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“If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought.” – Peace Pilgrim

We’re creatures of habit. You may be surprised to learn that we have over 60,000 thoughts every day and about 70% of them are the same thoughts as the day before. So you can see how this is a big problem if the thoughts we’re having are damaging to us.

Whatever we focus on increases in our lives. Our dominant thoughts are powerful things. They get planted into our subconscious minds, ultimately becoming the default programming that shapes our expectations and experiences. What we think about affects the sorts of things that we say, which in turn, affects our behaviors. The things we say and do then become our habits. Ultimately, we determine our character by the sum of our habits, and that sets the entire course for our lives. That’s actually great news because, by taking control of our thoughts, we can determine our destiny. We’re not just sitting idly by—instead, we can seize the power and become the architects of our own lives. While you can’t control the negative thoughts that spring up in your mind from time to time, how you handle them is up to you. You can give them credence or you can reject them. The choice is always yours.

Often, we’re not even aware of the damage our thoughts can do to us. They become ingrained like a negative cassette tape that keeps playing over and over in our head. “I’m not good enough.” “I can’t do anything right.” Whatever the negative tape is that runs in your mind, hit the eject button and replace those old worn-out messages with positive, affirming thoughts that will enrich your life, not detract from it. Here are some helpful strategies to help you create positive, life-enhancing thought processes:

  • Be aware of the external influences you allow in your life. You choose the people you spend time with, the messages you glean from books and magazines, and the shows you watch on TV. They are all seeds that can impact your train of thought. Protect your mind by carefully choosing the seeds you allow to be planted there.
  • Notice what you say. The words we choose ultimately form how we think and behave. We can choose to say words that build ourselves and those around us up, or we can use words that are destructive. The more aware you become of the words you use, the more kind and compassionate you’ll be to yourself and others.
  • Feed your mind a positive diet. Choose some statements to replace the old messages with and affirm them to yourself on a regular basis. For example, “I am capable and I can do this,” or “This is going to be a great day!” It may take some time for your subconscious to get on board with your new way of thinking, but keep at it. You’ll see amazing results!

Your life of joy and abundance begins with the way you think. It’s really that simple. If you want some help creating your happier, more fulfilling life, that’s what we’re here for. Reach out to us anytime.

By Andrew Walen, LCSW-C, LICSW, CEDS, Founder, Executive Director at The Body Image Therapy Center.  For help call 877-674-2843 or email info@thebodyimagecenter.com.

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The concept of “work-life balance” means something different to everyone. One person might think he’s achieved balance when he can be home early enough to eat dinner with his family every night, while another might feel that having a flexible schedule offers the balance she needs to pursue her personal passions. Work-life balance is about achieving the mix of business and personal life that’s right for you. We’re all unique, and so our personal life needs and preferences vary widely. They might include spending time with your friends and family, exercising, enjoying hobbies, engaging in personal or educational development, spirituality, or an endless array of other things that matter to you. That sense of work-life balance is a perceived state—only you know when your life is or isn’t in equilibrium. When you feel as if one side of your life is using up too much of your energy, typically the work side of things, you can become stressed and anxious. From there, your productivity takes a nosedive, your relationships suffer, and your health is affected, too.

When we don’t feel in control of our time, illness and burnout can quickly follow. In our rush to “get it all done” at the office and at home, it’s easy to forget that it causes our stress levels to spike. Over time, stress weakens our immune systems and makes us susceptible to a variety of ailments including frequent headaches, persistent insomnia, clinical depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, and many more. In fact, research shows that chronic stress can actually double the risk of having a heart attack! And don’t forget about the emotional impact an unhinged work-life balance can have. When you think you’re spending too much of your time and energy on one area of your life at the expense of another, guilt, regret, and frustration often ensue, negatively impacting your personal relationships and your self-esteem.

