7 Foods You Need to Avoid to Help Your Depression or Anxiety

7 foods you need to avoid to help with your depression or anxiety

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What foods and beverages will make your depression and/or anxiety worse? Perhaps a better question would be, “What doesn’t make us more depressed or anxious these days?” Right?

But perhaps taking a less cynical and more rational approach is best. To further explore how your diet affects your mood and functionality, consider the fact that the food you eat nourishes and strengthens your body. It must therefore have a direct impact on your body, including your brain.  And as your brain regulates your body’s functions, including your mood, part of your mental health management would necessarily have to involve dietary considerations.

There is much research indicating that individuals who maintain a diet with less inflammatory foods and beverages also maintain lower risks of depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, many, if not most of the foods in the Standard American Diet (SAD) will cause inflammation. Healthier eating regimens include vitamins, antioxidants, high-grade proteins, and healthy fats.

The most common offenders include:

  • Sugar and artificial sweeteners
  • Genetically-Modified Organisms (GMOs)
  • Dairy
  • Gluten
  • Vegetable oils

That’s a list given in broad terms, but let’s go through a more specific list of foods and drinks that cause depression and why.

As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to avoid processed foods as much as possible. If you frequently consume fried foods, processed meats, refined cereals, pastries, high-fat dairy, candy, etc., you’re likely to be making your depression and anxiety worse. Stick with as much fish, fruits, vegetables, whole fiber-rich grains to help stabilize your mood more consistently.

Here they are: Some foods to avoid to help your depression and anxiety.
Note this list is not exhaustive.

  1. Sugary and Diet Soft Drinks. This list includes soda, fruit juice, energy drinks, Kool-Aid, etc. What’s so bad about them?
  • Soda Pop/Kool-Aid: This is a no-brainer to avoid. All sugar, and no nutrition. Sugar is very addictive, and plays with your brain’s incentive/reward system, which leads to depressive moods when you don’t have the sugar your body and brain crave. A better alternative if you’re craving a sugary soda drink would be seltzer water with just a splash of fruit juice. Too much caffeine often found in soda pop and diet soda can make anxiety worse, too. Try seltzer water with a splash of lime, cranberry, or orange juice. Or simply keep yourself hydrated with enough water your body needs. Your cravings for soda will go away.
  • Diet Soda: If you get rid of the sugar, you should be fine, right? Not exactly. A common artificial soft drink sweetener, aspartame, has been directly linked to depression. With diet drinks you won’t experience the energy/post-sugar crash, but diet soda can still get you depressed, perhaps even more than regular soda can. Your brain thinks it’s getting the sugar it’s craving, but it’s not, so it gets depressed.
  • Fruit Juice: Fruits not only contain healthy vitamins our bodies need, they also contain natural fiber that helps you feel full while slowing down how your blood absorbs energy. No fiber means just vitamin-packed sugar water that gets your blood up, followed by a post-sugar crash. Again, your body thinks it’s getting something it wants or needs, but is being left wanting. If you like fruit, eat it whole, and if you’re thirsty, try plenty of water, or seltzer + a splash of  your favorite fruit juice.
  • Energy Drinks: Energy drinks can cause abnormal heart palpitations, disrupted sleep, and heightened anxiety because of the caffeine and vitamin stimulants found in them (A common energy-boosting ingredient, guarana, has lots of caffeine). And don’t forget all the sugar or artificial sweeteners found in energy drinks. Water is your best bet to satisfy thirst, , while a piece of fruit nicely takes the edge off of a sugar craving.
  1. Alcohol. This one should go without saying, since alcohol is classified as a depressant. In addition to the high levels of sugar in alcohol, small quantities of it alone can disrupt your sleep, which can lead to heightened levels of anxiety and then later, depression. Too much sleep, which may result from overdrinking and then having to “sleep it off” the next day, can cause even more mood disorders, too. If you do drink, keeping your alcohol intake to moderate levels (One drink maximum for women, two drinks at most for men) can be a good way to relax, feel less anxious in social situations, and can help regulate the cholesterol in your blood.
  2. Frosting. Again with the sugar talk, right? Yes, but also keep in mind that typical cake/cookie frostings contain around 2 grams of trans fats (the bad fats) per serving. Trans fats, also known as partially-hydrogenated oils, are classified as GMOs, and have also been linked to depression. They are common in pizza dough, fried foods, crackers, cookies, donuts, cake, etc. Limit your fats to the good ones, like those found in nuts, avocado, fish, and olive oil. They actually lift your mood.
  3. White bread. Highly-processed white flour found in many white breads (also refined pastas, white rice, cereal, white sugar) quickly converts to blood sugar after consumption, much like from sugary drinks. This causes spikes and crashes in energy levels, leading to anxiety and depression. Why not try home made whole wheat bread?
  4. Light dressings. You might know that some store-bought dressings and marinades come loaded with sugar, usually listed as high-fructose corn syrup on the ingredients list. But many “light” dressings are sweetened with aspartame, much like diet soda, and are therefore also linked to depression/anxiety. Try making your own salad dressing using nothing but fresh lemon juice, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.
  5. Ketchup/Soy Sauce. Ketchup contains high levels of sugar, while “light” ketchup contains artificial sweeteners. Soy sauce, typically associated with healthy-sounding foods like veggie stir fry and such, contains a lot of gluten, which can heighten anxiety and depression, and make you feel sluggish. Try making your own tomato salsa (and for a bit of a kick, add a dash of cayenne pepper to taste), and low-gluten soy sauce.
  6. Coffee. This is a controversial one to bring up, perhaps, but think of all the caffeine in coffee, known to disrupt our sleep, make us jittery and anxious, and let’s not even talk about the post-caffeine crashes. Caffeine levels can be gradually phased out of your diet, to avoid caffeine withdrawals and headaches. Cold water in the morning can wake you up just as well as coffee can. If you must have your coffee, try decaf.

