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Contact me to schedule your free 15-minute phone consultation. There are three ways to get in touch with me:

Call  323 558 2055

Email  natalie@awakentheself.com

Submit  your inquires in the form submission box.

 

 

427 South Marengo Avenue #5
Pasadena, CA, 91101

(323) 558-2055

Natalie Moore is a holistic psychotherapist in Pasadena, CA who helps young adults decrease anxiety naturally through somatic (mind/body) practices.

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Mental Wellness Blog | Pasadena, CA

Read about topics pertaining to mental wellness such as anxiety, depression, life transitions and many other presenting concerns that individuals face in their lives. Blog posts will delve into techniques to reduce anxiety and depression, ways to cope with difficult life transitions and strategies to improve mental wellness for those interested in a holistic approach to health and well-being.

6 Healthy Habits Therapy Can Cultivate

Natalie Moore

Truth be told, there are lots of false myths about psychotherapy. One area of mental health I'm passionate about (there are many!) is helping to educate people on what counseling is and how it can help immensely, especially if you're a young adult dealing with anxiety, depression or challenging life transitions. If you're interested in exploring the idea of getting therapy and unsure about what you might gain from the experience, read on! In your quest for more information regarding psychological services, you may wonder, "how to therapists actually help their patients achieve their goals?" Below is a round-up of the six areas I tend to work on most with my clients:

 
Healthy Habits Lifestyle Holistic Psychotherapy for Young Adults Pasadena CA
 

1 | Cultivating mindfulness

Some clients come in with an awareness that they live too fast-paced a lifestyle, but don’t quite know how to slow down. Others have tried to “control” their emotions, or “distract themselves” from their issues. Do any of these sound like you? I know that when I started practicing mindfulness I had the toughest time getting out of "auto-pilot" and staying attuned to the present moment. And even when I did bring my awareness to the present, I would have judgmental thought about what I noticed! The area of self-growth I teach/coach/model for my clients most is developing mindfulness — or a non-judgemental attitude of the present moment. Learn more about mindfulness for young adults, online meditation programs and Los Angeles mindfulness resources.

2 | Developing self-care practices

Many of my clients are very driven and success-oriented. This is their greatest strength, but can also leave them stressed and not well taken care of. Helping clients realize they not only need but also deserve rest, relaxation and recovery is a huge part of my practice. Self-care is broad term that refers to a variety of activities and practices — it generally means anything you do just for you. For a lot of us this manifests as eating healthfully, exercising more, learning yoga, journaling, trying acupuncture, and finding time to meditate, even with our packed schedules. I also help client to tackle the false beliefs (e.g. "I've gotta work hard and there's no time for rest") that prevent them from making time for themselves.

3 | Building community

So many people who live in Los Angeles are actually L.A. “transplants” (i.e. moved here for school or work) and haven’t quite found their “tribe” yet. When you're in school it's so much easier to make friends because you have class together, live in dorms together and work on projects together, etc. But what are young adults to do once they've graduated and don't have that school to rely on for instant access to a social life? I recommend clients to push past their comfort zone to reach out to new friends and face social anxiety. This also includes removing “toxic” people from their lives who are not bringing positivity.

4 | Improving self-worth

Most everyone can improve in the area of self-love. For me, cultivating self-acceptance and self-compassion is an ongoing practice. There are many things in our past that contribute to how much we value and love ourselves unconditionally. Much of the messaging we receive as we grow up is implicit and unconscious — in other words, it's not so much what our parents said to us, but how they treated us and modeled (or didn't model) having self-love. Some clients are the child of a narcissistic parent or an abusive parent. Some have anxious attachment. Much work is centered on clients understanding their inherent value. Read more about how to boost up self-confidence.

5 | Moving forward in one's career

Lots of employed millennials feel “stuck,” dissatisfied, bored or undervalued in their current positions, but stay in the job out of fear of the unknown (i.e. "How will I support myself?") Much of what I do with young adults revolves around helping clients develop assertiveness at work and a belief in their ability to find more fulfilling work. Whether this means switching gears, starting their own venture or finding a better fit within their current field, I help 20- and 30-somethings achieve clarity and take actions that will propel them forward in their careers and in their lives.

6 | Working through past hurts

Everyone has challenging past experiences that prevent them from enjoying life fully and achieving their goals. Much of the work I do with clients involves exploring past hurts, reflecting on how these traumas have shaped the person’s current life and helping them identify conscious alternatives. The main tenet of somatic (mind/body) psychotherapy is that trauma is trapped in the body as subtle muscle tension. And so the way we address this is through not only talking about the traumatic events and the feelings that arise, but also exploring and addressing the body sensations that come up, as well. This process allows the trauma to be released and healed.

I hope this list was enlightening to you! Now you have a little spotlight onto what goes on in therapy sessions (at least with me!) Of course, it would be impossible to address every aspect of a psychotherapy appointment in a blog post (or even in an entire blog!) but this is simply a teaser for you. Not it's your turn. Have you been in therapy before or are you currently in counseling? Please share in the comments below any experiences you've had in therapy that helped you cultivate healthy habits. Are you just curious about how you can improve your mental health with or without a professional? Please share what you'd like to know in the comments section. Thank you so much for reading and be well.


about the author

Hi! I'm Natalie. And my passion is helping people live more peaceful, meaningful lives. Through holistic therapy in Pasadena and here on the blog, my mission is to provide people with the support and tools they need to live their best life.

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12 Writing Prompts for a Year of Journaling: Part I — October through December

Natalie Moore

Today’s post is the first in a 4-part series aimed at helping people improve their mental wellness through journaling. I’ll be providing monthly prompts to keep you guys journaling for a whole year. Stay posted for the rest of these prompts!

As a therapist, I'm constantly encouraging my clients to journal between sessions. "Why so?" you ask? Journaling is a great way to reflect on situations that have transpired in your life and to explore your emotional responses to these events. There's something about putting your thoughts and feelings down on paper that gives you a different perspective on them. It doesn't necessarily make the feelings "go away," per se, but it can put a little space between you and those difficult emotions and sensations. I find that when I'm personally dealing with something challenging even after only a few minutes of journaling I feel like I've gotten something "off my chest" in a safe, private environment. Sometimes I'm even able to see a more creative solution to a problem. I also use journaling to write about areas of my life where I feel stuck and want to make changes. Research shows that people who write down their goals are actually more likely to achieve them. Wow! Another great benefit of journaling. You might be thinking "Okay, this sounds great, but where do I get started?" If you've never journaled before, or haven't picked up a journal in years, it could feel a little awkward at first. You might have no idea what to write. That's why I've created this series of monthly writing prompts to get you started:

 
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October — What are your biggest fears?

October is the month of scary goons and goblins and the like. These fearful themes are for fun, but what if we took October as an opportunity to explore our own fears and even our own mortality? Take a moment to make a list of the things that scare you. I’m not talking spiders and witches here, I’m talking fear of failure, rejection, death, commitment and loneliness. These are all normal fears to have, at any stage of life. Write about each fear, noticing and noting what feelings and body sensations that come up as you write. Be aware of and write about early memories you have associated with each fear. There might be a lot of emotional (and even physical discomfort) that arises as you do this exercise. Know that it’s completely natural and that you can be kind to yourself and take breaks, or stop completely, if you need to. Lastly, focus your awareness on what you can actively do to face that fear in your life (if safe to do so.) Afraid of rejection? Go for it and ask that person out on a date that you’ve been too intimidated to talk to. Scared of failure? Take that risk in work you’ve been wanting to do, but have been apprehensive about. There’s only one way out of fear — through!

November — What are you grateful for?

In the month of November, it’s natural to start thinking about what we’re grateful for (at least so we’re prepared to share a thoughtful toast at Thanksgiving dinner!) But take this natural inclination a little deeper and really dig into what you are truly thankful for in your life. Create a list of the people, attributes, possessions, opportunities etc. that contribute to making your life great. For some, the list might be the basics: food, shelter and internet connection (you are reading this blog!) If your list is short, don’t let that discourage you. Remember that many people don’t have these basic needs met and we can often forget how fortunate we are to not have to worry about where our next meal is coming from. Even if your list seems short, try to expand it as much as you can, adding things like “the ability to read, research and learn new information” (again, you are reading this article, so I know you have that ability!) If the list is long, great! Take a moment to feel into your sense of gratitude for all that you have in your life.

December — What are your New Year's resolutions?

Be specific and behavior-oriented. Instead of saying "I want to lose 10 pounds," say "I want to start bringing my lunch to work 4 days a week and start going for a 30-minute walk after dinner 3 days a week." This way, you have clearly-defined behavioral goals you can hold yourself accountable to. To support your goals even further, write out a big list of the potential obstacles to achieving your goal (e.g. "What if I don't have time to prepare my lunch one day?") and how you would deal with those (e.g. "Find healthy prepared food at Whole Foods.") Focusing on our intentions helps us stay motivated by keeping an eye on the big picture. What will improve in your life following making these behavioral changes (e.g. increased energy, improved confidence and better health and longevity)? It's also important to honor the aspects of life that we will miss following this change. Write out a few aspects that you will miss (e.g. "Being able to eat whatever I want, or watch T.V. right after dinner") and take a moment to grieve the old habits. Once you see them written out next to the expected improvements in your life following this change, these will look like small potatoes in comparison! To read more about developing and achieving soul-centered goals, read this article.

Stay posted for the rest of the writing prompts in this blog series! Now I’d love to hear from you. Have you used journaling as a self-care strategy to improve your mental health? What has your experience with journaling been like for you? Have you been curious about journaling and not known how to get started? What got you interested in journaling? Please share your thoughts and questions in the comments below. Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to journal. The idea is to get the creative juices flowing and see where your writing takes you! Thanks for reading and be well.


about the author

Hi! I'm Natalie. And my passion is helping people live more peaceful, meaningful lives. Through holistic therapy in Pasadena and here on the blog, my mission is to provide people with the support and tools they need to live their best life.

