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Using Journaling to Cope With Mental Health Disorders

Using Journaling to Cope With Mental Health Disorders

Many kids and teenagers grow up keeping a secret diary stashed somewhere in their room. It was a way of expressing their thoughts and feelings without having to worry about other people judging them. Their diary may have served as a sort of confidant that helped them understand the world around them more clearly. While you might have considered keeping a journal or diary as something that was just for fun as a kid, journaling can have tremendous mental health benefits and is a great tool to carry into adulthood. It is a way to get your jumbled thoughts out of your head and onto paper. Suppose you struggle with any mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, PTSD (Post Traumatic Distress Disorder), or bipolar disorder. In that case, journaling can be especially helpful in working your stress in a productive way and better understanding how you’re feeling. Consider making journaling a part of your daily life starting today. 

The Mental Health Benefits of Journaling 

If you need more motivation to pick up the practice of journaling, consider some of the following benefits

#1.) Journaling allows you to prioritize your fears and feeling. Throughout the day, you may find yourself stuffing your emotions down deep inside of you in order to not only be able to function enough to take care of your daily tasks but also out of fear of what others may think of you. When you journal, you can finally let these fears out onto the page and give them the attention. This can be a very cathartic experience as it allows for you to finally release these emotions you have been holding onto. 

#2.) Journaling can provide you with a different perspective. Often our fears can snowball in our heads, even reaching the point of becoming irrational. When you work through how you’re feeling through journaling, you may find that these fears do not pose an actual problem and that what you’re afraid of is very unlikely to happen. 

#3.) Journaling helps you to become more self-aware. It is easy to rush through the day, going from one thing to the next without taking the time to consider how you’re feeling. When you journal, you can track the ups and downs of your mental state, and you may even be able to find patterns or better understand what possible triggers in your life are impacting your mental health. 

#4.) Journaling allows for positive self-talk. It helps you understand what negative habits or thought processes you need to address in order to improve your mental health. 

#5.) When you journal, you have the opportunity to work through how you feel before you talk about them to someone else. For example, if you had a fight with a friend, you can work through any anger and resentment before confronting them, thus decreasing the chance that you might explode or say something you don’t mean. 

Starting the Journaling Process 

If you want to start journaling but have never done so before and don’t know where to start, consider the following tips:

#1.) Get yourself a journal. This could be a physical notebook you’ll write in by hand, or it can be a document you keep on your phone or computer. Just remember to keep it somewhere where anyone else won’t find it.

#2.) Don’t feel like you have to follow any specific rules. This journal is for your benefit, not anybody else’s. So you can use it any way that you find fit. Write anything that pops into your head. You may even consider doodling in it if that helps you work through your thoughts. 

#3.) Try to stay consistent with it. If you can work journaling into a specific part of your daily routine so that you’ll be more likely to remember to do it. It may be especially beneficial to do it before bed because it allows you to work through your emotions before going to sleep, creating a more restful mental space. 

#4.) Make it an enjoyable experience. You might consider lighting a candle while you’re journaling, sipping a cup of tea, listening to calming music, or even using fun pens. 

Continue to Practice Other Stress-Relieving Habits 

While journaling has many benefits, you’ll want to continue practicing additional ways to care for your mental health. This involves getting plenty of sleep, eating nutritious meals, exercising regularly, and working with a therapist if necessary. Some other additional self-care methods could include yoga, spending time out in nature, taking a walk, or taking a break from social media. 

While you may have journaled just for fun when you were a kid, journaling actually has quite a few benefits and is worth continuing during adulthood. Journaling can be especially beneficial if you struggle with a mental health disorder like anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder. Journaling allows you to prioritize your concerns and emotions, work through how you’re feeling, and provide you with a new perspective. It can also help you track your mental state and recognize different factors that may affect your feelings. When you’re journaling, don’t worry about following any rules but write whatever you want. You can even doodle if you want to. Try to stay consistent with this practice and make it as an enjoyable experience as possible. At Achieve Concierge, we want to help you achieve better mental health. Call (858) 221-0344 today to learn more. 

