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The Connection Between Exercise & Happiness

Exercise Improves More Than Just Physique

The benefits of regular physical activity are well-documented, and include improved sleep, improved overall mood, strengthened immune system and of course, improved physique. Studies have found that physically active people are less apt to develop depression or anxiety than those who are sedentary. Even though as exercise increases the effects increase, even a small amount of physical activity can boost your mood and increase happiness.

Ideas to Get Moving

Our team of Chico behavioral and mental health professionals at Therapeutic Solutions have put together some easy exercise ideas to help motivate you to take charge of your happiness. The first step may be the hardest, but you won’t regret it. Small changes to your routine lead to lasting habits. Here are some exercises that you can enjoy:

  • Yoga: With stability boosting movements, little-to-no equipment and the ease of doing it in your own home, yoga is a great option for a happiness-boosting exercise. It’s low impact and there are levels of practice from beginner to master. The stretching and opening poses can help to release trauma, especially in the hips or abdominal area, where past traumas are typically stored. Many poses in yoga create an emotional and spiritual release in addition to its physical benefits.
  • Walking or cycling: Whether on a treadmill or outside in the fresh air, the simplicity of walking or cycling makes it an easy starter exercise. It increases heart rate, produces feel good endorphins and if you’re outside, helps you take in Vitamin D. Walking somewhat briskly for at least thirty minutes each day is recommended, but starting with short walks is a great way to build up to greater distances.
  • Swimming: This is a great option for people who have joint problems, because there is no stress on the joints while in the water. It burns calories while increasing cardiovascular endurance, boosts endorphin production and creates a peaceful mood. If you need to find a quiet zone to work through your thoughts, the silence of the water is perfect, and the repetitive movements may help you sort through your emotions mindfully.
  • Dancing: Whether at home in your pajamas or out on the town, dancing is a great way to work up a sweat while having some fun. Adding in a social element and laughter to this can enhance connections and release tension.

How Does Exercise Help?

The happiness boosting effects of physical activity may seem simple, but they are not. There are specific benefits from different aspects of activity and specific ways in which it can impact mood. If you are dealing with symptoms of depression and anxiety, exercise can help.

  • Exercise releases mood-boosting chemicals: Endorphins, Serotonin, Dopamine and Testosterone are all released during and after physical activity and all improve mood, enhance self-esteem and increase pleasure.
  • Exercise reduces stress: Counteract cortisol and adrenaline through physical activity (two chemicals in the body related to stress) and the feelings of stress will be reduced. The muscle stiffness, tension in your back and upset stomach related to stress may also be relieved, allowing you to enjoy your day and feel calmer.
  • Exercise improves sleep: The quality of your sleep, a key factor in feeling happy overall, can be improved by exercise. Keep in mind that exercise may be best completed in the early part of the day if you have trouble sleeping, as it improves quality of sleep, but it may be energizing, as well. Experiment to see what works best for you.

In addition, exercise has been proven to boost the immune system, induce a state of playfulness, increase metabolism, improve brain function and support self-confidence. With so many emotional, mental and physical benefits, it pays to give exercise a chance. Developing healthy coping strategies and prioritizing your health are key to getting well, staying well, and being well.

When You Need Something More, We Are Here

If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or substance use, exercise may not be the single ingredient that you need. Fighting an addiction or battling depression may require more than self-help, and we are here for when you need extra support. Our Chico mental health professionals can provide the therapy, intensive care and structure that is needed when a hill seems too steep to climb alone. Whether you need a substance use program or a form of comprehensive behavioral therapy, we can create a program that works for you. Let us walk with you as you find your way back to happiness.

Contact our team to discuss how we can help at (530) 899-3150.

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5 Ways to Boost Your Teen’s Emotional Resilience

Help Your Teen Bounce Back After Difficult Times

Resilience is necessary in all stages of life, but the earlier we learn it, the healthier we will grow over time. Helping your child to learn about resilience and progress towards practicing resilience more automatically is a task that parents often struggle with. This is, in part, due to the fact that we may not have learned those skills in childhood either. However, as a parent you have the power to foster healthy coping mechanisms in your kid as you are practicing them yourself.