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Cyberbullying Series: Part III — 5 Signs that your Teenager is Being Cyberbullied

Jackie Miller

Today's post is the third in a series about social media and cyberbullying. This is a relatively new phenomenon that is seriously affecting many preteens and adolescents in ways that are difficult to keep up with. Be sure to catch up by reading Part 1 of the series, which delves into healthy social media enjoyment, and Part 2 of the series, which helps people identify what cyberbullying is and what to do about it. I hope you enjoy the last segment of this series...

Cyberbullying can sometimes be difficult to identify, even if you are the one experiencing it. Imagine, then, how difficult it could be to know if your child is being bullied online. Here are 5 signs that might indicate that your child is being cyberbullied. *Note: One warning signal alone does not necessarily mean there is a problem, but several signs together may become more telling of a larger issue.

 
 

1 | Rapid Change in Amount of Internet Usage

Everyone knows the stereotype of millennials being attached to their cell phones. While there are many teens that spend copious amounts of time on the internet, there are also those who use it sparingly. Neither of these patterns of behavior should elicit any worry, but if your teen abruptly switches from one pattern to the other, this could be a possible response to cyberbullying. Sometimes when someone is being cyberbullied, they can respond by withdrawing from the online sphere in order to escape, or even deleting one or more social media accounts entirely. On the opposite end of the spectrum, cyberbullying could induce heightened internet usage, as the victim may feel inclined to seek out what is being said to them or about them—to know what they may be up against.

2 | Consistently Sad or Depressed After Being Online

There are sad things swirling around in the worldwide web, so it may be natural to come across something disheartening from time to time. However, if your child is constantly upset after using the internet, this may be a bit more than coming across an unfortunate news update. Cyberbullying is incredibly difficult to endure, and would undoubtedly induce a less-than-stellar mood. If you notice that your teen is often sad as a direct result of internet usage, it may be worth checking in to make sure everything is okay.

3 | Finding Fake Profiles of Your Child

“Catfishing” is a term now used to describe more than retrieving fish from the water (which is actually called “noodling,” but that’s neither here nor there). “Catfishing” is a situation in which someone on the internet pretends to be someone they are not. If you use Facebook, Instagram, or any other social media and come across a profile in your child’s name, with your child’s picture, but it is not in fact their account, this could be problematic. If someone is catfishing others pretending to be your teen, this can be dangerous because they may post things that your child would not. This is one of the warning signs that, alone, has the potential to be detrimental to your child and should be addressed immediately.

4 | Nervousness in Response to Texts or Internet Messages

Sometimes when someone is being cyberbullied, it comes in the form of direct messages to the victim. If this is the case for your child, you may notice them becoming increasingly nervous or jumpy when their phone buzzes with a new message. Now, there are instances where texts can increase nerves, such as waiting for a reply about a job, a final grade, or something else that could have been weighing on your teen’s mind. However, if this is behavior is persistent and possibly accompanied by other warning signs, there may be something more going on.

5 | Hiding Their Internet Usage from You

Cyberbullying can be embarrassing, even though the victim is in no way at fault. This could be a possible reason that your teen may hide their laptop screen or put away their phone when you walk into the room. Another mentality about cyberbullying that may elicit this same response is the worry that if their parents knew, they might make the situation worse. While this is not the most encouraging response for parents, let’s face it: adults do not know the social climate that teens endure, because it is constantly changing. A victim of cyberbullying may worry that if their parents knew, they would take action that may exacerbate the problem rather than solving it.

If your child is exhibiting some of these worrisome warning signs, there are various ways to help. First and foremost, remember that your child is most important, and to always be understanding of their situations and feelings. At a household level, you can create a welcoming environment in which your child feels comfortable talking to you. At a higher level, you can contact the school (if your child is comfortable with this), or contact the content provider for the website or app that the bullying is occurring on. Cyberbullying directly violates the Terms of Service for most main social media sites, and this can be an easy and more anonymous way to evade these negative online comments. If threats are present, contact the police. This could make your child uncomfortable (they may worry that you are over-reacting or are going to embarrass them), but ultimately your child’s safety is vital and it is better to be safe than sorry. For more information on how to proceed if your child is exhibiting these warning signs, you can visit websites such as:


about the author

Hi! I'm Jackie, a psychology undergrad at Vanderbilt who loves dogs more than just about anything. When I'm not busy mentoring, you can find me playing or watching volleyball, playing the violin or, of course, watching a ton of Netflix!

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Cyberbullying Series: Part II — 6 Signs of Cyberbullying and What to do

Jackie Miller

Today's post is the second in a series about healthy social media enjoyment and how to avoid cyberbullying. This is a new phenomenon that is affecting preteens and adolescents in ways that are difficult to keep up with. Be sure to catch up by reading Part 1 of the series, which delves into healthy social media enjoyment, and make sure to stay tuned for Part 3 of the series, which will describe signs that your teenager might be dealing with cyberbullying (directed towards parents.) I hope you enjoy this series...

Cyberbullying is a serious and devastating experience. While there may be a typical idea of what cyberbullying looks like, there are many different forms. It is important to be cognizant of the ways that cyberbullies operate, so as to be prepared and protective of yourself. Here, I will briefly describe several (though not all) types of cyberbullying.

 
 

1 | “Catfish” is not just a sea-dweller

There is so much new internet slang constantly circulating, that it can sometimes be hard to keep track. The term “catfishing” describes a situation in which someone operates a false profile online in order to talk to you, and convince you that they are someone else. This can have several motives, but they are never good. One situation could be if someone in your life pretends to be the person you are romantically interested in. This could be embarrassing if you unknowingly divulge private information to this third party. Another situation could be more serious, involving a predator attempting to attract people using this false identity. While “catfishing” can range from personal embarrassment to even violence or death, it is EXTREMELY important to ensure that you know who you are talking to online. Chatrooms can be an easy façade for catfishing. Do not accept friend requests from people that you do not know… a higher friend count is not worth sacrificing your confidence or even life.

2 | There’s no one else like you…but there might be imposters

While some cyberbullies impersonate someone else in order to talk to you, sometimes people can impersonate you, and say things that you never would on your own. This is also a form of cyberbullying because it is falsely putting words in your mouth, and possibly misrepresenting you in an unfair way. While there is a possible way to avoid being “catfished” in some situations, unfortunately, cyberbullies may choose their targets at random if they choose to impersonate you. However, this problem could be combatted through verification and testimonies from friends and family that this imposter is not actually you, if the situation becomes serious.

3 | Consent is always key

A very hurtful form of cyberbullying is someone posting photos or information about you without your consent. We all have parts of our lives that we would rather not share on the Internet, and if someone disrespects those wishes directly or doesn’t acknowledge them at all, that is absolutely unacceptable. This kind of cyberbullying could range from embarrassment to more serious consequences, such as losing a job or other forms of punishment. Fortunately, most social media sites have an option to report posts as “inappropriate” for various reasons, which is a good option in situations like these.

4 | Blackmail is never okay

An unfortunate and particularly stressful kind of cyberbullying is virtual blackmail. Related to the above point, blackmailing occurs when someone holds information or media that they know you don’t want posted online, and then threaten to release it if you do not comply with their wishes. Cyberbullying of this form is extremely stressful because it puts a false sense of responsibility on the victim. However, the person being blackmailed is not at fault. In situations such as these, it is best to reach out to a parent, teacher, or someone of authority that you can trust, in order to rectify the situation with the least amount of damage.

5 | Cyberbullying does not have to be directed at a single person

One Internet activity that many people engage in is jokes at the expense of others. However, this can be a form of cyberbullying when it perpetuates cruel stereotypes. To make fun of blondes for being “dumb,” or condemning people for their weight, or participate in any other joke of the sort, is to indirectly bully any people who meet these physical characteristics. Your feelings are valid, and if you are offended by an Internet joke, you have every right to be. Just because a case of cyberbullying is not pointed directly at you, it doesn’t mean that it hurts any less. In cases such as these, however difficult it may be, refusing to engage in pages or with people who post these jokes can be very beneficial. As stated in an earlier blog post, taking a break from social media is vital to mental wellbeing.

6 | Exactly what you’d think

Perhaps the form of cyberbullying that comes to mind the easiest is when people directly say hurtful things to you from behind the protection of a screen. Sometimes people who are insecure about themselves tend to lash out towards others. However, they are sometimes not even confident to confront anyone in person, so they send cruel things online. When dealing with cyberbullying of this type, as with verbal bullying in person, it is important to keep in mind that someone else’s opinions do not define you. The only opinion about you that matters, is yours.

Cyberbullying is no laughing matter, and while this post does provide several small tips, it is important to seek help if you are experiencing cyberbullying. Never be afraid to seek help, because you deserve all the happiness you can get. You can seek aid from professional websites and phone services, such as:


about the author

Hi! I'm Jackie, a psychology undergrad at Vanderbilt who loves dogs more than just about anything. When I'm not busy mentoring, you can find me playing or watching volleyball, playing the violin or, of course, watching a ton of Netflix!

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Cyberbullying Series: Part I — 5 Tips for Healthy Social Media Enjoyment

Jackie Miller

Today's post is the first in a series about healthy social media enjoyment and how to avoid cyberbullying. This is a new phenomenon that is affecting preteens and adolescents in ways that are difficult to keep up with. Stay tuned for Part 2 of the series, which will delve into signs you're being cyberbullied and what to do about it (directed towards teens), and Part 3 of the series, which will describe signs that your teenager might be dealing with cyberbullying (directed towards parents.) I hope you enjoy this series...

