Alleviate stress by deep breathing with the Headspace or Calm app

Alleviate stress by deep breathing with the Headspace or Calm app

Many people around the world benefit from mindful meditation, and so many others would like to meditate but don’t know how. No worries, your theories about the act of meditation may seem complicated, but it’s not complicated at all. 

As you may already know, mindful meditation is just the act of practicing mindfulness, which focuses on sensing your surroundings and feelings while deep breathing. 

One myth about mindful meditation is that it takes too much time to complete, which is far from the truth. Please note, deep breathing and mindful meditation can be accomplished in as little as one minute per day, but a preferred amount of time is about five to 20 minutes per session. 

When meditating, you do not have to be sitting on the floor with your legs crossed (as is typically depicted in meditation practices); you can be anywhere. What is great about mindful meditation, along with deep breathing, is that you can practice it at your desk, in the car while sitting in traffic, in the shower, on vacation, and literally anywhere you’d like. 

The deep breathing component of mindful meditation can be achieved by simply taking five deep breaths, which takes around one minute to complete. 

On average, the ideal pace of a deep breathing exercise is inhaling for five seconds, exhaling for five seconds; you can also hold each inhale for two seconds between exhaling to strengthen the exercise. 

Practicing mindful meditation by consciously being aware of thoughts and sensing your surroundings while practicing deep breathing can alleviate anxiety, reduce depression, anxiousness, insomnia, lower blood pressure, and heart rate. 

“If you have battled depression in your life, mindful meditation could be an inexpensive, natural and easy way to help. Over four months, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy patients said that it was more or just as helpful as antidepressants or counseling for depression. While 75 percent of the patients in the study who were on antidepressants were able to come off of them after 15 months of follow-up.”

Dr. Shelly Sethi, Personalized Medicine 

For those interested in giving mindful meditation a go, we have a couple of app recommendations, including Headspace and Calm; either of the two are great choices to get you started today. 

Headspace

The Headspace app is free to download, while Headspace Plus is $12.99 per month and comes with an array of services at your fingertips. This app comes with the ability to sift through hundreds of meditations, sleep casts, energizing workouts, and music playlists to find focus. Every day you can be reminded to meditate and enjoy one minute or up to one hour of practices guided by one of its three meditation experts. 

For those who may be stressed out about the future, a forthcoming event, or fear of the unknown, there is a section called “Fear of the Future.” This section provides the user with tools to not allow worrying to consume your daily life. 

No matter what you may be dealing with or experiencing, we’re confident Headspace has a section tailored to your current needs. 

Calm

Similar to Headspace, Calm is another guided meditation app that can bring calmness into your life. You can try the app for free or upgrade to its premium for $14.99 per month to improve sleep quality, reduce stress or anxiety, improve focus, and gain self-improvement. 

According to the platform, 84 percent of Calm users who used the app five times a week saw improved mental health. What’s great about this app is that the user undergoes a questionnaire, and the platform will recommend the best meditation practices for you to strengthen your mentality and reduce stress. 

Before signing up for a monthly membership, we recommend starting with either of the app’s free trials to determine if it’s for you. We’re excited to have you learn the basics of meditation and understand how mindful activity can be achieved by just taking five cleansing breaths a day!

Strengthen confidence and self-esteem with these 10 tips

Strengthen confidence and self-esteem with these 10 tips

Strengthening self-esteem and confidence in sobriety serves as the footprint to continued wellness in recovery. When we are confident, we feel as if we can do anything. When our self-esteem is at an adequate level or higher, we believe we deserve the best. 

But, when a person is in recovery and has not tackled how to build self-esteem and confidence, he or she is more likely to revert to abusing substances; due to the lack of a solid inner foundation. 

Finding inner self-esteem and confidence is sometimes easier said than done. If this doesn’t come naturally as a first responder, it can be taxing to constantly feel the pressure and need to portray confidence outwardly to those around you. 

Due to the pressures, some may turn to substance abuse to give them a sense of confidence, even if it’s false and short-lived. Alcohol tends to give people certain confidence they usually would not have, but this is because it lowers one’s inhibitions rather than providing a true sense of confidence and self-esteem. 

