4 Powerful Self-Soothing Techniques for Anxiety & Mental Illness

Self-soothing is one of the most effective tools we have to get through the most painful and scary moments in life. While these techiques don’t solve any problems for us, they do help us manage the fear and anxiety that prevent us from taking action. Self-soothing is also crucial for maintaining mental health and staying recovered from addiction or an eating disorder.

We all struggle with anxiety from time to time. Even though it’s uncomfortable, it’s a natural and sometimes useful sensation. It helps us feel when something is wrong or dangerous long before we figure it out logically. If all is well with our natural anxiety response, the bad feeling shouldn’t stick around. Anxiety is supposed to subside soon after we remove ourselves from the sketchy situation or solve the problem.

For most people, anxiety and panic attacks are rare occurrences which are stressful, but not major life problems. Unfortunately though, for many of us that’s not the case. Nearly 1 our of every 5 Americans struggle with chronic, heightened anxiety that doesn’t go away even when the danger has passed.

The Self-Soothing Skills Toolbox: 4 Effective Tips and Techniques

If you’re having a hard time dealing with recurrent anxiety and overwhelming emotions, these # self-soothing tools can help. They are simple, affordable, healthy and non-addictive things we can do on our own. If you ever find yourself feeling out-of-control, start with taking a deep breath. After that, you can reach into your toolbox of self-soothing skills and techniques so you can move past the anxiety and get back to normal.

1. Mindful Breathing

Let’s start out with the simplest, and most readily available self-soothing technique. Mindful breathing should be our 1st response to any crisis. Think of it like the EMT showing up at an emergency scene. It can help us get through the immediate situation and, just like EMT, take us to a more secure place where we are actually able to address the problem.

There’s no one single way to breathe mindfully. Experiment and find a technique that feels comfortable and soothing for you. One popular technique goes like this:

  • Start by closing your eyes and breathing normally.
  • Imagine that all of your anxiety, fear, and stress is a material that’s floating in the air around you like a toxin.
  • Now, imaging that cloud of anxiety in the air, start to breathe it in.
  • Like what a plant does with carbon dioxide, your body will metabolize the toxin and you will blow out pure, clean air.
  • Repeating this process, you will eventually “clean up” all the anxiety in the area and you will open your eyes to a calmer, non-toxic environment.

2. Walk through nature

For anxiety that follows us home and just won’t let up, this is the tool we need. Walking through nature is deeply relaxing and quickly alleviates an anxious mood. Research shows that a walk through nature immediately soothes us, and promotes mental health. Also, brain imaging confirms that nature walks reduce blood flow to the parts of our brain that process anxiety and negative thinking.

So if you’re feeling stuck in an anxious, tense mood, put your walking shoes on and get outside!

3. Use your Hands

Sometimes, we just need to DO something to release all of that anxious energy. Working on something with our hands is self-soothing because it is an excellent distraction from our racing thoughts. Repetitive, easy tasks can help distract us from the issue and stop the negative thought cycle.

Hand distractions are a great self-soothing tool for anyone feeling anxious. However, it’s important to note that those with excoriating disorder (skin-picking disorder), trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder), or rep

Here are some things to try:

  • Drawing: It doesn’t have to come out beautiful. You can even just scribble if you like!
  • Knitting/Crocheting
  • Coloring in a mandala or some other design/image.
  • Playing with a fidget spinner
  • Chopping veggies for dinner later

4. Create a Literal Tool Box of Soothing Objects

Find a nice box that you like, or just grab any old cardboard shoebox. Then just fill it with soothing objects! Keep it around the house, in your car, or at work. Some people make tiny to-go kits that fit in their bags too.

Here are a few examples of nice, soothing objects to include:

  • A bottle of fragrant essential oil
  • A bundle of comforting photos (polaroids are great for this)
  • A small book
  • Art supplies
  • Fidget Toys or silly Putty
  • A candle

Common Obstacles to Self-Soothing

A lot of adults feel like they can’t use self-soothing behaviors because they are afraid of feeling babyish, weird or silly. Another common obstacle is the common, although completely false, belief that one “doesn’t deserve” to take care of oneself.

