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Brookhaven Retreat Blog
Wednesday, 31 December 2014 00:00

As My Mother Ages

“Why would a 68 year old woman get a tattoo?” I have been asking myself this question all week. I am trying to keep an open mind, but it just has me bewildered.

It was on her bucket list. You know, a list of all the things you want to do before you “kick the bucket.” This woman continues to surprise me with some of her ideas and behaviors, yet she continues to work full-time as a registered nurse at the local hospital so I know she is still in her right mind.

She loves all of the Twilight movies, the shows True Blood and the Walking Dead. Or should I say she loves all the young stars associated with them. She went to Las Vegas with a group of girlfriends last spring. I am sure God only knows what all they got into out there. She has been to numerous No Doubt and Gwen Stefani concerts with her oldest granddaughter, and stayed up on weekends to watch Orange is the New Black with her other granddaughter.

So what is the big deal? If it had been anyone else I am sure I would be fine with it, but the woman in question just happens to be my mom.

I just have a hard time digesting all of this. My mom has always been one to speak her mind and to try new things, but this really has me floored. Everyone has a picture of how they expect people to act especially as they age, but she is pushing the envelope. I think of my poor dad; I know he must be beside himself sometimes, but he has always been one to keep quiet especially where mom is concerned.

I am trying to look at this through her eyes. I know she is getting up in age, and has things she wants to do or try. I have heard too, that with maturity comes a certain level of confidence, and boy, isn’t that the truth, because my mom is not lacking in confidence, that is for sure. I have never felt my age, and I am sure that I get that from Mom, but as the grandmother of 15 ages 2-24 I thought she might be a little more like her own mother. I like to picture her wearing an apron baking cookies, planting flowers in her garden, being part of a garden club, playing cards with her friends, but that is just not who she is.

Many aging women have a difficult transition into the senior years. Some are plagued with not only depression and anxiety but may feel lost overall. Brookhaven Retreat has seen many older women struggle with substance abuse and addiction as their health deteriorates, loved ones pass away, and they are often left alone and isolated.

So though I am having a hard time with this new tattoo, I will accept her choices. I am going to count my blessings; my mom is alive and kicking. She is still able to work. She is relatively healthy. She is making memories with her grandchildren no matter how outrageous I may think they are; and most importantly, she is happy and confident. Mom is working on that bucket list of hers and I have no idea what else she has planned.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Monday, 29 December 2014 00:00

Foods For Emotional Health

Nutrition not only nourishes our body, but it feeds our mind too. The foods we consume play a major role in how we function physically, emotionally and mentally. For example, foods that contain excess sugar and those that trigger inflammation have been linked to a high risk of depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. When our body is not nutritionally balanced our emotional and mental health is unbalanced and we may struggle recovering from traumas or stresses that occur daily. Through education, effort and self-love, women can realign their priorities to include nutrition that supports their emotional and mental health.

An article published in the December issue of Healthy Living titled “22 Foods of Happiness” explores the mind body connection and lists what foods can help alleviate symptoms of mental health disorders:

Bipolar Disorder: Focus on foods rich in omega-3s.

  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Walnuts
  • Canola Oil

Stress/Anxiety: Focus on: foods high in theanine, B-vitamins, herbs and tryptophan.

  • Chamomile Tea
  • Avocado
  • Almonds
  • Oranges
  • Turkey

Depression: Focus on: Antioxidants, tryptophan, folate and omega 3s.

  • Blueberries
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Beans
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Chard
  • Dark Chocolate

AVOID:

A 2004 UK study found those with gluten intolerance that causes inflammation in the body, had an 80% increased risk for depression. Foods like wheat, barley and grains should be avoided if you suspect Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance. For everyone else, limiting or avoiding soda, refined sugar, processed food, caffeine and alcohol can help ensure you’re at your optimal holistic health.