In today’s day and age, most everyone has one or more social media accounts and profiles. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr… the list goes on and on. Many people seek copious amounts of “likes” in order to feel validated in what they have put on the internet for all to see. While this can be a fun pastime, it also has the capability to be detrimental to mental health. How, you may ask? It’s all just fun and games, right? Well, usually, yes. The following tips and tricks can help you reign in the overwhelming hand of social media, and help you maintain control over your own thoughts and feelings:

 
 

1 | Remember, you are only seeing others’ highlight reel

If you are like most people (including me), you check social media every day, or even several times per day. This allows us to keep in almost constant contact with our friends and family, but it also provides the opportunity for self-comparison. It is easy to begin comparing ourselves and our lives to the people who dance across our page, wall, feed, etc. However, the important thing to remember is that we are not seeing an accurate representation of their lives, we are only seeing the best moments. Would you post a picture of yourself when you are having an absolutely terrible day, detailing your unfortunate circumstance? I know I wouldn’t. When the only information we receive about a person is the wonderful moments posted on their profile, it can make their life seem better than ours, when we see not only our good times, but our bad times. Remembering that social media is not an accurate platform for self-comparison is very important, especially during this time in life where this technology is so aggressively present.

2 | Your worth is not correlated with your “likes” or “followers”

The age of social media has inadvertently provided a physical meter to measure quality of photos, which many people see as representative of themselves. The more “likes” that one gets generally can correlate to how good they feel about their post. This emotional response can range anywhere from being excited when you reach a “new high” of likes, or deleting a picture if it does not receive “enough” likes in a certain amount of time. Similarly, sometimes people can be so intent on gaining followers, that they will follow random accounts just to receive a “follow back” and boost the numbers on their profile. For a modern satiric take on this, you can check out “Nosedive,” Season 3, Episode 1 of a Netflix series called Black Mirror. It is so imperative to remember that a number on a screen has nothing to do with your worth or value as a person. In the age before social media, people carried on their daily lives and made connections the same way we do today, only without the burden of whether or not we got more online likes than our friends.

3 | Not everyone is on social media all the time, even if you are

Regarding the aforementioned point, a rational way to think about your number of likes (or lack thereof), is to remember that while you might be checking social media regularly, not everyone else is. So, if ignoring your virtual numbers is not too easy of a task, try to think of that fact that maybe these potential “likers” have not even checked their pages yet. Speaking from experience, every once in a while, I check to see if certain people have seen and/or liked my photo…. And full disclosure, I do feel that twinge of disappointment when my search comes up bare. However, remembering the possibility that my photo hasn’t scrolled across their screen yet does lessen the blow a bit.

4 | Social media can allow people to say unkind things from behind the protection of a screen

A large issue with the world of social media is the emergence of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying occurs when people say especially cruel and taunting things to others online. It is easier to speak your mind when the fear of personal retribution is extinguished by the distance traveled by the virtual messages. Many people who engage in cyberbullying are not brave enough to speak their mind in person, which can allow their words to have more bite since they do not have to confront anyone. Cyberbullying is very difficult to deal with, and if you are being cyberbullied it is imperative to seek help from someone you trust, because it is difficult to go through these things alone. For more information and avenues for help, you can talk to a therapist, close friends or family, or visit websites such as:

5 | Every now and then, take a break

Finally, everyone needs a break from social media sometimes. Whether you are worrying about likes, trying to gain new followers, or even just playing on your phone instead of interacting with the people around you, it’s healthy to close the laptop and put down the phone, and just enjoy your life as it continues around you.

While social media can undoubtedly be a fun pastime, there are definitely down sides to our new technological advances. It is important for your mental health to differentiate the importance of social media and the importance of your personal interactions with people. Social media is not, and should never be tied to your worth as a person. You wouldn’t stop being friends with someone if they had less followers or their pictures had less likes than yours, would you? Exactly… no one will do that to you either. Now I'd like to hear your opinion. What do you think about the advantages and disadvantages of social media? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.


about the author

Hi! I'm Jackie, a psychology undergrad at Vanderbilt who loves dogs more than just about anything. When I'm not busy mentoring, you can find me playing or watching volleyball, playing the violin or, of course, watching a ton of Netflix!

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Oh my God, am I Having a Panic Attack?!

Jackie Miller

Panic attacks can be very scary at times, especially if you have never experienced one before. As silly as it may sound, defining panic attacks and understanding their symptoms is a large part of dealing with them. Additionally, there are some tips as easy as breathing (literally) that will help kick your parasympathetic nervous system into gear, which will slow your heart rate and therefore calm you down. There is also a bit of stigma around panic attacks and anxiety, especially due to the casual uses of these words for the purpose of humor and exaggeration. Have you ever heard someone say “Wow, I didn’t know you were behind me, I just had a panic attack!”? Yeah, not so much how it actually works. These identifiers and strategies will hopefully help you next time a situation like this arises.

 
 

What are the symptoms?

As it was once described to me by a friend, “your first panic attack kind of feels like you are dying.” As vastly comforting as that was (not!), I wanted some concrete signs that I could look for. Now, all of these reactions can be simply explained through biology and psychology, but of course no one in the midst of a panic attack is thinking analytically about their anatomical responses to stress. Several major symptoms of panic are hyperventilation and chest pain. Sometimes the panic can make it feel hard to breath, almost like your windpipe is blocked up in your chest, which creates the pain you may feel in that region. While your respiratory system is still intact, your brain worries that it is failing, which causes you to unintentionally begin taking shorter, quicker breaths in order to quickly restore the oxygen that your brain thinks it is losing.

Another symptom that can be concerning is the feeling of tingling, usually in the extremities. I would describe this phenomenon as my hands or feet “suddenly falling asleep.” In stressful times where the brain feels that the body may be under some kind of attack, it will reallocate resources like blood and oxygen to the organs that are most important to the body’s functioning, such as the brain, lungs, and heart. This can result in the feeling that the body parts far from your heart are asleep, because the brain is more worried about nourishing the parts of the body that are vital to survival. A final common symptom is a sudden change in temperature accompanied by sweating. Sweating is a natural bodily reaction to the activation of the stress response, just as one might sweat a bit before a big performance or a speech in front of a large group of people. However, the excessive stress causes excessive sweating, which can be a bit worrisome when paired with all these other symptoms.

Keep breathing, y’all.

Given that breathing is one of the things that we feel we cannot control during an attack, the simple advice to “just breathe normally!”, is not particularly helpful. Here is a simple and psychologically sound way to slow your breathing down and deter the panic attack from continuing. You know those swinging saloon doors that are famously flung open as the western hero enters the bar in the movies, guns ablaze? Well, close your eyes and picture those doors, but without the eerie music and flying tumbleweed. As you inhale, picture these doors swinging in toward you, and as you exhale picture them swinging out and away from you. Subconsciously, your brain knows that given the engineering of these doors, they cannot swing quickly enough to match your breathing rate during hyperventilation. Therefore, picturing these doors constrained by their physical capabilities will subconsciously slow down your breathing rate.

I Spy, with my little eye…

If mental visualization does not suit your liking, another tactic is to talk about your surroundings. Details are key, and speaking out loud is also an important component to this coping mechanism. Whether or not someone else is present, verbalizing every little detail around you can help calm your symptoms for several reasons. First, in order to speak, you must be breathing slowly to a certain extent or the words will not come out. Second, speaking (rather than thinking) will keep your mind on track with what you are saying, and not allowing your brain to wander back to the panic. Third, there are endless details around you, no matter where you are. Focusing on every possible detail will home your mind in on these external characteristics, allocating more brain power to this task than to maintaining the panic.

I hope these tips are helpful to you in riding the wave of a panic attack, should you ever have one. If you are currently experiencing panic attacks, please seek professional help as soon as possible. You can contact your primary care physician, go to an urgent care facility, or if necessary, go to the emergency room. I highly recommend getting a referral for a mental health professional (whether that be a psychiatrist, a psychologist or a therapist) so that you can find relief for your symptoms and also address the root cause of the panic. Here is an article about how to find a therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, consider seeing Natalie or reviewing her recommendations for low-cost counseling in L.A.

That said, now I'd love to hear from you! How have you managed panic and anxiety? What worked to reduce it? What didn't work very well? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below. Thank you for reading and be well!


about the author

Hi! I'm Jackie, a psychology undergrad at Vanderbilt who loves dogs more than just about anything. When I'm not busy mentoring, you can find me playing or watching volleyball, playing the violin or, of course, watching a ton of Netflix!

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Teen Self-Help Series: Part II — 5 Tricks to Help you Wake up in the Morning

Mia Tanner

Today's post is the second in a 2-part series for teens, by a teen. This Teen Self-Help Series is written by Mia Tanner, a senior at South Pasadena High School. Mia is an aspiring psychologist and has a passion for learning about topics in psychology such as brain physiology, addiction, anxiety and depression. Her second article is intended for those teens who have a tough time waking up for school in the morning. Check out this article for some great tips.

As a high school student, with all the stress of school work and trying to have a social life, it can become hard for us to feel rested enough to wake up easily in the morning. Many students take naps, stay up late studying, or waste time on their phones looking through social media websites into the wee hours, making it challenging to get the rest we so desperately need. Here are a few tips that will help you get up in the morning (and get to bed earlier too!)

 
 

1 | Brighten your room

In the morning it’s hard to get up and turning on your room lights will help wake you up. When you keep your lights off while trying to wake up it makes it more difficult because you are so comfortable in bed as well as in the dark that it doesn’t help you wake up but instead it helps you fall back asleep. Turning on your lights allows you to slowly wake up while still being comfortable in bed. Another tip that is useful, if you have shades in your room that keep the sun from shinning through, open them and allow the pretty sunlight to slowly wake you up.

2 | Play uplifting music

Listening to music is a great way to help you wake up in the morning. Creating a playlist with music that helps you get pumped up will help you get out of bed and make getting ready for the day more enjoyable. It not only helps you get up and get ready, it also put you in a better mood for the rest of your day. 

