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Thursday, November 7, 2019

Ideas for Managing Seasonal Affective Disorder

Now that daylight saving time has ended and the days are getting shorter, you may be struggling to keep an optimistic attitude. If you find yourself dreading those premature sunsets and long nights, you’re not alone – you may have a condition called seasonal affective disorder.

What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder, aptly abbreviated SAD, is more common than you might realize. According to the Cleveland Clinic, approximately half a million people in the U.S. live with the so-called “winter blues.”

While experts don’t know the exact reason this condition occurs, it’s not a stretch to see the connection between a lack of sunlight and mood disorders. Having less available sunlight can shift the body’s circadian rhythms and disrupt the transmission of neurotransmitters – brain chemicals such as serotonin and melatonin that play a role in regulating your mood and your sleep cycle.

Recognizing SAD Symptoms

SAD sufferers share many of the common indicators of depression, such as sadness, withdrawal from your social life and an overall lack of interest in activities you normally enjoy. If you have SAD, you may also find yourself having trouble concentrating and feeling extreme fatigue, even if you’ve gotten the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep.

Tips for Treating SAD

If SAD is making you feel lethargic and unmotivated to participate in your normal daily routine, you may be relieved to learn there are some all-natural ways to treat SAD and help get you back on track.

1. Try Light Therapy

At-home light therapy lamps or boxes emit bright light that imitates sunshine. If you have SAD, you can sit in front of this lamp for about half an hour per day, usually when you first get up in the morning. Doing this will help regulate your circadian rhythms and suppress your brain’s release of melatonin, helping you feel more awake and alert.

2. Go to a Doctor

If the world seems grayer and less enjoyable in the fall and winter, a doctor can evaluate your symptoms and ask you questions to determine if you are living with seasonal depression. If your screening indicates you do have SAD, seeing a therapist to talk through your feelings can be constructive.

3. Use Essential Oils

You may already know how beneficial aromatherapy can be as part of your self-care routine. Essential oils can act on the part of your brain that regulates your mood and your body clock. Choose your essential oils wisely. For example, if you’re feeling sluggish and having trouble concentrating, peppermint oil can help perk you up. In contrast, use soothing oils like lavender to help you wind down before bedtime.

4. Work up a Sweat

Exercise is just as useful for banishing the symptoms of SAD as it is for other forms of depression. Getting your heart pumping can also help combat the weight gain that often accompanies seasonal depression. Outdoor exercise is ideal because it helps you get natural sunlight, but if it’s raining or snowing and you can’t get outside, do your workout inside next to a window.

Re-Balance Your Mood

Mood disorders like SAD are especially risky for people in addiction recovery because feelings like sadness and loneliness are often powerful relapse triggers. Experiment with one or more of these methods to regain your equilibrium, and try to keep a positive outlook – come Dec. 22, the days will gradually start getting longer again.

If you need help turning your life around, contact our team at Complete Harmony. We offer holistic healing as an alternative to traditional 12-step approaches, and we are available to speak with you about your needs 24/7.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

How a Recovery Journal Can Help You Maintain Your Sobriety

If you have kept a journal or diary at any point in your life, you are probably already familiar with how therapeutic it can be to write down your thoughts and feelings. Doing so not only makes you feel calmer and more in control, but in going back and reviewing previous entries, you can put your progress in perspective.

Keeping a journal can benefit your mental health, but it can also be a tremendously useful tool if you’re working through the daily challenges associated with addiction recovery. Let’s explore some of the top advantages of keeping a journal, and you can decide whether to use this writing exercise to strengthen your recovery efforts.

1. Getting to Know Yourself

If you are trying to work on the root causes of your addiction, it can be helpful to spot patterns behind your triggers, cravings and the issues you struggle with most. You might also benefit from being able to identify specific negative thoughts and emotions that can put your recovery efforts at risk. When you can recognize harmful self-talk creeping in, you can take steps to reframe it into more positive language.