Poor nutrition and mental health are so closely intertwined it is hard to differ which came first. When we are malnourished, we are more susceptible to mental health issues, and as we suffer from the symptoms of these disorders such as lack of sleep, poor self-care and loss or increase of appetite, we exacerbate the unhealthy nutritional choices. This cycle can be hard to break, but with education, effort and self-love, women can realign their priorities to include nutrition.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Sunday, 28 December 2014 00:00

Warm Spinach Salad

This green and red salad is a perfect alternative to traditional heavy December foods. The healthy spinach mix, chopped walnuts, pomegranate, mushrooms and avocado are loaded with nutrients that help keep our physical health strong as well as our mental health. Add some savory bacon and a little brown sugar for a warm taste of the season.

Ingredients:

  • 10 oz fresh spinach leaves, washed, dried, and stemmed
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 pomegranate, seeds only
  • 1 c thinly sliced mushrooms
  • ½ c coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 3 slices bacon
  • ¼ c brown sugar
  • ½ c cider vinegar
  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • Freshly cracked black pepper, about ½ tsp.

Directions:

  1. Place torn spinach leaves, avocado slices, pomegranate seeds and sliced mushrooms into a large bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large, dry skillet, toast walnut pieces over high heat for 1-1 ½ minutes, shaking and tossing constantly.
  3. Sprinkle over salad.
  4. In same skillet, fry bacon until crisp and remove from pan.
  5. Pour off all but 1 tbsp of fat.
  6. Over medium heat, blend in sugar, vinegar, oil and pepper; heat through, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved.
  7. Crumble bacon over salad, pour hot dressing over, toss and serve.

Source: Susan Branch

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Sunday, 28 December 2014 00:00

60 Minutes Mindfulness

Earlier this month, CBS aired a segment on 60 Minutes about mindfulness. Mindfulness is being aware of your emotions and thoughts so that you are better able to identify what you are feeling, think more logically and recognize irrational thoughts. For women with depression, anxiety and borderline personality disorder, mindfulness can make a significant difference in their quality of life and managing their illness. If you are still unsure of what mindfulness is - it is simply being truly present.

During this segment, Anderson Cooper was on a quest to understand and master mindfulness and realizes just how little he is actually present in the moment, aware of what he is doing, thinking and feeling. He discovers that major companies like Google, Facebook and Instagram encourage their employees to practice mindfulness to increase productivity and focus the mind. While at the University of Massachusetts, Cooper had his brain analyzed in order to show the actual physical changes that happen during mindfulness. He began by thinking of something anxiety provoking, which triggered his brain cells to start firing. Once he refocused his thoughts the brain immediately relaxed.

However this is not a simple task. In our world we are hardly ever actually present. From the constant connection with the Internet to 16-hour workdays, it is easy to lose touch of reality and our true feelings, allowing the negative emotions to overwhelm us.

This is often the case for so many of us. How often are you actually aware of what you are doing? Have you ever arrived somewhere and thought “Wow. I don’t even remember driving here!” That is because we are frequently running on autopilot, just going through the motions, while our mind is completely disconnected.

Brookhaven Retreat uses mindfulness in every component of therapy from eating to walking. When depression or anxiety feel overwhelming, women learn to refocus their thoughts on what they are doing at the very moment, control their breathing and use rational thinking. Each morning, women participate in reflecting upon how they are feeling as they get started with their day, followed by an evening reflection to unwind before bed.

Mindfulness, like any therapeutic skill, takes repetitive practice. Comprehensive activities, projects and discussions encourage this skill and help women slow down, focus their thoughts and manage their emotions and behaviors in both healthy and productive ways.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Saturday, 27 December 2014 00:00

Making a List…

For those of us who have a touch of (or more than a touch of) obsessive compulsive disorder or like to be organized in general, writing lists is a wonderful practice that can fill a need for order. Lists can organize your shopping trip, they can help you keep your thoughts in order, or they can help you make decisions by listing pros and cons. Top Tens have become very popular lists recently and you can find Top Tens for nearly any category on a Google search. These lists can have value for your health, entertainment, or aide in decision-making.

