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Stress Reduction is Key to Curbing a Mental Health Crisis

Stress Reduction is Key to Curbing a Mental Health Crisis

More than a year of living through a pandemic and significant social change has levied a toll on us. There exists immense loss and trauma on many personal fronts. Unfortunately, we will see the effects in rising cases of mental health concerns (especially among our young adults, those in their teens and early 20s). A survey, Stress in America taken at the beginning of 2021, “reveal[s] that physical health may be declining due to an inability to cope in healthy ways with the stresses of the pandemic.” It provides tips on how to identify unhealthy coping skills, such as making poor food choices, drinking and other unhealthy means to manage the increased levels of stress, and offers ways to change those behaviors. 

Here, I highlight the layered impacts of stress in order to provide a multifaceted approach to stress relief. The aim is to target each of those layers of impact and establish a wellness approach to carry you through the remaining phases of this year, in the short term, and hopefully establish a lifestyle for the long haul.

One layer is the mental realm that is affected at various levels. At the emotional level stress triggers reactive responses such as hypersensitivity, anxiety, flight-fight-freeze response, or feelings of sadness and despair. At the behavioral level one may exhibit hostility or be non-cooperative or argumentative.  And at the cognitive level (a mental-physical space) stress leads to poor decision-making and affects memory and organizational skills, leading to loss of productivity.  

Next is the energetic layer, an intermediary level that comprises our relational connections between the mental and the physical (both of our bodies and of the world around us). This is the level that regulates how we interact with our environment, our object relations with the world. This field is filtered through our psyche and felt through our bodies. Stress affects our energetic levels by leading to a withdrawal from others, from the things we enjoy. We often describe it as a sense of disconnection that can lead to lethargy, which literally means ‘a lack of energy and enthusiasm’ for life. 

It is key to remember that if we can regulate some of the emotional and physical stress markers, we can bring more healthy dynamics into play with your relationships, including with our self. This allows us to read those energetic clues about others with more clarity. Often anger, stress and pain cloud our ability to read these signals clearly, thus affecting the course of our relationships. Stress impedes our ability to re-energize our psyche and physical state of wellbeing if it goes unchecked.

There is the physical space where stress shows more visible markers. Stress increases heart rate levels, changes in appetite, leads to body tension, and tension-building headaches, among other signs, which could ultimately lead to a compromised immune system. More extreme conditions, such as ulcers, may develop when stress becomes chronic. 

Ignoring these multitude of symptoms can lead to more complex mental health issues such as substance abuse, increased anxiety, depression, and the predisposition to illness. Given the varied levels of impact that stress has on our mind, body and energetic spirit, one should approach stress relief with a well-rounded philosophy to healthy living in general. Of course, nature is the most effective space to realign all layers in tandem. 

 

Here are several things that you can do to engage each level:

Self-care habits of proper diet, stretching and exercise, getting enough sleep, minimal drinking – all help us work through the stress and tension that affects us physically. Stretching regularly, getting massages, acupuncture or other treatments to release built-up tension are extremely helpful in curbing the physical effects of stress. Deep-breathing is a simple practice that takes 2-5 minutes of mindful breathing, filling the belly on your inhale and emptying the chest and belly on the exhale. Deep breathing lowers blood pressure and reduces the stress hormone cortisol. It engages the parasympathetic nervous system that works as a medium between our energetic, mental and physical levels, by naturally reversing the stress response, our ‘flight, fight, freeze’ response to stress.

Connections of all types are the life force that sustains us. Staying connected to others through whatever means of communication helps build our interpersonal spaces. And working through challenges with love and self-compassion helps us connect with others in order to manage our difficult moments with support. The energetic level thrives off the vibrational energy that comes from deeply felt bonds. Also, that of music, aesthetics, the energy of life in nature, spiritual connection and especially by developing one’s talents and passions.

Finally, using calming techniques such as breathing exercises, meditation, Tai Chi, etc., all help us work through some of the emotional and behavioral effects of stress. Bringing us into mind, body, spiritual balance to help place our focus on our work, family (wherever you place value) and strengthen our cognitive states of mind. Mindfulness techniques, practicing gratitude and being in the present moment – on a consistent basis – allows calm to resonate through all levels of the self, and puts one in a state of mind that is physiologically incompatible with some stages of stress.