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How to Boost Your Own Self-Confidence

How to Boost Your Own Self-Confidence

Do you find yourself struggling with low self-confidence? You are not alone. Low self-esteem can affect anybody at any age or of any background. It can have an impact on your relationships, your career, and even your overall health and happiness. The good news is that even if you have low self-esteem now, there are things that you can do to build it up over time. Before you can do this, you must learn to have a greater understanding of what self-confidence is and what factors go into it. You must also take a look at your life and try to determine what is causing you to have low self-esteem. From there, you can begin taking steps to change the way you perceive yourself.

Understanding What Self-Confidence Really Is

Self-confidence, or self-esteem, has to do with how we view who we are and how capable and worthy we are of accomplishing something. In many cases, it is a skewed version of reality. For example, someone who is very intelligent, capable, and talented can still have low self-confidence despite their known, proven abilities. When someone has high self-esteem they view themselves and their place in life in a positive way. They are typically more resilient and better able to handle stress effectively when it comes their way.

However, when someone has low self-esteem they are more prone to worrying about what other people think of them. They may be exceptionally critical of themselves and will agonize over any tiny flaw. They have a harder time taking criticism from others and may struggle to keep up with the ups and downs of life.

Having good self-esteem is critical for many different reasons. It can impact the opportunities we seek after, the way we allow ourselves to be treated by others, and even the direction that our lives end up taking.

Recognizing the Causes of Low Self-Esteem

There are many things that can cause low self-esteem and it can be drawn from a certain event or circumstances that occurred very early in life. Some examples include:

  • Being criticized or talked down to by a parent, teacher, or another authoritative figure
  • Being belittled by an abuser
  • Going through an unhealthy relationship
  • Physical, sexual, or emotional trauma
  • Being bullied or harassed
  • Growing up with uninvolved parents
  • Growing up with parents that frequently fought or who went through a divorce

Building up Self-Esteem

While it can take time and hard work, self-esteem can be restored over time. The following steps can help you begin to view yourself in a more positive, healthy way.

#1. Work on contradicting the negative thoughts you have about yourself. Pinpoint one of the negative thoughts you frequently have about yourself and look for proof within your life that shows this negative thought isn’t true. For example, if you commonly think “I’m not smart,” look back at successes you’ve had that prove otherwise. Perhaps this is a good grade on a test or earning a college diploma. It may even be helpful to write these successes down in a journal. That way, whenever you begin having that particular negative thought again, you’ll be able to look back on it.

#2. Focus on the positive aspects of yourself. Even if you don’t believe it, there are lots of positive aspects that are unique to you personally. Start looking for them and acknowledging them more often. It could be as simple as a physical trait that you like about yourself or a certain talent you have.

#3. Start changing your inner dialogue. Work on being aware of when you’re having a negative thought about yourself and deal with it before it can spiral out of control. As soon as you realize you’re having a negative thought, replace it with something positive. As time goes on this will become easier and more natural.

#4. Become more aware of who influences you in your life. Are you hanging out with people who build you up or tear you down? If there is someone in your life that is unnecessarily critical of you and is impacting your mental health, it may be time to cut ties with them. Instead, work on surrounding yourself with positive, supportive people. 

#5. Many people begin to feel better mentally when they start taking better care of their physical health. This includes making sure you’re eating healthy meals, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. This can greatly impact how a person views themselves. In addition, avoid engaging in excess substance use.

