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Leaning into the Holidays with Love and Intention

Leaning into the Holidays with Love and Intention

Each one of us curious humans has a unique take on the world. We are connected by invisible threads of culture and history that allow us to cultivate collective experiences, yet, even within families with shared traditions, the lived experiences vary from heart to heart. The meanings crafted by these threads create a life story for each of us. Some stories are light some years, some are quite heavy, while others remind us of the magic of the holiday season. Our stories can be honored in the telling and given space to evolve with time, crafting new traditions and ways of connecting with our community. But there is no denying that the holidays are stressful!

There is a sense of ‘holiday anxiety’ that surfaces because of so many factors, but often is driven by the need to share space with other people. There is the added stress of types of social anxiety that can feel overwhelming at this time of year when our traditions (both work-related and family expectations around the holidays) can create tension for us. 

For some, the anxiety comes in the form of disconnection. For example, when life circumstances keep you from your loved ones, as with military families, people traveling for work, or financial struggles which can feel extra burdensome for all, but especially if it keeps you from traveling to be with loved ones. Or for persons grieving the loss of a loved one, the disconnection or disruption to traditions that were once grounding may feel untenable as a life story that was once integral no longer is. 

Leaning in with love to provide a connection for those seeking fellowship in various ways within the community is a gift to people who may otherwise feel isolated. Many individuals, however, may experience holiday anxiety that is related to sensing more triggers or occurrences of social anxiety. Some examples are painful discomfort in a large social gathering, performing in front of an audience, interacting in an intimate, vulnerable setting such as public speaking for a fundraising engagement, or just eating or drinking in public. Many of these triggers are rooted in ‘being watched. Or feel we need to be ‘on’ to make a good impression, sometimes to more “important” people.

Social anxiety, as we generally think about it, is something we all experience in our interactions with other people for any number of reasons. However, even in cases of extreme shyness, we each usually find a way to work through these uncomfortable experiences, no matter how unpleasant at first. But social phobia, or social anxiety disorder, goes beyond the at-times painful experience of speaking in front of a crowd or meeting strangers or mingling with people who carry more privilege and power than you.  

Social anxiety can be paralyzing and disruptive if you find the need to rearrange your daily life in order to avoid painfully uncomfortable situations. For someone who experiences social phobia, the holidays represent a particularly difficult time to manage because oftentimes multiple triggers present themselves throughout the course of an evening, for example at a work holiday function. There are therapeutic techniques to help address these aspects of social anxiety that you can discuss with a trained professional if you experience intense anxiety around social situations. Our trained staff at Ketamine Health Centers can provide various treatment options to explore.

I want to highlight another type of social anxiety that is rather invisible and yet can result in deep feelings related to self-worth. There are anxieties and uncomfortable feelings that may arise out of the relationship structure that exists in many community drives and gatherings during a time of generous giving. There are people in a position of privilege and power sometimes providing resources and fellowship opportunities to share with less fortunate communities. And even with the best intentions, the tensions present in generous giving may lead to feelings of helplessness or possibly shame for individuals receiving support during these challenging times. Again, leaning in with love and expressing intentions clearly with respect and grace is perhaps the best way to approach these moments. It is heartwarming to see the magic of the holidays and the power of giving that overcomes so many, to help share in the wealth of the human spirit. Yet, it is a vulnerable place to be in as the one to receive. Giving with grace might be providing a space to receive from a place of strength, which validates our humanity.

We can practice shining that light of love every day for the power it provides us to move forward with our personal growth and social development. And within that spirit of giving, we can extend open arms to our differences, opening a space to honor each of us as a unique individual each with a personal relationship with the sacred. 

“Foreign” family traditions may be another source of social anxiety for some individuals who must navigate different cultures after marriage (and remember each family creates a culture, so family traditions will be foreign to a spouse sharing the same cultural heritage). Embrace new traditions from a place of loving intention to support one another, rather than as an acceptance or rejection of any underlying spiritual worldview the tradition stems from. Be curious.

 Overall, when we approach differences that may seem more pronounced during the holiday season, with love and respect, we enrich our lives by adding to the flavor of our experiences. We can create welcoming spaces through our own energy output to help generate a little (or a generous amount of) holiday magic each day, inviting ease and calm with intention, as we join together and celebrate.

Wish you happy holidays!

 

Mitigating Migraines with Alternative Treatment Methods

Mitigating Migraines with Alternative Treatment Methods

Stress in America is at an all-time high as we grapple with changes in how we live that have an impact on our minds and bodies. There are new and shifting cultural and environmental landscapes that are challenging us and stretching our resources too thinly. Mental health has reached a public health crisis as we contend with an increase in stress and a rise in physical and mental illness, while we face a shortage of mental health providers able to take on new patients. We will continue to live with high levels of stress as we readjust to a post-pandemic life, as well as contend with the economic fallout of COVID-19, and climate change, that will continue to reshape the contours of our environment. So too, the lack of access to mental healthcare providers, and in some rural areas a lack of access to healthcare altogether, will continue to ripple through society in the years to come. 

Providing alternative, cutting-edge treatment in mental health is imperative with the increase in stress and traumas in our communities. Ketamine Health Centers has positioned itself to address these pressures by combining proven psychotherapeutic methods alongside alternative treatment options that provide more immediate relief to a wide range of mental and physical health challenges. We now offer a new treatment for migraine relief.

Headaches (in particular tension headaches) are associated with stress and many of the negative trends that are on the rise such as excessive screen time, as well as lack of restorative sleep. Although a literature review shows that more studies are needed to work through the causal connections between stress and headaches (migraines in particular), there appears to be a more direct connection between high-stress events and the chronic migraines, the transition of infrequent, episodic migraines to chronic or frequently experienced levels. 