Those who suffer from substance abuse and low self-esteem may struggle to find happiness and self-worth away from their addiction, but it can be done. When an individual decides to get sober, it’s imperative that they also strengthen their self-esteem and build their confidence in healthy and practical ways. This is to help ensure they don’t feel the need to turn to substances again.

Here is a list of experiences that may contribute to low self-esteem

  • Emotional or physical abuse
  • Being ignored, ridiculed, teased
  • Facing harsh criticism 
  • Expectations to be perfect

Now, here are some tips on how you can develop high self-esteem

  • Being treated respectfully
  • Being listened to
  • Having achievements recognized
  • Acceptance of mistakes

Building confidence, paired with strengthening self-esteem, is a winning combination to lead a life of continued sobriety. Please remember, building confidence will not happen overnight, or even in a month. It’s something we have to practice every day by redirecting our thoughts and focusing on the positive. 

Below is a list of 6 tips you can use to build your confidence:

Practice using positive affirmations – At first, you may find that this feels forced and that you don’t believe your own words. Choosing one or two positive affirmations, writing them down, or reading them aloud every day can help build confidence. If we say to ourselves every day, “I deserve respect and happiness,” or “I am strong and capable,” we will begin to believe it.   

Recognize and challenge negative thoughts – Identifying negative thoughts and changing those thought patterns is essential for staying sober. See how your mind naturally gravitates towards specific thoughts and try looking at them from a different, more positive perspective. By changing “I can’t do this” to “I can try my best,” we can start to climb out of this negative rut we’ve dug ourselves into. 

Keep a journal – Seeing our thoughts, worries, and wishes on paper can help us view our mind from a more distant—and somewhat more objective—a perspective where we can recognize unhealthy patterns and work toward changing them. 

Surround yourself with uplifting people – Confidence and self-esteem must come from within to succeed in staying sober; having supportive people around you is also important. Reach out to people you look up to and respect for support while also learning to let unhealthy, negative relationships go; this may help you see the good in yourself.

Focus on success instead of failures – It is easy to get tripped up over a failure, and while these are important to learn from, it’s unhealthy to lament over them for a long time. If we focus on each small success, we can appreciate them more when they occur.

Take responsibility – Take responsibility for cultivating your self-esteem and happiness, as these are things that come from within. Make an active decision each day to put in the work it takes to become a more confident, self-loving, and sober person until it becomes a natural habit.

Remember, once an individual decides to get sober, addressing issues with self-esteem is essential. Having low self-esteem in recovery can affect one’s ability to find happiness. Nonetheless, building confidence and self-esteem can be done; we believe in you. 

Reap the benefits of meditation without meditating

Reap the benefits of meditation without meditating

Did you know meditation is one of the most effective forms of therapy? But, not everyone can sit still and rid their mind of thoughts.

Don’t worry, we have your back and some ideas on how you can gain the positive effects of meditation without meditating.

Decades of research have proven that meditating a little bit each day can profoundly affect mental and physical health. Meditation decreases stress, improves focus, reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression, boosts the immune system, helps manage pain, and even reduces cravings for those struggling with addiction.

Finding stillness and quiet reflection is a great goal to work towards in meditation practice, but any one of the following methods is a perfect alternative in the meantime!

Walking Meditation
One simple way to begin meditating while in motion is to take a long walk. While most guided meditations encourage you to focus on your breath to anchor you to the present moment, you can focus on your strides and the rhythmic movement of your body during walking meditation. Listening to the sound your feet make when they hit the ground and the sensation of movement in your body as you walk can provide you with a tool to ground yourself and keep you from getting lost in anxious thoughts.

Martial Arts
Many forms of martial arts, such as tai chi, incorporate a meditative practice. Some practices utilize katas or patterns of training exercises practiced in a particular order. These practices require the individual to memorize complex movements and become completely in tune with their body in a way that makes it impossible to become lost in thought. These ancient arts were developed for the strengthening of the mind-body connection, which ultimately improves both physical and mental wellness.

Yoga
Yoga combines physical movement with a meditative focus and purposeful breath. Some types of yoga are less physically demanding and more closely resemble traditional meditation, such as yin yoga. Yin prompts practitioners into deep stretches that they may be asked to hold for several minutes while taking slow, deliberate breaths. For those seeking a more active form of meditation, a vinyasa class can provide a great workout while teaching you to move with your breath and practice mindfulness.