Dietary changes can certainly improve your overall mood consistently, but sometimes depression and/or anxiety can be too much to handle on your own. Depression and anxiety are both treatable, and their treatment usually leads to better sleep and improved overall wellness. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

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Journaling to Help Depression and Anxiety

Journaling can help depression and anxiety

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Can journaling help depression and anxiety? You may have heard others talk about or counsel you to just take up a daily journaling habit to help you organize your thoughts, express gratitude in order to appease depressed feelings, or even just to give you a sense of accomplishment each day.

But you’re skeptical. How can something as simple as writing down your thoughts help you work through mental health issues. We’re going to walk through how it works, why it works, and why you should be journaling to help you “sort things out.” You’ll even get some of what is referred to as “depression journaling/writing prompts,” to help you get started.

What is depression/anxiety journaling?

A conservative estimate of 350 million people throughout the world deal with mental illness, or about 5 percent of the entire world’s population.

In contrast, in the United States, that percentage is significantly higher. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that one in five people in the U.S. struggles with depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, panic attacks, or some other mental affliction, though experts could say with the utmost confidence that the actual number is probably higher, due to underreporting.

How do many people who struggle with mental illness cope? Many of them employ journaling! If you’re not familiar with the practice, you might be wondering “Exactly what is depression journaling?” Depression is a daily (or it can be be-weekly, or even weekly) practice of getting your thoughts, ruminations, feelings down on paper. It can involve gripes, it can involve gratitude. It can be completely random, or more structured and systematic–whatever works best for you.

How journaling helps depression and anxiety

How does depression/anxiety journaling work? Not only can it help calm depressive and anxiety-driven symptoms, it can also help reduce stress, manage anxiety, help you routinely organize, prioritize, sift through exactly what’s bothering you, and it can bring new perspective, insights, and clarity you hadn’t considered.

Let’s take a closer look at how journaling helps.

Take the wheel
Sometimes brooding over things can feel overwhelming, and without any kind of outlet. Writing it all down can bring order to a seeming loss of control, and can make it seem more manageable.

It can make your concerns feel less daunting, and can make you feel more grounded and in control.  Talk about taking more proactive control of your mental health management.

It can help you feel better almost instantly, especially as you form a consistent habit of doing it, and can help you recognize when you’re down in the dumps enough that you need to talk to someone about it rather than keep it bottled in.

Enhanced awareness

 Have you ever thought that perhaps you feel like a stranger to yourself?

Journaling during depression and/or anxiety in real time as it comes to mind pulls your feelings and thoughts out into the light where they can be reviewed and considered. You may even surprise yourself with what surfaces, like realizing that something is making you apprehensive that you never noticed until writing it down.

Something else: Your journal may be very cathartic if you keep it private and to yourself, and it can also be something that you share with your counselor, to help you keep your inner musings documented and organized.  This can help improve the effectiveness of your therapy as your counselor helps you sort out what’s most important in terms of your goals, and helps you progress forward.

Finding patterns

Consistently writing about your conscious thinking and what you notice about what’s going on with you internally can help you keep track of recurring symptoms, and can help you identify those things that trigger your anxiety and depression.

Maybe symptoms spike at a certain time of day, or when you’re stressed at work, or when a certain topic of conversation comes up in your significant relationship. Knowing and recognizing your triggers is at least half the battle when it comes to avoiding them as you move forward.

As you journal, you may also more readily be able to recognize your own personal progress, and can help you gain insights into how you’re perceiving things differently (hopefully for the better!)  Reviewing past entries is almost like having an outsider’s perspective into your own world view. Are you feeling better? Worse? More or less the same?

Journaling can help you recognize when and where you might need more help and perspective, and can also help you find reassurance in the progress you’re making on your own path.

A different perspective

Journaling to beat depression and/or anxiety is a solid way to feed yourself positive self-affirmation.

Writing about the things you’re grateful for (gratitude journaling) and about the things you like about yourself and that you and others see in yourself (affirmation journaling) is a consistently beneficial way to reinforce and enjoy all the positive in your life.

Keeping happy memories at the forefront of your mind by far overpowers all the negative thinking that all too often surfaces, and helps you recondition your mind to always be looking for the positive, rather than relish in the less savory.

Journaling prompts for depression and anxiety

How about some journaling prompts to get you started?