For example, did you know that Raleigh, North Carolina is in the United States’ Top Ten best cities to live in? And that fatty fish such as salmon and herring are in the Top Ten best foods to help arthritis? How about the carnivorous olinguito, a tree-dwelling mammal in the Amazon forest, making the Top Ten newly discovered species for 2013? Visit TopTenz.com for fun lists like the Top Ten Jobs Technology has Made Obsolete. Personally I like the lack of need for a “Pinsetter;” the people hired to set up bowling pins at the end of the alley!

According to Every Day Health, being a caregiver for medical patients is in the Top Ten most stressful professions and can lead to anxiety and depression, along with food service, teaching, social work, healthcare, maintenance work, accounting, sales, office work and the performing arts. A list like this might help a young person determine the kind of professional education they choose. Top Tens for successful marriages include forgiveness, commitment, affection, compatibility, and fighting fairly… easier said than done!

As I prepare for a short vacation, I am writing a list of responsibilities at home that I will turn over to my 19-year-old son. A list increases accountability: Once the items are crossed off the list, there is a sense of accomplishment and reason for celebration! If not, in this case, I will return to a mess and have to make a list of ways to reduce my stress and anxiety as I prepare to discipline the young man and return my home to its previous condition!

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Thursday, 25 December 2014 00:00

Girlfriends

Giggles, laughs, secrets, tears and sharing, these are the traits of friendships, more specifically, girl friendships. We have boyfriends or husbands, children or parents, but when we really want to get something deep down off of our chest, whom do we go to? Our girlfriends - because we know they will listen without judgment, provide support and encouragement and also tell us the truth!

Social wellness is a fundamental component of our mental health and emotional strength. Life offers many sudden changes and curve balls where relationships and friendships are one of the few things we can depend on. I have moved to many new towns and cities over the course of the last 26 years and the one thing I always prayed for was that God would put a good friend in my path. To that request, I have been blessed to meet many women who share my passion for exercise, faith, food, music and family. They are scattered all over the US and even though I may not see them as often as I would like, I know they are only a phone call away.

I have friends that I call when I feel anxiety rising. I have friends that I call to discuss work. I have friends that I invite to come visit because they are fun to be around. I have friends that are sensible and will tell me the truth. I have friends who cheer me up when I am depressed. I have new friends and ones that I have had my whole life. When I look back at all of the friendships that I have shared I feel so blessed that I have had people who have pulled through tough times, have been there to dance with me until 2 am, have been there through broken relationships, and have sat around the table to laugh, play games, and share silly stories. I could never make it without my girlfriends.

I moved to Richmond about 2 years ago for work and knew three people, mostly acquaintances, but one introduction led to another introduction and I gained three new friends. Without those three close friends it would have made that move much harder and way less FUN! This summer I moved to Knoxville to start a life with someone and now I am on the quest to find new girlfriends that I connect with instantly and will provide an outlet for me to giggle, laugh, share secrets, cry and dance!

Brookhaven Retreat is a women’s only treatment center that nurtures and embraces a woman’s need for friendship and support. Just as we feel comfortable amongst our girlfriends, a female-only residential facility allows women to feel safe to explore and express their pain, anxieties and daily stressors that often faze each and every one of us in our own role as a mother, wife, friend, sister and daughter.

I read this recently and it sums up girlfriends - Carmen Renee Berry, MSW, coauthor of Girlfriends: Invisible Bonds, Enduring Ties, says, “Women (much like men) speak their own language. But more than that, our girlfriends are the family we choose for ourselves.”

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Thursday, 25 December 2014 00:00

Holiday Memories

When I was growing up, I had few pleasant memories of the holidays but the ones that I do remember invoke a feeling of excitement, gifts and anticipation. When I had children I wanted to recreate those emotions in myself and wanted to create those feelings in them and make the holidays special. I would decorate the house and the tree and get excited about shopping for each unique gift. And then as my children were born we started on our traditions, buying an ornament for each of them to open early, reading the same books and baking delicious treats. Then I started a collection of Snowbabies® for them that I handpicked based on what was significant in their lives at that time, baseball or music, etc. Some years were tough and I have to admit that my anxiety and stress made it difficult to celebrate, but I did anyway, for my children. My children are now grown and they are creating their own families and memories for my grandchild (soon to be grandchildren). I love hearing my daughter talk about how she is setting traditions based off of her own childhood traditions.