3 | Drink chamomile before bed

Many people have a hard time falling asleep at night, which is a cause of why they can’t wake up in the morning. Having warm chamomile tea 30 minutes before bed helps relax you and induces that sleepy felling you need to help you fall asleep at night. Getting a good nights rest is definitely a plus when having to wake up the next day.

4 | Shut down devices

At night before you go to bed it is a good idea to put away all electronic devices 30 minutes before your bed-time. Having time to yourself without electronic devices allows your brain to slowly wire down and allow you to start falling asleep. The light that is given off through computers, phones, etc. is called a blue light, which signals your brain to stay awake even though it is late at night. If you have an iPhone and you want your phone beside you at night, turning on “Night Shift” emits a different type of light that doesn’t keep you up.

5 | Make yourself accountable

At night when you’re getting ready for bed, write down in a journal the time that you want to wake up the next morning and why. It allows you to keep personal accountability and will make you feel good when you accomplish the goal of getting up and starting your day.  If you need extra help with this I recommend this journal that is specially made to help people wake up earlier.

Getting the right amount of sleep is an essential component of caring for our physical health and well-being. Getting too little or too much sleep can affect our energy levels, our body fat storage, our ability to learn and many other factors. Getting to bed at a reasonable hour and waking up early can be a challenging task. Finding a method (or methods) that work for you will make all the difference so that you can get through the day without constantly feeling tired. It will also allow you to be in a better mood on those days when you have a lot to get done. Even when it't hard, don’t give up and continue to try new ways to get that much-needed restoration. Best of luck!

Teen Self-Help Series: Part I — Dealing with Anxiety at School

Mia Tanner

Today's post is the first in a series for teens, by a teen. This Teen Self-Help Series is written by Mia Tanner, a senior at South Pasadena High School. Mia is an aspiring psychologist and has a passion for learning about topics in psychology such as brain physiology, addiction, anxiety and depression. Her first article is intended to help teens who struggle with anxiety at school and are looking for healthy coping mechanisms they can utilize quickly and easily to feel relief. Enjoy and stay tuned for future posts in the series.

As high school students, we deal with a lot of stressful situations that may cause us to worry, panic and feel uneasy. We often feel like there is no way to avoid these feelings we may have. This is not uncommon and it's totally normal to feel this way from time to time. Here are some tips that you can use to help you next time you have this issue:

 
 

1 | Seek support

When reaching out for support, it can be easiest to first approach a friend or teacher that you trust. Many schools have a social worker or counselor that you are able to talk to when you are having a hard time trying to control your anxiety on your own. They are there to help support you!

2 | Use deep breathing

There are many ways that one can reduce their anxiety. A quick and simple way of doing this is to just take a few very deep breaths. Many people underestimate the power of deep breathing. Closing your eyes and taking deep breaths will allow you to calm down so you can make it through the day!

3 | Ask for modifications

Here in South Pasadena, where I go to school, students with an IEP (Individualized education plan) can request certain modifications to accommodate their specific issue. For example, students that have an IEP are able to sit out of assemblies because the stress of being in crowds of people is too much for one to handle. Don’t be afraid to ask for accommodations!

4 | Squeeze a stress ball

Squeezing a stress ball is a special way to relieve some of the anxiety that is starting to build up. When you are worried about an assignment or test having a stress ball in your backpack or in your locker will help you calm down. Squeezing a stress ball is a simpler version of progressive muscle relaxation. To learn more about this anxiety-relieving technique, you can watch the above video. This is a great video to watch when you get home from a long day at school. It's a guided meditation helps you relax and teaches you how to relieve any tension you may have in your muscles.

5 | Take a walk

Exercise is a great way to relieve any anxiety that you may be feeling. During school, taking a walk around campus by yourself or with a friend will allow you to cool off and simmer down. Walking with a friend is beneficial because you are able to talk to someone while getting rid of any uneasy feelings you may be having. If your school doesn’t allow you to take a break from class, take advantage of nutrition or lunch times to walk with a friend.

Anxiety is never an easy feeling to manage and may continue to crop up as new challenges arise. Trying these few tips will allow you find which one works best for you so you don’t have to let anxiety get the best of you. Once you find which one is helpful you can use it in a tough situation that you might be in. Always remember to just breathe and the uneasy feeling will slowly go away!

I hope you enjoyed this first article of the series. If you are a teenager and struggle with anxiety at school, please feel free to share your best tips for reducing stress in the comments below. Stay tuned for the rest of the series. Be safe and be well.

Strategies for Finding a Good Therapist

Roxie McLachlan

Today's post is written by guest contributor, Roxie McLachlan, a doctorate of psychology student at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA. Roxie is passionate about mental health and working with the older adult population. Upon completion of her school program, she plans to work as a psychologist in private practice. Read on for Roxie's best tips for finding a good local therapist...

When looking for a therapist, it is important to find a good match. By having a positive relationship with your therapist, you will find yourself growing as a person and striving to reach your goals. Research also supports that the relationship between the therapist and client are the most important factor in positive client outcomes. But this venture can be more difficult than it sounds. There are many exceptional mental health professionals in the field; however, since we all have different personalities and values, not every therapist will match with every client. Here are a few pointers that will help you find a good therapist who matches your personality:

 
 

1 | Research various theoretical orientations

The different types of therapy available may seem foreign to someone who has not studied psychology. That’s why it’s a great idea to educate yourself before looking for a therapist. Are you looking for a therapist who mainly gives you strategies and techniques for behavior change? A CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) approach may be a great fit for you. Are you interested in delving deep and strengthening your mind-body connection? A somatic therapist might be the right choice. Do you want to explore the family dynamics that are contributing to your current situation? Psychodynamic therapy could be best. GoodTherapy does a great job describing the various treatment orientations. Once you have found a therapy approach that resonates with you, then you can seek out therapists who use that orientation. Often psychotherapists use a combination of different approaches, so keep this in mind while you search.

2 | Get word-of-mouth recommendations

Personal referrals are often useful in finding a therapist, since you can be certain that someone who you know had a positive experience with this person. Since you want to be sure you find a therapist you can trust, it is often beneficial to talk to your friends or other care professionals to see if they have any first-hand recommendations. However, getting a referral from a family member may sound like a great idea but can be tricky due to conflicts of interest. I’d recommend first going to your doctor or another helping professional who you trust to ask for a referral. They’re likely to know someone in the community to refer you to.

3 | Go online

You can do a simple Google search and browse therapist’s websites, use a therapist listing site such as PsychologyToday or GoodTherapy or even check Yelp to search for a therapist in your area. You can view the profiles of mental health professionals, read their biographies and reviews, look at their websites, etc. This will help you determine if a therapist is a good match for you. Be sure to get a sense of whether you believe this individual will be able to relate to you and that they have experience working with whatever it is that you’re seeking therapy for.

4 | Utilize free consultations

Most therapists offer a free 10-30 minute phone consultation. Take advantage! This is a good time to ask your potential future therapist a few questions and to see how they respond. Does this person make you feel at ease or nervous? Do they listen to you or cut you off? When you ask about their specialties and experience, do they sound confident or unsure? Put your antenna on and feel out whether this seems like someone you could open up to about your problems. I recommend narrowing your search down to about 3 therapists you resonate with. Set up phone consultations with all 3 of them and see who you get the best vibe from. Then schedule with that person!

5 | Read blogs

Many therapists now write blogs for their websites to connect with clients before the first phone call. Reading a therapist’s blog can give you a lot of information about the therapist’s values, professional and personal interests, theoretical orientation and whether they have lived-experience with your particular issue. This can be immensely helpful! You also might learn some helpful tools for your own personal development.

When you are in therapy, ensure that you feel understood by your therapist. Therapy is not always easy, so it is important for you to feel as if you can be honest and open with your therapist. Therapy can be a long and difficult journey, so it is essential that you feel comfortable with your therapist. Find a therapist who is reliable. A therapist who is unorganized and cancels sessions can make you feel frustrated and you could lose trust in them, restricting the ability to build a strong therapeutic relationship. These tips should make finding a therapist a tad easier! If you have any further suggestions, leave them in the comment section. I’d love to hear from you! How did you find your therapist? Are you happy with your selection?

6 Ways to Make Friends as an Adult

Natalie Moore

When we’re young, in school, playing sports or what have you, making friends is pretty easy. But when we find ourselves in adulthood, not happy with our social circle, it can be a bit trickier to meet new people and develop solid friendships. Maybe you recently moved to Los Angeles, and don’t know anyone yet…maybe you’ve grown apart from your high school or college friends…maybe you're in recovery and need to make sober friends...or maybe you are just uninspired by your current crowd, feeling like you’ve fallen into a rut you can’t get out of. Whatever the case may be, you’re not alone! I hear all the time from psychotherapy clients that they don’t know how to make new friends, or that meeting people in L.A. is so hard. If you feel this way, and have been wondering “how in the world do you make new friends as an adult?” the following list is for you:

 
 

1 | Use MeetUp

I recommend MeetUp to my psychotherapy clients all the time! What I love about MeetUp is that it kills two birds with one stone -- you get to participate in an activity that you're interested in and you get to do it with other people. Both of these aspects are wonderful for one's overall well-being and sense of belonging. The cool thing about going to a MeetUp event is that people are there specifically to engage in enjoyable activities with new people. So going alone or not knowing anybody there is not some weird, stigmatized thing -- it's actually optimal! You can download the MeetUp app on your phone or use the website here. There are groups for just about anything you can think of. And on the off-chance they don't have a group for your niche hobby? No worries, because you can create your own group. Boom!

2 | Go out to an event alone

There's no better way to meet people than to go out solo. Whether it's going to a coffee house and chatting with the person next to you in line, grabbing a snack after yoga with the person who practiced next to you or going out to a concert and dancing with the group of friends next to you, there are infinite opportunities to make friends, especially if you live in a big city like Los Angeles. Does this sound kinda scary? It can be at first, but like anything, if you do it often enough you'll become more comfortable with it.

