. Some symptoms of mental illness are severe and can be life-threatening. In extreme cases, symptoms can lead to suicidal thoughts. In milder cases, a person can function, go to work, and smile but still feel broken on the inside.

What is Holistic Treatment?

Holistic treatment is designed to help a person heal using therapy that encompasses the mind, body, and spirit. Mindfulness, a common technique used in holistic therapies, teaches the individual to be present and consciously aware of their experiences as they happen. Yoga and meditation are healthy ways to incorporate mindfulness as the deep breathing techniques typically used with these methods can help increase blood oxygen levels in the brain. We cannot control how we feel, but we can control how we respond to our feelings using mindfulness. An open mind will help establish a central focus on total wellness, physical and mental health, sustainable relationships, and responsibilities.

According to the National Institutes of Health, some scientists believe that mental health disorders originate from problems between neurons in the brain. “For example, the level of the neurotransmitter serotonin is lower in individuals who have depression. This finding led to the development of certain medications for the illness. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) work by reducing the amount of serotonin that is taken back into the presynaptic neuron.” 

Although some medications can help stabilize neurotransmitter activity, the origin of the problem can be more complicated. These complications can include nutrition insufficiency, neural pathway changes in response to trauma, socio-economic factors, or a combination of these factors. When you are mindful, you can be aware of your emotions and respond to them differently. It helps you to listen to your body and stay healthy physically, emotionally, and mentally. Holistic therapy allows you to develop new and healthy ways to cope with anxiety, depression, stress, and other mental health disorder symptoms.

Neurofeedback or biofeedback therapy is a noninvasive therapy used to help make slight changes in the body and reduce pain. Neurofeedback therapy gives a person the ability to perform new ways to control their body or improve a health condition. This therapy keeps track of brain activity and teaches the brain to reach a point of relaxation. The brain adjusts to environmental changes, helping individuals cope with emotions, form memories, and learn.

Finding Healthy Ways to Cope

Living with a mental health disorder impacts our physical health and breaks our spirit as we suffer from feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, isolation, and lack of confidence. Finding healthy ways to cope with the symptoms and negative thinking patterns associated with mental health disorders can help alleviate some of the stress and anxiety of everyday life. Practicing mindfulness and incorporating healthy eating habits daily can improve mood, boost morale, and mend your broken spirit. Exercise is highly recommended for maintaining mental and physical health and gives us the ability to heal from the inside out. You can also try implementing self-care into your routines, such as taking a bath, journaling, or any other activities you find joy in. 

Getting Help for a Mental Health Disorder

At Achieve Medical Center, we realize there is no one-size-fits-all therapy for everyone. While medication can work for one person, it does not always work for everyone else. We work as a team to provide the best-individualized plan so you can feel better mentally, physically, and spiritually. We want to help you manage mental health disorders symptoms and discover ways to cope with anxiety and depression feelings. We offer comprehensive mental health services for the mind, body, and spirit.

Our neurofeedback therapy is a non-invasive approach that can help a patient manage symptoms associated with anxiety, depression, ADHD, sleep problems, addiction, disordered eating, trauma, and other mental health disorders. If you or a loved one is suffering from a mental health disorder, get help today. Do not let the stigma surrounding mental health prevent you from getting the help you need. We want to help you feel better and achieve total wellness for a fulfilling, healthier life. You are not alone and do not have to suffer from mental health symptoms anymore.

 

At Achieve Concierge, we offer comprehensive mental health services that include treatments to heal the body, mind, and spirit. In some instances, a patient may benefit from psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), or mindfulness. In other cases, a patient may require medication and life coaching. Our medical professionals learn about a patient and then offer comprehensive mental health services as part of a total wellness experience. Each person who struggles with a mental health disorder responds differently to treatment. We work as a team to help you identify strategies to manage mental health symptoms so you can live a happy, healthy, and meaningful life. At Achieve Concierge, we offer individualized support to help you cope with mental health disorders. We deliver a personalized plan tailored to your needs, so you can achieve total wellness that encompasses the mind, body, and spirit. We offer same-day appointments in person, as well as telemedicine appointments. To find out more, call us today at (858) 221-0344.

health

Staying Healthy in Recovery

Addiction is a complex disease that leads to self-destructive behavior, a host of health problems, or sometimes death. When a person struggles with addiction or substance use disorder, they continue using drugs or alcohol despite any harmful consequences. This is due to the brain’s chemical and physiological changes that make an individual unable to stop using. A healthy lifestyle in recovery makes it easier to stay sober.

