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Brookhaven Retreat Blog
Thursday, 31 July 2014 00:00

The Power Of A Warm Embrace

Hugging is a simple act that is extraordinarily powerful. From adolescence to adulthood, hugs show of comfort, love, friendship and support when we need it most. This is not just an imaginary change in our emotions; according to the National Institute of Health there is scientific evidence that supports indulging in a warm embrace.

Affection, such as a hug, releases the hormone oxytocin in our body. Oxytocin has a powerful effect on our mood and mental health. It is the love hormone that allows us to bond with others. Oxytocin reduces stress, depression and irritability while allowing us greater trust in others.

Hugs increase our sense of belonging and vastly improve relationships with those we love. Like laughter, hugs give us the opportunity to bond and strengthen relationships. Expressing painful emotions is easier in the safety and comfort of hug.

Hugs are also beneficial to our physical health. Research suggests regular hugs lasting around 10 seconds boost the immune system and lower the risk of heart disease.

If we don’t have someone to give and get hugs from, there are other options. There is a reason why little kids get attached to toys, and why our dogs and cats feel like our best friends; it is a result of the bond we have built with them. Therefore, studies suggest that even hugging a teddy bear or pet has shown to be comforting, successfully reducing our fears and anxieties.

Next time you are comforted by a loving hug, take a moment to note its mental, emotional and physical effects.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Tuesday, 29 July 2014 00:00

Lighten Your Load

This last week I was faced with the exhausting task of moving. Well, actually I moved five months ago. During my move from a tiny apartment I shared with my sister, who was still living there, I left a room full of boxes, clothes and random things that I promised myself I would come back and look through, deciding what to keep and what to part with. Last week she was finally moving and I had to figure out what I was going to do with what I left behind.

I thought I would be able to part with most of the remaining stuff, since it had been five months since I even thought about them… Unfortunately, this was not the case. I ended up cluttering my new place, my new life, with more unnecessary boxes and clothes.

After this move I felt defeated, my mind was cluttered and my mood was weighed down. All of this stuff I had now forgotten about was at some point new and exciting, but now was just a burden. I was getting along just fine without these extra items, but for some reason I chose to carry them into my present life, only to add unnecessary frustration.

As we continue our life journey it is easy to accumulate more stuff than we need, and evaluating what is essential and what is baggage is critical if we want to keep moving forward. Not every item, person or memory is meant for longevity. Sometimes what once served a purpose is no longer useful to carry with us.

Whether it is the tangible box of clothes or the heavy memories of the past, before we continue to carry and house these belongings, feelings and thoughts, we have to make a decision: Will they improve my emotional and mental health, or will they just add stress and anxiety?

“If you want to fly, you have to give up the things that weigh you down.”

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Tuesday, 29 July 2014 00:00

Self-Care Recipe: Eye Cream

Self-care isn’t just about taking the time to care for ourselves. It is also about being mindful of the way we nurture our physical and emotional selves. Part of this involves careful attention to the ingredients in our cooking and skincare. Knowing what is in our skincare can put us at ease when we know exactly what we are putting in our bodies.

This simple cream made of three ingredients works exquisitely for rejuvenating the skin under your eyes. It is calming and hydrating, and its sensual aroma is similarly soothing.

You will need:

  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • 2 vitamin E capsules
  • 2-3 drops of essential rose oil – calms and smoothes

Mix coconut oil well. Make sure the oil is not too soft or too hard. Add in the liquid from 2 vitamin E capsules. Add 2-3 drops of rose oil. Mix well. This recipe makes plenty, so store the rest in a mason jar.

Coconut oil is gentle enough for the thin skin that surrounds your eye. It is a natural moisturizer that is rich in fatty acids. It also reduces breakouts and spots thanks to its antibacterial properties.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Sunday, 27 July 2014 00:00

Homemade Pesto

There are plenty of store-bought items that we choose to substitute for homemade cooking. However, oftentimes the uniqueness of a recipe is in the smallest detail. Pesto is one of those minute elements of a larger dish, and opting to make it from scratch has the power to boost both the flavor and your mood.

Cooking is known to be a great stress reducer. As we focus all of our attention on one task, we distract ourselves from becoming overwhelmed with anxiety, anger and depression. So for your next dinner, try re-creating this classic Italian sauce.

Pesto is all about balancing fresh herbs, like basil, with the distinct flavor of garlic. This freshly made pesto is full of flavor and can be added to almost any dinnertime favorite. Pesto is a staple Italian ingredient that’s superb tossed in with pasta, spread on a pizza or drizzled over juicy Roma tomatoes.


