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Contributed by Claire St John, MPH, RD, Outcomes and Follow-up Manager

Calories are everywhere, peering down from menu boards, getting bigger and bolder on nutrition labels and racking up on FitBits on a nation of nervous wrists.

Last week, federal rules went into effect requiring all chains with 20 or more locations that serve prepared foods to post calories on menus and menu boards, from Chester Chicken at gas stations to popcorn at the movie theater to a glass of wine or beer and a salmon salad at a Whole Foods. Many restaurants, such as Starbucks, Panera and McDonalds have complied with the rule for years, but now all prepared and restaurant foods must be labeled, and a nation already obsessed with calories will get a lot more exposure to them.

Perhaps because of the prevalence of calories, many people overestimate the importance of calories, crunching numbers before they crunch their carrots or cookies.

The intent of the new policy is to allow consumers to make “better” choices, and while it may induce people to choose lower-calorie options, fewer calories does not necessarily guarantee a healthier choice.

What good is calorie counting doing us, anyway? What, in fact, are calories, and why are we so determined to minimize their consumption?

A calorie is a measurement of energy, more specifically, the energy required to heat one gram of water by one degree Celsius. What we refer to as a food calorie, is actually a thousand calories, or the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of a kilogram of water by one degree Celsius.

Kind of boring, right?

Talking about nutrition in terms of calories is like talking about architecture in terms of nails. “Great building, Frank Gehry, but the public wants to know, how many nails are in it?”

Like nails in a building, calories are necessary. Unlike nails in a building, calories are not physical things you can hold in your hand, but a measurement of heat that can be translated to a measurement of energy. In food, that energy is stored in chemical bonds. To qualify as food, our bodies must be able to break the chemical bonds contained therein. Trees, for example, contain billions of calories, but our bodies are unable to access them – we don’t have the enzymes required to digest and use that energy. (In our endless adaptability, however, we access that energy with fire, which can break those bonds, and supply us with warmth – a more direct example of calories as a measurement of heat).

Caloric energy powers millions of reactions in the body every second of the day, allowing us to maintain a temperature of about 98.6 degree F, beat our hearts 60 to 100 times per minute, balance our electrolytes by running millions of teeny-tiny sodium-potassium pumps in each cell, break down and build up tissue constantly, and perform thousands of other reactions.

Because calories are essential to our functioning, our bodies have tightly controlled mechanisms supporting our energy intake and use. Although we do not fully understand all of these mechanisms, they are apparent in our functioning. While each of us consumes nearly a million calories per year, our weight fluctuates very little in that time. When food intake goes down, as in dieting, metabolism slows, reducing the number of calories the body needs and keeping weight more stable. Similarly, when we eat more, metabolism increases, burning more calories. These processes function best when we are able to mindfully listen to our body’s signals of hunger and fullness, and worse when we intentionally ignore those signals. The body knows what it needs, and calorie counting can undermine it by double-guessing it.

Calories aren’t the whole story, either. Our bodies also require vitamins and minerals, cofactors and coenzymes, proteins and fats, adequate hydration and normal temperature. The body is always performing an intricate ballet, for which calories are merely the fuel.

Healthy eating is so much richer and more interesting than counting calories. Food contains calories, yes, but it also has those necessary vitamins and minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants, carbohydrates, fats and proteins, fiber and fluid, enjoyment and pleasure and the quieting of hunger and headaches.

Also, there are interactions between nutrients within foods that we don’t yet fully understand.

A tomato, for example, contains vitamins A, C and K as well as lycopene, a phytochemical. While all of those nutrients can be taken in pill form, we don’t yet know what we’re missing from the tomato complex itself, or the tomato eaten together with another food. It wasn’t that long ago that we discovered cooked tomatoes allow us to absorb more of that lycopene.

So many traditional foodways include food groupings that maximize the nutrition of each item – rice and beans create a complete protein, salad and dressing allow the body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins and beef and green leafy vegetables eaten together increase the iron available in the greens.

There are likely countless benefits we get from whole foods and pairings and preparations of foods that we don’t know about. Focusing on calorie counting often reduces the types and varieties of food we eat, which may limit our overall health, according to several studies.