Lifestyle Changes

Since the brain changes with addiction, it will take time for the brain to learn how to function without drugs or alcohol. Focusing on healthy activities in recovery will help you maintain sobriety and sustain your physical and mental wellbeing. Physically recovering is a vital part of the recovery process, and establishing new, healthy habits can lay the foundation for years of health in sobriety.

Ways to Stay Healthy

Maintaining an active lifestyle will give you less time to think about using drugs or alcohol. Staying active lessens the risk of boredom and promotes mental, emotional, and physical health. Participating in healthy activities supports cardiovascular health, reduces weight, builds strength and stamina, and rejuvenates the immune system. Exercise and good nutrition can help decrease symptoms of depression or anxiety. It can also regulate restful sleep patterns.

Another way to stay healthy involves keeping a journal. Writing allows you to reflect on your progress and see how you managed emotions and challenges in early recovery. Developing new routines will replace old habits and helps you to avoid thinking about using drugs or alcohol.

Managing Stress in Recovery

Mindfulness of self and others allows you to be in the present. Meditation and yoga are healthy activities that use deep breathing techniques to clear the mind and renew the spirit. Meditation stimulates and trains your brain to be happy without the need for any addictive substance.

An article about oxygen levels and brain function for the Lung Institute (2016) states, “When you’re calm, breathing becomes easier, and stress levels are lower. Deep breathing, meditation, and positive thinking exercises are good ways to help you relax. Exercise also increases the oxygen in your blood.”

Certain drugs and alcohol can result in decreased blood concentration and deprive brain tissue of oxygen. A lack of oxygen to the brain can lead to brain cell death and coma. Staying active helps boost morale, reduces stress, and makes the recovery process much more comfortable.

Gratitude in Recovery

Substance use disorders and addiction can make you feel guilty, scared, and alone. Gratitude means being mindful of the positive things that you have received in recovery. Pay attention to the little details of your day that you can be thankful for, and you will discover the goodness in life. In recovery, you will find a new perspective on the world.

 

When you begin to feel the positive effects of the changes, it will be easier to stick to them. Having gratitude will increase your quality of life as you practice self-care. Focus on healing yourself first. Then it will be easier to work on broken relationships.

Leonard Jason, a community psychologist at DePaul University, remarked on the importance of helping those in recovery transition into society. He stated, “Just getting people clean and releasing them to the social environments that helped encourage the substance use and other negative behaviors (such as crime) has been shown to be not effective.”

Transitioning Into a Sober Lifestyle

Here are some helpful tips to help you transition into a sober lifestyle:

  • Eat nutritious foods. Most people do not maintain a healthy diet during their time of using drugs or alcohol. Eating healthy foods will help to restore physical and mental health.
  • Get enough rest. Addiction often disrupts sleep patterns. Ensuring you get enough rest will translate to higher energy levels, a better mood, sharper mental alertness, less illness, and more.
  • Find new, healthy, sober activities. While actively addicted, your mind is clouded with toxic substances, your mental and physical health is affected, and your spirit is broken. After treatment, you can discover your interests, find hobbies, and participate in healthy activities to maintain good health.
  • Learn to love yourself. Practice self-care and discover what your goals are. This will help you decide what you want to do and have in life.

 Getting Help

There is no cure for addiction, but treatment is available, and there is hope in recovery. Treatment can be tailored to your unique needs and will help restore your health, renew your spirit, and allow you to enjoy a new, healthy, and fulfilling lifestyle in sobriety. You will have the ability to explore the world around you, find new things, and nurture your needs productively and healthily.

 

When using substances, health may not have been at the forefront of your mind. You may have neglected not only your body but your mind and spirit as well. You may have been broken and finally decided to seek treatment. While in recovery, learning to live a healthy lifestyle is essential. You must nurture your mind, body, and spirit. To do this, you can find a new diet and exercise routine, keep a journal, find new hobbies, and, most importantly, learn to love yourself. At Achieve Concierge, we believe in treating the person as a whole with a holistic approach that encompasses the mind, body, and spirit. Addiction can make you feel isolated, but you are not alone. We want you to feel comfortable with our caring and dedicated team of professionals. We offer same-day appointments as well as at-home appointments. For more information about our services, call (858) 221-0344.

selfcare

What is Self-Care in Recovery?

Self-care can get lost when you are in the throes of a mental health challenge and can make you feel more depressed, tired, and unforgiving of yourself. Physical, mental, and spiritual health can suffer when you are actively struggling with addiction. Self-care in recovery means you change unhealthy behaviors for new healthier ones. For example, a healthy diet, exercise, and spiritual wellness encompass healthy habits and self-care behavior in recovery.