  1. When you look in the mirror, who do you see?
  2. If you could meet and speak to your 8-year-old self, what would you say? Write about mentoring a younger version of yourself.
  3. Summarize for yourself all the lessons you’ve learned about life. Share them with a younger version of yourself (see previous), and offer encouragement to yourself.
  4. What song lyrics, or movie quotes, or poems have served as a guiding light to you and why?
  5. What’s your favorite holiday, and why?
  6. Make 10 promises to yourself and write about them
  7. What is one time when you felt on top of the world? How did you feel about achieving a goal? Give that version of yourself a superhero name, and write all about it for future reference.
  8. What are some pressing questions that have been on your mind recently? Talk yourself through them to some sort of satisfactory answer.
  9. What’s the first thing you think about every morning upon awakening, and what’s the last thing that crosses your mind before you drift off to sleep?
  10. What is causing you pain and anxiety right now? Write about it and see if you can’t find a way to find some comfort and healing.

What prompts can you come up with? How would you like to know yourself better? Write about it!

Some final journaling tips

Journaling is never going to be perfect, and it’s going to take a while to get into the habit of doing it and to start recognizing the positive effects it’s having.

Here are some tips to keep in mind as you adjust to this new way of looking at and documenting your innermost feelings and thoughts and how you process them.

  • Free write without judgment (less editing, more writing)
  • Be consistent (about 20 minutes every day, or at least once a week)
  • Keep your writing notes handy (on your nightstand, in your backpack, in your car, etc.)
  • Get in the habit of always looking for the positive

Does journaling sound like it might interest you? Give it a try! If you are struggling with mental illness or low self-esteem, start organizing your thoughts, however awkward it may feel at first. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

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Depression and Anxiety at Work: What They Are and What to do About Them

depression-and-anxiety-at-work

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Career depression is a thing. Work-related anxiety is also very real to those who experience it.

Stress is a normal part of life, and in fact, any long-term “stress free” scenario would end up being counterproductive. What would motivate you to go to work and pay your bills? A base level of stress is normal in everyone’s life. The problem comes when it becomes overwhelming and induces debilitating depression and irrational anxiety (anxiety disorder) for someone.

Stressed at work

It should not come as a shock that most working Americans experience stress at work.

According to a Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA) stress and anxiety disorders survey, the following is worth noting:

Among those surveyed, reported stress and anxiety was culprit to most often impact:

  • Quality of work (50 percent claimed)
  • Performance in the workplace (56 percent… this would be considered “performance anxiety”)
  • Working relationships with coworkers (51 percent)
  • Working relationships with supervisors/bosses (43 percent)
  • Personal life (75 percent: 83 percent men, 72 percent women)
  • Personal relationships with spouse or significant other (70 percent: 79 percent men, and 61 percent women)

Not surprisingly, the dominant “go-to” behavior for coping with work-related depression, stress, and anxiety? For 44 percent of both men and women, it’s to sleep more. Other stress “escapes” include: drinking more alcoholic beverages (20 percent), over-the-counter meds (23 percent), more frequent exercise (25 percent), smoking (27 percent), and more caffeine (31 percent).

Career depression (work-related depression, career disillusion, etc.) and anxiety at work

Have you ever been depressed at work? Had an anxiety attack or panic attack? Felt non-stop anxiety? Had difficulty concentrating on work, or maybe you’ve been exhausted and felt unable to keep up because you’re having trouble sleeping? Have you frequently felt on the verge of tears, or felt overwhelmed or like an “exposed nerve?” Have you ever felt like you just needed to “push yourself” through, and then you’ll feel OK later? Maybe some combination of the previously mentioned scenarios?  .

As we mentioned earlier, some level of stress at work is to be expected. Maybe you’ve upset a client, feel like you have more than your fair share of work, or have a big presentation coming up – Job burnout is very common. But depression and anxiety at work can develop into a serious problem.

To make matters worse, when you feel extremely uneasy, depressed, chronically stressed, or anxiety at work, you might begin to develop additional anxiety about your boss’ assessment of your work, or about your job’s stability.

More on depression and anxiety at work

One defining characteristic of depression and anxiety involves a distinct feeling of helplessness, like you have no control whatsoever over your situation.

You may feel like you need to speak with your boss, supervisor, or HR office, though many people are reluctant to because they don’t want to be viewed as “a problem,” or “incompetent,” or “weak.”

There are definitely some things you can do, some things that are within your control. Consider the following suggestions:

  • Get organized.It may seem like a waste of time when you feel you have so much to do, but tidying your desk and filing things away where you can easily find them later will end up saving you time, help you feel on top of your game, and even divert a catastrophe down the road.
  • Take control. Become acquainted with the symptoms of anxiety/anxiety disorder, and learn how to manage them when you experience them unexpectedly.
  • Manage your time effectively.Thoughtfully set goals, and get in the habit of creating and checking off to-do lists for every day and for every week overall. Learn to prioritize your tasks, and get yourself onto a disciplined schedule.
  • Prepare to plan, plan to prepare.Dive right in to big projects as early on as you can. Get ahead of your work schedule as much as possible. Set intermittent deadlines for yourself. Be proactive about identifying potential problems, and think through how to address them before they happen.
  • Get to work! Easier said than done, but diving in and pushing yourself to excel at work can help take some of the edge off, give you a sense of accomplishment, and improve your confidence and self esteem.
  • Set your own standards of excellence.Focus on the quality of your work so you don’t have to backtrack and redo anything if it can be avoided.
  • Be ambitious, be disciplined, but be gentle with yourself. Be realistic and avoid overcommitting and overextending yourself.
  • Don’t be shy about asking for help. Especially if you feel overwhelmed. You can always return favors later when someone else needs your help.
  • Speak your mind. Communicate, and articulate calmly and diplomatically when you feel overwhelmed. Most managers and supervisors are understanding and will do what they can to help you succeed.
  • Talk to a trusted peer/friend at work.It can be very therapeutic to get your worries and anxieties off your chest with someone you trust. Talking through your doubts, concerns, worries, etc. with someone can also give you some valuable perspective.
  • Avoid difficult coworkers. Does it stress you out thinking about how to deal with difficult people? Avoid negativity, gossip, backbiting, bad attitudes, etc. in the workplace. Just press on.
  • Take occasional breaks. About once an hour, take a breather. Walk around the block, enjoy the day, clear your head, breathe deeply. It will help you get refocused and improve your productivity.
  • Celebrate your successes. Never forget to give yourself credit (as well as to those who may have helped you along the way) when you accomplish something you feel good about, even small things.
  • Take care of yourself. Eat a balanced diet, mind that you get adequate sleep, get your regular exercise in, and as much as possible, avoid caffeine and alcohol. Your mind will remain sharp and limber, and you’ll always be ready to confront the next challenge.

Keep in mind that, no matter how well you think you may be able to manage your stress, anxiety, and depression at work, you may at some point need to call on a professional to help. One way to know you might need to get help is a chronic painful, uneasy feeling (a.k.a., malaise) that you can’t seem to shake no matter what, and that crippling feeling has infiltrated not only the workplace, but all areas of your life.

It doesn’t mean you’ve failed, it just means you’re smart.

Is work leaving you feeling emotionally exhausted, beaten down, overwhelmed, in a panic, or helpless? If you feel you need some guidance to cope with stresses, depression, and/or anxiety at work, consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

Anxiety and Creativity: Another View of Anxiety

anxiety-and-creativity

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Anxiety may not be your favorite thing to deal with, but there’s a flip side to it. Maybe you’re sensitive, moody, and maybe others think of you as “unusual,” but take heart knowing that anxiety and creativity may be closely linked.

Yes, it’s true, anxiety affects many people every single day (affecting around 40 million adults in the United States over the age of 18, which amounts to 18.1 percent of the U.S. population. Though anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., only 36.9 percent of those that suffer from them seek treatment), but it tends to be particularly acute and prevalent for the highly sensitive, creative, and gifted members of our society.

Look at it this way: without anxiety disorders, the world would never have been graced with the talents of: Abraham Lincoln (U.S. President), Emily Dickinson (American poet), Vincent van Gogh (Dutch artist), Brian Wilson (American musician/Beach Boys frontman), or T.S. Eliot. In fact, Eliot gave us the sentiment, “Anxiety is the hand maiden of creativity.”

Anxiety is a common experience shared by “creative types,” experienced very differently from person to person, even though outward symptoms in different individuals may bear resemblances. It is a defense mechanism that may be a reaction to the surrounding environment or to something that may happen in the future, and it may be a reaction to something from the past, even as far back as childhood.

Anxiety has even been referred to as “the price one pays for the ability to imagine the future.”

Why creative folks?

Simple. Very active minds are able to conjure up so many things to be worry about. Less complex minds may worry less because there isn’t as much thinking. But with the creatives, there’s always a lot of thinking.

If your mind is not only active, but also creative, that ups the ante. Stress is a universal experience, but for those that are creative, bright, talented, motivated, ambitious, etc., these added talents can add to the everyday stress of life—more is always expected.

What do creatives stress about?

 

Sources of stress are different for everyone, but here are some typical stressors for creative minds:

EXISTENTIAL

  • Immense concern with universal problems (e.g., poverty, war, climate change, world hunger, etc.)
  • Idealism/Perfectionism
  • Isolation
  • Anger at God/fate
  • Driving need for meaning and purpose

SITUATIONAL

  • Disharmony in relationships
  • Time constraints
  • Inner conflict between “what is” and “what should be”
  • Boredom (due to lack of intellectual stimulation or challenge)
  • Feeling overwhelmed, even paralyzed by challenges
  • Lack of resources to accomplish a task

SELF-IMPOSED

  • Exceedingly high, even unrealistically high standards for self and for quality of work
  • Fear of success
  • Fear of failure
  • Incessant negative self-talk
  • Emotionally-driven, overly analytical beliefs about self and surroundings
  • Believing that they should be loved, adored, and esteemed by everyone
  • Buying into the negative evaluations/criticisms of others
  • Worrying
  • Always expecting the worst case scenario

Stress/anxiety management

There are enough stress and anxiety management tools and techniques that you should be able to easily choose at least one or two that work well for you in a pinch.