Many calorie-counting apps, as well as restaurant menu boards, lead a lot of people to think of calories as a zero-sum game. For example, a lot of calorie apps describe calories in terms of how much exercise would be required to burn off a meal. But your body needs a certain amount of calories for basic function. Your basal metabolic rate, or BMR, is the number of calories you would need if say, you were in a coma with absolutely no movement. This accounts for about 70 percent of your calorie needs and includes your body’s constant tissue breakdown and build-up as well as organ function. The brain uses about 25 percent of that energy alone. Movement accounts for about 20% of calorie use, and digestion takes up 10 percent.

If, therefore, your goal is to burn off all the calories you’ve eaten (calories in, calories out!), you will be at risk of dying.

So, if calories can’t help us maximize our nutrition and wellness, what can?

As a Registered Dietitian working with patients diagnosed with an eating disorder, I go head-to-head with some truly world-class calories counters on a daily basis. They almost always know the calorie counts of food items better than I do.

Through the course of their treatment, however, they learn to focus less on external measures (such as calories) and more on internal signals (such as hunger and fullness). Shifting your focus from calorie counting to your body’s natural ability to regulate intake and output can allow you to truly nourish yourself.

Nutrition advice is, as all nutrition labels will remind you, “based on a 2,000 calorie diet.” This number is meant to be the best advice for 300 million Americans, but cannot take into account the needs of individuals, who each vary day by day. If you’re more active, you need more energy. If you’re spending the day with Netflix, you need less energy. If you have a fever, you need 7 percent more calories per degree of fever. If you are younger or older, you need differing amounts of energy. No food label can tell you what’s going on with you.

Here are a few tips to better listen to your body’s signals of hunger and fullness:

  1. Strive for balanced Make sure to include a variety of macronutrients (carbs, proteins, fats) on your plate at every meal and snack.
  2. Don’t deny yourself foods that you want. Eat them with joy and enjoyment. The calorie-counting mentality includes a lot of guilt and shame, which can actually lead to overeating with reduced enjoyment.
  3. Eat quality foods that you truly want. Craving a donut? Get a good one. Eat it slowly and focus on the tastes, sensations and smells. Chances are you’ll be satisfied with a normal portion.
  4. Learn to forgive yourself. Overeating foods you rarely have or at special meals is normal, it’s not the end of the world. Remember that your body is well equipped to handle variation in intake.

The more you can respect and respond to your body’s signals of hunger and fullness, the more you will come to trust them. As we are more and more saturated by calorie information, this skill will become useful, allowing you to eat the foods you enjoy without input from the menu board. It doesn’t know what you need.

The post Calories Are Boring appeared first on Reasons.

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Guest Contributor Jennifer Lombardi LMFT, CEDS, Certified Daring Way Facilitator -Candidate, Certified Family Based Therapy Provider

“Truth and courage are not always comfortable, but they are never weakness.” – author, Brené Brown, PhD

If I had shared this quote with my 18-year-old, eating disordered self, here’s how it would’ve gone down:

On the outside, a smile.  A nod.  An affirmative,” yes, exactly.  It’s so important to always be honest and take risks in life.  I always encourage others to do so.”

On the inside, heart pounding.  A feeling of being exposed.  An internal dialogue that would have included, “yeah, that’s a lie.  It sounds nice, but the truth is that you are an emotional, needy mess.  You are the definition of weak.  And you can never let anyone see that.”

Now, more than 20 years into recovery, I often find myself encouraging clients to embrace authenticity.  Own their stories.  And in the spirit of honesty, its sometimes really hard.  I know what it’s like to have people tell you everything will be okay.  That you can say what you feel, what you think.  Trying to absorb that while every fiber of your being is – and has always been, thanks to a harm-avoidant temperament – paralyzed by the fear of, among many things, judgment.

The real truth is that finding your voice is an exceedingly, painfully hard thing to do.  At times, it sucks.  We struggle to find the words, and when we do, we struggle to say them.  We debate about who to say them to.  And people don’t always understand.  They sometimes don’t “get it,” and, worse, they sometimes judge.