3 | Volunteer

A great place to meet good quality friends is through volunteering. Think of it this way -- anyone who's willing to give their time for free to a cause they care about already has several characteristics of a friend: generous, caring, engaged, helpful, etc. The other positive is that you already have something in common with this person to talk about and do together. Volunteering, in addition to being a good place to meet friends, also provides a host of benefits to your overall well-being. Try Volunteer Match to find local volunteer opportunities that strike your fancy.

4 | Build on your current network

Chances are -- even if you're not thrilled with your social life at the moment -- that you have a friend or two (or more.) Build on this! It's easier to start where you are than to start from scratch. The best way to do this is to put together a small group of people to hang out and ask each of them to invite a couple of their friends (obviously with activities that are conducive to large groups.) Repeat as often as necessary. This way, you begin to expand your social circle simply through the law of exponential growth!

5 | Hang out with coworkers

An easy place to make friends is with the people you work with. You can casually ask a coworker if they'd like to grab lunch with you or dinner after work. Words of warning, though: if you're not happy with your current employer, it can be tempting with coworkers to talk badly about the aspects of work you dislike (i.e. your boss, the bureaucracy, etc.) and commiserate. Although it can be great support to be friends with people who understand your situation well and it can feel good to vent out frustrations, keep an eye on this. You wouldn't want this friendship to be mainly based around negativity. The cure? Be curious! Ask your new friend about other areas of their life. You may figure out that you have other things in common other than where you work!

6 | Join a club or league

Get involved in a local soccer league, join a running club, hike with the Sierra Club or find a book club. Your imagination is the limit! These opportunities can be found on social media groups or even a quick Google search in your area. The aspect of consistently meeting up with the group will make it easy to develop friendships over time. And once again, these types of groups often provide benefits to your physical, psychological and emotional wellness as a bonus!

I hope this list has given you some ideas for how to get started in the process of changing or building your network of friends. If you’ve had trouble with this in the past and have found certain strategies or resources that have helped you, please share them in the comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts!


about the author

Hi! I'm Natalie. And my passion is helping people live more peaceful, meaningful lives. Through holistic therapy in Pasadena and here on the blog, my mission is to provide people with the support and tools they need to live their best life.

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Addiction & Recovery Series: Part IV — 5 Outings that Don't Involve Drinking

Natalie Moore

Today's post is the last in a series of articles about drug and alcohol addiction and recovery. I hope you've found inspiration, helpful information and useful resources in the series so far. This last post is intended to help those who've found recovery and are thinking "Okay, I got sober, now what?" Please enjoy Part Four of this Four-Part Addiction and Recovery Series...

As a young adult in Los Angeles, it can feel like all social activities revolve around drinking – that’s because most of them do! And it’s not just bars and clubs anymore, as you’ve probably noticed, many brunch places are offering bottomless mimosa specials, encouraging binge drinking in the morning and it’s not uncommon for groups of friends to order pitchers of beer at lunch. For someone trying to live a sober lifestyle – due to recovery from addiction or for other reasons – this can make it challenging to go out with friends for social outings without finding themselves completely triggered. I totally understand this feeling – I decided to give up drinking for health reasons about 2 years ago – and have developed the following list based on lifestyle changes that I made to support my decision:

 
 

1 | Plan a beach day

Southern California is known for its beautiful beaches, so why not take advantage of them? Recommending a beach day to your friends can be a great opportunity to spend time outdoors, engage in some fun play, get active and load up on some vitamin D. And with so much fun to be had at the beach, there’s really no need to involve alcohol. Here is a great list of the best beaches in L.A. to check out. Not sure what to do when you get there? Take a look at this exhaustive list of fun activities to do at the beach.

2 | Hit a trail

One of my favorite social activities to do in Los Angeles is hiking. Most people don’t associate L.A. with nature, mountains, trees and trails...but guess what? There’s an awesome hiking scene here, if you know where to look! Not only do we have some urban hikes right in the middle of the city, but just a short drive away we also have more challenging and remote hikes in the San Gabriel Mountains. Since drinking and hiking are a challenging combo, most people will be happy to hit the trails sober! There will always be those people who want to go out drinking afterwards to celebrate or open a beer at the summit, but it’s easy to say you need to hydrate with water, instead. My favorite post-hike drink is coconut water, which I keep chilled in the car in a cooler.

3 | Go bowling, find an arcade or play mini-golf

I’m a total sucker for games. They hit some of the main food-groups for me in terms of fun – they’re social, they’re active and they can get a little competitive, too! Some of these venues can have a bar attached to them, but since the group’s main focus is on the game, it’s easier to abstain. If things get a bit rowdy and you find yourself triggered, you can excuse yourself at any time! My favorite places to go are X-Lanes and Castle Park.

4 | Have a picnic

A fun, social idea that’s also more cost-effective than going out to eat is having a picnic! Invite a group of friends out to a park on a nice day and have a potluck-style lunch, where everyone brings something to contribute. Since drinking in parks is illegal, hopefully no one will bring alcohol to begin with. But to ensure that you have something non-alcoholic to drink, you can bring a cooler with healthy drinks in it. This will also give others the opportunity to abstain, as well. Check out this great compilation of best picnic spots in L.A.

5 | Check out a MeetUp group

If you’ve read some of my other posts, you’ll know I’m a huge proponent of MeetUp for many reasons! It’s a great resource for making friends, developing new skills, getting fit, networking for your business and participating in your preferred hobbies. An added bonus to the groups is that there are limitless activities that don’t involve any drinking. Also, the people I’ve met though MeetUp have been high-quality friends and colleagues. I recommend you give it a shot!

I hope these tips have given you a jolt of inspiration for your social life outside of drinking. What I find most important about this process is finding a group of folks who are interested in living an intentional life that doesn’t rely on substances for fun. The friends I’ve made in these circles don’t judge my decision to not drink, and in fact support the healthy lifestyle that it’s a part of. Are you on a journey towards eliminating or reducing alcohol consumption? What has worked for you in terms of social outings? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below. 

For those of you who read this entire series on Addiction and Recovery, please let me know what you thought of it in the comments below. If there was anything particularly useful, I'd like to know. If there was anything missing that you'd still like clarification on, I'd be more than happy to answer your questions and respond to your comments. Thanks in advance!


about the author

Hi! I'm Natalie. And my passion is helping people live more peaceful, meaningful lives. Through holistic therapy in Pasadena and here on the blog, my mission is to provide people with the support and tools they need to live their best life.

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Addiction & Recovery Series: Part III — How to Find Support for Your Recovery

Roxie McLachlan

Today's article is written by guest contributor, Roxie McLachlan, a doctorate of psychology student at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA. Roxie is passionate about mental health and working with the older adult population. Upon completion of her school program, she plans to work as a psychologist in private practice.

This post is the third in a series of articles about drug and alcohol addiction and recovery. Part One was intended to help people decide if they have a problem and need help and Part Two featured inspirational stories of those who have found recovery. This article is meant for the individual who has decided it's time to find help, but doesn't know where to start. Please enjoy Part Three of this Four-Part Addiction and Recovery Series...

Joining a treatment program is an essential step in recovering from addiction. Not only do these programs continue providing skills for coping with addiction, but they also provide a chance for one to gain a support group with other individuals in recovery.

 
 

There are four main routes for treatment:

1 | Inpatient/Residential Treatment Programs: These programs usually range from 30-90 days and require patients to live in the facility during this time. Many programs begin with detoxing then continue to provide recovery treatment for the remainder of the program.

2 | Outpatient Treatment Programs: Unlike residential programs, outpatient programs do not require a patient to live in the facility. Though these programs differ from location to location, they usually consist of daily check-ins and group counseling 3-7 days a week.

3 | Support Groups: Support groups are generally free programs in which group members meet on a weekly basis to discuss recovery. Continue reading for more information on support groups.

4 | Private Practice Therapy: If you've decided you want to change your drinking/using habits, but you do not feel that your situation warrants an inpatient or outpatient treatment program, you may be a good candidate for private practice therapy. Click here to contact Natalie to see if private practice is a good fit for your needs.

Addiction Treatment Facilities

We are lucky to be in the Los Angeles area where there are a variety of different treatment facilities. The following is a list of both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs in Pasadena and the Greater Los Angeles Area. Most of these programs include holistic approaches to recovery and exercise mindfulness and/or meditation techniques.

  • Refuge Recovery: Outpatient programs, detoxification, partial hospitalization, and transitional living. Located in Hollywood. Unique for its strong emphasis on mindfulness.
  • BLVD Centers: Both residential and outpatient treatment programs. Locations in Hollywood and West LA. Unique inclusion of dharma, yoga, and meditation in their recovery groups.
  • Gooden Center: Both residential and outpatient in Pasadena. Aimed at men recovering from addiction. Affordable treatment options.
  • Klean: Both residential and outpatient in Hollywood.
  • Casa Treatment Center: Both residential and outpatient in Pasadena.
  • Impact House: Both residential and outpatient in Pasadena, also an outpatient facility in Downtown LA.
  • Cri Help: Both residential and outpatient. 3 locations in Los Angeles and North Hollywood.
  • Pax House: Residential only in Pasadena.
  • Twin Town Treatment Centers: Outpatient only. Locations in North Hollywood, Torrance, and West Hollywood.

Support Groups

Most of these groups are free of charge and give one a chance to interact and grow with other individuals in recovery.

  • Narcotics Anonymous: There is an abundance of meetings in the LA area. Search here for the meeting nearest you.
  • Alcoholic Anonymous: This site has a list of meetings in the LA area.
  • For those who feel uncomfortable with the spiritual content of NA and AA, there is Secular Organizations for Sobriety.
  • SMART Recovery: Stands for “Self-Management and Recovery Training”. As the name infers, it programs support through empowering self-directed change.
  • The Heart of Recovery Meditation Group -- a meditation group for addiction treatment -- which is held on Wednesdays at the Shambhala Center in Eagle Rock.
  • While most recovery programs are based on abstinence, Moderation Management is based on moderating drinking. They have a Los Angeles and an Eagle Rock location.