It’s both unhealthy and unconstructive to keep difficult emotions pent up inside. Retaining bottled-up feelings can overstress you and threaten your sobriety. Your journal, therefore, can be a quiet, safe place for you to express yourself with no worry about external judgment or criticism.

2. Evaluating Your Progress

If you are still in the early phases of your recovery, you might be relying on your journal as an outlet for your most complex, confusing emotions. Given enough space and time, you’ll see a bigger picture start to emerge as you get a more complete sense of what you need to navigate the waters of recovery. Your journal entries will reflect your growth and development one day at a time.

As you continue to make progress in your recovery, your journal can begin to serve as a series of inspirational messages from your previous selves. When you have a few moments to spare, take a few minutes to review your earliest journal entries and compare them to the more recent ones you’ve written. You will probably be pleasantly surprised by the progress you’ve made, which can enable you to let go of your past and begin starting over.

3. Freeing Your Mind of Burdens

If you struggle with anxiety, you already know the rush of unwanted feelings and intrusive thoughts it can bring on. If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed with stress and a near-constant stream of worry, journaling can help you unburden yourself. In many cases, the straightforward act of putting your worries into words will calm your racing mind and enable you to relax and let go of tension.

4. Protecting Your Privacy

One other noticeable benefit of journaling is that it allows you to put your thoughts and feelings on paper, while still keeping them private. Unless you want to, you never have to share your journal with anybody else. That means you can be as honest as you need to be about the challenges you’re having from moment to moment, or even in the long term.

Think of your journal as a conversation between your current self and your past self. There is no “wrong” or “right” way to keep a journal. Just put your fingers on the keyboard – or your pen on your paper – and let the thoughts flow out of your subconscious mind.

A Proud History of Recovery Results At Complete Harmony, we combine traditional, evidence-based therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy with holistic approaches like massage, meditation, acupuncture and yoga to create a highly effective, non-12-step addiction recovery program. If you’re ready to discover a fresh beginning without relying on the crutch of drugs and alcohol, contact us today.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

How to Explain Addiction to a Non-Addict

Millions of people have experimented with drugs, and many people regularly have a few glasses of wine with dinner. Most of those people can use these substances in moderation, and don’t overindulge to the point of jeopardizing their health, happiness and well-being. However, the situation is quite different for someone who develops an addiction. Once the powerful pull of a substance use disorder takes over your life, you lose the ability to say no.

As a person in recovery, you will eventually reach a point where you meet someone new and have to explain the difference between occasional substance use and a full-scale addiction. A casual user who has control over when and how much they drink or use drugs may say offhand things such as, “Just one won’t hurt,” without understanding how much harm it can do. What can you do when those around you don’t understand how challenging it is to walk the path of recovery?

Addiction Isn’t a Lack of Willpower

There is a persistent stigma around addiction that it stems from a place of weakness. However, addiction is a chronic, progressive disease. As with other such illnesses, there is no cure, but someone who has developed a substance misuse disorder can learn strategies to manage it and keep its symptoms at bay.

Many people, including some living with an active addiction, chalk substance misuse up to a lack of willpower. When you accept that you have a lifelong sickness, it becomes easier to stand by your convictions, avoid temptation and do what you need to do to protect your sobriety.

Become Your Best Advocate

As with any other chronic disease, there may be various times when your symptoms flare up. In recovery, you could struggle more during stressful times at work or with family members. Other triggering events could involve places or people that remind you of when you used to drink or use drugs. At these times, you must stay attuned to your triggers and take additional steps to protect yourself. If you encounter a situation that puts your sobriety at risk, give yourself permission to walk away. Tell people around you that you may need to leave an event suddenly if you feel endangered in any way.

Be an Educational Resource

Some people may not understand addiction as a disease because nobody has ever adequately explained it to them. With their permission, explain that many diseases and disorders may not display obvious symptoms, but that doesn’t make them any less genuine. People living with these conditions learn to develop strategies to help them manage their symptoms and live as close to a normal life as possible. No one would attempt to downplay the severity of heart disease, depression or diabetes. Addiction requires the same compassionate response.