I spent the better portion of my youth and young adult life living in fear of judgment.  Having every decision I made be filtered through the fear-based, emotional meat grinder of my mind.  The result?  Whatever came out usually didn’t resemble anything close to what I was really feeling or thinking.  It didn’t resemble my truth.  Safer?  In some situations, absolutely.  But it also felt exhausting.  And lonely.  And sad, boring, and fake.  I lived a life that wasn’t really mine.  I spent a lot of time pleasing everyone else, and periodically breaking down, shutting down and isolating; in an attempt to disconnect from my disconnected life.

So, what’s the lesson in all of this?  That living an authentic life is full of so many wonderful, connected moments – and also very hard, uncomfortable ones.  It’s a mixed bag either way.  “Truth and courage are not always comfortable,” to be sure.  At times, I still do feel very weak and weary with emotions, but the power of connection inevitably shows up.    And authentic connection is worth it.

So here’s your challenge for today (or some time this week): ask for help with something.  Especially if it’s something you feel uncomfortable asking for help with.  See if you can do in person, retina to retina,  without the use of social media, email or text.  Asking someone to help with a project, a decision, an errand – anything, so long as it makes you a tad uneasy to do it – might just be a bid for connection.  There is no guarantee that the other person can or will, but that’s honestly not the point.  Sure, it would be nice if, after sitting with all your discomfort about asking and finally doing so, s/he responded with a resounding “yes, I’d be happy to help,” but we can’t ensure that will happen.  All we can do is push ourselves out of our harm-avoidant comfort zones a bit, and in the process, take a step further down the path of recovery.  That’s what valued living is about.

The post Truth and Courage Are Not Always Comfortable appeared first on Reasons.

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Guest Contributor Jennifer Lombardi LMFT, CEDS, Certified Daring Way Facilitator -Candidate, Certified Family Based Therapy Provider

“Truth and courage are not always comfortable, but they are never weakness.” – author, Brené Brown, PhD

If I had shared this quote with my 18-year-old, eating disordered self, here’s how it would’ve gone down:

On the outside, a smile.  A nod.  An affirmative,” yes, exactly.  It’s so important to always be honest and take risks in life.  I always encourage others to do so.”

On the inside, heart pounding.  A feeling of being exposed.  An internal dialogue that would have included, “yeah, that’s a lie.  It sounds nice, but the truth is that you are an emotional, needy mess.  You are the definition of weak.  And you can never let anyone see that.”

Now, more than 20 years into recovery, I often find myself encouraging clients to embrace authenticity.  Own their stories.  And in the spirit of honesty, its sometimes really hard.  I know what it’s like to have people tell you everything will be okay.  That you can say what you feel, what you think.  Trying to absorb that while every fiber of your being is – and has always been, thanks to a harm-avoidant temperament – paralyzed by the fear of, among many things, judgment.

 

The real truth is that finding your voice is an exceedingly, painfully hard thing to do.  At times, it sucks.  We struggle to find the words, and when we do, we struggle to say them.  We debate about who to say them to.  And people don’t always understand.  They sometimes don’t “get it,” and, worse, they sometimes judge.

I spent the better portion of my youth and young adult life living in fear of judgment.  Having every decision I made be filtered through the fear-based, emotional meat grinder of my mind.  The result?  Whatever came out usually didn’t resemble anything close to what I was really feeling or thinking.  It didn’t resemble my truth.  Safer?  In some situations, absolutely.  But it also felt exhausting.  And lonely.  And sad, boring, and fake.  I lived a life that wasn’t really mine.  I spent a lot of time pleasing everyone else, and periodically breaking down, shutting down and isolating; in an attempt to disconnect from my disconnected life.

So, what’s the lesson in all of this?  That living an authentic life is full of so many wonderful, connected moments – and also very hard, uncomfortable ones.  It’s a mixed bag either way.  “Truth and courage are not always comfortable,” to be sure.  At times, I still do feel very weak and weary with emotions, but the power of connection inevitably shows up.    And authentic connection is worth it.