  • For starters, remember to breathe slowly and deeply. 
  • Another good tool is the cognitive exercising of turning your negative self-talk into positive, relaxing, productive thoughts.

And for your no-brainer, create a lifestyle for yourself that supports calm and relaxation. A hectic lifestyle can place unnecessary strain on your nerves, and hence, on your mental health.

For more, check out this post that addresses stress reduction.

Five things to remember about anxiety and creativity

Humanity cannot afford to waste human creative gifts. We need to continue learning how to nurture them. Some individuals with a talent they’d like to play with and develop more thoroughly may erroneously think that “it’s a silly waste of time” or maybe that it’s “too late in the game.” Creatives need to understand how important these gifts are and pursue them. It’s never too late to start.

Creative individuals are naturally more vulnerable, though more… creative. An openness to new experiences, an aptitude for dealing with ambiguity, and novel ways of approaching life allow creatives to perceive things in fresh, original new ways. Creatives live in a much more fluid and ethereal world, as stressful as it may be (think of sensory overload). Meanwhile, those that are less creative tend to quickly respond to life based on what they have been told by those in “authority.”

Creative aptitudes can lead to social alienation, anxiety, and depression. Such is the life of a creative. Though they may experience higher rates of mood disorders than others, their highs and lows tend to be more spread out and brief, which can lead to more creative periods in their lives.

Talented, creative, original individuals may seem unique, unusual, and even strange to others. Creatives may find themselves responding to criticism, mockery, or outright rejection for their unconventionality, or for questioning “too much.”  Most people are uneasy with open, new ways of looking at life, and many will never hesitate to say so. But creatives should never let that stop them.

Creative minds are challenged at “curating” incoming thoughts and ideas. Creatives are not only more prone to mental illness, they exhibit a problem with filtering or selectively blocking the countless stimuli coming into their brains. Something that helps them? Spending long blocks of time isolated from other people.


And one more: Creative people are more likely to be original and productive when enjoying the company of other creatives.

The poet once said ‘It’s good to be tortured. The thoughts are unstoppable.’

Take American musician Lady Gaga, for instance, who once spoke of one of the most common experiences among artists: a racing mind. She spoke of not being able to “control her thoughts at all,” and of being “tortured.” But she claims to enjoy the torture. Thus, she says her music comes to her constantly.

So, if you’re a creative, embrace the creative gift you’ve been given and celebrate your uniqueness. Use it. Use what frightens you to get motivated and creative.

Some anxieties, like an overwhelming sense of perfectionism, can interfere with creative thought, and be crippling in countless areas of everyday life. If you feel your anxiety is interfering with your creative side, it may be time to seek treatment for your anxiety. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

 

12 Must-Try Products to Help You Cope with Anxiety and Stress

anxiety relief

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Anxiety and stress can get the best of anyone from time to time. Anxiety can also overwhelm and make you feel chronically ungrounded and without any sense of control over yourself—even at times for seemingly insignificant or non-existent reasons whatsoever. Anxiety symptoms can undermine your sense of self-esteem.

You might be undergoing treatment to help you more proactively manage anxiety issues you may be having, learning relaxation skills, and other coping mechanisms to help you in moments of crisis. You might be getting comfortable and feeling more natural in regard to talking to friends, loved ones, your therapist.

These things are definitely the first components of a viable strategy in your treatment, but sometimes having something tangible, like a relaxation tool, or listening to calming music, or taking a long, hot bath can be just what you need to get you through to your next moment of calm.

None of these tangibles should be considered cure-alls, and you should always consult with a mental health professional if you are really in need of help. However, in the meantime, below is a list of fun tools, gadgets, and items that can give you an extra edge in confronting your own anxiety, and in feeling more content, energized, and calm.

Headspace app: Learn the pleasures and benefits of mindful meditation, made simple (free, AppleAndroid). Features hundreds of themed sessions on a wide range of topics, like stress, sleep, focus, and anxiety. Also: an assortment of brief guided meditations for when you’re a bit too busy to slow down for long, and emergency meditation/breathing exercises, in case you suddenly go into crisis mode.

 

 

Tea, anyone? Discover a new favorite, natural relaxation tea, starting with Traditional Medicinals Organic Nighty Night Valerian Relaxation Tea, ($4.82, Amazon).

Or, try the Tension Tamer herbal tea from Celestial Seasonings for a relaxing dip into soothing mint and lemongrass ($5.40, Amazon).

 

Feeling hip? Start a new trend with your new handy Maroamlife Lava Stone Diffuser portable aromatherapy bracelet ($7.99, Amazon). You can add a couple of drops of your preferred  essential oil to your bracelet, rubbing the oil into the stones. The anxiety-calming scent will follow you around while you’re out and about, keeping your mind at ease.

 

Do you grind your teeth at night and wake up feeling stressed and agitated? Pick up a 10-pack of Plackers disposable Grind No More Night Guard for your teeth. Plackers brings you the first disposable and ready-to-use night tooth guard, offering a cost-effective solution for you – comfortable, hygienic, and protective. No cutting, molding, or boiling required.One size fits all, Plackers can be worn on upper or lower teeth. Can be used for three days, then conveniently disposed of ($13.78, Amazon).