The various alternative treatment methods provided by Ketamine Health Centers are helpful for individuals at every level of the mental health spectrum. We offer wellness procedures and resources to help you manage stress and create that necessary balance in your life. And we provide the latest techniques available to treat mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, chronic pain and more. Please reach out today for a free consultation to learn how we can help you or your loved one find the best treatment tailored to your needs.

Ketamine Infusion Therapy Provides a Lifeline for Suicidal Ideation


Ketamine Infusion Therapy Provides a Lifeline for Suicidal Ideation


People suffering from depression or other feelings of hopelessness may feel that the pain has become unbearable to the point of developing suicidal ideations, but there is help available for people struggling. Ketamine infusion therapy has been an effective method in assisting to change one’s perspective from the overwhelming feelings of hopelessness to recognizing there are other solutions. By adjusting the emotions that focus on situational permanence, one can reshape the narrative with the brain– a restructuring that occurs during Ketamine infusions that assist in creating pathways to healing. No other treatment exists that can immediately, and so effectively reduce the feelings of suicidal ideation. 

In highlighting suicide awareness, we want to invite you to learn more about Ketamine infusion therapy, and how it has brought relief to many. Ketamine Health Centers has provided immediate and long-term relief to countless individuals suffering from treatment-resistant depression and suicidal ideation. While intravenous treatments of Ketamine provide more profound neurophysiological change in patients, the nasal spray version, Esketamine, provides immediate aid (as explored in this study) showing the potential of Ketamine treatment for addressing suicidal ideation.

Though not all individuals who experience moments of hopelessness develop practices of self-harm, suicidality does afflict individuals more readily who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), mood disorders, anxiety or depression, and chronic pain.

Some of the warning signs to keep in mind and look out for are:

A loss of interest in activities and hobbies
Isolating oneself
Giving away prized possessions 
Talking about death and dying
Self-injurious behavior or evidence
Increased high-risk behavior 

Ketamine Health Centers can provide a pathway forward from the pain of suicidal ideation.
(Help is available at all hours at suicidepreventionlifeline.org or 1-800-273-8255). For help from one of our professional staff, contact us today to begin a treatment plan and your path to healing. With locations throughout South Florida and now Mexico, Ketamine Health Centers can provide immediate relief and a hopeful way forward for you or your loved one.

    Self-love Strengthens Wellbeing and Builds Community


    Self-love Strengthens Wellbeing and Builds Community


    How can you give what you do not have? If you feel good about yourself, you are more likely to look favorably on others and exude positive energy. It becomes quite challenging to see the good in others when overwhelmed by negative thoughts, if you are highly self-critical or feel self-loathing. Of course, there are countless moments when we provide for others much more than what we give to ourselves. But over time that becomes unsustainable, even with our best intentions. Ultimately, the energy we put out in the world boomerangs back to us throughout the course of our life. 

    Self-care and self-love are the foundations for healthy relationships and the fertile ground to foster empowered communities. Contrary to what society teaches us at times, there is nothing selfish or self-centered about putting your needs before others, especially when you are a caretaker. You cannot provide for another individual well if you do not have the energy and inner strength to care for yourself, certainly not in the long run.

    People who make self-care a priority are less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. The positive outlook that comes with a healthy sense of self, what I refer to as self-love, leads to greater confidence in one’s abilities. These are tools for success and overall wellbeing in life that allows for happiness to flourish despite the challenges we face.

    Self-care allows you to be more focused and productive at work, and to generate the necessary energy to create a stable home life when less stressed and overwhelmed by internal struggles. With self-love comes compassion. Compassion to allow ourselves a pass when we do not meet our own expectations, in order to check overly self-critical negativity. And most importantly, compassion for others to grow healthy relationships in all arenas of life. These are the foundations to foster a strong community that supports you. Ketamine Health Centers is your community partner, here to help you create a space to foster that all-important mode of self-care.

    These simple, but important activities are part of self-care and help us establish self-love:

    1. Cultivate sustaining energy by doing something you love, perhaps something simple that you can do daily, or give yourself more ‘me time’ at least once a week
    2. Eat a balanced diet to help sustain your energy, and treat yourself to something you really enjoy every now and again
    3. Move to music and energize your body: A brisk walk is the best form of exercise, take a friend along with you
    4. Share laughter as often as you can, it’s one of nature’s healing remedies
    5. Reflect through journaling and recount your blessings
    6. Sit quietly with the sounds of nature, or the sound of silence, and let the peacefulness set in and rejuvenate
    7. Give back to those in need in your neighborhood, through your place of worship or with an organization of choice: Altruism is another wonder drug
    8. Be kind to yourself – Failure is the best teacher if we allow ourselves to learn from our mistakes
    9. Smile or give a nod to everyone you encounter, that energy carries you and those around you quite far
    10. Listen to your needs and do your best to fulfill them, but check your wants against what others need first to build community through compassion
    Finding Your Energetic Zone This New Year


    Finding Your Energetic Zone This New Year


    “Out with the old, and in with the new” is an important saying to live by, not just to help us declutter and make room for new things and renewed energy. But to keep ourselves freshly grounded throughout life in order to shape our happiness from within.