So here’s your challenge for today (or some time this week): ask for help with something.  Especially if it’s something you feel uncomfortable asking for help with.  See if you can do in person, retina to retina,  without the use of social media, email or text.  Asking someone to help with a project, a decision, an errand – anything, so long as it makes you a tad uneasy to do it – might just be a bid for connection.  There is no guarantee that the other person can or will, but that’s honestly not the point.  Sure, it would be nice if, after sitting with all your discomfort about asking and finally doing so, s/he responded with a resounding “yes, I’d be happy to help,” but we can’t ensure that will happen.  All we can do is push ourselves out of our harm-avoidant comfort zones a bit, and in the process, take a step further down the path of recovery.  That’s what valued living is about.

The post Truth and Courage Are Not Always Comfortable appeared first on Reasons.

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Reasons Eating Disorder Center: Reasons Alumni Take-Aways - YouTube

Reasons Alumni discuss their most important take-aways from treatment. Hear in their own words what their experiences of treatment have been and some of the key things that have aided them on their journey.

Every recovery journey is different and is never linear, however with support, courage and a lot of hard work, a full recovery is possible.

To learn more about Reasons Eating Disorder Center and to begin your Recovery journey, call us today at 844.573.2766.

The post Reasons Alumni Take-Aways appeared first on Reasons.

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Contributed by Shannon Braasch, MA, Clinical Outreach Specialist

Shannon Braasch, Reasons Clinical Outreach Specialist, Contributed a Guest Blog for The Shimmer, Sparkle, Shine Project. Shannon explores how we can be braveunapologetic and celebrate our enoughness!

To read more click here: Girl, Be Brave. 

The post Girl, Be Brave appeared first on Reasons.

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Finding a sense of belonging outside of an eating disorder can feel daunting and evoke strong feelings of fear and uncertainty. Logically, we understand that values-based living, learning to manage emotions and changing unsustainable behaviors are all part of the recovery process. But the idea of letting go of the illness feels distressing, in part because it has served a purpose: to have something to turn to whenever life becomes too much. Loved ones often say “I want the old you back,” but those in struggle often find this painful to hear. Why? Because the “old me” was suffering, too – often with a sense of feeling like an outsider. Too sensitive, too emotional… too much and not enough, all in the same moment. What does it mean to not only recover from an eating disorder, but to find a values-based life where there is a sense of belonging?

Join Jen Lombardi, MFT, CEDS and CDWF, as she discusses the four practices of true belonging as outlined in Dr. Brene Brown’s latest book, Braving The Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone. Creative ideas for how to incorporate these practices into eating disorder recovery at any stage will be explored. Practical applications for individuals, loved ones, and clinicians will be included.

To watch a recording of this webinar, click here.

The post Webinar: The Recovery Wilderness: Finding Belonging in Life After an Eating Disorder appeared first on Reasons.

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One of things we value at Reasons is advocacy. We believe in the importance of bringing awareness to the fact that eating disorders affect people from all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, gender identities and sexualities. For the past two years we have committed to sponsoring the Marginalized Voices Project through the National Eating Disorder Association. We are excited to announce our support of the newest initiative for 2018.

NEDA has partnered with The Trevor Project for 2018 National Eating Disorder Awareness Week to put out a survey to give a voice to young LGBTQ+ people. The Trevor Project is a leading non-profit focused on crisis intervention and suicide prevention among LGBTQ+ youth. (www.thetrevorproject.org)

This survey is a research initiative with the goal of trying to understand how many LGBTQ+ youth have had previous thoughts of suicide and eating disorders. Studies have shown that as early as age 12, gay, lesbian, and bisexual teens may be at higher risk of binge-eating and purging than heterosexual peers. And among males who have eating disorders, 42% identify as gay.

You can see there is a great need for more research and treatment options.

We are proud to be supporting this initiative and if you identify or know someone who identifies as  LGBTQ+ and is between the ages of 13-24, please consider this survey. Speak Out About Eating Disorders!

Click Here For more information about Marginalized Voices.

The post Speak Out About Eating Disorders appeared first on Reasons.

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Contributed By Christie Tcharkhoutian, LMFT, Clinical Outreach & Admissions Specialist

When you think about the transition from high school to college, what are the images that come to mind? Moving boxes, tearful parents, dorm room bulletin boards, the all-too-familiar concoction of fear, anxiety and excitement. This year of life, for many, is the beginning of a new season. The start of independence and the development of a new identity as an adult, a chance to differentiate and learn and build your own mark in the world.