This list should get you started on your path toward recovery. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please leave them in the comments below. Have you participated in a recovery program that worked well for you? Please let us know in the comments. Stay tuned for the next in this Four-Part Addiction & Recovery Series. The last post of the series next week will feature enjoyable social activities individuals in recovery can enjoy that don't involve drinking.

Addiction & Recovery Series: Part II — 3 Inspiring Journeys Toward Recovery

Constance Ray

Today's post is the second in a series of articles about drug and alcohol addiction and recovery. It is a guest-post written by Constance Ray from Recovery Well. Constance says "My team and I recently created this site out of love and compassion for those who have been affected by addiction in some way. Of course, there are millions of people struggling with an addiction, but there are also many of us who have seen how debilitating addiction is by witnessing people we love endure it. That’s why we feel it’s important to give hope to those whose lives are being affected by substance use disorder, no matter what way that may be. Our first project with Recovery Well is a really special one: We’ve interviewed people in recovery who want to share their experiences in order to offer a ray of light to others." With this in mind, please enjoy Part Two of this Four-Part Addiction and Recovery Series...

 
JOURNEYS RECOVERY (1).png
 

"How long can I do this?": Recovering Addicts Share the Moment They Realized They Needed Help

Ask just about any recovering addict and they’ll tell you about their “Aha!” moment — the point in their substance abuse they realized treatment was no longer a question, but a necessity. For some it was looking into the mirror, while for others it was looking into the eyes of their concerned loved ones.

No matter how the moment arrived, there seemed to be a common conclusion: it saved their life.

Brandon was confronted by his family — and a harsh truth

Shortly after Brandon graduated from college, he began dabbling in the world of opioid painkillers. His habit quickly spiraled out of control, but because he was able to maintain his job, he convinced himself he was fine. Finally his family, tired of his denial, stepped in.

“They sat me down with my brother and my sister on Christmas Eve, and told me they were worried. I was doing more than they thought, and believed I needed help,” he recalled. “I didn’t know what to say. I was ashamed, embarrassed and disappointed. My little sister, who had always looked up to me was crying.”

Even so, Brandon was resistant to the idea of treatment … at first.

“But I thought about it and asked myself, ‘How long am I going to do this?’ I was exhausted all the time; it was all I could do to get through an eight-hour work day. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired,” he said.

“A few days later, I sat down with my dad and told him I was going to rehab.”

John lost his job, but gained perspective

John’s addiction stretched over the course of a decade and peaked shortly after he found his brother dead of a cocaine overdose. From there, things escalated.

“I was working for a well-known company. I was drinking and taking various prescription pills to cope with my fear, anxiety and chronic pain,” he explained.

But John’s problem was more apparent to others than he realized, including his boss.

“One day, the CEO brought me into his office and told me, ‘You obviously need help. I can’t help you in the way that you need it. But I can let you go so you can find that help.’ I was fired,” John said.

John realized it was time to kick denial aside and come clean, then get clean:

“For the first time in my life, I had to be honest. I called my wife and told her, ‘I need help. I just got fired, and I need help.’”

After graduating from the Treehouse in Texas nearly a year ago, John is now happy, healthy and sober — and has never looked back.

Ryan had tried going to treatment to please others, but had to make the choice for himself

At the insistence of his parents and girlfriend, Ryan had completed an addiction treatment program half-heartedly. Soon, though, he was back to his old ways. His girlfriend kicked him out and told him she’d had enough.

Ryan drowned his sorrows in a bottle of liquor, but awoke the following day with clarity.

“The next morning, I was a quarter of the way through another bottle when I finally realized it. I thought, ‘Look at me right now. I’m an addict,’” he said.

His parents helped him check into a rehab facility where he was finally able to get clean.

We all face our own challenges, whether it’s a substance addiction or otherwise. What defines us is how we overcome it. It’s a lot of work, but in the end, we’re better for it.

As Ryan noted, “In recovery, each day, something happens to make my life more manageable. It’s not always easy. Some days it’s hard. But it’s so worth it.”

I hope you found today's article inspiring -- I sure did! If you're interested in learning more, please check out what they're doing over at Recovery Well. Also, please share your opinions or personal stories of recovery in the comments section. Shared support makes us all stronger. Stay posted for Parts Three and Four of the Addiction & Recovery Series about how to find help for addiction and alternative activities to drinking/using. Thank you for reading and be well!

Addiction & Recovery Series: Part I — 10 Signs of Drug & Alcohol Addiction

Natalie Moore

Today's post is the first in a series of articles about drug and alcohol addiction and recovery. In the beginning of the year, we often begin to reflect on the past year and think about ways in which we can live a healthier, more intentional life in the coming year. For many people, goals for the New Year revolve around ways in which one can better attend to their health and well-being. Looking at one's relationship with substances in the coming year inspired this series. Please enjoy Part One of this Four-Part Addiction and Recovery Series...

With all the social drinking (and drug use in certain circles) that goes on, it can be difficult to know how much is too much for oneself. Each person has a unique relationship with substances -- and whether to drink/use, how much and when are very personal decisions that only you can make. The following list of warning signs of addiction is intended to help you examine your own behaviors around alcohol and drugs to determine if you need to reach out for help:

 
 

1 | You have tried to stop before

If you've noticed that you're drinking or using more than you think is healthy and you've attempted to stop before unsuccessfully, that can often be the first sign of an addiction. When one has a healthy relationship with substances, it is easy to stop using because they are not dependent on it.

2 | You drink and use alone

Drinking and using (especially during young adulthood) are common social activities that often go along with celebrations and weekend outings. But if you find yourself drinking or using alone frequently, this is a behavior to examine. Using substances alone is not always a red flag, but it's something to consider, especially if in conjunction with some of these other warning signs.

3 | You hide or lie about drinking or using

If you find yourself lying to loved ones about how often or how much you drink or use, that is probably an indication that you're having a problem. Think of it this way -- if you were drinking a reasonable amount, you wouldn't feel any need to lie to about it. Another example of this would be hiding alcohol and drugs from loved ones or refilling alcohol bottles with water to hide drinking.

4 | Your performance is suffering

For many people, when they develop an addiction, they begin to notice that their performance begins to suffer in different arenas of their lives -- whether it be at school, work or athletically. If you become aware that you're calling out sick from work due to hangovers or that your grades are slipping, these can be an indication that something is up.

5 | Relationships become strained

Addiction definitely takes a huge toll on relationships with others. People in your life may begin to notice that they are taking a back seat to your drink or drug of choice. They may become frustrated that you're not the same person as they used to know. If someone close to you tells you they think you have a problem, this can be a strong indicator of addiction.

6 | Your health is declining

Alcohol and drugs, especially when abused, are obviously detrimental to one's health. If you notice yourself become fatigued or ill more often than is expected, or if a doctor brings up an ailment often correlated with alcohol or drug abuse, then it's time to start reflecting on the negative effects the use is having on your health and well-being. Alcohol and drug abuse are associated with a host of health risks among other general safety risks.

7 | You often think about drinking and using

If you find yourself daydreaming at work about going home and drinking/using and looking forward to that more than other enjoyable activities or interactions with people, you may have a problem. In addiction, the drink/drug of choice becomes the primary relationship and is more motivating than anything else in that person's life. When you find yourself thinking about drinking/using while doing unrelated daily activities, it's something to look at.

8 | You binge drink or use

Having a glass of wine at the end of the work day is one thing, but drinking the entire bottle is another! If you find yourself drinking to get drunk, until you black out or until you make yourself sick, you may want to seek some help cutting back or abstaining altogether. Binge drinking and using regularly is a sign that you are probably using substances to deal with difficult emotions or life circumstances. Finding someone you can talk to like a therapist or a support group can help immensely.

9 | You have legal ramifications

Typically people do not get a DUI or a possession charge due to bad luck; it often means that an individual was driving under the influence or in possession of drugs enough times to finally get caught. No shame here! Addiction is a disease that needs to be treated through therapy and support groups. But the first step is recognizing that you have a problem, and dealing with legal ramifications stemming from substance use is a common warning sign that there is a problem.

10 | You experience tolerance and withdrawal

A major sign that one in dealing with addiction is the bodily response cycle of tolerance and withdrawal, which means that over time, with continued use, it takes more and more of the substance to attain the desired result, and that without the substance, one feels sick and "not like themselves." Essentially the person needs the alcohol or drug in higher doses simply to feel normal.

I hope this list was helpful to you. If you are worried about your drinking and/or using, please talk to your doctor, your therapist or seek help as soon as you can. If you disagree with any of these warning signs, or have more that you would add to the group, please comment below. This is Part One in a series of posts about addiction, so stay tuned for future posts. We’ll be featuring inspirational stories of recovery, resources for people looking to seek help for an addiction and lastly, a post about fun activities for young adults to do who choose not to drink. Thanks for reading!


about the author

Hi! I'm Natalie. And my passion is helping people live more peaceful, meaningful lives. Through holistic therapy in Pasadena and here on the blog, my mission is to provide people with the support and tools they need to live their best life.

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10 Low-Cost Local Counseling Resources

Roxie McLachlan

Today's post is written by guest contributor, Roxie McLachlan, a doctorate of psychology student at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA. Roxie is passionate about mental health and working with the older adult population. Upon completion of her school program, she plans to work as a psychologist in private practice. Read on for Roxie's best resources for finding an affordable local therapist...

Caring for our mental health can be expensive! Therapists can charge high fees for sessions, making it impossible for some of us to get the help we need. But thankfully, the Los Angeles area is filled with mental health resources that won’t cost you an arm and a leg! I’ve compiled a list of some of Los Angeles low (or no)-cost clinics that you can reach out to if you are seeking therapy:

 
 

1 | Hollywood Sunset Free Clinic

As the name entails, this clinic offers free therapy. Hollywood Sunset Free Clinic makes the top of the list because it provides an abundance of mental health services for individuals, couples, and families for no cost!