The key to a harmonious life lies in that magic word: balance. Here are a few practical steps you can take to loosen the grip of stress and restore the equilibrium in your life:

  • Set manageable goals at work each day. Being able to meet priorities helps us feel a sense of control, and research shows that the more control we have over our work, the less stressed we get. So be realistic about workloads and deadlines. Make a “to do” list, and take care of the biggest priorities first, and eliminate or reschedule the nonessential ones. And remember to ask for help when you need it.
  • Take five. Taking a break at work isn’t only acceptable, it’s often encouraged by many employers. Small breaks at work—or on any project—will help clear your head, improve your ability to deal with stress, and enable you to make good decisions when you jump back in.
  • Don’t over commit. Do you feel stressed when you glance at your calendar? If you’re overscheduled with activities, learn to say no. You’re not superman/superwoman, and neither is anyone else.
  • Schedule at least one thing to look forward to each day. When you’re doing that thing you look forward to, whether it’s a round of golf, dinner with a friend, or a walk with your spouse, be fully present. Turn off your phone and welcome the happiness that comes with doing things you enjoy.
  • Get support. Making time to chat with friends and family is important and it can even improve your health. People with stronger support systems have more robust immune responses to illnesses than those who lack such support.
  • Reevaluate your work-life balance often. Changes at work or shifts in commitments at home happen. Take time to actively reflect on the balance between your work and personal life periodically, and then take steps to restore the harmony, if needed.
  • Get help if you need it. Don’t let stress stand in the way of your health and happiness. If you’re persistently overwhelmed, it may be time to seek help from a mental health professional. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness—taking care of yourself is a sign of strength. Our team of supportive, knowledgeable professionals is always available. Reach out to us.

By Andrew Walen, LCSW-C, LICSW, CEDS, Founder, Executive Director at The Body Image Therapy Center.  For help call 877-674-2843 or email info@thebodyimagecenter.com.

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What would your anxiety-free life look like? You’d probably feel better, have improved relationships with family and friends, and enjoy a more positive outlook on life in general. Most people who struggle with anxiety need to find ways to lower their cortisol levels. Often called the “fight or flight” chemical, cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands and acts as an overall stimulant. It causes your heart to beat faster, your blood vessels to constrict, and your muscles to tense in response to a perceived threat, whether real or imagined. Cortisol is an important part of overall, robust health, because it gives you the energy and focus to conquer challenges. It’s a good thing—provided it’s temporary. But too much cortisol in your bloodstream on an ongoing basis causes and/or exacerbates anxiety, and can also wreak havoc on your health in many other ways. As a result it is imperative to practice good stress management and to assuage the symptoms of an anxiety by finding ways to lower your overall cortisol levels.

Get to know the damaging effects of excess cortisol. When your cortisol levels spike, a rush of amino acids are released from the muscles and glucose is released from the liver into the blood stream so you’re supplied with the energy needed to deal with the crisis situation at hand.  But prolonged elevated cortisol levels can increase anxiety, sap energy, and interfere with your body’s ability to heal. Our bodies are equipped with natural self-repair mechanisms that fight cancer, prevent infection, repair wounds, and protect us from infectious agents and foreign bodies. But those natural self-repair mechanisms get deactivated when the body is full of stress hormones like cortisol. In the long run, high levels of cortisol suppresses the immune response, which increases the risk of developing all sorts of diseases, including arthritis, cancer, and auto-immune disorders. Cortisol also plays a role in the regulation of blood sugar levels and how responsive your cells are to the insulin produced by your pancreas. Lots of cortisol for long periods of time makes your body more insulin-resistant, which can lead to diabetes. In addition, it can trigger mental health issues like mood swings, anxiety, and depression.

The key is to shift the body from the stress response to the relaxation response. Here’s the great news—it’s not hard to do! And when it happens, your cortisol levels drop and your body’s self-repair mechanisms get back to work. Here are some proven ways to lower your cortisol levels and ease your anxiety:

  • Eat a balanced diet. Consume plenty of whole grains, proteins, fruits, veggies, and fiber to help regulate cortisol and anxiety.
  • Engage in regular physical activity. Moderate physical exercise does wonders to relieve stress and lower cortisol levels. Find something you enjoy and do it at least three times per week.
  • Practice meditation. Even a few minutes of meditation a day has a cumulative, positive effect on your stress levels.
  • Get proper rest. Insomnia causes high cortisol for up to 24 hours afterwards. Interruptions to sleep, even if brief, can also increase your levels and disrupt daily hormone patterns. Try to get to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time each morning. Aim for seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night.
  • Reach out to others. Isolation and loneliness increase stress, anxiety, and depression. It’s important to find ways to connect socially with other people to manage your stress.
  • Laugh. Researchers have found that laughing significantly reduces stress hormone levels. In one study, laughter decreased the cortisol levels of participants by nearly 50%. So the next time you’re feeling anxious, try watching a comedy or a humorous YouTube video.