 

Go Zen! Overwhelmed? Anxious? Frazzled? Try WellPath Zen, featuring a natural mix of adaptogens, herbs, and vitamins shown to support stress relief ($15.85, Amazon).

 

 

 

Want to create a warm, relaxing, stress-free environment? Use VicTsing wood grain diffuser and cool mist humidifier, 300 ml ($27.99, Amazon).

 

 

 

Try it with this “aromatherapeutic” set of essential oils, which includes calming and relaxing scents like lavender, tea trea, eucalyptus, and frankincense ($16.95, Amazon). Check it out here.

 

 

When was the last time you had a nice, hot, fizzy bath? Try these 5 oz handmade bath bombs ($18.04, Amazon), and let them take you away!

 

 

Acupressure is an “in” thing! You wouldn’t think it by looking at it, but this Nayoya spiked mat and pillow ($39.97, Amazon) are designed to relieve your neck, back, and shoulders when you’re in pain.  Using them consistently can also help you sleep better, improve your circulation, and take the edge off of everyday life and anxiety. Residual side effects of using this acupressure mat includes better sleep, circulation, and relief from stress and anxiety. What are you waiting for? Take a look here!

Your blanket needs more weight. You may not have known it, but heavy, weighted0 blankets, like the 12 lb. polyester Brookstone Nap Weighted Blanket ($94.89, Amazon), have been shown to promote better sleep, and to reduce anxiety and stress. In fact, you’ll feel like you’re wrapped in a big, warm hug.

 

 

Or, look into the super-soft microfiber 48″ x 72″, 20lb. Gravity Blanket, otherwise known as the original weighted blanket ($249.00, Amazon).

 

 

 

Concerned about anxiety issues? Not to worry. It is treatable and manageable. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

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Depression and Anxiety: Diseases or Symptoms?

depression and anxiety symptoms

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Depression and anxiety. Are they diseases in and of themselves as they are popularly regarded, or are they disorders? What if they, in and of themselves, are merely emotional symptoms (indicators) of deeper, underlying issues? It’s worth noting that most people with some degree of depression also suffer from an anxiety disorder.

First, no one who deals with depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness should ever be made to feel that what he or she is experiencing is “all in [your] head.” Mental illness and its effects are all too (painfully) real for those experiencing them, and professional treatment can become a very real need.

But it matters how you frame mental illness. It can mean the difference between someone’s mindlessly and passively undergoing treatment and merely following a clinician’s “marching orders,” and that same individual’s taking a proactive and conscientious approach to acknowledging mental illness for what it is and confronting it effectively.

Now…

It will likely not come as a surprise to you, but diseases, by definition, are evidence of some abnormal condition that negatively affects the structure or function of the human body, not due to any external injury. Diseases may, however, be caused by other external factors such as pathogens or internal dysfunction. Empirical data can be gathered and analyzed (via a testing or imaging method of some sort), and the problem can be reliably identified. Sure, your brain is also an organ, but a very complex one, about which there still remain mysteries and unknowns. There is no definitively reliable “depression test” or “anxiety test” from which a clear diagnosis can be reviewed and addressed directly.

In the case of mental illness, depression, anxiety, and other symptoms can be described to a clinician, who then draws upon his or her knowledge, experience, and expertise in order to help the individual identify, manage, process, work through, and minimize said symptoms. Medication and psychotherapy are common components of a treatment program.

That’s not to say that mental health professionals are just guessing, but rather to recognize that clinical approaches to address mental illness are far from being a perfect science.

Here’s the thing…

It is one of life’s unavoidable givens that sometimes everyone gets sad, gets nervous, becomes troubled or anxious, etc. Many of us may even grapple with varying degrees of psychosis from time to time.

Becoming clinically depressed or suffering from chronic anxiety is more severe, and potentially debilitating, versions of normal, everyday emotional responses to life’s routine bumps and bruises. But it becomes confusing when the emotions associated with depression and anxiety cloud the true underlying problems at play. In other words, the emotions (emotional responses) are not the same thing as the actual problem.

Depression symptoms and anxiety symptoms are signals that you are not processing something effectively, or that some need of yours isn’t being met. It is critical to your healthy sense of self that you feel loved and important by the most important people in your life. And it is important for your overall well-being that you have respect and compassion for yourself.

Imagine feeling unfulfilled in your relationships with friends or family, or perhaps you may be temporarily at odds with someone important in your life. You may feel unfulfilled or lacking in your intimate relationships/involvements. You may feel like your life has little purpose or meaning, or that you don’t matter, or that you have nothing to contribute and add value to society. Perhaps you feel guilt or shame for something you have done or may continue to do. This may lead to feelings of worthlessness, and/or hopelessness, to dismal self-esteem, and even to substance abuse/dependence. And hence, feelings of depression and anxiety.

But the feelings themselves aren’t the problem, though they can feel as excruciating as physical pain. Your unfulfilled needs are the problem.

Note that feelings of depression and anxiety can lead to your further isolation and avoidance from others, and from effectively addressing the causes of your painful feelings – which can lead to more depressive and anxious feelings, reinforcing the already existing source of your crippling feelings.