Self-esteem is very important because it impacts so many different facets of our lives. It can affect what opportunities we go after, the direction our career takes, how we allow ourselves to be treated by others, and where our life ends up. Someone with high self-esteem thinks about themselves more positively and is more resilient to stress. If you’re struggling with low self-esteem, it is important to identify the reason. Maybe it is due to a bad relationship or something from your childhood. You can slowly build your self-esteem back up over time by looking for positives about yourself, changing your inner dialogue, getting rid of people who tear down your confidence, and working on improving your physical health. At Achieve Concierge we want to ensure that you are living your best life, mentally and physically. If you’re struggling with mental health, call us today at (858) 221-0344 to learn more about how we can help.

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

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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.

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Using Psychotherapy to Manage Stress

Psychotherapy is a type of therapy used by medical providers to treat mental health disorders. Psychotherapy helps most mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar, post-traumatic stress, personality disorders, and schizophrenia. It can also help to manage stress and conflicts that can affect anyone without a mental health diagnosis.

What is Stress?

Stress is a natural part of life that can come in many forms: emotional, mental, or physical. Occasional stress is harmless to an individual’s health and can even be utilized as motivation for important goals. Moderate levels of stress allow the body and mind to respond at a faster speed. However, when stress becomes chronic, it can cause significant mental strain and long-term health problems. 

Everyone perceives and manifests stress differently. However, work is the most common stressor among people. However, anything can cause stress in a person’s life, including divorce, financial obligations, getting married, moving to a new home, chronic illness, emotional problems, and more. 

The Effectiveness of Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is effective in treating mental health disorders and emotional distress. According to the American Psychiatric Association, “Psychotherapy can help eliminate or control troubling symptoms so a person can function better and can increase well-being and healing.” Psychotherapy is often combined with medication and other therapies but can produce positive results when done alone.

Medication can be useful in treating severe depression or other psychological conditions. However, taking medication does not teach you new ways to identify solutions to problems or cope with life events. Some people need medication to come to a point where they are comfortable talking about their issues.

People use psychotherapy to cope with life’s stresses, such as the death of a loved one, severe illness or injury, divorce, and job loss. Psychotherapy helps you understand your emotions and thought patterns and identifies ways to conquer negative feelings and fears. Psychotherapy sessions usually last up to one hour and can be short-term or long-term, depending on your specific needs.

Different Types of Psychotherapy   

There are several different types of psychotherapy used by psychiatrists and other mental health professionals. The type used depends on each person’s mental health diagnosis and circumstances. Sometimes a combination of fundamentals of different kinds of psychotherapy is used to provide the best outcome.

Play therapy is effective for children who experience trauma, depression, anxiety, and other mental health or mood disorders. According to Dr. Eliana Gil, who works with traumatized children in play therapy, “the therapeutic relationship is intended to help create this environment of trust and comfort so that the child can do some of the things that they will do naturally if given the time, space, and proper context.” Play therapy uses a child’s natural method of expression to help them articulate their feelings more easily through toys instead of words.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy used to treat various mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, eating disorders, marital problems, and severe mental illness. The American Psychological Association states that many studies show that “CBT has been demonstrated to be as effective as, or more effective than, other forms of psychological therapy or psychiatric medications.” CBT is used to change thinking patterns, develop the ability to use critical-thinking skills to cope with difficult situations, and change behavioral patterns. There are several different forms of CBT, including dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), cognitive processing therapy (CPT), rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT), and self-instructional training. 

Art therapy is a therapeutic healing method and can make a person more comfortable if they struggle to talk about traumatic life events. This type of therapy is beneficial for anyone who has difficulty talking about emotions, thoughts, or experiences. Art therapy helps ease anxiety and allows a person to open up socially. Typically, during an art therapy session, the individual will work on a piece of art. The therapist may observe or intervene to talk about the feelings behind the artistic process. They may also ask about what was easy or difficult in creating the art and what thoughts or memories came up. Some people may find it is easier to express their feelings and experiences with their hands and art therapy breaks through communication barriers.

Why Seek Therapy for Stress?

Since stress is something that everyone experiences, some people may believe they should handle stress on their own. However, some people need more assistance than they can provide for themselves, especially when a mental health disorder accompanies stress. Professional help can give an individual an outlet to talk about their stress and learn to identify the leading causes of stress in their life and how to incorporate tools to reduce their stress levels. 