For many the holidays can be a difficult time where financial pressures and increased depression become overwhelming. Admittedly, we had some lean years where the gifts were not extravagant but I always tried to get them what they wanted and my children tell me how much they remember this time of year as being special. They remember waking up early and checking out the gifts, they remember how I had made opening presents special and they each had their own section under the tree. They remember breakfast and spending time together. They remember that three of us were family and that regardless of money or gifts that the holiday was special to them. And today, as my family continues to grow, holidays are becoming special to me in a way that is different than when I was a child or a mother of young children. They are becoming special as I watch my family love each other and spend time together laughing, joking, having fun and growing up.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Tuesday, 23 December 2014 00:00

10 Benefits of Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds are a small seed that may seem insignificant at a glance, however, these smooth, dark brown seeds are packed full of a wide variety of essential nutrients. They have been consumed for around 6,000 years, but have recently regained their popularity as a powerful super food and rich fiber source. Flaxseeds can improve digestion, skin health, lower cholesterol, reduce sugar cravings, balance hormones, fight cancer, promote weight loss and improve mental health. Flaxseeds, sometimes called linseeds, are small, brown, tan or golden-colored seeds that are the richest sources of a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid, called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). This form of omega-3 fats isn’t quite as good as those in fish, but they are still beneficial. Flaxseeds are also one of the best sources of plant compounds called lignans. Flaxseeds contain about 7 times as many lignans as the closest runner-up, sesame seeds. Lignans are co-passengers with fiber, and they serve as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents with cancer-fighting properties. Anti-inflammatory is becoming increasingly more known for its ability to fight off depression and other mood disorders. Flaxseeds contain a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals as well.

Flaxseeds are packed full of some of the most vital nutrients needed by the human body. They contain all of the main macronutrients including essential fatty acids, the best type of carbohydrates—fiber, protein, and a variety of valuable minerals, including selenium which is a powerful antioxidant; iron which is needed to carry oxygen to your brain and the rest of your body; magnesium, which is needed in over 300 biological functions in the human body; electrolytes needed for fluid and pH balance; and B-complex vitamins needed for energy metabolism and cellular functions. Flaxseeds are so small and easy to eat, but contain so many nutrients. Here are 10 benefits of flax seeds:

  1. High in Fiber, but Low in Carbs: One of the most extraordinary benefits of flax seeds is that they contain high levels of mucilage gum content. Mucilage is a gel-forming fiber that is water-soluble and has incredible benefits on the intestinal tract. The mucilage can keep food in the stomach from emptying too quickly into the small intestine, which can increase nutrient absorption. Also, flax is extremely high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, which can support colon detoxification, fat loss and reduce sugar cravings. A good target for fiber intake is 25-30g/day.
  2. Healthy Skin and Hair: The ALA fats in flax seeds benefits the skin and hair by providing essential fats, as well as b-vitamins, which can help reduce dryness and flakiness. It can also improve symptoms of acne, rosacea, and eczema. This also applies to eye health as flax can reduce dry eye syndrome. Try adding 2 tbsp of flax seeds to your smoothie or 1 tbsp of flax seed oil to your daily routine for healthier hair, skin and nails. Flax seed oil is another great option since it has an even higher concentration of healthy fats. You can take 1-2 tbsp internally to hydrate skin and hair. It can also be mixed with essential oils and used as a natural skin moisturizer.
  3. Weight Loss: Since flax is full of healthy fats and fiber, it will help you feel satisfied longer so you will eat fewer calories overall which may lead to weight loss. ALA fats may also help reduce inflammation. This is important for weight loss in that an inflamed body will tend to hold on to excess weight. Add a couple of teaspoons of ground flaxseed to soups, salads, or smoothies as part of your weight loss plan.
  4. Lower Cholesterol: The Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism found that adding flax seeds into your diet can naturally reduce cholesterol levels. The soluble fiber content of flax seeds trap fat and cholesterol in the digestive system so that it unable to be absorbed. Soluble fiber also traps bile, which is made from cholesterol in the gallbladder. The bile is then excreted through the digestive system, forcing the body to make more, using up excess cholesterol in the blood and lowering cholesterol overall.
  5. Flaxseeds are Gluten-Free: Using flax is a great way to naturally replace gluten-containing grains, which are inflammatory, with an anti-inflammatory choice. So, flax seeds are great for those who have Celiac disease or have a gluten-sensitivity. Flaxseeds can also be used as a grain-free option for those who follow a Paleo-type diet. It can be used in baking along with coconut or almond flour.
  6. Flaxseeds are High in Antioxidants (Lignans): Amongst its other incredible nutrition benefits, flax seeds are also packed with antioxidants. Lignans are unique fiber-related polyphenols that have antioxidant, cell-protecting benefits. Lignans help reduce signs of aging and balance hormones. Polyphenols also support the growth of probiotics in the gut, which helps improve digestions and gut health, keep the body’s detoxification system running smoothly, strengthen the immune system (70-80% of which is in the gut), and other benefits. Lignans are also known for their anti-viral and antibacterial properties; therefore consuming flax regularly may help reduce the number or severity of colds and flu’s.
  7. Digestive Health: One of the major benefits of flaxseed is that it aids in digestion. Its high fiber content helps keep matter moving smoothly through your intestinal tract. The ALA in flax can help protect the lining of the digestive tract and maintain GI health. It has been shown to be beneficial for people suffering from Crohn’s disease or other digestive ailments, as it can help reduce gut inflammation. Flax is not only very high in soluble and insoluble fiber, but is a great source of magnesium, which among many functions, helps keep your intestinal tract moving smoothly. Two tablespoons of flaxseeds contains about 5 g of fiber, or 1/5 of the RDA. The fiber found in flaxseeds provides food for friendly bacteria in your colon that can help cleanse waste from your system.
  8. Flax Seeds for Cancer: Flaxseeds have been found to be beneficial in fighting breast, prostate, ovarian and colon cancer. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Cancer Research discovered that consuming flax seeds might decrease the risk of breast cancer. The three lignans found in flaxseeds can be converted by intestinal bacteria into enterolactone and enterodiol to naturally balance hormones, which may be the reason flax seeds reduce the risk of breast cancer. Another study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that the lignans in flaxseeds may also reduce the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer.
  9. High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids: We hear a lot about the health benefits of fish oil or omega-3 fats, especially relating to their role in reducing depression and improving our mental health. Fish oil contains EPA and DHA, two omega-3 fats that are critical for optimal health. Although flaxseeds do not contain EPA or DHA, they do contain ALA, another type of omega-3 fat. Human being do not convert ALA to EPA and DHA as efficiently as fish do, so consuming fish give us better forms of omega-3s than do plant sources such as flax, however, ALA still bring benefits. A study published in Nutrition Reviews has shown that approximately 20% of ALA can be converted into EPA, but only .5% of ALA is converted into DHA. Also, surprisingly gender may play a big role in conversion where young women had a 2.5-fold greater rate than men. Regardless of conversion, ALA is still considered a healthy fat and should be included in a balanced diet.
  10. Menopausal Symptoms: Speaking of lignans again, they have been shown to have benefits for menopausal women. They may be beneficial for menstruating women by helping maintain cycle regularity. Flax has even been used as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy because lignans do have estrogenic properties. These properties may also help reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

How to Use Flax Seeds:
Baking is an easy way to add more flaxseed into your diet. You may wonder if baking has any effect on omega-3 fatty acids. According to studies, you can bake flax seeds at 300F for 3 hours and the omega-3’s (ALA) in flax seeds remain stable.