  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups fresh basil leaves (about 4 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Pecorino Sardo or Roma cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Using a mortar and pestle or in a food processor, combine the olive oil, basil, pine nuts and garlic and blend until a paste forms.
  2. Add the Parmesan and Pecorino cheeses, and pulse until smooth.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Be mindful that Pecorino and Parmesan are salty cheeses.

When storing pesto in the refrigerator, add an extra layer of olive oil to help preserve its freshness and keep the color from turning to dark green too quickly. You can also freeze it.

Source: Extra Virgin

Published in Brookhaven Blog

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria found in your intestinal tract. These natural gut flora are responsible for nutrient absorption and supporting your immune system. About 70-80% of your immune system is found in your gut, so keeping it healthy is critical for good health. Beneficial bacteria produce lactic acid, which inhibits the over growth of bad bacteria, keeping your digestive tract healthy. If you don’t have enough probiotics, the side effects could include: digestive disorders, skin issues, autoimmune disease and frequent colds and flu.

Historically, people consumed plenty of probiotics in their diet by eating fresh foods grown in quality soil, as well as by fermenting their foods to keep them from spoiling. However, today because of refrigeration, pasteurization, and dangerous agricultural practices like soaking foods with chlorine, our food contains little to no probiotics and most foods today actually contain antibiotics which kill off the good bacteria in our bodies.

By adding more probiotic foods into your diet, you could see all of the following health benefits:

  • Stronger immune system
  • Improved digestion
  • Increased energy from production of vitamin B12
  • Healthier skin, since probiotics improve eczema and psoriasis
  • Reduced cold and flu
  • Healing from leaky gut and inflammatory bowel disease
  • Weight loss

8 Great Probiotic Foods

  1. Kefir – This milk-like probiotic food is similar to yogurt. It is a fermented dairy product, a unique combination of milk and fermented kefir grains. It has a slightly acidic and tart flavor and contains anywhere from 10 to 34 strains of probiotics. Kefir is similar to yogurt, yes, but because it is cultured after the milk is pasteurized, and with more bacteria, the final product is higher in probiotics (also, pasteurized yogurt often has diminished live cultures remaining).
  2. Cultured Vegetables (Sauerkraut and Kimchi) – This probiotic food can be made at home in mason jars… shred some cabbage, add some caraway seeds, and let stand in warm place for several days, and then you have a natural probiotic food. Sauerkraut is not particularly diverse in probiotics, but is high in organic acids (what gives food it’s sour taste), which support the growth of good bacteria. Kimchi is similar to sauerkraut and is the Korean take on cultured veggies. Both of the fermented formulas are also high in enzymes, which aid digestion.
  3. Kombucha – This is a fermented probiotic drink that has been around in Asia for over 2,000 years. It Is an effervescent fermentation of black tea that is started by using a SCOBY, also known as a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. Kombucha offers digestive support and increased energy and liver detoxification.
  4. Coconut Kefir – This a dairy-free alternative to regular kefir. It is made by fermenting the juice of young coconuts with kefir grains. It has some of the same probiotics as traditional dairy kefir, but is typically not as high in probiotics. However, it still does have several strains that are great for your health.
  5. Natto – This probiotic food is popular in Japan, made from fermented soybeans. Natto contains the extremely powerful probiotic bacillus subtilis, which has been proven to bolster your immune system, support cardiovascular health and enhance digestion of vitamin K2. Natto also contains a powerful anti-inflammatory enzyme called nattokinase that has been proven to fight cancer.
  6. Yogurt – This is probably the most well-known and commonly accessible probiotic. Yogurt is made from the cultured milk of cows, goats, or sheep. In most instances, yogurt can rank at the top of probiotic foods if it comes from raw grass-fed animals. However, because there is a large variation on the quality of yogurts on the market today, this may not always be the case. Preferably, you should buy an organic, grass-fed yogurt.
  7. Kvass – Since ancient times, this has been a common fermented beverage in Eastern Europe. It has a mild sour flavor, and was traditionally made by fermenting rye or barley. In more recent years has been created using beets or fruit, along with other root vegetables like carrots. Kvass uses lactobacilli probiotics and is known for its blood and liver cleansing properties.
  8. Raw Cheese – Goat’s milk, sheep’s milk and grass-fed cows soft cheeses are particularly high in probiotics, including thermophillus, bifudus, bulgaricus and acidophilus. Always buy raw and unpasteurized cheeses if you want to receive the probiotic benefits.
Published in Brookhaven Blog
Saturday, 26 July 2014 00:00

Grief and Sudden Trauma

For the second time this year Malaysia Airlines is the subject of headline news, as a commercial flight from Amsterdam to Malaysia was shot down, killing all 298 people on board. This means not only did nearly 300 people lose their lives, but also the parents, spouses, children and best friends of 298 people are all left to somehow cope with this sudden devastation.

