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Can Morning Rituals Calm Anxiety?

While you might brush your teeth every morning before starting the day, you might not have a precise morning routine to rely on. For some, creating a morning ritual has helped them cope with the anxiety they experience during the day.

Some people wake with anxiety, whether it’s before the alarm even sounds or arising with anxious or troubled thoughts on the brain. Starting the day like this can be exhausting. However, if you create a morning ritual to calm your anxiety, it might curb the bulk of it before it ruins the rest of your day.

Ritual has been part of the human experience for thousands of years. These routines soothe the psyche because they’re done regularly and predictably. Likewise, they’re comfortably rhythmic and allow us some measure of control over what we do.

The most effective type of anxiety-reducing ritual should take place as close to the same time each day as possible. This will establish a routine your brain will come to rely on. Likewise, your brain will make a connection between the time of day, place of the ritual, activities done, and reduced anxiety; meaning, simply seeing or being otherwise reminded of the routine will induce calm.

Also, make sure to pick a comfortable, pleasant place for your morning ritual. You want this place to be physically enjoyable for you. If you have pets or family members who might interrupt you, make sure to establish boundaries with them in advance, which will allow you to perform your ritual uninterrupted.

There is no best possible routine for every person; rather, people all have something that best suits them, their personalities, and their unique anxieties. Whatever that activity is for you, make sure you do it each morning at a set time in a set place to induce peace and reduce stress. Simple activities you enjoy doing are some of the best options. However, if you want some suggestions, you could try some of the following:

  • Writing affirmations
  • Watching fish in an aquarium
  • Drinking tea, decaffeinated coffee, or water
  • Mindfully eating something healthy
  • Meditating
  • Journaling
  • Deep breathing
  • Taking a mindfulness walk
  • Goal setting for the day
  • Making an action plan for a low-anxiety day

Make sure whatever you decide to do in the morning, it brings you a sense of joy, peace, and calm.

If you’re dealing with overwhelming anxiety, consider talking to one of our Chico mental health professionalsTherapeutic Solutions has been helping Northern California residents cope with their mental health disorder since 2008. Whether you have a behavioral health issue or you need coping strategies for your anxiety, we can help. Our clinic is well-equipped to deliver the comprehensive care and treatment you need in a warm, comfortable environment. Our staff of board-certified psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists have extensive training in the behavioral health field, and we have a broad range of programs to choose from to meet your individual needs. We can offer you two decades of experience in high-quality care.

Contact us at (530) 899-3150 or fill out our online form to schedule an appointment with us today. If you would like to refer a patient, you can do so on our online form here. We look forward to speaking with you!

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Does Sunlight Help with Anxiety?

Scientists have been studying the connection between anxiety and sunlight, finding in many cases, that sunlight levels are linked to anxiety and possibly panic disorder. While there have already been links found between sunlight levels and depression, the inclusion of anxiety in research might allow people to discover more strategies to reduce anxiety levels.

There are no definitive links so far, but researchers are still finding a connection. When people’s serotonin levels drop, this is a major factor in depression and seasonal affective disorder, which can happen when individuals don’t get enough sunlight. However, while there’s less of a connection between sunlight and anxiety, there is still a connection.

According to studies, there doesn’t appear to be a direct cause-and-effect relationship between sunlight levels and anxiety, people can and do experience increased anxiety and panic in response to less sun exposure.

How Does Sunlight Increase Serotonin?

Sunlight and darkness each trigger the release of hormones in the brain. Sunlight triggers serotonin and darkness triggers melatonin. The hormone serotonin is associated with improved mood and helping one feel focused and calm. The effects of serotonin are triggered by sunlight that enters your body through the eye. Sunlight cues special areas in the retina, which triggers the release of serotonin. Without enough exposure to the sun, your serotonin levels can dip. Lower levels of serotonin can pose a higher risk of depression and anxiety.

Physical & Mental Benefits of Sunlight

Sunlight offers a lot of benefits to the human body, including mental health benefits. It increases serotonin production as well as Vitamin D levels. Each of these plays a significant role in proper health and functioning, including mental health.

However, there is a potential additional benefit to sunlight for people who experience anxiety—it’s possible the sun reduces anxiety because it influences how we live our lives. When the sun is out, we tend to be more active, potentially spending more time in nature. These activities boost well-being and reduce anxiety.

In order to reduce your anxiety, you might want to consider incorporating some nature into your plans for a lower-stress, higher-quality life. Go outside every hour or so to enjoy the sun. If you have the chance to go on a short hike, do so. While research is still being done to shed light on the connection between sunlight levels and anxiety, there is enough evidence to show sunlight does give us some mental health advantages.