Tips for including flaxseed in your diet include:

  • Add 1-3 tablespoons of ground flaxseed to a morning smoothie
  • Mix a tablespoon in with yogurt and raw honey
  • Bake ground flaxseeds into muffins, cookies and breads
  • Add to homemade sprouted granola
  • Can be mixed with water and used as an egg substitute
Published in Brookhaven Blog
Monday, 22 December 2014 00:00

Seeking Help For Depression

This month, Time Magazine reported on a comprehensive study led by the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that provided us with insightful new information on depression and depression treatment: From 2009-2012, Americans were surveyed across the nation; out of those surveyed, a reported 8% of people over 12 years old recently reported being depressed. The study also found that women suffer from higher rates of depression than men. This may be the result of the societal pressures women feel to effortlessly balance work, family, activities and social obligations.

However, the biggest revelation this study found is the alarmingly low percentage of individuals who actually seek depression treatment. Depression is a very common mental health disorder with an increasingly high treatment success rate, and yet, only 35% of individuals with severe depression actually sought professional help.

Severe depression is more than a case of the blues. If left untreated, symptoms of depression can become more complicated and trigger the development of other disorders such as anxiety issues or substance abuse.

Seeking professional help for mental health issues is incredibly important as we welcome in the winter months because depression often worsens throughout the holidays and into the following months. Triggered by the reduction in sunshine and increasingly cold weather, winter depression is a very real problem, and is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The American Family Physician reports that SAD affects roughly 4 to 6 percent of the population, and is four times more common in women than men.

Along with regular psychotherapy and if necessary, medication, many studies have found that spending time outdoors, taking a vacation, getting regular exercise and spending time with friends and family can improve symptoms of depression and seasonal depression.

This winter, Brookhaven Retreat encourages any woman who finds herself struggling with depression, whether it is seasonal or year-round, to seek help and regain control of their emotional and mental health. Life can be enjoyable and you can find passion and hope again- but first you must seek help.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Sunday, 21 December 2014 00:00

Porcini-Crusted Tenderloin with Chocolate Sauce

Tenderloin is rich in energy boosting iron as well as magnesium, one of the main nutrients that is known to alleviate depression and anxiety symptoms. Paired with a fantastic hint of chocolate makes this tenderloin an incredible dinner that will wow your guests, nourish your health and warm your soul as we welcome in the New Year.

Ingredients:

Tenderloin:

  • 6 beef tenderloin steaks cut to 1¼" thickness
  • 2 tablespoons dried porcini mushrooms
  • ½ tablespoon peppercorns
  • ½ tablespoon butter
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Chocolate Sauce:

  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1½ oz. bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, cut in pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Tenderloin:

Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).

Using a coffee grinder dedicated to spices (or mortar and pestle) grind porcini mushrooms and peppercorns to a fine powder.

Pat the beef tenderloin dry with a paper towel. Season both sides of the beef with salt. Sprinkle each side of the tenderloin with the porcini dust.

Add oil and butter to a large ovenproof skillet and place over high heat. Allow the skillet and oil to get hot but not smoking, about 1 minute.

Place the beef tenderloin into the skillet and allow it to cook for approximately 3 minutes on one side or until a deep dark caramelized crust is achieved. Flip and place the skillet into the preheated oven for approximately 4–6 minutes to cook meat to medium rare.

Remove the skillet from the oven and place the beef tenderloin on a plate and allow to rest in warm area. Reserve the skillet for sauce.

For the Chocolate Sauce:

Deglaze sauté pan used to sear tenderloin with broth, making sure to scrape up all brown bits. Reduce by half. Add beef stock and reduce by half. Turn heat to low and add chocolate, whisking constantly until chocolate is melted. Remove from flame.

Whisk in butter until melted and well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Serves: Serves 6
Source: Sur la Table

Published in Brookhaven Blog
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We are a private pay treatment center and do not accept any type of insurance. Costs associated with care are the responsibility of the client.