Accept That Not Everyone Will Understand

No matter how thoroughly you spell out why addiction is an illness that requires you to manage it for the rest of your life, you will still encounter people who don’t believe you. You must be tolerant and have realistic explanations for what people will be able to accept. Some people you meet will not appreciate how many obstacles you have faced in achieving sobriety, and that’s OK.

What matters most is that you know what you’ve been through, what you need to be healthy and that you never compromise your health and happiness to meet other people’s expectations. Surround yourself with people who offer you the love and support you deserve. Your life is in the balance, and you deserve to live free of the burden of substance abuse.

Your Recovery Awaits

At Complete Harmony, we offer a holistic, non-12-step approach to treating substance misuse issues. To learn more about how we can help you achieve mental, physical and spiritual health, speak to a recovery advisor today.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

5 Ways to Sneak Meditation Into Your Day

It’s hard to find a habit with more benefits than meditation. The practice creates a profound sense of self-awareness that can not only make you more mentally healthy and stable, but can also help you follow a lifestyle that improves the world around you.

For many people, the word “meditation” conjures an image of sitting still for hours at a time until they achieve a state of inner peace. This idea can turn some away from the practice because they believe it requires dedicating hours of time and effort every day.

The truth is, meditation is something you can do almost anywhere and anytime without having to rearrange your schedule or isolate yourself from the world. Here are five easy ways to sneak meditation into your daily life.

1. Greet the Day

One of the most straightforward ways to meditate is when you first wake up. Set your alarm five to 10 minutes earlier than usual. When your alarm goes off, sit up and take 10 deep, slow breaths. While you’re doing so, think of things, people or situations you’re grateful for, and linger on each item for a moment. This practice will help you start each day in a positive state of mind.

2. Mealtime Meditation

Before sitting down to a meal, take the opportunity to meditate. This practice is excellent for helping you feel thankful for what you have and improving your relationship with food. Either aloud or in your mind, say, “I’m thankful for this meal and for the nourishment it will provide my body.”

Then, take a moment to notice how your food looks and smells before you take your first bite. This practice is beneficial for helping you think about food in a new light, instead of mindlessly cramming meals into your mouth without noticing them.

3. Walking Meditation

Anytime you are walking for more than a few minutes, take the opportunity to do a walking meditation. This practice is an excellent way to live in the moment and contemplate the sensory experience you are having while you move.

Start by bringing your focus back to your breath. Then, shift your attention to how it feels to move your body through space. Finally, transfer your awareness to your surroundings. How does the sunlight feel on your face? Is there a breeze blowing through your hair? Can you hear birds chirping? What colors can you see? Notice all these small details.

4. Waiting Meditation

Use this meditation next time you’re waiting for something or someone. Instead of reflexively checking your phone or looking around for some other distraction, stop and take a few deep breaths. Again, check in with your body and see how you’re feeling. If you are holding tension anywhere, consciously release it.

Are there people around you? If so, how do they make you feel? You can learn a lot about yourself by observing how your surroundings affect your emotions.

5. Bedtime Meditation

Bedtime is one of the best times of day to sneak in a brief meditation session. As a bonus, this practice can help you fall asleep faster.

Start your nighttime meditation by writing down anything that’s on your mind, whether it’s a to-do list or a nagging worry that’s been following you around all day. Once you’ve gotten it all on paper, close your eyes and picture yourself placing these burdens under lock and key.

Mindfully take 10 deep breaths here, and tell yourself your worries are safe and they don’t have to follow you into sleep. This practice will help you enjoy a more restful night.