Here is why this differentiation matters…

This may seem self-evident, but consider this: imagine how different an approach you would take to addressing your mental illness if you thought of it in terms of “I deal with a mental illness/disorder” as compared to “I am mentally ill.” This valuable shift in perspective can be enlightening and is a coping mechanism/skill known as “reframing.” Reframing can help you feel better more quickly, more in control of your situation, and can lessen the duration of you feeling hurt or confused.

So the trick is…

There are no “silver bullets” or magical methods to help you cope with depression and anxiety. But know that the better coping and management skills you can learn with the help of your mental health clinician, psychotherapy, and possibly medication, the more clearly you’ll be able to recognize underlying problems that are resulting in depressive/anxious emotions, and the better you’ll be able to nip them in the bud.

This may seem overly simplistic, but remember, through appropriate treatment, you can learn to recognize depression and anxiety for what they truly are: symptoms of problems rather than problems in and of themselves. It can make all the difference in your recovery.

Do you deal with depression and/or anxiety? You are not alone and we want you to know that you can pursue a happy, productive life even if you deal with mental health challenges. Mental illness is treatable and manageable. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

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What to Do Today to Overcome Social Anxiety

Overcome Social Anxiety

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Social anxiety disorder goes beyond just the occasional bout of nerves or feeling self-conscious about being “shy.” We all feel nervous or out of our element from time to time, maybe on a first date, or in a job interview, but social anxiety (social phobia) is so much more than that. Social anxiety disorder is a condition made manifest by an intense, crippling fear of being embarrassed in social situations—it makes someone so fearful, in fact, that it interferes significantly in normal, day-to-day activities. Just imagine being so terrified of being embarrassed and awkward around other people that you would go out of your way to avoid any such situation where others might be. It strengthens and reinforces one’s feelings of worthlessness and solitude that may already exist.

Someone who suffers from social anxiety disorder may show symptoms such as shortness of breath (not unlike a panic attack), an upset stomach or nausea, accelerated heart rate, and/or severe dizziness. The bigger problem lies in the utter disruption of one’s normal life activities, such as speaking up in a meeting, speaking with authority figures, meeting someone of the opposite sex or going out on a date, or being called on at work or in class.

Social anxiety is quite common, and if you can relate to this description, you are not alone. Every case is different, and triggered by different situations. Social anxiety can be triggered by specific social situations, or to social situations in general. The one common thread that all those who suffer from social anxiety share, is that the fears themselves are very real to the individual experiencing them. In addition to avoiding social situations, some people try to mask their anxiety by having an alcoholic drink or popping some pain medication before entering a social situation. This type of avoidance behavior can lead to substance dependence and addiction.

Rather than fixating on what causes your social anxiety, or on what you can do to get out of that work party where you know you’ll have to interact with others, focus about what you can do naturally to work on overcoming your social anxiety over time. Here are a few things you can start practicing today:

Manage your breathing. One of the first signs of an anxiety/panic attack is shallow, accelerated breathing and heart rate (hyperventilation). Learning to slow your breathing down can help buffer any physiological symptoms you may be experiencing. Sit comfortably, consciously begin inhaling slowly through your nose, holding your breath for two seconds, and then exhaling slowly out of your mouth. Repeat this for a few minutes until your breathing is under control.

Manage self-deprecating thinking. Your behavior is driven in large part by how you perceive yourself in relation to those around you. If you’re constantly kicking yourself for being “dull, unremarkable, stupid, incompetent,” etc., your behavior will reflect that accordingly. Begin by becoming more conscious and aware of your moment to moment thoughts, especially before entering a social situation. Scrutinize and challenge each negative thought as they come. (“Unremarkable? Incompetent? I am great at my job and well-liked among my co-workersI have delivered several speeches confidently.” “Stupid? I can hold my own with the best of them in a discussion.” “How am I dull? I have a very busy life!”

Face your fears, live your dreams. This may sound daunting, but think of it this way: instead of avoiding what terrifies you the most, get used to confronting it so that it doesn’t bother you nearly as much. Start small, and be patient with the process. (Start by saying “hi” to strangers, move up to making a comment about the weather as you pass someone by, then up to striking up a conversation, etc. Baby steps!)

Focus on other people. Surely you’ve heard about the “imagine others in their underwear” trick. But seriously, focus on what others are doing or wearing, and use that as a cue to enthusiastically engage someone else in a conversation in order to make a sincere connection. Maybe someone needs help with something (“That is a great bracelet! Where on earth did you get it? Can I get the door for you?”)

Rinse and repeat. Even with your best efforts at re-conditioning yourself to respond confidently in social situations, you may still find treatment and/or medication helpful to manage your symptoms. Just remind yourself to be patient with the process, and to never give up.

Are you “socially anxious?” If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about managing social anxiety better, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

 

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Am I having a panic attack? 4 Quick Management Tips

Ways to stop a panic attack

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Have you ever wondered how to stop a panic attack?

Does the following sound familiar?