If you’re having problems with anxiety, talk to one of our Chico mental health professionalsTherapeutic Solutions can provide you or a loved one with professional and compassionate behavioral health services. We have 20 years of combined experienced in helping people cope with their mental health issues, and we are well-equipped to deliver the comprehensive care and treatment you need. Let us see what we can do for you in an appointment.

Call us at (530) 899-3150 or fill out our online form to schedule an appointment today. If you’d like to refer a patient, you can do so online here. We look forward to speaking with you!

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Understanding Alternative Mental Health Care

Alternative approaches to mental health care rely on more than just therapy sessions and medication to solve the problem. They include an emphasis on the interrelationship between mind, body, and spirit. Although alternative practices have a long history, they also remain a controversial alternative or additive to traditional Western mental health care. Here are a few examples of some alternative mental health care methods and how they might help various people cope with mental health disorders.

Self-Help Groups

Finding and interacting with individuals who have gone through similar experiences to yours is an invaluable tool. Self-help groups for various mental illnesses are invaluable for recovery and self-empowerment. Instead of relying on a person who may or may not have experienced something similar to you, a self-help group is full of individuals who can fully empathize with what you are going through. These groups or meetings involve some of the following:

  • People who have similar needs
  • Facilitation by a survivor or other layperson
  • Assistance with life-disrupting events, such as death, serious accidents, abuse, addiction, or diagnosis of a mental, physical, or emotional disability
  • Operation on an informal, free-of-charge, and nonprofit basis
  • Voluntary, anonymous, and confidential
  • Provide support and education

Diet and Nutrition

While diet and nutrition can’t solve a hormonal imbalance, they can certainly make symptoms better. Adjusting what you eat can help some people with mental illnesses. For example, some studies show eliminating milk and wheat products can reduce the severity of symptoms for those who have schizophrenia or some children who have autism. Likewise, some physicians use various holistic substances to treat anxiety, depression, autism, drug-induced psychoses, and hyperactivity; for example, some doctors use herbal treatments, riboflavin, magnesium, B-complex vitamins, and thiamine in treatments.

Religious Counseling

Some people find it infinitely more soothing to speak with their religious leaders rather than a therapist, who isn’t associated with any particular religious community. Religious leaders sometimes have training in counseling, but for those who find praying helpful in relieving stress, therapy from their priest or pastor can have the additional advantage of coming from the same set of spiritual beliefs. Counselors working in traditional faith communities often find a need to incorporate psychotherapy and/ or medication along with prayer and spirituality to help someone effectively with mental disorders.

Animal Assisted Therapies

Many people have found working with an animal or animals under the guidance of a health care professional may benefit some people with mental illnesses by facilitating positive changes, such as acquiring better socialization skills and increased empathy. Animals can also be used as part of group therapy programs to encourage communication and improve people’s ability to focus. Individual animal therapy has also helped in developing self-esteem and reducing loneliness and anxiety.

Expressive Therapy

Expressive therapy includes expressing oneself through art as a means of communication and dealing with stress. For example, art therapy uses drawing, painting, and sculpting to help people resolve inner conflicts, release deeply repressed emotions, develop self-awareness, and foster personal growth. Some mental health professionals use art therapy as a diagnostic tool and as a way to help treat disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, and abuse-related trauma.

Other treatments include dance/ movement therapy and music/ sound therapy. Dance/ movement therapy allows people recovering from physical, sexual, or emotional abuse regain a sense of ease with their own bodies. Music therapy helps improve blood flow, blood pressure, breathing, pulse rate, and posture. Research shows music stimulates the body’s opiates and endorphins, providing a natural “feel good” response to listening to it. Music/ sound therapy has been used to treat stress, grief, depression, autism in children, schizophrenia, and other mental health issues. It has also been used to diagnose mental health needs.

Culturally Based Healing Arts

Many non-Western cultures have healing practices many health professional use in conjunction with traditional Western medicine. For example, acupuncture, shiatsu, reiki, Ayurveda, yoga, sweat lodges, and talking circles all apply beliefs from non-Western cultures that emphasize the following:

  • Wellness is a balancing of the physical, spiritual, and mental/ emotional selves
  • Illnesses are caused by imbalances in the body
  • This imbalance can be corrected by herbal/ natural remedies, nutrition and exercise, and meditation and/or prayer

Acupuncture

Acupuncture can be used to help those who suffer from addiction by way of detoxification, to alleviate anxiety and stress, to treat ADHD in children, and to treat the negative side effects of depression. It is also used to help those suffering from physical ailment, such as chronic back pain. Some insurance companies even cover the cost of several acupuncture treatments to treat various illnesses and conditions.