By incorporating some simple techniques into your daily routine, you can enjoy a happier, healthier life. Would you like to learn more about how to reduce your cortisol, decrease your anxiety, and improve your overall wellness? We’re here to help! Please contact us anytime.

By Andrew Walen, LCSW-C, LICSW, CEDS, Founder, Executive Director at The Body Image Therapy Center.  For help call 877-674-2843 or email info@thebodyimagecenter.com.

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You know how things get a little loose with your daily routine during the summer? Happened to me. Forgot to pick up my medication from the pharmacy. I got sidetracked. School is out so my schedule is freer without having to think about my son’s schedule. I’m taking a few days off to rest, hang with the fam, and chill at my neighbors’ swimming pool.

Now I have a pretty stressful job, and I can get my fair share of shpilkes (Yiddish for anxiety and agitation) when the you-know-what hits the fan. Typically, I take things in stride. But I’ve been a bit off the rails with anxiety of late. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I’m resting, right? I’m doing what my own shrink told me to do, take a mental break! But I couldn’t. My mind was racing. My heart rate was way too high. I was rude to my wife and son and avoided social opportunities. Why are there squirrels in my brain?

I’ve been taking my psychiatric medication all along (never skip that) and my pill box looked about right, didn’t it? Nope. Sure enough, one pill was missing, and it was missing for days apparently. I’ve always known that all medications have some side-effects, but we typically only think about the NEGATIVE ones. I have a positive side-effect of reduced anxiety on one of mine. I got complacent and the result was my mental health hit a patch of black ice. There is nothing worse than your brain spinning like an out-of-control car with bald tires. I’m grateful all I had to do was hit the pharmacy drive through and get back on track. But for 48 hours or so, I was a complete wreck and my family was really worried about me.

My lesson, and one I’m sharing with you, is don’t play fast and loose with your medications – any of them! They all have a role to play in your body, and when you find a cocktail that’s really doing right you have to stick with it. If you’re starting to feel not quite yourself, consider checking your pill box or your pharmacy app to see if you’re due for a refill. No joke, it could save your life.

By Andrew Walen, LCSW-C, LICSW, CEDS, Founder, Executive Director at The Body Image Therapy Center.  For help call 877-674-2843 or email info@thebodyimagecenter.com.

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We all know we are supposed to love ourselves, but what does that exactly mean?  After 20 years of counseling clients, I’ve come to believe that self-love is about learning to become our own nurturing and good parent—to care for ourselves as we would somebody who we love very much.

Because we are mind, body and spirit—comprehensive self-care must encompass all three of these aspects of self, as well as incorporate work/life balance, so that we can be centered and well.  In an effort to identify areas of need in your self-love practice, please review the following aspects of self-care and indicate from 1 to 10 how well you are addressing them, with 1 being “poorly” and 10 being “fabulously.”  Either print out this article and circle your rating for each category or write it down your ratings on a piece of paper.  Then total each section.

 

How well are you doing with regard to:

MIND:

Self-Compassion—ability to silence your inner critic and be your most compassionate advocate.

Poorly                      Could Be Better                        Good                        Fabulously

1              2              3              4              5              6              7              8              9              10

 

Self-Forgiveness—ability to forgive yourself and truly release and self-blame or undue guilt or anxiety for any past behaviors.

Poorly                      Could Be Better                        Good                        Fabulously

1              2              3              4              5              6              7              8              9              10

Self-Acceptance—ability to accept yourself exactly as you are at this point in time, understanding that we are all works in progress and not expected to be perfect. 