 

Stress is a common thing faced by almost everybody. However, it can cause emotional, mental, or physical problems that affect everyday life. Stress can be caused by various factors, including mental health disorders. When stress becomes too overwhelming and interferes with the way a person engages in life, they may need professional help. Psychotherapy is a therapy used to treat various mental health disorders and can be used to manage stress and conflicts. There are numerous types of psychotherapy, including play therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), art therapy, and more. At Achieve Concierge, we offer comprehensive mental health services that include treatments to heal the body, mind, and spirit. We work as a team to help you identify strategies to manage mental health symptoms so you can live a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life. Achieve Concierge offers same-day appointments in person, as well as telemedicine appointments. To learn more about managing stress and how Achieve Concierge can help, call us today at (858) 221-0344.

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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.

home

Stay Home for Therapy: Find Comfort in Your Space

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

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

What to Expect

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

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

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

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

Why Staying at Home Works

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

Function and Family

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

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

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

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

Safe Spaces

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

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

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

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

athlete kneeling

Athletes Facing Mental Health Challenges

The invisible battle of mental health discriminates against no one, including professional athletes. We’ve seen Olympic World Record Setter Michael Phelps bravely address depression on national television. We’ve watched MMA superstar Jon Jones repeatedly commit drug and alcohol-related crimes. We’ve lost prolific performers like San Diego Chargers fan favorite; Junior Seau, who succumbed to the void that calls to some of us, all too loudly. For those of us who are the best at what we do, what do we do when our current “best” isn’t enough? 

 

Brain Matter, Matters

Most athletes sustain a significant injury at some point in their careers, and the brain is not exempt from that category. Some athletes experience injuries alarming enough to lead to a diagnosis of a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and some collect many minor injuries and quietly slip into Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Many athletes are hesitant to try traditional medications for depression and anxiety since side effects can include weight gain, fatigue, nausea, blurred vision, headaches, etc. which makes TMS is a viable option for those who are seeking a non-invasive, medication-free treatment. Here are some alternative therapies Achieve Concierge offers:

  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) has become popular for athletes who sustain brain injuries. TMS is also effective for treatment-resistant depression, OCD, ADD, autism spectrum disorders, and in Europe, is used to treat PTSD, stroke after-effects, bipolar depression, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, and chronic pain. TMS stimulates neuron activity, and “clears traffic” on neural pathways to optimize Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Theta brainwaves. Each kind of brainwave corresponds to a mood or function, so many recipients of TMS initially experience a lift in brain fog (that “why did I walk into this room? What was I looking for?” feeling), and eventually find that their ability to function on a higher level increases. TMS continues to work even after treatment has ceased and many patients report feeling like they “got their life back” and have been able to build a life they “never thought would be possible.” Bellator MMA fighter Cat Zingano famously documented her success with TMS treatment on the Joe Rogan Experience MMA Podcast, Episode #29, explaining that the symptoms of depression and anxiety affected her memory, her startle reflex, and sleep quality, her adrenal system, and even digestive system. For many, those symptoms get “band-aid” treatments without a deep-dive investigation into how optimal the brain and body function and synergy are.
  • Bioidentical Hormone Replacement can make a world of difference for athletes. Hormones are traditionally measured within a “healthy range,” but if someone is at the lower end of “healthy,” nudging them toward the higher end of the “healthy range” can result in an increase in recovery time, endurance, maintaining their optimal body composition, and overall energy levels. Male-identifying athletes may experience drops in testosterone earlier than is biologically “normal” since the physical challenges are consistently far greater than that of someone whose physical activity is more casual. Some female-identifying athletes can experience increased testosterone levels as a result of the physical demands that training and performing at an elite level and a subsequent rise in estrogen, as the body attempts to meet the elevated testosterone levels. Naturally elevated levels of testosterone, or being at the higher end of the “healthy range” can mean just an increased performance. However, acceptable levels of testosterone have been a long-standing point of contention within athletic commissions, including historical cases such as the one that ordered two-time Olympic track champion, Caster Semenya, to decrease her testosterone before becoming eligible to compete. Estrogen levels that rise to meet elevated testosterone in female-identifying athletes can cause symptoms such as poor circulation, fatigue, and chronic exhaustion, sleep disturbances, memory problems, bloating, weight gain, mood swings, anxiety, and panic attacks. Any or all of those symptoms can significantly affect an athlete’s ability to train well, recover effectively, and mentally be present when it counts.
  • Medication Efficacy Testing helps your clinician determine what class of medications and what doses are ideal for your body. Gone are the days of trial-and-error, and waiting two weeks to see if something will “maybe” work. If non-medicated options have not been effective enough, ask an Achieve clinician for more information about the testing process as well as medical-grade food, herbal supplement, and naturopathic options to integrate. 