Migraines are often comorbid with mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Migraines affect 35 million Americans and about 10% of the world population experience migraines or other headache disorders. Migraines remain second among the world’s causes of disability, and first among young women, leading to lost productivity and decreased quality of life for billions of individuals. The discrepancy for women regarding health outcomes is not surprising given the realities that women face no matter where in the world they find themselves. Healthcare (at the research, prevention, and care levels) and economic instability, alongside a changing climate, affect women disproportionately around the globe.

The impact of stress-related headache disorders disproportionately impacts women around the globe as well. COVID and the economic fallout due to job loss with loss of access to child care have impacted women most heavily. The potential for increased levels of stress, anxiety, and depression will be felt throughout many homes, for years as we contend with a loss of over 1 million women in the US labor force alone. The blurring of work and home life that still affects so many today is generally more burdensome for working mothers. But all individuals facing these conditions face increasing stress, and fewer opportunities for self-care and tension release, potentially inducing a predisposition to mental health disorders. Additionally, the UN has detailed over the decades the disproportionate impact of climate change on women, in particular poor women around the world. Access to healthcare also affects women disproportionately, even in the US, as a Kaiser Women’s Health Survey details. Still, the deleterious effects of migraines affect all demographics. 

 Ketamine Health Centers, dedicated to providing cutting-edge treatment for today’s mental health challenges, offers several alternative approaches to treat migraine and headache disorders. A new migraine relief method using Botox (botulinum toxin) is an effective FDA-approved treatment for chronic migraines, in many cases providing up to three months of preventative relief. A tailored Botox treatment can reduce the frequency of episodes by 50-80%. Learn more about the process and qualifications for treatment.

Ketamine infusion therapy is another alternative treatment option known to help mitigate headaches and helps reduce migraine severity, especially when accompanied by other mental health disorders alleviated by ketamine treatment and psychotherapy. Experiencing relief of symptoms of depression and anxiety can lead to preventative relief of migraines. An additional approach to headache and migraine relief offered through our clinics is through our partnership with Alive providing specialty infusion treatments for acute (abortive) migraine relief. 

Contact us today to learn more about these various cutting-edge treatment methods that can provide you with immediate and lasting migraine relief.

Creating Balance through Grace and Purpose

Creating Balance through Grace and Purpose

Many of us feel as if we are walking a tightrope at present, trying to manage our overloaded plates while teetering on the edge of uncertainty, upheaval and loss. Harnessing the energy that comes from creating purpose can provide us with balance, along with building connections with supportive people in our life. No matter how divided we may appear to be, there are strenuous states of affairs that we are experiencing collectively, and it is bringing many to a breaking point. Being mindful of this can help us confront each other with grace instead of a short fuse. Making it all the more necessary to take time for self-care and to build our support network around us so that we can develop that grace within.  

The more we bring community action into our daily life, the more purpose we can create in our world. A simple practice that gets you out of your home and into nature, while building community connections, is sitting or playing at your neighborhood park striking up a conversation with someone new. Or consider hiking a nearby trail with a friend, with a garbage bag in gloved hand to collect trash, as you walk and listen to one another providing support while serving your community along the way. Take your child for a walk around the block picking up trash and recycling as an alternative. Introduce yourselves to new people at the far end of your neighborhood, if given the opportunity during your walk. You’ll be inclined to say (or wave) hello the next time you see them.

There are also subtle ways to build community. Now that the weather is warming, and we can comfortably relax into a new maskless routine, we can appreciate the small things that help us reconnect. Seeing people’s smiles and full faces and recognizing acquaintances better is something to take notice of at this moment. We can hear each other better, too! Perhaps that experience of having a hard time understanding each other while we were masked can teach us to listen to each other better. That level of grace can keep us balanced to endure these challenging steps ahead.

 The anecdotes and the research are clear – we face a critical moment as we walk this tightrope. There are too many aspects of our lives that create conditions of sustained stress and the compounding increase of negative coping skills. The APA’s Stress in America poll reveals the many layers and unveils many vulnerabilities that signal a mental health crisis that we must address. Principle among them is the public health concern with the drastic increase in stress, financial strain, rise in substance abuse (and other detrimental coping behaviors), and the spillover effects into crime and violence in our communities. A recent article in The Atlantic details the recent spike in erratic behavior among Americans and suggests Durkheim’s concept of “anomie, or a lack of social norms that leads to lawlessness,” as the driver of “weird behavior” as of late. The social isolation due to the pandemic and the shifts in societal norms as a result of changing cultural and political landscapes do play a role. Making self-care, through wellness and the development of purpose-driven agency and community building, most important considering these factors. 

The best way to begin to rebuild our connective tissue is to focus on the relationships around us. Doing our best to show up as our better self, especially when someone else needs a little more grace than you do. And give yourself the grace you deserve to let go of unreasonable expectations that everything is OK. It is alright to acknowledge that you are not OK, that all is not well, if that is the case. Together we will regain our personal agency and come back stronger than before with all that we have gained despite (and because of) all that we have lost.

Ketamine Health Centers is your community mental health partner here to walk with you in this process of growth, healing and self-care that is especially important for us now.  Contact us today to learn about our cutting-edge alternative treatment methods, tailored to meet your specific support needs. Our multifaceted approach to addressing mental health challenges can provide you, or your loved one, the support network necessary to create your healing path and generate that grace within.

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.

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