 

Poorly                      Could Be Better                        Good                        Fabulously

1              2              3              4              5              6              7              8              9              10

 

Self-Affirmation—ability to honor your strengths, gifts and unique abilities and to see all that is beautiful and good about you. 

 

Poorly                      Could Be Better                        Good                        Fabulously

1              2              3              4              5              6              7              8              9              10

 

Growth/Learning—engagement in activities that promote expansion of your knowledge, thinking, skills and awareness.

 

Poorly                      Could Be Better                        Good                        Fabulously

1              2              3              4              5              6              7              8              9              10

 

Mind Section Total Score:

Average Score (total divided by 5) : 

Rating of Average Score (1-3=Poorly, 4-6=Could Be Better, 7-8=Good, 9-10=Fabulously):  

BODY:  

Nutrition—healthy eating, limiting sugar and processed foods, home cooking, balanced meals, taking multivitamins, etc.

 

Poorly                      Could Be Better                        Good                        Fabulously

1              2              3              4              5              6              7              8              9              10

 

Exercise—intentional exercise such as going to the gym, weight training, yoga, Pilates, playing sports,            etc.

 

Poorly                      Could Be Better                        Good                        Fabulously

1              2              3              4              5              6              7              8              9              10

 

Activity—keeping active in terms of walking, taking stairs, and doing other activities that are not sedentary such as gardening, playing with kids, or dog walking.

 

Poorly                      Could Be Better                        Good                        Fabulously

1              2              3              4              5              6              7              8              9              10

Sleep—getting enough sleep, ability to fall asleep easily and have sound sleep.

 

Poorly                      Could Be Better                        Good                        Fabulously

1              2              3              4              5              6              7              8              9              10

 

Healthcare— annual physicals, dental care, and specialty care such as OB-GYN, chiropractic, nutritionist, massage therapist, etc.

 

Poorly                      Could Be Better                        Good                        Fabulously

1              2              3              4              5              6              7              8              9              10

 

Hydration—drinking enough water.

 

Poorly                      Could Be Better                        Good                        Fabulously

1              2              3              4              5              6              7              8              9              10

Substance use— moderating any use of substances including caffeine, alcohol, etc.

 

Poorly                      Could Be Better                        Good                        Fabulously

1              2              3              4              5              6              7              8              9              10

 

 

Body Section Total Score:

Average Score (total divided by 7) : 

Rating of Average Score (1-3=Poorly, 4-5=Could Be Better, 6-8=Good, 9-10=Fabulously):  

SPIRIT:

 

Meditation/Reflection/Prayer—creating time and space for quiet reflection through meditation, prayer, journaling, etc. 

 

Poorly                      Could Be Better                        Good                        Fabulously

1              2              3              4              5              6              7              8              9              10

 

Connection to Nature—time and space to connect with the outdoors, animals, plants, etc.

 

Poorly                      Could Be Better                        Good                        Fabulously

1              2              3              4              5              6              7              8              9              10

 

Connection to Community—participation in 12-step groups, yoga studio, meditation group, church/synagogue/mosque or any other group of like-minded people connecting on a deeper level.

 

Poorly                      Could Be Better                        Good                        Fabulously

1              2              3              4              5              6              7              8              9              10

 

Spirit Section Total Score:

Average Score (total divided by 3) : 

Rating of Average Score (1-3=Poorly, 4-5=Could Be Better, 6-8=Good, 9-10=Fabulously):  

WORK/LIFE BALANCE:

 

Time Boundaries with Work—setting healthy boundaries with work hours.

 

Poorly                      Could Be Better                        Good                        Fabulously

1              2              3              4              5              6              7              8              9              10

 

Leisure/Hobbies—creating time and space for relaxation and activities that refill your cup.

 

Poorly                      Could Be Better                        Good                        Fabulously

1              2              3              4              5              6              7              8              9              10

 

Unplugging from Technology—turning off your phone before bedtime, during mealtime and not responding to work emails after work hours/while on vacation, limiting screen time, etc.

