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Thursday, December 5, 2019

Take a Deep Breath: Breathing Exercises to Help You Stay Calm

Breathing is something you do thousands of times a day, usually completely unconsciously. Inhaling brings oxygen into your bloodstream, and you release the waste product of carbon dioxide on each exhale. If you’re like most people, you usually aren’t aware of how you’re breathing, but bringing your attention to your breath can make a world of difference – especially if you’re someone living with anxiety, panic attacks and other emotional disorders.

How Does Your Breath Contribute to Your Emotions?

Though you’re usually not conscious of your breathing patterns, you might be able to think back to times when your breath was rapid and shallow, as opposed to deep and relaxed. When people are experiencing periods of anxiety, they tend to take breaths from their chest, as opposed to their abdominal region.

If you’ve ever had a panic attack, you may recall that it seemed more difficult for you to draw full breaths during those times. Though you might not have been able to bring your full attention to this phenomenon in the moment, shortness of breath is one of the most common symptoms of panic attacks. It can make you feel like you’re suffocating or choking, which can lead to the near-death sensation that often accompanies panic attacks and panic disorder.

In contrast, deep, even breaths are a characteristic of the type of relaxed breathing that comes from your belly. If you’ve ever watched a family pet or a small child sleep, you are probably familiar with how this fully restful breathing pattern looks. It’s likely you do this yourself when you’re in your most restorative sleep stage.

Relaxing Breathing Exercises to Try

Next time you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed, experiment with these ideas to help control your emotional levels naturally.

1. The 4-7-8 Technique

The 4-7-8 breathing technique involves breathing in for four seconds, holding it for seven seconds, then exhaling for eight seconds. The idea is that this method requires you to take full, deep breaths in and out.

To begin, sit in a comfortable position and place the tip of your tongue directly below the tissue above the back of your top teeth. Then, do the following steps:
  • Fully empty your lungs of air.
  • Breathe in through your nose for a count of four seconds.
  • Hold it for seven seconds.
  • Exhale forcefully through your mouth, making a huffing noise, for eight seconds.
  • Repeat, as necessary, up to four times per session to get maximum benefits.

2. Equal Breathing

If you need a quick solution to get control of your anxiety, give this method a try. Either in a sitting or lying position, breathe in through your nose for four seconds, then slowly exhale for four counts, also through your nose.

This approach derives from yoga breathing techniques, which require you to focus on your breath by adding the resistance of breathing slowly in and out through your nose. As you get better at this method, try adding a few seconds at a time to each breath – up to six to eight counts at a time.

3. Progressive Relaxation

For times when you need full-body relaxation – for example, if you are too anxious to fall asleep – close your eyes and focus on tensing and relaxing each muscle group for two to three seconds at a time. Start with your feet and toes, then move up to the rest of your body one part at a time – continually maintaining deep, slow breaths.

Discover a Place of Healing

If you’re interested in exploring holistic, non-12-step programming for effective recovery from addiction and related mental health disorders such as anxiety, connect with our advisors at Complete Harmony. We can help you retrain your mind to learn healthy coping skills and regain your overall sense of well-being.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

How to Practice Gratitude This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is supposed to be a holiday where you take stock of your life and be grateful for what you have, but many people lose sight of that purpose amid all the stress of planning, cooking, cleaning and hosting. Being grateful requires a mindful and intentional approach, which is why it can be such a beneficial practice for people in addiction recovery.

Why Can Thankfulness Help You?

Research suggests that developing a habit of gratitude not only makes you feel happier, but can also improve your health. However, many people overlook the need to be grateful every day. Instead, they focus on the negative things that have happened to them that day – the barista got their morning coffee order wrong, their meeting at work ran an hour longer than it was supposed to, their dental checkup revealed a new cavity.

Being aware of, and taking the time to appreciate, the small blessings that make up each new day is an integral part of minimizing stress and helping you build a solid foundation for success in addiction recovery. What are some easy things you can do to bring more gratitude into your daily life?

1. Don’t Try to Be Perfect

We’re all human, and part of being human means you will occasionally slip up. Perhaps, for example, you have a day where you decide to skip your regular recovery group meeting because you had to work late. Instead of berating yourself for things you believe you did “wrong,” think back and focus on all the things that went well. Maybe in staying late at work, you got yourself ahead of the game in preparing for a major presentation. Use this positivity to focus more fully on your recovery plan.

2. Write It Down

If you have trouble accentuating the positive, start a gratitude journal. Buy a dedicated notebook, or go digital and create a new file on your computer. Every day, make time to write down something you’re happy or thankful for, no matter how small. For instance, “Today, my co-worker helped me when I was struggling, and it made a big difference in the rest of my day.”

3. Bring Mindfulness to Every Day

Whether you’re eating a meal, taking your dog for a walk or going to sleep, there are plenty of ways to incorporate forms of mindfulness into your daily activities. Being more mindful can also be a tool to build your gratitude and sense of inner peace.

Benefits of Gratitude in Addiction Recovery

As a recovering addict, you can and should be grateful for your sobriety and the progress you have made. Working toward a positive mindset will help you be more resilient when setbacks occur, so you can meet the obstacles head-on, instead of allowing them to pile up.

The stressors and various family pressures associated with the holiday season can present a unique challenge for people in addiction recovery. However, with the right mindset, you can welcome the opportunity to practice your gratitude – not only on Thanksgiving Day, but year-round. You will be amazed at how quickly the right attitude can change your life for the better.

At Complete Harmony, you can discover the benefits of holistic addiction recovery at our beautiful facility by the sea. Contact us to learn more about starting your journey toward healing.

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.
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