Addiction and Mental Health Disorders

Addiction can affect your relationships with loved ones, your financial status, and your daily activities. It can be hard to ask for help due to the stigma surrounding addiction and mental health. Most addictions stem from underlying mental health problems. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), a 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 7.9 million adults had co-occurring disorders in 2014. During the past year, for those adults surveyed who experienced substance use disorders and mental illness, rates were highest among adults ages 26 to 49 (42.7%).

Getting help is a massive step in your journey to success in recovery. With self-care, we learn to love and forgive ourselves while maintaining a positive attitude.

Healthy Activities

You may experience a range of emotions when drinking or using substances and may sometimes feel unworthy, guilty, depressed, hopeless, and lonely. When getting treatment, you should have healthy support from family and friends who can encourage you on your lifelong journey in recovery. Healthy activities such as exercise, a well-balanced diet, interests in hobbies, reading, yoga, or sports will occupy your mind, help you cope, and remain positive.

Healthy activities will make the transition to a lifestyle without drugs more comfortable. Old habits will be replaced with new healthy ones. The mind will be preoccupied with activities, and there will be less time to focus on drugs or alcohol. Fun activities with family and friends can also be comforting and provide psychological improvements.

Healing the Mind, Body, and Spirit

A lifestyle change is a commitment to self-care. Holistic treatment helps you understand why you became addicted to drugs or alcohol in the first place. In treatment, you will find healthy alternatives to cope without drugs or alcohol. Since addiction affects all aspects of your health, healing must encompass the mind, body, and spirit simultaneously for success in recovery. The holistic approach is successful because it focuses on healing the whole person. The body cannot heal physically without mental health and vice versa. 

Drugs and alcohol hijack our brains and fill our minds with self-doubt, negative thoughts, and the inability to reason with sound judgment. Practicing mindfulness helps us to forgive ourselves for harmful thoughts and negative emotions and be aware of our surroundings and others. Yoga, meditation, and deep breathing techniques are excellent ways to increase your mindfulness.

Healing the body means taking care of your physical health. When you maintain a well-balanced diet, your body will have a healthy response to treatment. Eating unhealthy foods can negatively affect emotions, fatigue, and stress. A lack of adequate nutrition can impair your ability to lead an enjoyable, healthy life and increase the risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and cancers. It can also contribute to depression and eating disorders. A healthy diet significantly reduces the risk of chronic diseases and severe health complications. (Centers for Disease Control, 2020)

Spirituality is defined as an action or feeling that makes you feel at peace or grounded. We need to find what makes us feel relaxed, grounded, and ourselves. Spiritual wellness can mean trying new things or going back to a place you felt comfort and strength to build a strong foundation. 

Self-care allows a person in recovery to treat him or herself better. The journey to lifelong recovery is very challenging and can be stressful, but it is possible. When you practice self-care, stress and anxiety will lessen, and the focus can be on getting better. 

Other Ways to Practice Self-Care

Family and friends can be supportive of your self-care. Incorporating laughter, fun, games, movies, and outings with loved ones are great self-care remedies. Meeting sober people will also ensure the focus stays more on your health rather than drugs or alcohol. Maintain your commitment to getting better, live healthier, and be patient with yourself.

It will take time to heal from addiction, substance use disorder, and mental health problems. Healthy activities will make the transition to a lifestyle without drugs or alcohol more comfortable. Replacing old habits with new healthy ones will keep your mind preoccupied with positive actions and enable useful self-care remedies.

Self-care in recovery allows you to treat yourself better. The journey to recovery is very challenging and can be stressful. When you take care of yourself, the stress and feelings of being overwhelmed will lessen, and the focus can be on you getting better.

 

Self-care is essential to the recovery process. When you take care of yourself, you allow your mind, body, and spirit to heal. Focusing on your well-being will make all the difference in your recovery journey. You may want to consider building a support system, journaling, finding hobbies you enjoy, exercising, and creating a balanced diet. Addiction is isolating, but you are not alone. The stigma of addiction and mental health disorders may prevent you from getting the help you so desperately need. At Achieve Concierge, we take a holistic approach to treatment tailored to your unique needs to heal the mind, body, and spirit. We offer same-day appointments with our caring and welcoming staff, and if you prefer, we can make at-home appointments. Take the first step to a fulfilling and healthy life in recovery. Get help and start your journey to recovery today by calling Achieve Concierge at (858) 221-0344.

How to Avoid Stress

How to Avoid Stress

We deal with stress every day. Stressful situations occur regardless of where we are. When we are at work, home, in the car, or other places, stress happens. Controlling conditions to get rid of stress can be impossible. Therefore, learning healthy ways to cope with stress is essential to living better lives.