    Life flourishes in the zone between the ebb and flow of chaos and stability. That zone exists in a delicate balance between a necessary stable ground that provides predictability for planning, and a periodical disruption essential for growth. Too much chaos and you cannot move forward with confidence and strength that comes from being grounded, yet too solid a ground can become hardened, stale, and stymie growth. 

    There is a sweet spot in the zone, a flow that comes from the balanced energy that can absorb change to its advantage. This dynamism is present in all aspects of life. It is where possibilities exist. Where new conditions arise, a new pattern emerges, a fresh stable ground develops until disrupted again. Novelty re-energizes, patterns guide.


    Creating a healthy lifestyle requires a similar dynamic. We need stability which comes from routines and habits. Routines are vital for a child’s growth and development, and important for our physical and mental health as we age. But change is equally important in order to provide us with new energy through new routines, hopefully, better ones as we grow and learn and become our better Self. Change is never easy, as you know – not in nature, nor in relationships, nor in our daily living. Patterns are so incredibly integral to life that they don’t allow change to influence easily. 

The art of living a rich life is in finding your zone and crafting your happiness from within.

    Letting go is easier said than done. And letting go of habits that undermine our growth and development can be some of the hardest patterns to dislodge. There are many challenges right now, compounded by dire events that feed depression and addictions, and circumstances that can lead an individual to develop negative coping habits. Identify, if you can, those destructive habits that betray your better Self. Seek out the necessary help. 

    Ketamine Health Centers provides our clients with an array of therapeutic approaches to help them realign entrenched patterns of thought and behaviors that hinder personal growth and happiness. There are many ways to work through to identify and change negative habits and patterns of thought.
    Replacing a negative habit with one that fosters those life-affirming elements of stability and more gentle change is crucially important. Exercise, mindfulness techniques, and music-related activities are the best habits to establish as substitutes for any negative ones you are working to let go of.

    There are many patterns of thoughts that are not immediately damaging, but they hold us back in various ways that hinder our personal growth over time. I appreciated this article by Lolly Daskal that highlights several things I need to let go of to embrace a fuller life.  

I’d like to highlight the importance of risk-taking as the key to living a fuller life. Being open to risk-taking allows change to play an essential role in creating new energy and new possibilities. Ketamine Health Centers is here to help you find your zone this new year as you focus on creating new, life-affirming habits and patterns in your life.

    Social Anxiety and the Holidays

    Social Anxiety and the Holidays

    Social Anxiety Disorder affects roughly 12% of the population in the United States, according to the NIH, the National Institutes of Health. And roughly 20% of individuals diagnosed with SAD experience addiction and other negative coping methods. The impacts of the current pandemic has certainly led to increased anxiety for all individuals regarding our social interactions. Statistics compiled in the coming years will most likely reflect the impact of Covid-19 and whether more individuals with a predisposition to the mental disorder find themselves on that spectrum. 

    Generally, the holiday season requires more social interactions as we gather together to celebrate with family, friends and co-workers throughout the closing months of the year. This year we will likely see a reversal of that trend, however, as the lack of social interactions due to the pandemic will increase sentiments of loneliness, sadness and anxiety tied to our lack of agency. Still, individuals diagnosed with social anxiety disorder face a different set of factors. Therapists would do well to discuss how the changes in how we interact virtually has either increased or alleviated the anxiety that their patients experience. A Zoom meet-up could be more anxiety provoking for some. But it can be more manageable than face to face interactions for others given the ability to participate without being seen.  

    Despite how different this holiday season may be, the close of the year brings many types of holiday events that pose challenges. Yet, there are steps that you can take to minimize feelings of anxiety if you are among the thousands of individuals that have been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder. 