Achieve Balance at Complete Harmony

Complete Harmony provides a well-rounded alternative to traditional drug and alcohol rehabilitation. At our beautiful healing center in California, you can discover a new way of life without the burdens of addiction weighing you down. Learn more about our innovative treatment program, and reach out to our recovery advisors to start your recovery journey on the right foot.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Advantages of Holistic Rehab Programs

When you are seeking treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction, you will quickly discover not all rehab centers are the same. While they share the common goal of helping you get to the root of your addiction and learning how to live a healthy life without relying on these dangerous substances, there are many paths to achieve that objective. Choosing the right rehab involves understanding your unique needs and your mindset.

What Is Holistic Rehabilitation?

Holistic treatment is an approach that addresses the mind, body and spirit. In other words, the treatment you receive at a holistic rehab center will address your physical health alongside your mental health and your spirituality.

Holistic rehab serves as an alternative to traditional 12-step addiction recovery. Because of its versatility, this approach allows you to receive a treatment plan tailored to your unique needs. Many people who have not achieved long-term sobriety after undergoing conventional rehab discover success in a holistic program that allows them to find balance in all areas of their lives.

What Are the Benefits of Holistic Rehab?

There are several things that set the holistic addiction treatment approach apart, including the following.
  • It supports both physical and mental wellness.
  • You can undergo customized treatment based on your lifestyle.
  • By incorporating physical activity and a variety of holistic treatments, you may notice your symptoms of anxiety or depression reduced significantly.
  • Focusing on the spiritual aspect of recovery can teach you more about yourself, your relationships with others and the value you bring to the world.

Does Holistic Addiction Treatment Replace Traditional Therapy?

You can think of holistic rehab as a supplement to traditional approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy and relapse prevention strategies. Incorporating methods like the following into your treatment can complement standard treatment methods and enhance their effectiveness.

Becoming the Best Version of Yourself

Your goal in addiction recovery is to discover what you’re truly capable of. Don’t confuse that with the idea of seeking perfection or other unrealistic expectations. Therapy will help you discover the underlying reasons for your addiction and teach you how to address them constructively. You may discover that continuing to pursue holistic treatments once you transition out of inpatient treatment can help you manage stress, cravings and triggers, thus making you less likely to experience a relapse.

Because of the many advantages of holistic treatments, they are a central focus of our recovery programs at Complete Harmony. We have seen firsthand how many people’s lives become richer and more fulfilling after completing our customized drug and alcohol rehab. When you are ready to rediscover and realign yourself physically, mentally and spiritually, contact our compassionate team of addiction specialists today. A full recovery is within your power to achieve.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Your Addiction Doesn’t Define You

For many years, you counted on drugs or alcohol to help you feel good about yourself and get through stressful periods in your life. Now that you’re working on your sobriety, you may be struggling to recognize who you are without these substances. Now is the time to commit to a fresh start, one in which addiction doesn’t control how you behave or see yourself.

Letting Go of Labels

Despite some progress society has made in recent decades, there is still a stigma around substance misuse and mental health disorders. Even people who have been sober for years might feel compelled to apologize for addiction as a shortcoming or a fall from grace.

You may have issues with substance abuse, but your life is larger than the label of “addict.” Recovery can free you to discover a passion for things like cooking, painting or spiritual practices such as yoga or meditation. To move past the guilt and shame associated with addiction, you need to embrace yourself as a whole person instead of focusing on one dimension of your experiences.

Replacing Shame With Positivity

Shame is a natural human emotion. Everyone has at least one thing they wish they could go back and change about their past, but dwelling on it is a sign that you are overly focused on negative thinking.

If you often feel worthless, or undeserving of love and happiness, you need to remember you are equally as valuable as everyone else. Eliminating negative self-talk can improve your mood and your self-esteem, and allows you to live the rich and fulfilling life you should strive to pursue.

Many people in early recovery incorrectly believe that any setback, no matter how small, means they are not good enough, or that they haven’t put in the right amount of effort to deserve the rewards that accompany sobriety. However, there is no such thing as perfection. Instead of getting frustrated or beating yourself up about mistakes you’ve made, welcome them as a learning experience that is helping you make progress.