When our body undergoes stressful situations, our organs, emotions, and bodies respond to how we feel. Stress can not be eliminated from our lives, even if we wish it would disappear. Recognizing the symptoms of stress and how it affects us is necessary.

According to Workplace Stress, “Stress has become one of the most serious health issues of the 20th century and a worldwide epidemic.” You are not alone in feeling stressed. You suffer from an illness that affects millions. Now that you know you are a part of a global issue, let’s narrow down the focus and discuss the symptoms, harms, and ways to handle stress.

What Is Stress?

There are two types of stress: good stress and bad stress, which can positively or negatively impact our lives. How do we know which stress is which? Medline Plus defines stress as “a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous. Stress is your body’s reaction to a challenge or demand. In short bursts, stress can be positive, such as when it helps you avoid danger or meet a deadline.”

There are two different types of stress:

  • Acute stress is the type of stress you feel when you have a heated discussion, slam on the brakes, or try something out of your comfort zone. Your body responds to this type of stress by releasing adrenaline. Everyone encounters acute stress.
  • Chronic stress is the type of long-term stress, such as grieving after the death of a loved one, relationship issues such as an unhappy marriage, money problems, or workplace issues. Chronic stress can last for weeks, months, and even years. This type of stress can become a part of someone’s life, making the stress associated with long-term circumstances unnoticeable. However, even if we don’t notice it, our body does.

Symptoms of Stress

Stress presents itself in various ways. Sometimes we may have multiple symptoms, and sometimes there can be only one symptom. Your body differs from other people’s bodies in how it responds to stress. Here is a chart that can help you identify signs of stress.

Effects of Stress

On your body                  

  • Headache
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Change in sex drive
  • Stomach upset
  • Sleep problems

On your mood

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation or focus
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Irritability or anger
  • Sadness or depression

On your behavior

  • Overeating or undereating
  • Angry outbursts
  • Drug or alcohol misuse
  • Tobacco use
  • Social withdrawal
  • Exercising less often

How Stress Harms Our Bodies

Long-term stress will harm our bodies. The National Institute for Mental Health states:

Coping with the impact of chronic stress can be challenging. Because the source of long-term stress is more constant than acute stress, the body never receives a clear signal to return to normal functioning. With chronic stress, those same life-saving reactions in the body can disturb the immune, digestive, cardiovascular, sleep, and reproductive systems. Some people may experience mainly digestive symptoms, while others may have headaches, sleeplessness, sadness, anger, or irritability.

Over time, continued strain on your body from stress may contribute to serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other illnesses, including mental disorders such as depression or anxiety.

Stress Management

Since we can’t always control our situations—for example, work, traffic, other people—we need simple strategies to improve how we handle stress.

Stress management is a way to handle stress. How you choose to handle stress will be different from your partner, family members, or friends. As long as the ways you manage stress are valid, that’s all that matters. Eight ways to cope with stress are:

  1. Meditation
  2. Yoga or any form of exercise that brings you a sense of peace
  3. Art – drawing, painting, sculpting, or any other form of art will help you relax and focus on something else. Creativity is good for the soul.
  4. Read – whether it’s a book, magazine, or journal taking time to focus on what interests you is essential.
  5. Cook
  6. Take a walk outside
  7. Take a bath
  8. Work on a home project or garden

Another way to help with stress is to make sure you get plenty of rest and eat a healthy diet. Find what feels right to you. Relaxing and taking your mind off of the stressful situation is the goal. Relax, have fun, or try something new.

When to Seek Help

If you feel chest pains, shortness of breath, jaw or back pain, pain going up to your left shoulder, dizziness, or nausea, these can be signs of a heart attack. Call 911 for help.

Seeking help isn’t a sign of defeat. If you are still feeling stress after incorporating techniques to handle the stress, you should talk with your doctor or make an appointment with a therapist. Your doctor may want to run tests to see if there are any other potential issues. Seeking help from a therapist is a way to identify sources of stress and learn new coping mechanisms. In some cases, seeking treatment at a center will allow you to talk with a therapist and have other causes examined by a doctor.

Stress is an aspect of life. Recognizing the difference between acute stress and long-term stress is essential. Long-term or chronic stress is the type of stress that will harm our bodies. We can’t control every situation, but we can learn how to manage our response. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of stress is essential. Creating a stress management plan will help us control our stress. When we realize we can’t manage stress with stress management skills, we should seek help. Making an appointment with a doctor or therapist will provide answers. At Achieve Concierge, we provide complete care. We can see your symptoms of stress by scheduling you with a doctor, a psychiatrist, or a therapist. We can also visit your home or workplace to help you identify stressors and teach you healthy coping techniques. For more information, call Achieve Concierge at (858) 221-0344.