    Step 1 – Prepare yourself ahead of time. If you know the type of group setting that you will encounter, whether it be a holiday gathering or a family dinner for example, try to prepare yourself for the types of interactions that you might experience. If you know that there will be a large group of attendees, perhaps limit your time at the event or arrive early so that there are fewer people to greet initially. Enlisting the help of a friend or family member who you trust, beforehand, can help provide a buffer from uncomfortable interactions or be a source of comfort.

    Step 2 – Control your breathing. Be aware of how a specific interaction may raise your anxiety level and take a break to calm yourself through controlled breathing exercises and positive self-talk. Practicing various forms of muscle relaxation and breathing techniques can help release tension and keep you calm.

    Step 3 – Take the focus off of yourself. A source of social anxiety is the fear of judgement and risk of humiliation. If you can take the focus away from your negative thoughts and instead listen to others more intently while in conversation, then you can put more energy into asking questions that help you stay focused on what they are saying rather than on your own thoughts of what others might be thinking. This can help minimize misreading body language or misinterpreting what someone has said.

    Ketamine Health Centers seeks to provide relief for individuals who suffer from anxiety of all types. Whether due to increased social anxiety or the depression that may set in due to the lack thereof, Ketamine infusion therapy has a proven record of effectively reducing anxiety overall.

    Numerous studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that Ketamine infusion therapy is far more effective at treating anxiety than more traditional methods of talk therapy or psychopharmacological approaches. As stated often, a multifaceted approach to treatment is always more effective. Contact us this holiday season to learn more about the many services we provide that offer relief for anxiety and other mental health disorders that tend to intensify during this time of year. Our clinics throughout Florida provide telemed services to help us interact with you despite the challenges posed this year. We are committed to providing exceptional service and care.

    Gratitude Fosters a Healthy Brain and a Happy Mind

    Gratitude Fosters a Healthy Brain and a Happy Mind

    This remarkably difficult year has forced us to change how we approach every aspect of our life. Perspectives and coping skills have been challenged as quite heavy concerns weigh on us. So many individuals and families have experienced multiple traumas and losses this year as we cling on with sheer survival skills. Given these trying times, it is important to highlight that we are blessed with an opportunity during this season of gratitude, even as we enter a difficult period both in terms of the seasonal changes that always raise unique challenges and the special circumstances that this strange year imposes on us. As neuroscientific research catches up with collective wisdom, we now understand better the benefits of practicing gratitude as part of our daily living. One proverb affirms, “gratitude can transform common days into thanksgiving, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings” as stated in this fantastic article on “The Neuroscience of Gratitude” detailing the benefits of Thankful Thinking.

    The neurological benefits of gratitude, as we have come to learn, foster happiness and emotional and social strengths via a cascading effect of wellness. Gratitude can be considered a “natural antidepressant” as research shows that the brain produces greater amounts of feel-good dopamine and serotonin when individuals both give and receive sentiments of gratitude. Neuronal rewiring and the creation of new neural pathways help restructure our cognitive connections to think positively with more permanence. A neurological change can help foster new perspectives and help reduce anxiety and stress, crucially important for all of us these days! As another article on the benefits of writing gratitude letters indicates, it is not the abundance of positive thinking that helps establish long-lasting effects of gratitude, but rather the absence of negative thinking that leads to sustained wellness and happiness over time. Individuals that wrote gratitude letters experienced better mental health at 4 weeks and even more so at 12 weeks, even if they did not share their letters with the intended recipients, as compared to individuals who were given a negative-style writing assignment or no writing assignment at all. Moreover, with our technology overload and its detrimental effects, these days harking back to antiquated modes of communication, such as letter writing, would be a wonderful break from video calls and perhaps even more beneficial than hearing the words spoken once. A letter allows you to revisit that feel-good emotion every time you reread it.

    What is most important to consider for individuals who experience mental health illness, especially depression and anxiety, is that a multifaceted approach to treatment is always essential. We should all be practicing Thankful Thinking and paying-it-forward for our social and emotional wellbeing, which in turn will help strengthen our physical and mental states. But for individuals who need to strengthen that neurological foundation first (in order to establish those neuronal connections that will then lead to stronger emotional and social development) practicing gratitude along with exploring the benefits of alternative methods of treatment that target and enhance that neurological restructuring would greatly increase the chances of healing and self-growth.

    Ketamine Health Centers is grateful to provide these services to enhance your current treatment plan, or to help you develop one with our exceptional professional staff. Together we can help you or a loved one begin to experience the many blessings that each of us can come to recognize, foster, and pay-forward as we grow as individuals and as a society. We wish you all a Happy and Healthy holiday season!

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