Task Meditation
Task meditation is great for those who feel they don’t have time to meditate. We spend time each day doing chores such as washing dishes, folding laundry, or cooking; most of us tend to get lost in thought during these activities, and you may even find that you can’t remember completing the task once it’s finished. i.e., if you’re washing the dishes, feel the warm water, smell the soap, and pay attention to the details of every dish. Instead of allowing your mind to wander about the future or past, focus on the task at hand.

Meditative Bathing
Another ideal strategy is to incorporate a meditation practice into your daily shower. Bathing is an invigorating and restorative practice on its own, but many of us are guilty of getting lost in unproductive thoughts while showering. Instead, draw your attention to the smell of the soap, feeling of the water, and sensation of the steam in your lungs; focus less on unproductive thoughts and worries.

Aromatherapy can help relieve stress and anxiety

Aromatherapy can help relieve stress and anxiety

Feeling stressed? Is your anxiety out of control?

Well, aromatherapy is one of the easiest ways to bring stress levels down and calm nerves by doing next to nothing with this holistic healing treatment.

One form of aromatherapy is the use of scents from essential oils, typically through a diffuser, where you are inhaling molecules the oils release into the air.

The molecules travel up to the nose and get stuck to your old factory membrane, which contains highly specialized nerve endings called old factory receptors. These receptors then begin impacting neurons that go from your nose all the way up to your brain, which attaches a message to the brain to calm down brainwaves.

“In a 2014 study published in the journal Biomedical Research International, it was shown that a four-week aromatherapy program for older persons with chronic pain was effective in reducing levels of depression, anxiety, and stress.”

Very Well Mind

The reason why this type of therapy is worth a shot is because there’s absolutely no risk and at the very least, you’ll have a room filled with a great scent.

Lavender Essential Oils Relieve Stress
One of the most popular essential oils used for stress and anxiety is lavender. This versatile oil promotes relaxation, and the holistic community believes it can alleviate anxiety, depression, insomnia, fungal infections, allergies, nausea, eczema, and more!

“Lavender is one of the most popular aromatherapy oils. According to 2012 research, lavender aromatherapy is thought to calm anxiety by impacting the limbic system, the part of the brain that controls emotions.”

Healthline

Side note: Rubbing a couple of drops of lavender essential oil onto the bottom of both feet before bed has also been said to promote better sleep while alleviating anxiety.

How To Get Started
First, you’ll want to purchase a diffuser. Diffusers cost anywhere between $20-$50 and can be purchased almost anywhere including retail stores like Bed, Bath & Beyond, and Target.

Next, you’ll want to purchase a lavender essential oil. We recommend purchasing a lavender oil that is pure and plant based, as many oils on the market can be diluted with other unwanted properties.

We recommend the lavender oils at Sprouts Farmers Market, which cost around $12, and the Plant Therapy Lavender Essential Oil sold on Amazon for $7.49.

Once you have a diffuser and your lavender, fill up the diffuser with water and apply five to seven drops of the lavender essential oil into the diffuser.

Diffusers can be left on overnight as you sleep or throughout the day as you work; a majority of them turn off after they run out of water.

A horse can promote positive mental health through equine-assisted psychotherapy

A horse can promote positive mental health through equine-assisted psychotherapy

Equine-assisted psychotherapy is a hands-on cathartic and experiential therapy modality known to help people cope with PTSD, anxiety, substance abuse, and more. This form of therapy is best in addition to traditional therapy for those who love being around animals and enjoy spending time outdoors. 

Did you know that horses have senses powerful enough to understand how a client is feeling? With this type of therapy, everyday situations and struggles are applied to equine-assisted psychotherapy process groups. This hands-on approach to therapy utilizes the Eagala Model. This activity-based program subconsciously creates a challenge the client is facing in life, allowing them to work through the equestrian challenge and figure out a healthy coping strategy and resolution. 

With interpretation, clients can experience the horse’s actions and apply the scenarios to their own life. This, in turn, affects how the client handles social interaction with others, conflict resolution, relationships, motivation for change situations, and much more, all while in the great outdoors. 

