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5 Ways to Support Your Mental Health

5 Simple ways to Support Your Mental Health & Wellness

millions of Americans have been asked to stay home in hopes of slowing the spread of Covid-19. In these unprecedented times of health and financial uncertainty, many people are experiencing feelings of anxiety and depression. Here are some things you can do to cope when you are feeling overwhelmed

1. Get Moving

While most people understand the physical benefits of staying active, it can also help to support your mental and emotional wellbeing. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), regular aerobic exercise has been shown to benefit your mental health in the following ways:

  • Decreases overall tension
  • Elevates and stabilizes mood
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Improves self-esteem

2. Try Journaling

When you find yourself experiencing distressing emotions like anxiety and depression, finding a way to release these feelings can provide you with some relief. When you have negative thoughts, getting them out on paper can be cathartic. Putting your thoughts and feelings into words can help you work through them.

3. Practice Deep-Breathing

When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, deep breathing can help by triggering your body’s natural relaxation response. According to the American Institute of Stress (AIS) the relaxation response helps to change the body’s physical and emotional responses to stress.

4. Get Better Quality Rest

There is a direct link between your sleep habits and your mental health as disrupted sleep patterns are often seen in many mental health issues. Not getting enough sleep can increase feelings of distress and vice versa. According to the National Sleep Foundation, it is recommended that adults over the age of 18 get an average of 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.

If you find yourself having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, try some of these tips to help you get better quality sleep:

  • Make a sleep schedule and stick to it.
  • Make your bedroom an electronics-free zone.
  • Set boundaries around watching, listening to, or reading the news. Give yourself a couple of hours before bedtime without adding any potentially stressful information.
  • Keep your bedroom cool and dark.
  • Avoid taking long naps throughout the day, especially in the afternoon.
  • Get regular exercise, just not right before bed.
  • Limit alcohol and tobacco consumption.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime ritual, such as takingwarm shower or bath..

5. Seek Help

When you feel as though your mental health is suffering, admitting that you need help is not a sign of weakness. Seeking help is the first step toward wellness and recovery. Reach out to your support network or a mental health professional. You do not have to navigate your feelings and concerns alone

Mental Health Services in Butte County 

Since opening our doors in 2008, Therapeutic Solutions has provided high-quality behavioral healthcare to individuals in Butte County and surrounding communities. If you or a loved one is struggling with depression, anxiety, PTSD, or any other behavioral health concern, we can help with a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.

Call ustoday at (530) 899-3150 for an assessment and more information about our behavioral h

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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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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.

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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 professionals. Therapeutic 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 Transgenerational Trauma

Some life events are so difficult and overwhelming that they seem unbearable to the sufferer. That burden is often carried in part by family members, friends, and loved ones. But what about the next generation? Some believe that the effects of trauma can be transferred between generations, such as a parent to a child—even if that child didn’t necessarily experience the traumatic event firsthand.

While scientists are still navigating this terrain, it is clear that there is some weight to the idea of transgenerational trauma. This trauma can be passed through unconscious cues or observed changes in behavior. Anxiety may fall from one generation to the next through stories told, events discussed, and even treatment of a child by a parent or grandparent due to trauma.

The Handing Down of Neurotic Traits

Schools of psychology regularly look at the connection between trauma in a parent and the passing down of neurotic traits. In the post-Holocaust era, the first prominent literature emerged on this topic. Described as the Holocaust syndrome, reports were made on the transmission of trauma from the Holocaust to the second generation. While further development needs to be made in this area, this major event shed more light on the issue.

For example, Israeli soldiers who were second-generation Holocaust survivors were studied closely after the Lebanese war. It was found that this second generation had a more protracted course of PTSD, potentially pointing to a strong vulnerability due to transgenerational trauma.

Studies on this matter were recognized by the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS). The Special Interest Area Group on Intergenerational Transmission of Trauma and Resiliency was also founded to further research this potential connection.

Do “Traumatized” Parents Lead to “Traumatized” Children?

Large numbers of clinical practice studies have shown that patients who have suffered PTSD are emotionally limited, preoccupied, or “traumatized,” which can translate to a child’s development. For example, a parent’s symptoms such as traumatic reliving, emotional numbing, and other traumatic responses can limit a child from developing a sense of safety and security, a sense of identity, and even autonomy. The parent’s high levels of anxiety can easily interfere with the child’s own development, causing a sort of generational passing of trauma.

When trauma is transferred from the first generation of “trauma survivors” to the second or third generation, it can be confusing, overwhelming, and difficult for that next generation to navigate. Many individuals may not immediately identify the source of their anxiety or stress disorders, making transgenerational trauma an often frustrating and confusing condition to manage.

Therapeutic Solutions offers behavioral health solutions designed to help patients deal with anxiety, depression, and other transgenerational trauma symptoms. Learn more about our programs through our website or by calling us at (530) 899-3150.

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Codependency & Self Care

Codependency is defined as “excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically a partner who requires support due to an illness or addiction.” In a codependent relationship, one or both parties may be dependent on the other for fulfillment, happiness, self-worth, and even their very sense of identity.

Some potential signs of a codependent relationship include:

  • Support for a partner that compromises the other partner’s personal health and well-being
  • Ignoring harmful or dangerous behaviors in the other partner
  • Inability to be happy or fulfilled in other areas of life without the partner
  • Feedback from close friends suggesting extreme dependency on the other partner
  • Profound anxiety within the relationship
  • Attempts either to change the partner or to change him / herself to meet the partner’s preferences and desires

One of the signs of codependency is a lack of self care. Some codependents may even feel guilty when they take care of themselves or take measures to promote their own well-being. As a caretaker, it is crucial to be aware of the signs of codependency and to remember the importance of self care. Many caretakers are particularly susceptible to codependency and may neglect their own well-being as a result.

Are You at Risk of Codependency?

In a sense, codependency is not unlike addiction, except rather than a dangerous drug or other substance, the individual is addicted to the presence, involvement, and approval of a specific person. Some people may be more likely to develop codependent relationships.

Codependents may share some or all of the following personality / character traits:

  • Perfectionism
  • Lack of ability to set reasonable boundaries
  • Lack of self-worth
  • A tendency to be a “people pleaser”
  • Poor communication skills
  • Fear of being alone
  • Focus on what other people think
  • Denial of the reality of a codependent relationship
  • Denial of personal needs and feelings
  • Obsessive personality
  • Guilt
  • Anxiety
  • Caretaking

Recovering from Codependency

Some ways to begin the recovery process:

  • Read about codependency
  • Talk with a professional
  • Relax and reduce stress
  • Attend a 12 Step meeting such as Codependents Anonymous
  • Begin to pursue and develop your own hobbies and interests
  • Focus on accepting yourself
  • Practice being honest about your needs and feelings

Don’t be afraid to ask for help; abandon the idea that you need to be completely independent and self-reliant. Remind yourself that it is important to take care of yourself and to have fun. More than that, you need to remember that you are only responsible for your own choices and behaviors.

Codependency is ultimately unhealthy and dangerous. Not only does it hurt you, but it can also be harmful to your relationship, demonstrating a lack of respect for the autonomy of your loved one. Remember that taking care of yourself not only gives you a better life, but it also enables you to be a better caretaker. You do not have to be solely responsible for your loved one’s happiness. Ultimately, you are responsible for your own.

For more information about our behavioral health services designed to help clients regain life balance and independence, call Therapeutic Solutions in today at (530) 899-3150.