Whatever the obstacle is, we should try our best to overcome it. After all, taking charge of our mental health and deliberately confronting our emotions is the mature thing to do.

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The Top 10 Most Hilarious and Relatable Recovery Memes for Anyone with Addiction or Mental Illness

Getting past an addiction or a mental health disorder is anything but a joke. It’s always complicated, sometimes frustrating, and it usually drains all of our energy by the end of the day. So, if you’re in recovery, most likely you could do with a good laugh right about now! Thankfully, these 10 hilarious and relatable recovery memes can help us find humor where it usually hides.

One: Explaining Recovery

recovery meme 1

Therapy, medication, wild ups and downs, horrible symptoms: these are things that we deal with every day which most people don’t understand. Trying to explain it all to someone who can’t relate is like trying to instantly become a neuroscientist, chemist, psychologist, and philosophy professor all at once. This meme just about sums up the feeling. 

Two: Why are you ____?

why you depressed

Yup, swap out the word ‘depressed’ for whichever mental health disorder you’re specifically struggling with and bam! we’ve all had this same exact conversation at some time or another.

What do people even expect you to say when they ask something like?

  • Why are you addicted to X, Y or Z?
  • Why are you so Bipolar?
  • Why are you always so sad/anxious?

Um… because I am! That’s my disorder, duh! Can we talk about something more productive now?

Three: Hard to Swallow Pills

self esteem meme

Addictions and most mental health disorders can really mess with our thoughts and self-esteem. It’s common for our disorders to make us think that we’re unloved, or secretly hated which is exactly why this meme is so relatable. We’ve all freaked out at least once about a relationship we thought was in danger, and then been reassured that it is in fact perfectly fine, and our friend does indeed love us.

Four: Just Cheer Up!

just cheer up

Wow! What a brilliant idea to just cheer up. Let’s just not worry about the fact that depression stems from extremely complicated origins that we don’t yet fully understand including our brain’s levels of neurotransmitters and electrochemical functioning that may also be attributed to a genetic predisposition to the disorder that we have absolutely no control over….

Five: It’s Time!

anxiety its time

I don’t know if the feeling of anxiety has ever been depicted so accurately in one meme! People often ask, ‘what are you so anxious about?’ As if there were a clear definite answer. More often than not, mental illness makes us feel a type of anxiety that’s so nebulous we can’t easily describe the source. It’s just there.

Six: Surprise! I’m Back!

Relapse is the most frustrating thing in the world. We work sooooo hard on getting our symptoms, cravings, and destructive behaviors in check and then one day we get a flare up. It’s going to happen sometimes. That’s just part of the whole deal, but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to still sit there and think “Why!?”

Seven: When You’re Trying to Help, but You Need Help Too 

trucks mental breakdown

When you finally find a group of friends that truly understand your recovery journey, it’s great… Up until you guys happen to have breakdowns at the same exact time! Someone who is in crisis can’t exactly bring someone else out of a crisis, it usually just ends up in a bigger crisis.

That’s why, on a more serious note, we encourage all friend groups to be ready to reach for outside help when things get out of control. Even though you guys are practically experts in mental health after all the treatment you’ve been through, we have to recognize our limits. Contact an interventionist if you or one of your friends are in a serious or persistent crisis.

Eight: Only Recovery, No Therapy!

Let’s be honest guys, therapy is hard! It’s not always such a relaxing and lovely experience as it’s portrayed to be. Usually, we end up crying a bunch, recognizing new problems, and feeling wild ups and downs.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could just get to the recovery part and skip the hard work part?

Nine: True Love

This meme is bittersweet but so accurate. If you’re recovering from addiction, mental illness, or an eating disorder then you know too well how fragile relationships can be. Friends, lovers, family members: it doesn’t matter what kind of relationship it is or how strong it’s supposed to be. People who don’t understand the symptoms will often respond by letting you down and disappearing. It’s a sad thing, but it also means the people who stick around are the ones that truly love us.