The most common phrase to identify this first year of independence is: The Freshman 15. As a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist, Outreach Coordinator and Advocate for eating disorder treatment, I am disappointed, and frankly outraged, that our society has chosen to define this very crucial, formative year by a phrase that is used to describe what society perceives to be “negative gain”. Looking back on this time in my life, and this year for the many patients we have worked with at Reasons, this burden and fear of gaining weight begins to define what would otherwise be a year focused on all of the beautiful things that can be gained with this new chapter.

So let’s refocus, let’s focus on gaining the three C’s: Consistent Self-Care, Community and Compassion. I want you to fight for and create opportunities as you prepare to thrive during your transition to college– and through whatever transition you may be facing in your life. Focusing on positive habits, people and ways to serve, can help you focus on the positive gains in a season full of change.

Consistent Self Care

When everything else in life is changing, a consistent self-care routine is crucial to stay grounded, positive and fully present for your life.

  • This can start small, maybe you have a saying or mantra that you’d like to repeat to yourself every morning. One example is “I am valuable. I am here for a purpose. I am lovable, acceptable and capable.” Saying this affirmation the moment you wake up, can be a great tool used to center you when the day’s worries threaten to creep up like the rising sun.
  • Another consistent form of self care is having a mindful moment before mealtime, or saying a prayer giving thanks for the meal in front of you. Building in mindful habits is a way to check in and make sure you are staying centered, in touch with yourself through moments of change.
  • It’s important to stay personalized when you plan your self-care. Maybe journaling is a powerful tool of healing and centering for you. Buy yourself a journal you connect with and make it a habit to write in it, even if only a sentence, every night before you sleep to keep your mind at peace. Maybe you truly love being in nature, plan to drink your cup of tea outside under a tree or in as close to a peaceful nature setting as you can get, depending on your campus! Stay connected to what you love and this consistent self-care routine will help you work through even the most stressful moments of change.

Community

Oftentimes the most challenging piece when transitioning to college is also the most important and that is: creating community. None of us were meant to live life alone. It’s so essential to surround yourself with others who can help lift you up, who accept you no matter what you look like and who you feel safe with and earned your trust. Creating your community should be the most rewarding and deliberate part of your college experience.

Compassion for Others

An essential way to stay grounded is by practicing compassion. Colleges offer a unique space to give back and cultivate compassion. Every institution provides unique opportunities to get involved in service projects, allowing you to practice and grow compassion towards others. This can also be a beautiful way to build a community, surrounded by like-minded people who care for the same causes you do.

Remember, the key to happiness is helping someone else and finding the right fit for sharing your love for others. These thoughtful actions will help connect you to your purpose during transition and throughout your life.  As Maya Angelou once said, “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style.”

Want to join the conversation? Check out the  “Get Real with Reasons” Facebook live series on our Facebook page and find out more about our upcoming live chats!

The post Thriving in Transition: College Edition ~ Three Things to Gain in College that are Not the Freshman 15 appeared first on Reasons.

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Contributed by Shannon Braasch, MA, Clinical Outreach Specialist

These days, there are so many alerts and cues letting us know when something is wrong.  Cars alert us when

maintenance is needed, the electric company lets us know when our bill is due, and cell phones alert us when the battery is running low.

But what about our bodies, what cues are they sending us?  Wouldn’t it be nice if we all came with a panel like our cars, letting us know that something wasn’t functioning right or disconnected?  Unfortunately we don’t, which means we have to pay close attention for the cues that the mind and body send us.  The good news is that these disconnections are not permanent.  Reconnection is possible.

Who experiences mind body disconnection? Disconnection is tied to the fight, flight or freeze response, which is how we respond to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival. Disconnection is a flight response—so as to avoid feeling threatened or unsafe. Meaning, anyone who experiences something that triggers the fight, flight, or freeze response is susceptible– which is everyone.