The team of Chico mental health professionals at Therapeutic Solutions complied a list of five ways to boost your teen’s emotional resilience, to provide guidance when so many parents are trying to do it all on their own. If your teen is struggling, and you fear that they may be turning to substances or other unhealthy coping mechanisms, we offer adolescent behavioral health treatment that can help.

Building Resilience: You Can Help

Resilience requires self-respect, social skills, positive thinking habits and positive self-talk. Helping your child to learn these skills and acquire the self-awareness that they will need as they grow up is no easy feat. Below are 5 ways to boost your teen’s emotional resilience so that they can better cope when they have difficult times.

  1. Teach problem solving: Encourage your teen to problem solve and come to conclusions on his or her own, avoiding jumping in to fix things every time there is a problem. Encourage your teen to come up with a list of ideas or pros and cons to solve an issue, then discuss it with her/him. Ask questions that will help them come to a solution rather than giving immediate advice. When you are not present to offer immediate guidance, they will have a set of tools to rely on for themselves. What’s more: This encourages healthy dialogue and connection between you and your child, so they know they can share their concerns with you.
  2. Promote healthy risk taking: Do activities with your children that push them out of their comfort zone, such as encouraging them to try a new sport, volunteer for an event, befriend someone new or try a new activity such as learning an instrument. These things will help your child learn that they can handle challenges. It is important to balance your kid’s innate interests with new possibilities, so be sure to honor their current strengths and competencies even as you are introducing new opportunities for growth.
  3. Create a strong connection: Allow your child to communicate openly with you and to express emotions freely, even when they are not pleasant. Provide a safe space to talk things through so that they can release the feelings instead of holding them in. Plan for one-on-one time with your teen and leave all distractions, including smart phones, aside. When you express interest in the things that matter to your child, even things that seem mundane, they will feel safer to consult with you about the challenges and stressors they face.
  4. Allow for mistakes: Everyone makes mistakes, so allow your child to feel the sting of a mistake, or the punishment, but do not let it be the end of the world. Embrace the lessons and the chance to support your child through what might be a painful recovery, then help them to see that success is learning from failures. Once they have had a chance to process their emotions, support them in making a plan to respond to their mistakes. This affirms that they have the internal resources to address difficult experiences in their life head-on.
  5. Exercise: While expressing emotions verbally can be helpful, not all problems are solved by talking. Physical activity, be it team sports or anything that increases heart rate, helps to release chemicals in the brain that boost mood, confidence and resilience! Physical accomplishments are the building blocks that help support mental and emotional ones. If your child has an outlet to rely on when things get hard, especially something that promotes physical well-being, they can turn to this activity to decompress and regain balance.

We Understand and Our Team Can Help: (530) 899-3150

If your teen is struggling with negative self-talk, low self esteem or difficulty bouncing back from tough situations, it can be worrisome for parents. Our team of Chico mental health professionals understand how trying the teen years can be, and how challenging they are to navigate in the midst of mental health struggles. Our Adolescent Program is designed support you and your teen with positive, healthy techniques for dealing with teen life. It’s okay to ask for help, and your child’s future is worth it.

Contact our team to discuss your concerns about your teen today at (530) 899-3150.

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5 Keys to a Healthy Relationship

Compatibility is Only the Beginning

A healthy relationship is one in which both partners want and put effort toward a long-lasting connection. Regardless of your interests, background or past relationships, the biggest factor in relationship health and longevity is how much each partner is willing to work to protect and nurture the relationship. There are guidelines that have been proven to be effective in maintaining a healthy dynamic between partners. The strategies below can help you and your partner make sure that your relationship is strong, safe, and stable.