2 | University Clinics

Many schools with graduate programs in psychology have a clinic that will offer mental health services for low or no cost. Here is a list of some university clinics in the Los Angeles area:

Fuller Psychological and Family Services

UCLA Psychology Clinic

Pepperdine Psychology and Education Clinics

USC Psychology Services Center

3 | El Dorado Community Service Centers

ECSCs offer low cost general medical services, counseling services, psycho-pharmacological treatments, and psychiatric care. Through the use of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing, and problem-solving therapy, services are provided to couples, families, and individuals. Specifically, they offer treatment for ADHD, substance abuse, stress management, and anger management. There are 3 locations in the Los Angeles area.

4 | Los Angeles LGBT Center

The LA LGBT Center offers mental health services at their McDonald/Wright Building. They offer individual and group therapy to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. A distinguishing factor of their services is that they have counselors and therapists whom specialize in helping individuals with backgrounds of intimate partner violence and domestic abuse. There services are also low-cost as they offer a sliding scale and one’s fees are established based on their ability to pay.

5 | Valley Community Clinic

VCC offers medical services as well as psychotherapy. They base their mental health services on 5 pillars: open-ended therapy for lasting results, getting to the root of your difficulties, insight that fosters change, understanding your past to improve your present, and finally, treating you as a whole person. They offer individual, couple, family, and child therapy.

Uniquely, VCC also provides parent-infant dyadic therapy, which helps mothers and/or fathers to work through the life changes of having a child along with their infant. Of course to make our list, they offer low-cost services, targeting low-income residents of North Hollywood and surrounding areas.

6 | Hollywood Mental Health Services

Hollywood Mental Health Services is a mental health facility that offers a variety of low-cost counseling services for young adults through the elderly. Specifically they provide services for individuals with serious mental illness, substance abuse disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, veterans, the LGBT community, as well as forensic clients.

7 | Pacific Clinics Portals House

These clinics offer mental health programs for people at various stages of life. They are one of the oldest non-profit mental health organizations in the LA area. They offer a range of programs, depending on individual need, at a number of locations.

8 | Open Path Psychotherapy Collective

There are many therapists in private practice who also provide services based on a sliding scale. One great way to find therapists like this is through the non-profit organization Open Path Psychotherapy Collective — it's a listing site with profiles of private practice therapists who are offering their services at $30-50 per session. Open Path charges a one-time membership fee of $49.

9 | Westminster Center

Westminster is a non-profit counseling center with a commitment to providing high-quality mental health services to its community at affordable rates. The center employs qualified therapists who offer a range of services including individual, couple and family therapy.

10 | The Place Within

The Place Within is a small group psychotherapy practice and therapist training organization with a mission to provide high-quality, yet low-cost counseling to their community. Psychotherapy sessions with supervised MFT Interns are on a sliding scale from $25-80 per 50-minute therapy hour.

Although this compilation is not exhaustive, it is a good start for anyone seeking no- and low-cost counseling services. Keep in mind that some of these organizations require Medi-Cal eligibility, while others work on a sliding-scale rate. If you do have insurance, a great place for you to start is to call your insurance company directly to see if you have mental health benefits covered through your plan and to ask for a list of in-network providers.

I hope you have found this list helpful! Please comment below with any questions or further resources to share. Best of luck in your search!

Creating a Morning Routine that Sticks

Natalie Moore

Morning routines have become a popular topic of conversation as of late as many successful individuals have publicly credited their morning routines in helping them achieve their goals. I strongly believe that the attitudes and behaviors that we adopt first thing in the morning set a powerful precedent for the rest of the day. When we prepare ourselves well for the day – by giving ourselves enough time to get ready, by eating a healthful breakfast and by doing something mindfully – we are setting a strong intention that we plan to carry out throughout the day and throughout our lives. Here are some important components of a successful morning routine:

 
 

1 | Timing is everything

Do you actually know exactly how long it takes for you to get ready in the morning and drive to work in a calm and mindful manner? Most people probably don’t! One way to develop an effective morning routine is to time how long it takes you to do your morning tasks and drive to work and keep this in mind when setting your alarm clock in the morning. This also means counting back by 8 hours and making sure you get to bed at a reasonable hour!

2 | Plan your day

When stressed in the morning, it’s easy to become short-sighted. We can get caught up in what needs to be done immediately – like finding our keys – while forgetting to plan out the rest of the day. Take some time in the morning (or the night before) to prepare exactly what you need to have a smooth day. This could be planning your outfit the night before, getting all of your work materials together near the door, or taking a minute to go over your calendar.

3 | Food is fuel

Eating a healthy breakfast and preparing a lunch with snacks is one of the most important ways to take good care of yourself each morning and into the day. It may go without saying for those who already eat daily breakfast, but having food in your belly at the start of the day is necessary to maintain concentration at work, maintain healthy blood sugar levels and to keep an even head about you. Packing healthy snacks and a lunch will also help you maintain a better diet.

4 | Make time for silence

The day is going to get busy, hectic and noisy! Why not balance that out with some silent reflection early in the morning? My favorite way to incorporate some silence into my morning routine is to give myself enough time to mindfully drink my breakfast smoothie or a cup of hot tea by myself. I find a cozy spot in the house or on the balcony and take the opportunity to practice mindfulness of the aromas, tastes and sensations of the drink.

5 | Exercise

If you have the ability and time to exercise in the morning, I highly recommend it! Often times by the end of the work day we feel so exhausted that we cannot imagine getting out for a run or to that yoga class. But if you can make time in the morning to get your exercise regimen in, you will not regret it! Exercise is an amazing way to increase your energy level naturally and will likely put you in a positive mood for the rest of the day.

I hope you’ve enjoyed some of these suggestions for improving your morning routine. One thing I’d like to add is that behavior change is most effective when incorporated slowly. Please don’t feel pressured to completely overhaul your morning. Start slowly, integrating positive change one day at a time. You’ll get there!


about the author

Hi! I'm Natalie. And my passion is helping people live more peaceful, meaningful lives. Through holistic therapy in Pasadena and here on the blog, my mission is to provide people with the support and tools they need to live their best life.

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7 Coping Skills for Holiday Stressors

Roxie McLachlan

Today's post is written by guest contributor, Roxie McLachlan, a doctorate of psychology student at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA. Roxie is passionate about mental health and working with the older adult population. Upon completion of her school program, she plans to work as a psychologist in private practice. Read on for Roxie's best tips for coping with holiday stress...

It’s the beginning of December and the holiday season is rapidly approaching. During this time, we feel a range of emotions. It is an exciting and energetic time of the year, but it’s not without significant stress. In this blog entry, I have included seven ways that I reduce the stress that often comes along with the holiday season:

 
 

1 | Plan ahead

All of the events associated with the holidays can get hectic! Holiday shopping, gatherings, decorating and traveling can feel like so much to do in so little time. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can reduce that holiday-induced stress by planning ahead as much as you can, so that you don’t feel overwhelmed at the last minute. One of the easiest ways to do this is to schedule your holiday shopping in advance (yes, put it in your calendar!) and keep a running list on your phone of what you’d like to get each loved one.

2 | Take time for yourself

With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it is easy for us to forget to take care of ourselves. But having a little “me” time is essential for reducing anxiety and depression. Whether it is taking a long bath to relax or taking some time to do yoga, make sure you have at least 30 minutes a day to practice self-care. This will also better prepare you for the potential family tensions or conflicts that often accompany holiday gatherings! For more tips, read this post on anxiety-reduction strategies.

3 | Get some sun

Sunlight actually helps you feel better by producing serotonin – or, the “happy hormone” – it is especially helpful if you experience Seasonal Affective Disorder. I’m privileged to live in Southern California where the sun is shining almost every day, so if you live in this area, too, take advantage by throwing on an extra sweater and going for a walk outside. I am surprised how much sunlight helps me when I am feeling down!

4 | Plan a vacation

Vacations are exciting! Planning a trip, whether it is a week in Cozumel or a weekend trip to a neighboring city, can give us something to look forward to. If you are living far away from family, planning a trip to visit your loved ones will help keep you occupied and decrease feelings of loneliness. 

5 | Avoid bingeing on food or alcohol

The holiday season brings with it lots of delicious food and drinks. Of course, they should be enjoyed and savored to make the most of your experience. But make sure to bring a mindset of mindfulness to your consumption of food and drinks this season to ensure you're maintaining a healthy relationship with food. If you find yourself eating past fullness or drinking more than you intended to, you may be using food and drinks as emotional crutches, as opposed to facing some of the discomfort and stress that the holidays can also bring. This is not to say that one should feel guilty about their consumption we all overdo it sometimes! And guilt surely doesn't help any. Just notice your behavior with an attitude of non-judgmental awareness.

6 | Practice staying in the moment

The holiday season itself requires a lot of decisions and, of course, effort. Who will host family gatherings? Who will cook what? What will you buy your family? It can be easy for us to get caught up in all the things we have to do and forget to experience the present moment. The holiday season can bring so much joy and excitement, it is important to experience it. Even if you don’t live close to your family, there are still many fun activities going on around this season – head out and enjoy! Read here for ways to become more mindful throughout your day.

7 | Remember the reason for the season

Whether you’re Christian, Jewish, Muslim, any other religious denomination, or if you are simply celebrating the holidays as an occasion to spend time with family, we must not forget the reason for the holiday! With all the stressors, it is not difficult to forget why you are celebrating. This goes hand-in-hand with being present in the moment. Don’t forget the holiday season for what it means to you!

Thanks for reading and please let me know if you have any additional tips to ward off holiday stress. I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below. I hope you have a lovely and safe holiday season. Be well.