Okay, Okay I’ll Take Time off. What Can I Do in the Mean Time?

Proper nutrition for healing is crucial; you wouldn’t put low-grade fuel in a Ferrari, right? Your body is a fine-tuned machine that requires the proper fuel to perform optimally. Undergoing food sensitivity and allergy testing can identify nutritional factors that may be negatively affecting your performance. 

Low-impact activity such as Functional Movement Patterns, plyometrics, yoga, and swimming can help maintain cardiovascular endurance, VO2 output, and keep fresh, oxygenated blood circulating. Any activity that engages core stabilizers builds skeletal muscle mass, and you are able to participate in without aggravating an injury, will help you stay in a positive mindset as well as help you feel like you aren’t “wasting” all your hard work. 

Good sleep hygiene will go a long way. The body repairs and restores at night, getting quality rest is essential. Tracking Heart Rate Variability (HRV), amount of time spent in REM sleep and SWS sleep cycles, and respiratory rate can help you assess how much effort you can afford to exert, and for how long. Quality sleep also helps manage stress and cortisol levels, ensuring a rapid recovery. 

Accepting nature’s medicine by being in awe of the world around us, and appreciating that the sun manages to rise and set every day without us controlling it, helps us stay “right-sized” and on the path to fulfilling our purpose. Spend some time in nature, among trees or near the ocean, take deep breaths, and find things to be grateful for. 

When your body is your primary vehicle for expression, overcoming mental health challenges can seem daunting. Years of ignoring our bodies’ pleas to slow down, and pushing past pain and exhaustion can disconnect some of us from all the other facets of our identity, and we lose sight of who we are as people, in the grand scheme of things. Outside of our athlete identities, we have basic needs which include varying levels of care to handle life on life’s terms. Achieve Concierge is available in-office or via TeleHealth to create a custom continuum of care to optimize your brain, body, and performance.

To schedule an appointment, call (858) 221-0344.

guilt

Cancer Survivorship and Guilt

Cancer isn’t over when you receive the news that there’s no evidence of disease. Life after cancer doesn’t exist because experience with cancer never truly goes away. The emotional trauma that comes with cancer is difficult to walk through and overcome. Every person diagnosed with cancer carries the effects of disease and cancer treatment for the rest of their lives.

Many cancer care centers say that a cancer survivor is a person who is in any type of treatment or recovery. Cancer survivors live with the fear they won’t remain in remission. Every day is a reminder of what they went through to stay alive. They go about their lives with disruptions in their thoughts about the cancer returning, and often wonder why they survived while others didn’t. Questioning their own survival is common for cancer survivors.