You are breathless, sweaty, and your heart feels like it is pounding its way out of your chest. A blinding sense of crippling fear keeps you gasping for air. You clutch your chest, not knowing what to do or where to turn. The fear only intensifies. 911 is called. Now you’re being raced to the ER, and worried you are having a heart attack. This has never happened before! And you’re too young to die!

While such symptoms could very well be signaling a heart attack (you did the right thing by calling 911, just in case), it is highly likely that you have just been introduced into the world of panic attacks. Some panic attacks may be isolated incidents that come and go, only occurring once or twice in your life. However, if such attacks are recurring, it may be an indication that you have panic disorder, along with 6 million other Americans (2.7 percent of the U.S. population).

Some more statistics in regard to panic attacks follow:

  • Research indicates that nearly one-fourth of individuals in the United States experience some form of a panic attack at least once in their lives.
  • Women are twice as likely than men to experience a panic attack, according to studies published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
  • In the U.S., 0.8 percent of the population experiences at least one panic attack coupled with Agoraphobia (an irrational fear of places or situations in which one feels trapped, embarrassed, or helpless, i.e., social anxiety) in their lives.
  • Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., impacting the lives of 40 million adults in the U.S. 18 and older (18.1 percent of the population) annually.
  • Fortunately, panic disorders are very treatable, though less than 40 percent of those who suffer from them receive treatment.

Panic Attack Definition and Additional Symptoms

What exactly is a panic attack? Panic attacks, though driven in large part by subjective internal perceptions, are very real to the individuals who experience them. They are extremely horrifying, they can happen at the drop of a hat, inflicting immediate fear and nervousness for at least 10 to 15 minutes (which can feel like an eternity if you’re suffering from one).

Along with the physiological panic attack symptoms indicated above: dizziness, a choking sensation, chills, hot flashes, nausea, stomach cramps, chest pain, intense headache, numbness, and a sense of detachment or of “losing one’s mind” can be added to the symptoms list. Note that panic attacks should not be confused with anxiety attacks (anxiety attacks involve worry about a future event, while panic attacks are driven by an intense fear sparked by an immediate, perceived threat going on right now).

One of the worst components of a panic attack is the overwhelming fear of having another one. This may cause you to stay away from certain places and situations where one may occur.

Panic Attack Causes

It’s currently not known exactly what causes panic attacks or panic disorder, but researchers believe that genetics, acute stress, a stress-and-negative-emotion-prone temperament, family history of panic attacks/disorder, a traumatic event, major life changes, excessive smoking/caffeine intake, and/or changes in cerebral functioning.

Panic attacks can occur instantaneously, without warning, though after a time of recurrences, they are typically triggered by certain situations and/or places.

What to do in Case of a Panic Attack

A panic attack is a condition of adrenaline being released into your bloodstream. Stopping one is as simple as stopping the crisis response from your brain to keep your adrenal glands from producing adrenaline. By learning four steps, you can minimize and shorten a panic attack:

  • Relaxing, Deep, Slow Breaths – Make yourself aware of the fact that you are having a panic attack, and that nothing else is threatening you. Continue your deep, slow breathing, which will relax your body, and begin to impede the release of adrenaline.
  • Stop Panicked Thoughts – Instead of letting panicky thoughts flood your head, as loud as you can, inside your head, shout “STOP!” a few times in order to interrupt the emergency response messages that your brain is sending out to your body to produce adrenaline. Once your crisis response thoughts have been cut off, you can replace them with soothing thoughts.
  • Positive Self-Talk – Positive self-talk should be at least as strong as the panicked thoughts that got you all worked up. Once you’ve “STOPPED!” the flow of negative thinking inside your head, replace those fears with more grounded thoughts to help you cope better with the situation. Remind yourself that you “are only having a panic attack which can be over in just a few minutes if I just relax.” Or, you may remind yourself that you “have gotten through panic attacks like this in the past,” and that you “will easily get through this one.” Remind yourself that everything will be just fine. You can prepare a customized list of positive self-talk statements ahead of time to help you cope with your next panic attack effectively. Read through your list a couple of times every day.
  • Embracing Your Feelings. Embracing and accepting your feelings exactly for what they are, rather than minimizing them, is critical in minimizing a panic attack. Identify your emotion(s) (usually fear), and think through why you’re feeling this way. Remind yourself that it’s perfectly reasonable to be afraid of what you are (stage fright, having a heart attack, public speaking, job stress, etc.). Practice the speech you’ve prepared thoroughly, get a check-up, take any precaution to get yourself prepared and to ensure your safety. Then, to reinforce your positive self-talk, you’ll remember that you are well-prepared, or that you had a check-up recently. This preparation/safety measures will help you keep your panic attack in perspective, and will keep your panic attack in check so it doesn’t overwhelm you.

Talk to your physician or mental health care professional about what you’re doing to help yourself manage your panic attacks/disorder, and get some insight and suggestions from him or her. Group therapy can also be very helpful.

There’s no known way to prevent panic attacks or panic disorder, but it is recommended that you get timely treatment for attacks as they occur, that you follow the treatment plan your physician gives you and that you engage in physical activity regularly, to help deter anxiety.

Do you suffer from panic attacks? Do you suspect you might have panic disorder? No worries; you can handle this! If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.