This eagala model integrates therapy and hands-on activities that promote essential skills such as emotional regulation, responsibility, and self-confidence; simply engaging with the horse in an activity based session…by leading, grooming, and feeding it, with a therapist present,” said Tiffany Atalla, FRW Therapist.

This form of therapy would be perfect for those who may be apprehensive about pouring out their emotions to a therapist, as it only requires a client to commune with the horses. These beautiful animals can sense and respond to the client’s emotions and relay them back to both the client and the therapist.

Equine-assisted psychotherapy is recommended for both men, women, teens, and children of most ages, as long as they are old enough to walk. 

What is the Eagala Model?

The Eagala Model is proven effective because it embraces the science that people learn best by doing. This model allows for a hands-on approach where clients are provided space to project and analyze their life situations, forge connections, and find a positive solution or a coping strategy. Since the solutions are personally experienced in conjunction with intellectual understanding, they tend to be deeper, profound, and longer-lasting when compared to other forms of therapy. 

How does it work?

The Eagala Model is a team approach that includes a licensed, credentialed mental health professional, a qualified equine specialist, and horses working together with the client in an arena at all times.

When inside the arena, all the work is done on the ground with the horses front and center, deliberately unhindered and never ridden, and allowed to interact with the client as they wish. This creates the space for the client, with the support of the professional facilitators, to reflect, project, and make deep connections.

How to build a survivor’s mindset with psychological tactics

How to build a survivor’s mindset with psychological tactics

The art of surviving starts with having a survivor’s mindset. Look at survivors’ stories; their mental traits are a central part of what enabled them to endure their situations. 

If you have witnessed or experienced a traumatic event or have a cumulation of traumatic experiences, you’re a survivor. However, sometimes it may not feel that way. After experiencing a traumatic event, it can be easy to adopt a victim mentality. One may negatively perceive themselves as a victim of tragedy or trauma. They may not realize the negative impact that this type of mindset can have on their overall well-being. 

First responders who are repeatedly exposed to stressful events may start to develop self-defeating emotions such as anger, resentment, guilt, or shame; they may even start using substances to escape these feelings. On the other hand, adopting a survivor mentality and employing psychological survival tactics can be much more advantageous to any person’s health and well-being. 

Stop the victim mentality

Carrying a mindset of self-defeating thoughts may leave one with a sense of powerlessness. However, something that happened to a person does not reflect who they are; it doesn’t define them. Here’s a list of phrases that need to STOP today to stray away from the victim mentality: 

  • “I should have known better.”
  • “I deserved it, and I deserve to feel this way.”
  • “Why does this always happen to me?”
  • “I am to blame.”
  • “Bad things keep happening to me.”

Strengthening survivor mentality

Now, here’s the good part, the part we all need to focus on. A survivor mentality is a frame of mind that promotes self-empowerment and a person’s ability to overcome a traumatic event. Focusing on the ability to survive rather than being a victim can help prevail over life’s challenges instead of being held back or defined by them. This mentality recognizes and celebrates resiliency and strength over helplessness.

Here are a few mantras; say these to yourself to assist in developing a survivor mentality: 

  • “I am a survivor.”
  • “I am resilient.” 
  • “This doesn’t define me, and I can adapt.”
  • “I am a survivor of trauma; therefore, I know I can overcome future challenges.”

Tactics for psychological survival

The foundation of developing a survivor mentality and maintaining mental health is realizing you can do something and you have something worth fighting for. During a crisis or when experiencing challenging times, it’s key to remember to keep a positive attitude. A key to staying positive is to focus on how you can get better rather than focusing on how hard life is.

Remember to stay motivated. Being driven to change, improve, and learn new things can help you realize the power you have over your own life and understand that you are not helpless. In times of crisis, showing yourself compassion by treating yourself with the same kindness you would treat a loved one is crucial to overcoming self-defeating thoughts. 

Keep in mind that nothing is permanent, not even pain. Hardships will end, and you can make it out to the other side. Instead of focusing on the gravity and immense scope of it all, focus on the fact that it will end. Lastly, continue mindfulness and reinforce mantras as these tactics can help ground you in the present instead of worrying about what happened or what is to come; have a handful of positive mantras ready, like the ones listed above.