Ayurveda

Ayurvedic medicine incorporates an individualized regimen to treat a variety of different conditions. For example, providing people with a healthy diet, meditation, herbal preparations, or other techniques has helped treat depression, facilitate lifestyle changes, and release stress and tension through meditation or yoga.

Native American Traditional Practices

Part of Indian Health Service programs to treat depression, stress, trauma, and substance abuse includes ceremonial dances, cleansing rituals, and chants.

Yoga/ Meditation

Yoga and meditation can help people breathe more easily, improve posture, increase flexibility, and decrease stress. Some mental health providers encourage people to take up yoga or meditation in combination with other treatments to combat depression, anxiety, and stress-related disorders.

Cuentos

Cuentos originated in Puerto Rico. Based on folktales, therapists use stories containing healing themes and models of behavior, such as self-transformation and endurance through adversity. This therapy is used primarily to help Hispanic children recover from depression and other mental health issues related to leaving one’s home and living in a foreign culture.

Relaxation and Stress-Reduction Techniques

Using various relaxation and stress-reduction techniques have helped many people manage their mental health disorders. For example, the following have been used successfully to treat such mental health issues as stress, depression, panic disorders, phobias, and addiction:

  • Biofeedback
  • Guided imagery/ visualization
  • Telemedicine
  • Massage therapy
  • Phone counseling
  • Electronic communications
  • Radio psychiatry

Technology, in particular, has made it much easier for people to seek help anonymously and without the added stress of leaving the house. For people in more rural areas, technology has also allowed them to seek counseling when none was previously available in their city or town. It has also contributed to online consumer groups exchanging information, views on mental health, experiences, alternative medicine, treatment systems, and so on, helping them seek alternative treatment methods they had never before considered.

If you or a loved one have a mental health issue, consider talking to one of our Chico mental health professionals about it. Therapeutic Solutions has more than 20 years of combined experience in helping people with behavioral health issues, such as anxiety and depression. We believe in a multi-disciplinary approach because we believe it is the most effective way to provide quality care. Let us talk to you about the various programs we offer in an appointment.

Contact us at (530) 899-3150 or fill out our online form to request an appointment. If you’d like to refer someone, you can also visit our page to refer a patient today. We look forward to speaking with you!

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Why Communicating About Mental Illness Can Be Difficult

People can be extremely hesitant to bring up the topic of mental illness. Sometimes this reticence has to do with their unfamiliarity with the illness itself, but most of the time, this difficulty talking about mental illness comes from the old cultural habit of avoiding the subject. There is also misinformation about what a person with mental illness looks like.

Some might have the stereotypical figure of a schizophrenic person in their head, while others view individuals who suffer from mental illness as objects of tragedy. If someone does share their story of overcoming the pitfalls of their mental illness, they are championed and held in high regard; while this positivity is good, not all people with mental illness fit that narrative. And, when people fail to fit into that narrative box, people can sometimes view the individual as a failure.

For example, the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why depicts a teenager’s descent into depression that ultimately culminates in suicide. Those who have viewed the series and who have never experienced depression themselves expected her to fit the tragic typecast of a depressed person who’s sympathetic enough to want to help. The main character is vindictive and unlikable—much like a real-life person. Instead of perpetuating the stereotype of a tragic figure, the show depicts the main character as a real person with real problems.

While mental illness affects many people, it doesn’t affect everyone the same way. Some people become irritable, distant, unreasonable, and angry. Not all individuals who suffer from a mental illness are easy to be around. This behavior can make it difficult to sympathize with the person struggling, but it doesn’t mean they don’t deserve sympathy anyway.

Not all people understand what it’s like to struggle with a mental illness. To prevent further stigmatizing which dismisses a broad spectrum of ways mental illness can affect people, people should try to be more compassionate, more supportive, and encourage recovery.

If you or a loved one are suffering from a mental illness, talk to our staff at Therapeutic Solutions. Our clinic believes a multi-disciplinary approach is the best way to provide quality care to our patients. The Chico behavioral health psychiatrists at the center, in addition to the rest of our staff, are knowledgeable, compassionate, and skilled in the most effective psychotherapeutic techniques available. Let us see how we can best meet your needs.

Schedule an appointment by calling (530) 899-3150 or filling out our online form today, or refer a patient here.