Signs of Disconnection

  • Fatigue
  • Inability to identify interests or strengths
  • Isolation
  • Poor hygiene
  • Body dysmorphia
  • Lack of self-care
  • Excessive drinking
  • Feelings of sadness, anger, despair
  • Desire to sleep more

12 Ways to Support Mind and Body Connection

  1. Take time to identify your values– What do you value? I can say that most of us do not ask ourselves this question enough. It is so important to know what your values are in order to understand the need for reconnection. Our values can shift and/or change—making it that much more important to check-in and ask ourselves this question periodically.  Here is a great tool to help you identify your values!
  2. Restorative/Gentle Yoga– I know that some of you may groan, thinking “yoga is not my thing.” But remember, there are many different types of yoga.  In a restorative or gentle yoga class, you will typically find slower transitions, attention to breath work and checking in with your body, and additional care given to new students. Reasons Eating Disorder Center offers this practice as a part of the treatment experience for their patients in an effort to develop a new relationship with their bodies, and reconnect body and mind in the service of healing.
  3. Limit your use of technology – Yup I know, this sounds impossible. But being distracted by social media, texts and emails derails your ability to connect with yourself If you are constantly connected to your phone and/or other devices, studies have shown that our self-worth and self-esteem can take a hit.  Getting a “like” has been shown to have addictive effects in the brain similar to those found in substance abuse.  Set limits for yourself. Be willing to take regular breaks as an experiment.
  4. Make time for friends and family –Disconnection can result in disconnecting from your support system. Make an effort to spend some time with your friends and family. By reconnecting with these positive relationships, you are creating opportunities for self-reconnection.
  5. Experience something new—By introducing yourself to something new, such as visiting a new park or trail close to you, attending an art or music festival you’ve never explored, or volunteering at an event or fundraiser, you may begin to awaken creativity, joy and a desire for self-reconnection!
  6. Do something that at one time brought you joy– It is totally possible that this might still bring you joy! With the disconnection of mind and body, you may have lost the desire to partake in this activity, and forgotten how much you truly enjoy it. Look at old photos to spark memories of fun experiences and commit to return to those places.
  7. Prioritize self-care—I know it is hard, but you must prioritize this. Take care of yourself by setting boundaries, taking breaks and going out there and trying the examples that I have given you! If you find yourself struggling to use the magical word, “no,” ask yourself: am I speaking to myself about setting limits the way I would speak to speak to someone I love?  If not, what would it be like to give yourself permission to try it – at least once in the next week?
  8. Get some sleep – Sleep is so important for reconnection. If you are sleep deprived, it’s going to be hard to find the energy for connection. Create a bedtime routine for yourself, which includes a set time that you go to bed.  Take an inventory of your behaviors the hour before you head to bed.  If there are any electronics involved, unplug.  Studies have shown that exposure to blue light (found in nearly all electronics and standard lighting) is over-stimulating and disrupts restorative sleep.    And say no to caffeine in any form after lunchtime.  Creating a routine will help you to create a healthy sleep schedule – one your body and mind will thank you for!
  9. Try meditation-Okay, so meditation is not easy, but it’s worth a shot. And not just one shot, it takes practice. Set aside a few minutes every day to practice your meditation.  Choose to start simple and focus your attention on one thing for as long as you can (smell, sound, focal point, etc.).  When you get distracted, take a breath; acknowledge that this is the brain simply doing what it does.  And go back to your focus.  Starting off with restorative/gentle yoga may help you with this!
  10. Clean up, declutter and get organized- Having a clean and decluttered living space can help to create a calm and cozy place for your mind and body to reside, just what you need while they get reacquainted. Take time to organize your space to help decrease unnecessary stressors i.e. losing your keys and looking for the scissors. Also, consider creating a self-care section in your home that you can fill with a few simple “tools” that help you focus in on your environment in a positive way.  Things like a candle, soft blanket, and pillow are reminders that you don’t have to earn the right to a sacred space.
  11. Take up journaling- Putting your thoughts and feelings down on paper is a great way to clear your head, express yourself and begin to process what is going on in that beautiful mind of yours.   There are a number of apps available to help prompt you to do this – even if just for a few minutes each day.  Keeping a journal or even a stack of post-its next to your bed that you can use to jot down thoughts and feelings at the beginning and/or end of your day can help clear your mind.
  12. Seek help– Even with all of the above, a professional can help you to not only navigate reconnecting your mind and body, but also help you to identify the triggers that may have caused you to disconnect, and how to cope with them to avoid disconnection in the future.