 

Poorly                      Could Be Better                        Good                        Fabulously

1              2              3              4              5              6              7              8              9              10

 

Work/Life Balance Section Total Score:

Average Score (total divided by 3) : 

Rating of Average Score (1-3=Poorly, 4-5=Could Be Better, 6-8=Good, 9-10=Fabulously):  

 

Rating Overview:

            Mind:

            Body:

            Spirit:

            Work/Life Balance:

 

In reviewing your averages for each section, identify your primary areas of needed support, especially those aspects rated as “poorly” or “could be better.”  Part of self-care is enlisting support, which we all need to be well.  Consider seeking counseling or therapy to help you improve your self-care.  Think about any additional support which might be beneficial, such as working with a nutritionist, a personal trainer, signing up for a mindfulness meditation or yoga class.  Reflect on any self-care practices you’d like to reinstate (like picking up your dusty guitar) or begin (like journaling or a starting morning meditation practice.)  Write out an action plan for addressing the primary areas of need.  Set a reminder in your calendar to complete this assessment again in 30 days.  Repeat each month and watch yourself blossom!

“Nourishing yourself in a way that helps you blossom in the direction you want to go is attainable, and you are worth the effort.” ~Deborah Day

 

Article by Joyce Marter, Founder of Urban Balance; VP of Marketing & PR for Refresh Mental Health.

 

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It’s June, the biggest month of the year for weddings. It’s that magical time for love, commitment, celebration, and, yes, crash diets and other risky measures in order to fit into that perfect wedding dress. The normalization of this extreme culture of #sheddingforthewedding has become alarming, with brides as well as grooms seeking to become as thin and lean as possible for their trips down the aisle. Not only does “shedding for the wedding” miss the point of marriage entirely, it can be downright perilous.

Your wedding may be the biggest day of your life, so wanting to look your best is understandable. But the self-punishing challenges and dire actions some brides go to reach their goals don’t make sense. Studies have shown that 70% of women crash diet in order to fit into their wedding dress. A crash diets is defined as losing the most weight in the shortest amount of time as the ultimate goal. Be it juice cleanses, diet pills, and intermittent fasting to binge workouts, brides-to-be often go to unwise lengths in an effort to look picture-perfect for their big day.

The severe weight loss techniques that often accompany wedding preparations can easily morph into a full-blown eating disorder. Studies have shown that dieting is a trigger for the development of eating disorders and popular weight loss trends associated with dieting force individuals to be consumed with calorie counting, weight loss, exercise, and food restriction. The National Eating Disorders Association reports that 35% of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting and that 20-25% of those individuals develop eating disorders. Still, in the fashion and magazine world, dieting to fit into your wedding dress is not only acceptable, it’s encouraged.

Balance, moderation, and comfort are where it’s at. Don’t let obsessions about how you look dictate your precious day. Instead, focus on how you’re feeling and how important this day is to you. Otherwise, your matrimonial experience may be ruined and you’ll miss out on what really matters if you’re consumed with worry about how many calories are in the champagne or how much cake you’ll have to eat. Instead of seeing your wedding as a reminder to commit to a breakneck regimen of cleanses and lengthy workouts, view it as an opportunity to begin a beautiful life for you and your partner to live together. Focus on finding the wedding dress that feels great and makes you feel like a million bucks. We all come in different sizes, shapes, and with different genetics, and all of them are beautiful. Straining to resemble one ideal is dangerous and unrealistic. This wedding season, why not say “I do” to shredding the magazines instead?

Are you concerned that you or a loved one may have an eating disorder? We’re here to help. Please reach out to us anytime.

By Andrew Walen, LCSW-C, LICSW, CEDS, Founder, Executive Director at The Body Image Therapy Center.  For help call 877-674-2843 or email info@thebodyimagecenter.com.

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Everyone has the capacity to become mentally stronger, and we all have room for improvement. Just like going to the gym a few times won’t make you physically strong, developing your mental muscle is a process. Mental strength takes years to build and a lifetime to maintain. Why does mental strength even matter? While it takes dedication and commitment to build a stronger mind, you’ll reap plenty of rewards for your efforts:

  • Enhanced performance. Increased mental strength is the key to performing at your peak. Mental strength helps you manage your thoughts and regulate your emotions. That means you can be more productive by focusing your effort and energy on the things that matter most.
  • Greater life satisfaction.  Building mental strength will help you gain self-acceptance while still striving for self-improvement. And as your mental strength increases, you’ll feel more confident in the decisions you make.
  • Increased resilience. You can’t control a lot of things that happen to you in life but you can control how your respond to hardship. When you feel mentally strong, you’ll be able to rise to whatever challenge you face and better manage everyday stress, too.