5 Strategies for How to be More Positive

Natalie Moore

Clients ask me all the time – “how can I be more positive?” I think this is something we all need help with from time to time. Often life seems like it hands us one challenge after the next, without much time to process each loss, trauma and set-back. How can we take things more in stride? How can we begin to see the silver linings in seemingly negative experiences? Below is a round-up of some ways you can foster a more positive mindset:

 
 

1 | Practice gratitude

Just like training for a marathon requires putting in the miles, positivity requires effort and training. The mind unfortunately has a negativity bias which means that we need to practice seeing the good in our lives intentionally and often. Some ways to practice gratitude include starting a “gratitude journal,” or setting aside some time each morning thinking about the things you are grateful for. Check here for some inspiration to get started with a 30-day gratitude challenge.

2 | Integrate mindfulness

When we practice a mindful awareness and acceptance of thoughts, feelings and sensations as they arise – whether pleasant or unpleasant – then “negative” thoughts have less power over us. We can see things with more clarity and perspective. Check out my blog post about how to live a more mindful, meditative lifestyle…even if you’re short on time.

3 | Use positive self-talk

Give yourself a mental pep-talk if you need one! If you’re feeling down in the dumps, imagine what a close friend might say to you to lift your spirits or what you might say to a friend if they were going through the same thing. If you’re having trouble thinking of ideas for positive self-talk, check out this list of 35 affirmations for positive thinking.

4 | Surround yourself with positivity

Remember that your friends, family and co-workers have a huge influence on you. Seek to spend more time with people who focus on the positive and dedicate less time to people who tend to spiral into negativity. If you feel that you need to make some new friends with a more positive outlook, check out MeetUp.com for fun events happening in your area. You’ll find groups for just about every activity you can think of.

5 | Balance out your intake

In today’s media-heavy environment, we can easily be bombarded with bad news 24/7. It’s hard to be positive when we’re constantly reminded of everything that is happening in the world. Of course, staying informed is an important aspect of being an engaged citizen, but aim to balance your media intake with some positive sources, as well – this could include watching an inspiring TED talk, listening to an uplifting podcast, or reading a favorite personal development blog.

I wish you the best of luck in your journey towards positivity! I hope you find this list helpful. If there are any great suggestions you have for ways to be more positive, please share them in the comments below. This community will be stronger with more voices. Thank you in advance!


about the author

Hi! I'm Natalie. And my passion is helping people live more peaceful, meaningful lives. Through holistic therapy in Pasadena and here on the blog, my mission is to provide people with the support and tools they need to live their best life.

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8 Ways to Reduce Anxiety Naturally

Roxie McLachlan

Today's post is written by guest contributor, Roxie McLachlan, a doctorate of psychology student at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA. Roxie is passionate about mental health and working with the older adult population. Upon completion of her school program, she plans to work as a psychologist in private practice. Read on for Roxie's best tips for beating anxiety...

With the vast amount of stressors and worries we encounter throughout the day, it is no surprise that we can often find ourselves feeling anxious. Young adults especially can feel immense pressure to perform in multiple arenas in life, but don’t necessarily know how to balance that with proper self-care. Featured below is a round-up of my personal favorite tips for reducing anxiety naturally:

 
 

1 | Keep a journal

When we have so many thoughts flying through our minds, it is hard to feel calm. Creating a journal will help you take the anxious thoughts out of your mind and put them on paper instead.

2 | Make a schedule and a to-do list

There are often so many things to do in so little time. Planning when you will do each activity will help you to feel prepared to conquer the situation. When you have completed each task, check it off the to-do list. As you continue to check off more items, you will feel more fulfilled. You will be surprised at how exciting it feels when you get closer to the bottom of the list!

3 | Get some sleep

It sounds like common sense, right? Not necessarily. We often fail to realize how little sleep we are actually getting. With so much stimulation available to us through our smartphones, computers, and TVs, we often find ourselves staying up later than we intend to. For many of us, 6 hours of sleep is acceptable. According to this help guide, 6 hours of sleep is not nearly sufficient. Instead, it is recommended that young adults get 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep. Even one hour less creates a notable difference in our functioning throughout the day.

4 | Spend time in nature

Nature has an extraordinary way to make us feel more positive. A walk to the park, especially when the sun is shining, can help uplift your anxieties. If you live near a hiking trail, going on a hike would be a great opportunity to reduce your anxiety. Not only are you spending time in nature, but by doing physical activity, you can also relieve additional stress and boost your mood.

5 | Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness has become popular in the past 25-30 years as a practice used by psychotherapists and other mental health professionals to reduce anxiety and depression. However, the practice itself actually emerged from Buddhist traditions thousands of years ago. By focusing on consciousness, mindfulness helps bring awareness and acceptance of your present experience. These techniques allow someone to become relaxed by lowering their heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension (all in which increase with anxiety). If interested in learning more, I would recommend reading this book by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the man credited for bringing mindfulness into the mainstream.

6 | Take a bath with Epsom salts

Pick up some Epsom salt at your local Walgreens or CVS and take a bath. It sounds simplistic, but it really does work! Epsom salts often come in different scents and sometimes have added minerals to benefit your skin. When added to a bath, they create a calming and relaxing soak. If you are experiencing physical stiffness, Epsom salts also offer a soothing relief.

7 | Use an app

Just like the saying says, “there is an app for that!” Two anxiety apps that I have personally found helpful are Pacifica and Calm. Pacifica works by tracking your mood and thoughts to help you identify the triggers of your anxiety. It also provides deep breathing and muscle relaxation exercises. It is a great way not only to relieve anxiety, but also to observe what is causing your anxiety so you can work to better reduce it in the future. Furthermore, Calm is extremely effective reducing stress. The app has several programs and guides for different types of anxiety.

8 | Do simple yoga poses

You don’t need to be a pro to benefit from yoga! Two simple poses you can do to release your anxiety are: savasana and viparita karani (I promise they’re not as confusing as they sound!) Savasana is also called the “corpse pose.” To do this pose, you must lay on the floor (I find hard surfaces are the best) and roll up a blanket or towel and place it under your knees. You may also place a pillow under your head or cover yourself with a blanket – whatever is the most comfortable for you. It is recommended to lay in this position for 5-10 minutes, focusing on your breathing. The second pose, viparita karani, is also fairly simple. Lay on the floor with your legs up the wall and place a blanket under your hips, like this. Lay in this position for 5-10 minutes as well. Doing these yoga poses can help you to relax and allow your worries to drift away. If you are interested in additional simple yoga to do at home, check out this slideshow on Yoga Journal.

If you ever find yourself dealing with anxiety or stress, I hope you’re able to remember some of these helpful tips to bring you more peace of mind. Of course there are countless ways to reduce one’s anxiety and stress and this is far from an exhaustive list. I’d love to hear from you! What are your favorite ways to keep anxiety at bay? Share your best tips in the comments below.

3 Top Tips for Happiness from a Therapist

Natalie Moore

If you’ve never tried therapy before, you may wonder what pearls of wisdom therapists share with their clients. Although the foundation of therapy (and where the healing really occurs) is in the relationship between therapist and client, there have been some helpful pieces of insight along the way that clients have appeared to really benefit from hearing from me. Below is a round-up up of the most common things I’ll say to my psychotherapy clients during sessions:

 
 

1 | Pain x Resistance = Suffering

Or as Haruki Murakami beautifully put it "Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional." We all know that we cannot prevent painful experiences from happening in life. But we can absolutely decide how we respond to them. When we resist pain (through denial, distraction or numbing) we inadvertently suffer more in the process of avoiding the feelings. The analogy that I use is that if you are at the doctor’s office receiving a shot and you tense up your entire arm and body to brace yourself for the pain of the shot, you will probably experience suffering. However, if you relaxed your arm as much as you could and accepted the sharp pain that was about to ensue, you may feel pain, but you will suffer much less. The best way to deal with painful events is to lean into the feelings that arise, attempt to accept those feelings as they are and find healthy ways to cope.

2 | The problem is not the problem

Often times, if we’re dealing with anxiety, depression or any other unpleasant condition, it is easy to see that symptom as the “problem.” In somatic psychotherapy, though, we have a different view. As a mind/body therapist, I believe that symptoms are simply the body’s natural way of expressing a deeper wound, and that the symptom is – believe it or not – the body’s mode of attempting to heal itself. For example with anxiety, the body is trying to rev itself up to escape from perceived danger. When you are depressed, the body is trying to have a “deep rest” often due to the body’s perception that it is over-worked or that its ability to cope has been depleted (in response to grief, for example.) So what is the deeper problem then? Usually the real issue is dissatisfaction with one’s place in life (whether it be an unfulfilling job, marriage, etc.), poor attachment with a parent as a child (meaning an early caregiver was not available to you in the way you needed,) or unresolved loss(es) or trauma(s). These are the areas that therapy is especially helpful in addressing.

3 | Slow down

I practice counseling in Pasadena, CA – a city in Los Angeles – and most of my clients live a fast-paced lifestyle. They often feel much pressure from themselves, their partners, their families, their bosses and society at large to work harder, make more money, be more successful and do more, in general. Often my job is to help clients feel okay with just “being” and not “doing.” The deeper work is often exploring the early messaging people received throughout the lifespan about what it means to be a “good person” or a “productive citizen.” Working hard is a virtue and don’t get me wrong, I’ve achieved everything I have in life due to hard work. But there is definitely an imbalance in our current culture toward overachieving and I believe that much of the suffering my clients experience is due to not taking the time they need for self-care.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these 3 quick tips from a therapist. If there’s anything you agree or disagree with, please share your opinion in the comments below. Also, let me know what your favorite tips are (whether you provide them as a therapist or have received them as a client) down below. I’d love to learn from YOU!  Thank you and be well.


about the author

Hi! I'm Natalie. And my passion is helping people live more peaceful, meaningful lives. Through holistic therapy in Pasadena and here on the blog, my mission is to provide people with the support and tools they need to live their best life.

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