News stories and headlines surround us daily, focusing on the lives lost in this tragic event; but what about those who are left picking up the pieces? Tragedies have a wide reach. With every life lost, there are dozens more affected.

Intense feelings of shock, anger, guilt and disbelief can shake our foundations. The traumatic death of a loved one can complicate the already difficult grieving process and can trigger mental health illnesses, even in someone with no history of psychiatric disorders. Disbelief during the first part of bereavement is a natural response. It is our body’s natural way of safeguarding us from feeling the loss all at once. However, when grief refuses to subside and the pain, depression and anxiety last for months, seeking professional help may be necessary. After a trauma, the risk of developing posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and substance abuse rises substantially.

Every loss is distinct and creates a grieving process that is unique to each individual. Traumatic loss creates extra stressors on the body as survivors struggle to understand this tragedy. Family members, friends and even strangers are left feeling vulnerable and unnerved.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Friday, 25 July 2014 00:00

Getting More Out of Your Mornings

It is all too easy to wake up every morning with only enough time to do the essentials. If you are like me, every minute is designated to getting ready for the day with little wiggle room for deviation. This plan makes my morning super stressful and unproductive.

We have all heard the saying “Waking up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.” Mornings are often an indication of how the rest of our day will be. Rushing in the mornings sets up our whole day to be filled with anxiety, stress and forgetfulness. By waking up just 30 minutes earlier, you can dramatically improve your entire day!

How to get the most out of your early mornings:

Drink a glass of water. Sleeping for hours can dehydrate you, making it even more difficult to wake up and get going. Drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning rehydrates your body and helps you feel more awake!

Stretch. When you’re rushing to get ready you don’t have time to get your body prepared for the day. Rising 30 minutes earlier gives you plenty of time to stretch your muscles. This enhances blood flow, boosts energy and improves your posture throughout the entire day.

Indulge in a cup of coffee or tea. Coffee and tea have become on the go items, and are no longer served in charming cups and cozy mugs. Early mornings give you the chance to sip slowly and appreciate the warm comfort.

Make a delicious breakfast. They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and if so, making time for it should be a priority. Reward yourself for getting up early by indulging in a delicious breakfast full of nutrients that gives you energy and helps you stay fuller longer.

Listen to your favorite song. While you are getting ready, wake up with your favorite song. An upbeat tune can jumpstart your morning and give an incredible boost of happiness.

Although it may already seem nearly impossible to get up in the mornings, just remember: The loss of 30 minutes of sleep is rarely felt, but rising 30 minutes early can offer tremendous advantages to your emotional, physical and mental health.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Wednesday, 23 July 2014 00:00

Harvesting Lemons for Self-Care

Lemons aren’t just for lemonade this summer. This vibrant citrus is actually a brilliant, all-purpose fruit. From keeping insects at bay to deodorizing the garbage, lemons serve a variety of unique and useful purposes.

Along with cleaning and refreshing the house, lemons also rejuvenate our skin and improve our mood. They are high in calcium, vitamin C, potassium and magnesium, all of which provide tremendous benefit to overall wellness.

As women, we often become too busy prioritizing our spouse’s, children’s and friends’ needs that we regularly neglect our own. But, caring for your self is an important part of overall wellness. It helps you relax, de-stress and boosts self-esteem. There are numerous ways you can use lemons as part of your self-care regimen; here are four of them:

  • Lemon is a strong antibacterial and antifungal, making it ideal for treating acne and removing blackheads. At night, dab a cotton ball of fresh lemon juice with an equal amount of rose water on to unwanted blemishes. Wash off after 15 minutes.
  • Summer days often trigger an overproduction of oil in the skin, making us look shiny and sweaty. To reduce the appearance of oily skin, before bed, apply straight, fresh lemon juice to your face with a clean makeup brush or cotton swab.
  • The citric acid in lemons will progressively fade blemishes and even out skin tone. For a revitalizing toner, combine 10 drops of lemon juice with one half cup of water. Saturate a cotton ball with mixture and dab over clean skin. Do not rinse. Be sure to avoid excessive sun exposure when using lemon on the skin, as it can cause sun sensitivity.
  • Notably the easiest self-care routine is drinking a glass of warm water with half of a squeezed lemon every morning. A glass of lemon water can lower cholesterol, curb appetite, increase blood flow and detoxifies the liver. In addition, a lemon’s high potassium level reduces depression and fatigue, encouraging good mental health.
Published in Brookhaven Blog
Wednesday, 23 July 2014 00:00

What to Do After Missing Your Flight

“Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure”

Air travel can be a major vacation stressor. Aside from the generalized fear of flying that affects roughly 20 million people, there is also the anxiety and stress of a missed flight. From a broken alarm clock to a delayed connecting flight, starting your vacation or trip off by missing your flight can set you up for a rush of anxiety, depression and stress. After you have asked for help from the airline and your fate of waiting is sealed, follow these helpful tips to relieve the emotional and mental stress.

Accept the situation. Of course this is easier said than done, but try not to panic. This situation happens to people all the time. It is certainly frustrating, but it is maneuverable. Part of maintaining good mental health is to practice distress tolerance and accepting the situation. Criticizing yourself and others or dwelling on what you could have done does not help you deal with the situation.

Ask yourself what you have control over. After you have accepted that you have missed your flight, figure out what is in your control. Have you asked the airline for any additional help? Have you contacted anyone who will be affected by your delay, such as business associates, friends or the hotel? By taking control of the situation you are able to reduce anxiety and regain power.

Distract. If your next flight doesn’t leave for a few hours find a way to relax and distract yourself from the anxiety and stress. Many airports offer a variety of shops and restaurants. So, take a moment to enjoy a bite to eat from your favorite restaurant or splurge on a clever airport souvenir.

Enjoy your wait. It can feel like your trip will never start after you’ve missed a flight, but many airports in Europe and Asia offer transit tours. These tours are ideal for layovers longer than six hours and give you a quick glimpse of a city you never expected to explore. Before spending hours waiting for your next flight, check with the airport and see if they offer a way to enjoy your setback.

Relax. Aside from restaurants and shopping, many airports offer relaxation stations. These days airports are expanding their services from just providing flights to offering beds, massages, spas and even oxygen bars that help passengers relax and unwind from their travel stresses.

Although a missed flight is hardly the great start to a vacation or trip we all hope for, it is possible to avoid becoming overwhelmed by anxiety, depression and stress by practicing these helpful tips.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Tuesday, 22 July 2014 00:00

How To Enjoy a Rainy Day

There is a lot of focus on the importance of enjoying the summer sunshine and getting outside in nature to boost mental health! But we often forget that summer also means a lot of rain, rain and more rain. It can be hard to stay happy and positive on those gloomy, wet days that regularly ruin our outdoor plans.

Although fighting the rainy day blues is a challenge, it is not impossible. There are many relaxing and enjoyable ways to get the most from your rainy day.

  1. Be mindful: The rain is actually a beautiful thing. It brightens the colors of the leaves and darkens the soil. Listening to the rain drizzle down the window or the low rumble of thunder in the distance can be soothing. So during a rainy day, practice mindfulness and note all the colors, noises and smells that rain brings.
  2. Invite friends over: If your plans with friends have been postponed, invite them over for a real “rain check”. There are some great indoor activities that can be even better with the addition of friends including playing a board game, doing a craft project or watching a comfort movie.
  3. Read a book: Rainy days are the ideal excuse to cuddle up in a blanket next to a window with a good book. Reading is an excellent stress and anxiety reducer. It also stimulates creativity and can improve brain function. When it is too rainy to get outside take advantage of the many benefits of getting lost in a book.
  4. Bake: When you’ve been rained in try stimulating all of your senses by baking up one of those bookmarked recipes you’ve been wanting to try. Baking is a wonderful de-stressor and has been shown to fight depression and anxiety.
  5. Write a letter: These days, handwritten letters are hard to come by. Unfortunately e-mails and text messages have replaced pen and paper. Take this opportunity to write letters to important friends and family. Letter writing is not only great for your own emotional health, but is a small gesture that brings great joy to others.
  6. Cleanse your thoughts: Rain washes away impurities and can leave the Earth feeling clean and new. If a rainy day is bringing down your mood, imagine that it is washing away your anxieties, stress and depression.
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.