You can enhance your mental strength through the simple everyday choices you make. Try these strategies for building a stronger mind and better life:

  1. Spend time in nature. Whether you go for a walk in the woods or you eat a picnic in a park, time in nature could be key to building a strong mind. A 2015 study conducted by researchers at Stanford found that a walk in the woods can reduce the risk of depression, and other research has found that people living in rural areas have a 20 percent lower risk of anxiety compared to those living in urban areas. Nature also reduces mental fatigue. It offers a calming effect because it requires less mental attention than busy urban streets. So a quick walk in the park on your lunch break or a stroll through the garden on the weekend could offer the mental rejuvenation you need to stay focused when you’re tackling a tough project.
  2. Practice mindfulness. Rehashing something that happened yesterday or predicting horrible things could happen next week holds you back. The only time you can change your behavior is right now, so it’s important to be able to focus on the present. A multitude of studies have found that mindfulness provides physical and psychological benefits. Reduced stress and a more compassionate inner dialogue are among the many ways mindfulness can help you build mental strength. Take time to pay attention to what’s going on around you. Notice the sounds, sights, and smells. Do a quick scan of your body and pay attention to how it feels. With regular practice, you’ll be able to savor each moment because you won’t be distracted by yesterday’s problems and tomorrow’s worries.
  3. Nix the bad habits that rob you of mental strength. Feeling sorry for yourself, wasting time and energy on things you can’t control, and resenting other people’s success are just a few of the bad habits that could wreak havoc on your mental workouts. Giving up those unhealthy habits will help you work smarter.

Your mind can be your greatest asset or your worst enemy. When you learn how to train it well, you can accomplish incredible feats. And remember, your mind is yours alone to cultivate. Peace, love, joy, kindness, positivity, empathy, service, and self-care are some of our favorite mental crops. In the garden of your mind, what will you choose to plant?

Need some guidance in learning to flex your mental muscle? We can help! Reach out to us anytime.

By Andrew Walen, LCSW-C, LICSW, CEDS, Founder, Executive Director at The Body Image Therapy Center.  For help call 877-674-2843 or email info@thebodyimagecenter.com.

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If you think the key to happiness lies in finding your soul mate or achieving fame and fortune, think again. Ironically, the energy you waste and the longing for “more” usually leads to frustration and misery. And while you’re searching for this love, success, and abundance, you’re missing out on the many opportunities for happiness within reach each and every day. By letting go of the anxiety and yearning for the things you think will bring you joy, and instead focusing your attention on the present and its gifts, you may discover happiness for a lifetime. Here are seven easy tasks you can do to fill your heart with happiness:

  1. Bask in the simple pleasures. The pets you love, treasured memories, silly jokes, sunny days. It’s the small things in life that bring us the greatest joy.
  2. Do what lifts you up. You might feel exhilarated when you move, dance, paint, sing, or meditate. Whatever is good for your soul, do more of it!
  3. Count your blessings.  If you are surrounded by loved ones and are warm, healthy, and cared for, acknowledge your many blessings and give thanks for them. Gratitude is an instant happiness-booster.
  4. Connect with people who are happy. Both positive and negative energy is contagious, so choose to surround yourself with people who bring real happiness into your life.
  5. Find purpose. Those who believe they are contributing to the well-being of humanity tend to feel better about their lives. Most of us find immense fulfillment in being part of the greater good.
  6. Stop comparing yourself to others. Nothing good ever comes from it. Whether we‘re comparing the size of our houses, our finances, our physical features, or any number of other attributes, so many of us fall into the comparison trap. Remember that your life is unique, as is your journey through it. Focusing your energy on all that is wonderful in your world is a much better way to create a happy life. How your life stacks up to someone else’s simply doesn’t matter.
  7. Practice positive thinking. It can literally change your life! Every morning, ask yourself, “What kind of day am I going to have?” You create your mindset for the whole day by making the choice. By choosing to have an amazing day, you will flood your body, mind, and spirit with happiness. And guess what? You will have an amazing day!