Ten: Self Care and Positivity!

self care meme

This pic is so hilarious because it really feels like using self-care and positivity is the best weapon we have around to conquer our symptoms of mental illness. If self-care and positivity aren’t cutting it right now though, and you’re thinking about relapse it’s time to get some extra help.

Thank you for checking out our favorite, most relatable recovery memes! If they helped brighten up an otherwise grey day, then that means they did their job.

Remember, if you or someone you love is going through a difficult moment right now we can help. Just reach out to us by clicking the button below and we will try to provide the assistance you need.  


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alarming xanax facts

5 Alarming Xanax Facts that will Make You Think Twice about Popping Any Pills

Xanax is one of the world’s most popular prescription pills and so many different kinds of people are taking them. Xanax is is cherished for its ability to ease stress and produce a smooth chill high among all kinds of people including fast-paced professionals, moms & dads at home, high school kids, LA icons, celebrities, internet rappers, grandparents, chic New Yorkers,  and of course the genuinely mentally ill people who need help with crippling anxiety. For every type of person, there’s a different reason to seek out a bottle of “chill pills,” but the end result is pretty much the same for everybody; dangerous dependence.

The active ingredient in Xanax is Alprazolam which is a member of the chemical family of Benzodiazepines, AKA benzos.  Xanax is by far the most popular and widely recognized of this class of medication, but they all function very similarly. The other drugs in the benzo family which you may have heard of include:

  • Lorazepam: Ativan
  • Clonazepam: Klonopin
  • Diazepam: Valium
  • Zolpidem: Ambien
    • This medication is not exactly a benzodiazepine but it shares many of the same characteristics and potential for abuse.

For the purpose of this article, we’re going to talk about all benzos as a group.

1. Tolerance to Xanax and other Benzos develops FAST, especially for people with sleep problems.

One of the most common reasons that benzodiazepines are prescribed is for insomnia. When people can’t fall asleep for whatever reason, they may get a Xanax or Ambien prescription. However, according to Psychiatrist Dr. Stewart Shipko, this is a risky solution. In an interview with the Huffington Post he explains:

“Already by the end of the first week, they’re no longer getting that quality. So the dose begins to rise, say, from .5 mg, which is easily stopped, to 2 mg, which is not.”

In other words, dangerous levels of tolerance can start in just ONE week of use. This makes Xanax HIGHLY addictive since users will have to quickly start upping their doses just to get the same effect as when they originally started taking the medication as prescribed.

2. When combined with alcohol, Benzos have an ADDITIVE effect

This means that 1+1 does not equal 2 when pills are mixed with an alcoholic drink. When mixing benzos and alcohol, you will find yourself much more inebriated than intended which can lead to a dangerous situation. Young people often don’t realize how strong the combination of alcohol and benzos can be, and may find themselves getting sick and blacking out much more quickly. This not only increases the risk of overdose and accidents but can also put young people at high risk for sexual assault. While not the same as the date rape drug, Rohypnol, Xanax can be used by sexual predators to sedate targets and suppress memory in the same exact way.

3. The Xanax you get from a drug dealer is often impure

In this Vice special, Hannah Ewans took an in-depth look at the fake Xanax that is increasingly popular among teenagers. Hannah met with teens who are using fake Xanax and took some samples to the lab for testing. The researchers found that one particular type of fake Xanax, the supposedly stronger “Red Devils” contained a blend of caffeine, 2 times the regular dosage of Alprazolam (Xanax), and Diclazepam which is not even approved for use as a medication. It is strictly sold and used illegally.

Taking these home-made blends of powerful sedatives combined with caffeine is very dangerous because users are exposed to untested combinations of drugs with a stimulant, thus making accidental overdose much more likely.