Guilt

Surviving cancer can lead to feelings of fear, knowing there is always a chance of the cancer returning. Guilt is also a familiar feeling for those who survive cancer. Survivor’s remorse can occur when some people live while others do not. Survivors question why they escaped death when others who were diagnosed with the same disease did not. The list of people who experience survivor’s guilt includes:

  • War veterans
  • First responders
  • Survivors of terrorist attacks or a mass killing
  • Cancer survivors
  • Transplant recipients
  • Crash survivors
  • Those who lost a loved one to suicide
  • Those who lost a loved one due to an overdose

This list is not limited to only the people mentioned above. Survivors can hide their feelings of guilt, and deal with mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. If you know a cancer survivor, take some time to ask them how they are coping with their feelings. After active treatment finishes, most people stop asking how cancer patients are doing. 

The Cost of Survival

When a cancer survivor completes treatment and is told they are cancer-free, they feel joy. Receiving the news that the disease they battled is now defeated brings a feeling like no other. What outsiders don’t know is that feelings of sorrow can follow the diagnosis. Every cancer patient/survivor knows someone who didn’t survive. The guilt of being alive is real. The trauma of cancer treatment also plays a part in the survivor’s guilt. Surviving is not easy, and those who say “You should be glad you’re alive” don’t understand what it takes to be alive. Cancer treatment tears down a body. Once treatment is over, the body still needs to heal. While bodies are healing, the mind is also learning to cope with life after treatment. Individuals dealt with brutal medications, surgeries, and radiation. Even after treatment, they are exhausted both mentally and physically. Post-treatment includes dealing with new bodies and a new state of “normal.” Their lives will never be the same.

Cancer survivors also work on the process of acceptance. They try to accept everything they went through. For some, cancer ripped them away from their security, self-image, and confidence. They didn’t choose to have cancer.

Signs and Symptoms

A survivor can feel many different emotions; the feeling of guilt is one of the most prevalent. The signs and symptoms of survivorship guilt include:

  • Having flashbacks to the time they were receiving care.
  • Being obsessed with the past.
  • Being irritable and angry  
  • Having dark thoughts and feelings
  • Dealing with fear and confusion
  • Feeling hopeless 

Physical and Emotional Issues

  • Sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Social isolation
  • Thoughts of suicide

There are other components to survivors’ guilt. Friendships are made while undergoing treatment. The bond between those who share similar experiences can create a feeling of strength and belonging. Learning of the death of that friend creates a void. Sometimes the survivor fills the void with unhealthy activities or thoughts.

The risks of PTSD are sometimes based on past experiences. Regardless of the diagnosis, a person can feel guilty; they have a disease because of life choices. Questions and guilt abound. Some of the questions are

Self-doubt surrounds the survivor. A cancer survivor said, “I blame myself. I should have noticed the change in my body. I should have gone to the doctor sooner. If I did everything right, I wouldn’t be sick.” Unfortunately, cancer, in some cases, is genetic. No one can prevent a genetic disease, just like no one can stop the environment from affecting their lives. We can’t deny our genetics or where we live. We don’t always have a choice in our environment, and we never choose our genetics. People who follow proper nutritional guidelines and workout can also be diagnosed with cancer. Cancer doesn’t discriminate.   

Tips to Cope

  •  Accept your feelings. Allow yourself to feel what surfaces. Take the time to explore those feelings and process them. If the feelings are overwhelming, seek counseling or a support group.
  • Connect with others. By looking up your illness on the internet, you can find groups connected to a treatment center. Another option is to call your local treatment center to find out more about therapy.
  • Look within yourself. Use techniques like yoga, meditation, art, or exercise to relax and refocus on your feelings.
  • Self-care. Give yourself time to take a walk in nature, book a massage, or find a healthy way to relax and reset.

Survivors’ guilt can be overwhelming, especially when people think you should feel lucky to be alive. Accepting the fact you survived isn’t easy. Losing friends to the same disease is painful and scary, and If you are experiencing these feelings call Achieve Concierge. We will formulate an integrative treatment plan with your preexisting specialists, naturopaths, and any other practitioners necessary to help receive the care you need. For more information, call (858) 221-0344.