Happiness is good for your health and it improves your quality of life. It’s so important its even written in the preamble of our American Constitution by our forefathers. Smart folks, and they didn’t see it as some new age silliness. If you want more of it, pursue it actively. You’ll be, well, happier for it.

By Andrew Walen, LCSW-C, LICSW, CEDS, Founder, Executive Director at The Body Image Therapy Center.  For help call 877-674-2843 or email info@thebodyimagecenter.com.

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PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release

The Body Image Therapy Center to Launch New Eating Disorders
Treatment Program in Baltimore City

 

Baltimore, Maryland – June 1, 2018 – The Body Image Therapy Center (TBITC) announced it will open an eating disorders treatment program in the Station North Arts District in Baltimore City in July 2018. In response to the growing need in Baltimore City for accessible, comprehensive treatment for eating disorders and associated mental health concerns, the new location will feature three levels of care, including a Partial Hospital Program (PHP), Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), and standard outpatient services. The Body Image Therapy Center specializes in the treatment of eating disorders across the spectrum including anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, compulsive exercise, and muscle dysmorphia.

Located at 1734 Maryland Avenue, Suite 200, TBITC’s Baltimore location will be its fourth program. Additional locations are Columbia, MD; Washington, DC; and Alexandria, VA. The Baltimore programs include mental health, nutrition, medical, and psychiatric care for those with eating disorders and related mental health concerns such as anxiety, mood disorders, trauma, and substance abuse.

“As a fourth generation Baltimore City native, I’ve always wanted to bring this kind of treatment to my hometown,” said Andrew Walen, LCSW-C, LICSW, CEDS, founder and executive director of The Body Image Therapy Center. “Eating disorders are the deadliest mental illness out there, and we need more treatment options accessible to those who live and work in the city. We also need more programs like ours that have multiple levels of care so individuals have that continuity of treatment needed for full recovery and relapse prevention.”

TBITC has a particular interest in working with underserved populations such as those in the LGBTQ community, males, and higher weight individuals. “I suffered for 20 years with an eating disorder because nobody thought to ask me the right questions simply because I was a male,” Walen shared. “Thankfully, males are coming forward more frequently now, but so are others from previously ignored populations such as African Americans, Hispanics, religious communities, individuals who are living in larger bodies but suffer all the mental and physical anguish of an eating disorder, and those in the gay and transgender communities. By paying attention to their unique needs and language about eating disorders, we create an environment where they feel accepted and treated with dignity.”

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, approximately 30 million Americans are dealing with some form of an eating disorder. Moreover, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

About The Body Image Therapy Center and Andrew Walen: The Body Image Therapy Center is part of Refresh Mental Health, which owns mental health, eating disorder, and substance abuse programs across the country. Mr. Walen founded The Body Image Therapy Center in 2008 and is the executive director. He is also the executive director for The Better Brain Center in Alexandria, VA, and the Center for Eating Disorders Management in Bedford, NH. He is a psychotherapist, author, speaker, and advocate in the eating disorders field, with particular expertise in males with eating disorders.

Mr. Walen currently serves as President of the board of directors for the National Association for Males with Eating Disorders (NAMED), and is a past founding board member of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA). He has appeared on The Today Show, was featured in The New York Times, USA Today, Men’s Health, and many other national and local media outlets as an expert in the field of eating disorders and body image. In addition, he has authored numerous articles and presented workshops at national and international eating disorder conferences. His book “Man Up to Eating Disorders” , a memoir and self-help book directed at males with eating disorders, was published May 2014 and was featured in the Gurze Catalog.

Mr. Walen is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Social Work in Nashville. He also is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music, and is a published singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist who continues to write and perform in the metro Baltimore area. He is a 1991 graduate of Baltimore City College High School.

To learn more about The Body Image Therapy Center and its wide range of services, please contact Elizabeth Mitchell, Operations Director, at 877-674-2843 or visit www.thebodyimagecenter.com.

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