When is the right time to reconnect? There is no time like the present, even if you are not experiencing signs of disconnection the ideas above can also help to strengthen your existing mind and body connection.  Take care of your SELF!

The post 12 Ways to Support Mind and Body Connection appeared first on Reasons.

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Contributed by Shannon Braasch, MA, Clinical Outreach Specialist, Reasons Eating Disorder Center

We are living in a world filled with crisis situations, which feel even more apparent as a result of social media.  As I witness the turmoil of Hurricane Harvey from afar; feelings of fear, anxiety, guilt, relief, sadness, anger, curiosity, confusion, helplessness, hopefulness, and grief are all stirring around inside me.  These feelings, some contradicting, can become ruminating, stressful and consuming. I have noticed that these feelings come up more often as our nation and world are constantly faced with crisis situations, including terrorism, natural disasters, and social injustice.  In addition to all of the external crises we are confronted with, we are also faced with personal crises, possibly within our families, relationships and careers.

With all that we are constantly challenged with, how can you protect your recovery?  Below are a few ways that you can help to navigate the stressors and emotions that come up during a crisis situation.

  1. Educate yourself– Take a moment to evaluate where you are gathering your information from. Is it a reliable source?  Sometimes the news stories and information that we see on our social media pages and websites are not true.  The distribution of false information and new stories across the internet has become more prevalent and unfortunately tends to be over exaggerations of the truth, or may not even resemble the truth at all! This false information creates unnecessary anxiety and distracts us from being able to effectively stay safe, take action, and/or make educated decisions. It is important to have a trustworthy source for information, and do your due-diligence to fact check and cross check sources to compare information before reacting to a situation. Keep in mind that this can be true within our personal lives as well; unintentionally, information and facts can get diluted from person to person.
  1. Check in with your thoughts– Notice, are you experiencing ruminating thoughts about the crisis? These thoughts can increase anxiety and stress levels. Find a way to distract yourself; watch a movie, read a book, go to an art gallery, or maybe find a local event/activity to participate in such as a street fair. There are many ways to distract yourself, it is important for you to identify the ways that are best going to help you and have them readily available as needed.
  1. Set boundaries – Take care of yourself, it is okay to limit your exposure to news stories, conversations and information about the crisis situation. It may be necessary to voice your need to limit conversations about the situation to the people around you. Or, if it applies, turn the channel, unfollow Facebook posts, and limit your social media and internet use. Unapologetically, do what you need to do to set a healthy boundary for yourself!

 

  1. Recognize and honor your feelings – There is no one correct way to feel about any situation. It is important to take notice of your feelings during a crisis situation and give them the attention they deserve. Start by naming the feelings that you notice and do this periodically throughout the day. Also, be gentle with yourself; keep in mind that all feelings are valid, even when you don’t understand where they are coming from.  Allow space and time sit with these feelings and notice how your body responds.

 

  1. Radical acceptance- Often times the crisis at hand is beyond our control. It is easy to get hung up on the what if’s, but by focusing on the things that you cannot change and are out of your control, you may experience an increase in anxiety and frustration leading to suffering. The article, The Importance of Practicing Radical Acceptance, is a great place to find more details and information about this.
  1. Offer support– There are ways that you can offer support, even in a situation that feels helpless. Outside of financial contributions and volunteering, you can offer support through the power of positive thinking. Focusing on the positive not only helps you, but can help others suffering around you.  You can create a sense of hope and positivity for others, just by letting a person know that they are in your thoughts and/or prayers.

7. Lean on your resources – A crisis situation may trigger thoughts and feelings that can become overwhelming and feel unmanageable. Remember that you are not alone. Talk to your friends and family members. It is quite possible that they have similar experiences and the support and connection to one another can be healing. Also, it is okay to seek support from a clinician or local and online support groups.  If you feel that you are unsafe, and/or are in an emergent situation, call 911 for immediate assistance.

Unfortunately, crisis situations happen, and whether or not you are in recovery it is important to take care of yourself! You are worthy — remember to pause and check in with yourself, show compassion to yourself and others, and ask for help if needed!

The post Protecting Your Recovery During a Crisis appeared first on Reasons.

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