Learning to Talk Through Your Feelings

Actively maintaining an addiction often requires secrecy and deceit. You may have kept your spouse in the dark about where you were or what you spent money on. Perhaps you were dishonest with your boss about having to leave work early for a dentist’s appointment, when in reality you were going to meet up with your dealer to buy more drugs. And you almost certainly lied to yourself about the extent of the damage you were causing to your health and happiness by abusing drugs or alcohol.

Now that you are clean and pursuing your recovery goals, you might find these old deceptive habits are hard to break. However, it is essential to be as open and honest as possible if you’re working on getting out from under the burdens of addiction. If you need help, feel lonely or are having a stressful day, reach out to your sober support network and talk to a friend, a sponsor or your therapist. Don’t get trapped in a cycle of negativity and guilt. Those feelings can erode the progress you’ve made.

Experiencing Gratitude

Learning to embrace gratitude is a vital part of recovery. You have received a unique opportunity to reinvent yourself, free of the substances that were crushing your spirit. Your addiction will always be part of who you are, but it’s not your whole story.

At Complete Harmony, we believe in a holistic approach to recovery that helps heal people physically, mentally and spiritually. If you are ready to explore our treatment options and learn how to find a healing home at our beach retreat, contact us today.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

What’s the Best Diet to Follow in Early Recovery?

Healthy eating habits play a vital role in the process of recovering from a long-term drug or alcohol addiction. Staying drug- and alcohol-free after you complete a recovery program is a challenge, but maintaining healthy eating habits can help you accomplish this goal.

Nutrition Advice for Recovering Addicts

While there’s no one specific diet that’s best for you to eat when you’re trying to protect your sobriety, the optimal eating plan involves plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole-grain breads and cereals. Here are five nutrition tips to follow.

1. Establish a healthy eating routine. People who have used drugs and alcohol for a long time neglect good nutrition because they are more focused on getting their next dose than they are about what they are putting on their plates. Newly sober people should try to not only eat healthy foods, but to get in the habit of eating at the same times each day. Following a sensible diet can also help protect your sobriety by helping you avoid mood swings that may trigger addiction cravings.

2. Try to keep sugar consumption to a minimum. Many people trying to establish healthier eating habits still struggle with sugar, which tends to hide in processed foods. Some research suggests sugar affects the brain’s dopamine levels in a similar way as drugs and alcohol, which is why recovering addicts may crave sugar. It’s best to avoid any foods that spike your blood sugar levels in early recovery, since dramatic fluctuations could affect your mood and make you more likely to relapse.

3. Choose foods that are easy to digest. Recovering drug addicts, especially opioid abusers, frequently experience digestive disorders. Nausea and upset stomach are also common withdrawal symptoms. Easily digested foods, like eggs and toast, are a good choice if you are having gastrointestinal problems.

4. Consume caffeine with caution. People in early recovery should cut out caffeine altogether, or limit their consumption to only one cup of coffee per day. Though caffeine is not dangerously addictive like some drugs, it is a stimulant with the potential to create a physical and psychological dependence.

5. Get plenty of vitamins. People who have lived with substance misuse for many years can become malnourished. Eating a healthy, balanced diet with lots of fresh produce, dairy, nuts and heart-healthy fiber can help you get the nutrients you need. Try using an app such as Nutrition Facts, which can tell you at a glance about the nutrition content of your food. Or, experiment with the “eat a rainbow” approach to meal planning, which can help make sure you are getting a wide variety of nutrients every day.

Eating Your Way to Better Health

Your diet plays a tremendous role in your mood, energy levels and overall well-being, which is why it is essential to plan a balanced diet if you are working on your sobriety. Considering food as part of your holistic recovery plan is another strategy for bringing balance to your body, mind and spirit. Contact us at Complete Harmony to learn more about our unique approach to addiction recovery.
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