4. Coming off Xanax is harder than coming off of Heroin

Xanax and other benzodiazepines lead to one of the only two kinds of withdrawal syndromes that can actually kill you. The only other potentially lethal kind of withdrawal happens with severe alcohol addiction. Heroin withdrawal, while extremely uncomfortable and torturous, will not kill you, but Xanax withdrawal can.

As a nervous system depressant, Xanax leads to functional and chemical changes in the brain with long-term use. The brain has to produce extra stimulating neurotransmitters to balance out the depressants. When the depressants are suddenly taken away, the brain is flushed with those excitatory neurotransmitters which leads to a potentially deadly, hyper-adrenergic state. When this happens, recovering Xanax addicts will experience seizures, an inability to control body temperature, hallucinations, chest pain, inability to sleep, and various other serious symptoms.

If you are struggling with a benzo addiction and you would like to detox, Do Not Go It Alone! Seek out a medically supervised detox facility where you can receive life-saving treatment if things go wrong. Coming off of Xanax requires carefully planned tapering doses of benzos along with other medical support for dangerous symptoms that may come up.

5. Xanax poses serious Overdose Risk

According to the Chicago Tribune, Xanax and other benzos are related to about a third of all prescription medication overdose deaths. This drug is widely prescribed and with its high potential for abuse, people frequently take a much higher dose than their bodies can handle.

Other addictive prescription drugs like Oxycodone and Fentanyl are also widely prescribed which means many people end up combining their pain-killers with their anti-anxiety meds.  Unfortunately though, when these opioids are mixed with Xanax, they can dramatically increase the risk for overdose. That’s because all of these medications, the different classes of benzos and opiates, are respiratory depressants. This means they will all work together to suppress breathing, which is one of the main reasons people die from overdose.

Xanax, while very addictive, does have the power to help some people manage severe anxiety. It is also a highly effective aid for anesthesiologists preparing especially frightened patients for surgery.  For these reasons, we’re not going to see it disappear from the pharmacy anytime soon, which means we have to be more mindful of how we’re using it, and who is getting prescriptions. If we’re not careful with this powerful anti-anxiety drug, we will see more and more people getting addicted and falling into harm’s way because of it.

Now is time to take action

If you or someone you love is addicted to Xanax or similar drugs know that you don’t need to fight this battle by yourself. We are here to help you in this process.

It’s completely possible to find and maintain recovery. All you have to do is hit the “Get Help Now” button and we will call you ASAP to provide the support you need.


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Differences between Bulimia and Anorexia

The standard of beauty in the U.S. is pretty hard to meet these days. Men, women, kids… all of us diet out of fear of getting fat. There is so much pressure to be thin that we’re seeing millions of people, of all kinds, developing eating disorders in the U.S. alone.

Two of the main eating disorders you need to know about are Bulimia and Anorexia. These two conditions are similiar and sometimes occur together, but there are key differences between them. We’ll go into detail here about both conditions, so you will be more able to distinguish the two. Hopefully this knowledge will help you or a loved one to obtain the treatment needed to break free from bulimia or anorexia.

First things first, let’s discuss a third condition called Body Dysmorphic Disorder. I’m bringing this up first because it is often the underlying anxiety disorder that leads to the disordered eating we see in bulimia and anorexia.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

This condition is categorized by psychologists as an anxiety disorder. When someone has body dysmporphic disorder, BDD, it means they have become preoccupied, and distressed by a real or imagined bodily flaw. Those affected believe that the flaw makes them hideous and worthless, damaging self-esteem. It’s normal to have some insecurities or concerns about flaws, but with BDD, body-image insecurities get in the way of your life. Those suffering BDD might spend hours in front of the mirror, worrying, insulting oneself, crying, and wishing they were different. The flaw could be anything, but often times the focus of BDD is body fat.

Not everyone with BDD develops an eating disorder. However, most people suffering from anorexia and bulimia experience BDD centered around their body fat.