5 Keys to a Healthy Relationship

  1. Create Moments of Connection: Pay attention to your partner in public, at events, and at home. When you catch your partner’s glance from across the room, this is connection. If your partner reaches out to you, that moment of physical touch is a connection. Noticing and reciprocating emotional cues of connection is one way to foster a deeper, happier relationship, but sometimes we miss the small opportunities to tune in. Focus on these small moments in your relationship and notice how gratitude and affection builds.
  2. Eliminate the Four Horsemen from your relationship: The renowned research of Dr. John Gottman illustrates that The Four Horseman are significant predictors to the end of a relationship, and things that should be eliminated from your interactions with your loved one wherever possible. They are: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness and Stonewalling. If you can identify and eliminate these behaviors and replace them with healthy and respectful behaviors, you are on the road to a healthy relationship. However, the more these qualities persist and replace positive interactions, the less likely the relationship will be successful.
  3. Understand that all relationships have conflict: Productively managing conflict is the key to maintaining healthy communication in your relationship. Compromise, agreeing to have differences of opinion but being respectful of that fact, and learning when to let your emotions cool off are three great starts to conflict management. The presence of conflict does not mean that a relationship is unhealthy. How we respond to that conflict is what makes or breaks a connection. Additionally, much of the conflict the recurs in relationships is not “solvable” in the traditional sense of the word, making conflict management strategies an even more important for long-lasting love.
  4. Never stop dating: No matter how new your relationship, intentional time with your partner has proven benefits. If you set aside time to date your partner, and truly put in effort to make quality time a priority, your partnership will thrive. If you set dating aside and focus all your energy on kids, chores, work, etc., your connection will suffer. You must nurture a long-term partnership like you would a relationship with a new love interest. While this may look different over time, scheduling opportunities for connection is key.
  5. Honor each other’s interests: When we have goals and dreams outside of our relationships, we feel a stronger sense of self-confidence that can benefit the partnership. Ask questions, be supportive, and express interest in your partner’s passions. Whether they want to learn a new language, enjoy fitness, or dream about starting their own business, engaging with them around the things they care about is important. That does not mean sacrificing your own goals, doing things you don’t want to do, or throwing all caution to the wind. Rather, the mutual focus should be on nurturing goals, helping each other find ways to reach them, and honoring the activities your partner enjoys (even if you don’t participate in them). This will show that you believe in your partner and care about what they care about, which goes a long way in fostering love and trust in one another.

Are you interested in starting on the path to a healthier partnership? Share these science-backed strategies with your partner or spouse, and identify ways that you can build a stronger, safer, and more fulfilling bond.

Know When to Seek Help

Your relationship with your loved one may be strong in all the right areas, but addiction or mental health struggles may rock that solid foundation to the core. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, depression, or anxiety, you may need outside help from supportive professionals. At Therapeutic Solutions, we have the tools and the experienced Chico mental health professionals needed to help you achieve wellness. Additionally, we offer a couples or family session during treatment to explore We can provide you with the stability that will allow you to get back to loving life and engaging in relationships wholeheartedly.

Contact our team at (530) 899-3150.

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Understanding Panic Attacks & How to Manage Them

Panic attacks are difficult and often scary experiences. For those who struggle with this symptom of anxiety, there is hope for addressing it skillfully. The first step in addressing panic attacks is understanding what they are, how they look, and what causes them. If you can anticipate the phases of the attack, you have the power to move through it using a variety of coping strategies. Our team of Chico mental health professionals at Therapeutic Solutions wants to support you in finding safe, healthy ways to cope with the experience of panic and anxiety as you work toward mental wellness.

Contact our team at (530) 899-3150.

The Phases of a Panic Attack

There are typically 7 phases to a panic attack, but not all attacks are the same. Some may vary in order and some may skip a phase. The key is to pay attention to your own attacks to see if you experience symptoms in a particular pattern. By tracking your symptoms, you will be better equipped to recognize and respond to them early.

If you are triggered by discussion of panic attacks, consider reading this blog with a loved one who can work with you as you read through it.

The Phases of a Panic Attack include:

  1. Onset of the attack: You may be sitting at your desk at work, or walking through the park, and suddenly despite it being a normal day, things start to shift. It’s almost as if you are struck with sadness and despair, and you may have no specific reason for it. That said, a difficult or stressful experience can also trigger these symptoms.
  2. Desire to escape: If you search for a way out, or a distraction, right after the attack begins, this is the second stage of anxiety. People in this phase often feel that they must hide, such as climbing into bed or going outside to breath. While the urgency to “flee” may be strong, it does not often lead to relief of symptoms.
  3. Discomfort with no relief: No matter what you do, there is no respite from the feeling of distress. You can’t seem to get to the root of it to be able to stop it. You may be physically restless or searching for release, and quite often you are not sure how to vocalize this feeling. Dissociation from reality may occur, causing you to feel like you are not fully in your body or in control of the experience.
  4. Physical symptoms: The physical response to your brain’s distress may include sweating, stuttering, heavy or rapid breathing, increased heart rate, nausea and dizziness. Your vision may be blurred, or you may find that you are blinking at a faster pace than normal. You may also experience a dry mouth or become tearful. Sometimes, your extremities stiffen and cramp up, inhibiting movement. These physiological responses are the result of the fear center of the brain being activated. While they do not match the actual danger or threat of a situation, they are powerful responses that influence our perceived danger or threat.
  5. Fear that there will be no end: At this point, you wonder if you need to go to the hospital or if the feelings will ever go away. You are desperate for help, escape or relief. This symptom often escalates the panic to a sense of dread, worry, and irrational thoughts about what may happen. Some people experience overwhelming fear that they may die, though panic attacks are not actually life-threatening.
  6. The tipping point: This may be the time that you start attempting every coping mechanism that you can, from slowing your breath to curling into a ball to taking a walk to distracting yourself. For short-term relief, some individuals may attempt to cope using substances. However, this often escalates symptoms over time and does not address the root of the attack or the internal resources possessed to deal with it.
  7. The end: You finally begin to feel “normal” again and your heart rate lowers. Your breathing slows, and your mind can focus on your external reality with more clarity. You may begin to feel calm or relieved, and able to engage in everyday tasks with more ease. While concern about the experience may still exist, the overwhelming symptoms have ended.

The Physical Symptoms of a Panic Attack

Not all panic attacks are mental in nature. You may not even be thinking of a stressful experience or feeling mentally overwhelmed. Some people experience strictly physical panic attacks while others experience a combination of physical and mental symptoms.

A panic attack may feel like:

  • Chest pain, tightness and heaviness
  • Sweating
  • Feeling hyper or filled with energy
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness or cramping in hands, feet and limbs
  • Feeling like you need to use the restroom
  • Upset stomach
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dry mouth
  • Hot and cold flashes

What Causes Panic Attacks?

There are 3 root causes to panic attacks that have individual factors: genetic predisposition, anxiety stemming from childhood, and response to the challenges of adulthood. These factors all have one thing in common and it is: They are not your fault. The root causes of panic attacks are also clues as to what may trigger an attack now. For example, attacks that stem from childhood may be triggered by encounters with family members who caused harm in your early years, or from situations that remind you of things that happened. Panic attacks that stem from specific challenges associated with adulthood can be anticipated or avoided if you employ the right coping tools and can predict the triggers.

Working Through Your Panic Attack: Coping Skills

In addition to recognizing the stages of a panic attack you experience, we recommend employing one or more of the skills below to address your symptoms. These skills can be practiced in a safe environment with a clinical professional, or in the privacy of your own home.

  • Use the senses method. Think of three things you can see, three you can feel, three you can hear and three you can smell. By focusing on the present and the stimulation around you, you can bring yourself back to “reality” and out of your head. Drinking a sip of cool water can enhance your sensations and may support the senses method.
  • Ground yourself: Picture your feet rooting into the ground. Close your eyes and sink into the earth, feeling a solid foundation below your feet and allowing the earth to hold you. If possible, lay down or sit down so more of your body is grounded. Feel your body touching the surfaces it is in contact with – the backs of your legs, your knees, your hands, or whatever body part is connected with the earth.
  • Tense and Relax your muscles: Starting from your toes, tense and release each muscle group in your body. Move from your feet, to your calves, to your thighs, up through your torso and all the way to your facial muscle. If you are in public, you can even do this without moving, as the conscious thought of doing it has the same effect as physically doing it.

As you learn about anxiety disorders and their causes, you can begin take back your power and learn what works for you. If you need more in-depth support, the team at Therapeutic Solutions is here for you. We understand how scary and stressful anxiety can be and that the desire to escape it may be strong. However, learning to move through the experience is key to long-term wellness.

Contact our team for more healthy coping skills at (530) 899-3150.