Ways to Thrive As You Recover From Tough Times

Man with outspread arms facing sun

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Guest Post by: Melissa Howard from stopsuicide.info

Reaching out

Know that you shouldn’t have to rely wholly on yourself. In order to thrive in your new life, it’s crucial to have a positive support network you can rely on. Counselors, mentors, friends, and family members can all serve as a network to help you when they are feeling vulnerable or alone. 

Repairing broken relationships

As you struggled, you may have been left with damaged relationships. With your recovery, you may find yourself with the overwhelming task of reaching out to those you may have hurt. While not every relationship is salvageable, it’s still possible to mend broken relationships, so don’t lose hope.

Removing triggers

A trigger is anything in your life that initiates the desire to return to negative behavior. When you are in recovery, it’s important to eliminate triggers from your environment that can cause you to slip back into your old ways. Triggers are linked to memories or situations and may include smells, stress, specific people, places, and dates. To remove triggers from your life, you may need to leave old relationships behind, switch careers, or even move to a new area of town. 

In order to begin the process of removing triggers from your home, it’s important to get help. Ask a friend, relative, or professional to assist you in removing everything that you associate with your previous lifestyle. Then, give the space a good cleaning. Scent can be a powerful trigger, so wash all linens, window coverings, and clothes in a new laundry detergent with a different scent than you’re used to.

Rejuvenating your body

Regular physical activity can help those in recovery avoid slipping back to their old ways of life. Vigorous physical activity releases chemicals called endorphins, which alleviate pain and cause feelings of happiness. When you incorporate regular exercise into your routines, you’ll find that you can experience natural joy, decreasing the need to turn to destructive behavior.

Look into practices like meditation, reiki, and yoga to promote the healthy flow of energy through your body. In a nutshell, a balanced flow brings health while an interruption of this flow can bring about illness and the like. By balancing your chakras, you not only heal your body but your life as a whole.

Reinventing yourself

When you’re stuck in a rut, sometimes the best way to pull yourself out is by throwing yourself into an exciting new project. If you have an entrepreneurial side, this could mean starting your own side hustle for supplemental income or even building a business from the ground up. By focusing on a new career move, you’ll be able to channel your energy into something productive.

Know that starting a business means tackling a long to-do list, so you have to be up to the task and challenge. Along with coming up with a unique name for your company, forming an LLC is one of the first items that you can take care of. This is one way to keep your personal assets secure and earn some helpful tax deductions. If you’re not sure how to start this process, connect with a budget-friendly online formation service for assistance.

Yes, you can thrive in health and recovery by keeping in touch with your support network and acknowledging triggers in your lives. Changing your life is a gradual process — it doesn’t happen overnight. But by avoiding triggers, incorporating a healthy lifestyle, and pursuing positive activities, you can pave the way for a successful future. 

Let Studio B Professionals help you along in your journey to recovery. Book a therapy, personal training, nutrition, or wellness coaching session today. 970-422-1761

Stacy on the Relational Implicit​ Podcast

Interview with Stacy Reuille-Dupont and Serge Prengal: Using Exercise Science to Bridge Understanding in Therapy

See more conversations like this at Relational Implict. On his podcast, Serge explores somatic psychology, relational therapies, mindfulness and trauma therapies. Most of this exploration takes the form of conversations with psychotherapists, occasionally researchers. Stimulating ideas are discussed, as well as clinical examples. The style of the conversations is reflective, to slow down and deepen the process. Many of the conversations are available in video as well as audio.

Exercise and Mental Health

There is much research that shows the links between exercise and enhanced mental health. Exercise has been found to help decrease symptoms of depression, anxiety, bi-polar, schizophrenia, and trauma. In addition, performing exercise helps us create a more positive thought structure about ourselves, our abilities, and our strength to care for ourselves. This translates into a concept called Mastery.

Mastery is important because it helps us build a healthy self-esteem – or how we see ourselves in the world and as worthy of love and belonging. Love and belonging matter because as humans we are hard wired to need other humans. We build our brains off each other, our somatic system picks up on the connection we have with other humans (and animals) and we regulate each other – for better or worse.

By participating in regular exercise you are building the systems of the body, mind, and spirit that enhance the human existence, thus creating a more positive disposition and coping in everyday life. (Just so you know … you still have free choice, choosing to participate in activities or with groups that hurt you in some way. Will not make your life better just because you are moving. Make sure you choose wisely when choosing who you surround yourself with and how you balance your workouts to meet your individual needs).

If you are someone who struggles with mental illness and would like your personal trainer to know how to best help you OR you are a personal trainer who wants to better serve clients with mental health struggles. Please use the contact me page to send me an email, I’m putting together an article series to help make sure mental health doesn’t get left at the physical health door.