Common Risk Factors for BDD and Disordered Eating

  • Researchers have found the genetics accounts for 30%-80% of the risk for developing anorexia or bulimia. Scientists are working now to identify specific genes that may cause these eating disorders.
  • Social pressure to be thing contributes to the prevalance of anorexia and bulimia. Since the 1950s, when televised images of skinny beautiful people popped up everywhere, rates of disordered eating have been skyrocketing. Social scientists have tracked the relationship between western media and eating disorders all over the world for years now. Today, there are campaigns to establish more realistic standards of beauty in the media. However, in general, the media still puts immense pressure on us to be thin and perfect.
  • Being a girl: women and girls are ten times more likely to develop anorexia or bulimia than males. Many experts believe this is because women are under an even greater pressure to be thin. A growing number of boys and men have been developing eating disorders. In males, eating disorders are more often accompanied with over-exercising because they tend to desire a muscular look rather than a skinny look.
  • Having a mood disorder: Mood disorders and eating disorders are related. Many people suffering from anorexia or bulimia have some form of depression or anxiety as well. Experts speculate that losing weight with anorexic and bulimic behaviors restores a sense of control and self-esteem. In other words, losing weight is used to soothe underlying mood disorders in some anorexic and bulimic patients.
  • Trauma
  • Being close to other people with disordered eating. Growing up in a home where one or both parents were always on a diet can contribute to disordered eating in children.

 

Anorexia Nervosa

Individuals experiencing anorexia are characterized by low body weight, intense fear of becoming fat, drastic food restriction, and a desire to be thin. Oftentimes those suffering from anorexia view themselves as overweight, which is disturbing to friends and family who clearly see otherwise.

The main behavior associated with anorexia is food restriction. This behavior leads to the following physical and emotional symptoms:

  • Amenorrhea, loss of the menstrual cycle
  • Lanugo, which are soft fine hairs that grow all over the body

Obsession with calorie counts and fat contents of foods | Food rituals such as hiding food or eating in secret | Using laxatives and diet pills | Cold intolerance | Excessive exercising | Low blood pressure | Rapid or irregular heartbeat | Rounded belly | Social Isolation | Bad breath | Dry, brittle skin and hair | Hair loss | Chronic Fatigue | Mood swings | Orange discoloration of feet | Muscle aches and pains | Malnourishment | Death

Bulimia Nervosa

As with anorexia, bulimia is characterized by fears of becoming fat, food restriction, and a strong desire to be thin. However, what makes bulimia unique is binging and purging behavior. Additionally, bulimia has a stronger link with depression than anorexia.Those with bulimia may not be so shockingly thin as anorexia patients, but they are still often underweight.

What makes bulimia and unique is the presence of binging and purging behaviors. Binging refers to an episode where someone eats an unnecessarily large amount of food in less than 2 hours. Binging usually leads to feelings of shame and guilt which then lead to a desire to “reverse the damage” by purging. The purging behavior we see most frequently is forcing oneself to throw up with hands, objects, or certain medicines.

Purging behaviors damage the body over time. In addition to the risks from calorie restriction and malnourishment that we see in anorexia, we also see additional symptoms that result from purging. Here are the unique physical and emotional symptoms of bulimia:

  • Chronic gastric reflux
  • Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Inflammation of the esophagus
  • Rupture, and bleeding of the esophagus wall
  • Bleeding from the stomach/esophagus junction
  • Mouth injuries
  • Hand scarring and infection, from repetitive contact with the teeth
  • Erosion and loss of teeth
  • Constipation
  • Ulcers
  • Low self-esteem
  • Low blood pressure
  • Disrupted menstruation
  • Dry skin
  • Hair loss
  • Chronic fatigue

Now is time to take action

If after learning more about these 2 common and life threatening eating disorders, you feel that you or someone you love is suffering from anorexia or bulimia, please reach out.

At Breathe Life Healing Centers, we have expert staff trained to help you move past the damage in your life caused by anorexia or bulimia. Founder Brad Lamm has personally experienced the struggle with eating disorders, and strives to help others break free too.


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