Get Moving: The links between physical exercise and psychological states

This week, in the last of the series on self regulation, we are going to talk about exercise and movement. For many exercise is something extra they must do every day, but in reality movement is part of what regulates your body throughout the day. 

It starts with breathing. As you breathe you regulate your sympathetic and para sympathetic parts of your nervous system. You do this through what is known as heart rate variability. Many of us who work in the exercise and health care fields use this number to understand how healthy your cardiovascular system is, however in my world of somatic psychology I can also use it to program movement to help you change your psychological states. This manipulation of your physical system allows for another option to change how you feel without the same level of concentration changing your thoughts may take. 

Mind & Body as One

Lots of people talk about the mind – body connection and how important is is to your health. To me there is no separation. If we want to know if you are stressed we would look at your cortisol levels in your saliva, depressed check out your blood serotonin levels, how well you are absorbing the nutrients you need to make the neurotransmitters to feel content, pleasure, calm, and control your impulses (physical and thought based) we could examine your feces. 

The body and mind do not have a connection point. They are one thing. The mind just has the ability to abstractly consider your experiences and decide what you would like them to mean. This ability gives the impression that the body is separate from the mind, but the mind has nothing to make meaning of if it does not have the body experiences to decipher. Understanding this oneness helps make more sense of our need for movement to regulate our emotions. 

My Research Findings

When I was doing my doctoral research, it was hard to find the bridges to understanding how our physical health intersects our mental health. There were studies with some longevity looking at how aerobic exercise helped depression, anxiety, bi-polar, and even schizophrenia. We could see how exercise impacted stress levels and anecdotally I heard many stories of people who were helped by regular exercise. However, so many people struggle to work out it was hard to understand how psychological struggle was associated with lack of exercise when we know how helpful it is. Turns out there is correlation between how physically stressed your system is and how hard it is for you to exercise. In my research I found that those who struggled with panic disorder (that feeling like you are having a heart attack, going to die, cannot breathe, and are so scared that you cannot think. Sometimes even feel as though you are losing your mind) is the hardest disorder to get enough physical exercise to meet your needs. Problem is, physical exercise is what helps metabolize the chemicals out of your system and decrease your feelings of panic and stress. As the cortisol, adrenaline, and other stress hormones rise in the system, they feed the symptoms creating a self fulfilling cycle of increasing stress levels. Thus making it harder and harder for the person to physically exercise.

Anxiety and Stress

For the person without panic, but with anxiety and stress overload, struggling to exercise is often linked in a similar fashion just not at the same level. It is hard to motivate and get out the door when your physical system is already so tired and feeling overwhelmed. People will describe feeling heavy, lethargic, slow thinking, or in contrast “tired but wired”. As a result exercise seems too hard and it is much easier to grab a substance to unwind or sit and watch TV. 

Depression

Depression is similar but different. In a depressed system every thing feels hard to manage and the body is very fatigued. It is a similar stress on the physical system, but depressed, a different manifestation of difficulties. When feeling depressed we often struggle to see the point of doing anything. People describe feeling heavy, lethargic, overwhelmed, increased sensitivity to pain, and inability to take care of basic living tasks. These make getting on the treadmill pretty darn hard. 

Kbands

How to Help Yourself Start Exercising

One thing interesting from my research was the fact that the more substance use disorder diagnoses someone had the more likely they were to exercise and the less likely they were to buy into barrier beliefs to accomplishing the tasks of working out. What they told me was, they had to move – they’d lost their license and had to ride bikes, walk, and “there isn’t much to do in jail”. As a result they were exposed to movement regularly and therefore saw and felt the benefits and kept the habit going while they could. As a result of their insight it became apparent that exposure was important to helping others begin the process of working out regularly. Enter movement specifically designed to help mental health diagnosed disorders – depression, anxiety, PTSD, phobia, bi-polar, ADHD. I routinely prescribe physical movement along side traditional therapy interventions because the research is pretty clear, exercise helps. It teaches us a lot about ourselves. 

The research links between physical movement and mental health is growing. There is more and more research coming out everyday looking at how the physical system changes as a result of our thinking and how our thinking is changed by our movements. 

So today, just move. Take a moment, get out of your chair or bed and walk around. As you move the body notice what movements might feel good. Based on your current mental state do you want to move slow or fast? Do you want to be close to the ground or jumping? Do you want to be “quiet” in your moments or “loud”? Move slow or explosive?

Use your inner awareness of your current mental health state to determine what movement would be best for you right now … Now go do that.