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Create a Life Worth Living
Brookhaven Retreat Blog - For inspiration, growth & a fresh perspective.
Start your year fresh with a gift to yourself - forgiveness. Forgiveness, whether it be given to yourself or others, is one of the greatest gifts of all time. In order to forgive others, however, you must first forgive yourself. Many times, we harbor feelings of guilt over actions we’ve taken in our past. Forgiveness, in any form, leads to freedom for yourself. On our path to freedom, we must release ourselves from these chains of guilt and be gentle with ourselves in order to move forward.
Take the time to truly think about personal things that bother you about yourself and release them forgiving yourself first. There may also be others who you need to forgive. At first, it may seem like you are giving in to others when offering the gift of forgiveness; but in forgiving them, the gift will ultimately be for you as well releasing all tension and clearing your heart for a fresh start.
Whether you’re forgiving a friend, family member, co-worker, spouse or yourself, there’s a sense of freedom that comes with the offering. It is important to acknowledge this feeling and be comfortable and confident in the newfound freedom.
Steps to Take Toward Freedom
- Make a list of people you may need to forgive (include yourself if applicable).
- Act out of humility, courage and grace knowing this forgiveness will help you in your process.
- Write out what you are forgiving them for and why – you don’t necessarily need to say or give it to them, but you must believe it yourself to move forward.
- Create a list of things you are grateful for because of this forgiveness. This may develop over time; but there are always things to be thankful for once your heart is clear.
Upon receiving and giving the gift of forgiveness, a general sense of gratefulness will take over making it hard to understand why you didn’t do this earlier. Start fresh, start new, start free today.
In this day and age, more and more people are spending less time outside and more time indoors doing stationary activities. After all, with the world wide web at your fingertips, you can do everything online, from shopping to meeting up with friends on social media. Recent years have also seen a rise in physical and mental health disorders. Could the two things be related? Could the fact that we're not getting outside into the fresh air be hurting our overall health?
There is a reason so many people put up landscapes and pictures of the outdoors in their homes. Even looking at an image of nature gives you a sense of calm and helps you feel more at peace. However, actually going out and getting into the fresh air is an activity that offers incredible health benefits. It doesn't matter what you are doing — strolling to the park, hiking in the mountains, wading at the beach — fresh air is a crucial part of living a fuller, healthier life. Even getting outside in the crisp, cold air of winter helps you in innumerable ways.
If you are wondering if you should leave the house more often, the answer is yes. Here are five benefits you receive by getting out and getting fresh air.
1. Fresh Air Can Improve Your Digestion, Blood Pressure and Immunity
When you get outside and breathe deeply, you're actually increasing the amount of oxygen your body takes in. If you live in a polluted area, like a populated city, be sure to take the time to get away to places where the air is cleaner. Fresh, clean air and more oxygen provide tons of overall health benefits, including:
- Helping your body digest food more effectively
- Improving your blood pressure
- Maintaining white blood cell function
2. Fresh Air Can Sharpen Your Mind
If you have a desk job or work in an office building, you have probably noticed that stepping outside is a great way to clear your head. You may have thought that it was just stepping away from your desk, but when you go outside and breathe deeply, you get more oxygen which improves brain function. So basically, getting fresh air increases your ability to concentrate.
3. Fresh Air Can Clear Your Lungs
When you are indoors all the time, you are breathing stale, recirculated air which makes your lungs work harder to get the oxygen you need. In addition, most cities struggle with air pollution which can lead to an increased risk of lung diseases like asthma.
Getting out and breathing fresh air in a clean environment helps clear your lungs out. They dilate more when taking in fresh air, so you're able to take deeper longer breaths. You also release airborne toxins from your body when you exhale from your lungs.
4. Fresh Air Can Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Breathing in fresh air in the great outdoors, either by camping, hiking or getting out into a natural environment in some other way is associated with reduced stress and anxiety. Those who spend time in these environments tend to be more relaxed and have lower blood pressure and low amounts of the stress hormone cortisol.
Some believe this is due to phytoncides that linger in the fresh forest air. These are airborne chemicals released by plants and trees to protect against insects and rot and also may be linked to stress reduction.
5. Fresh Air Can Make You Happier and Help with Depression
Another positive outcome from breathing fresh air and getting more oxygen is that it allows your body to increase the amount of serotonin it produces. Serotonin is also called the happy hormone because it is vital to maintaining a healthy emotional state and feelings of well-being. Decreased serotonin has been associated with depression.
Being Active Is Good for Your Mental Health
In 1859, Norwegian writer Henrik Ibsen coined the word friluftsliv, which loosely means "free air life." The word encompasses the idea of enjoying nature and staying active outdoors. Scandanavians understood even then that nature had a powerful effect on one's physical and mental health.
Although fresh air and outdoor activities are just a few steps outside our front door, few take advantage of them as much as they should. If you're struggling with anxiety, depression or another mental health issue, take the time to get outside every day. Fresh air and staying active may help you as part of your journey towards a healthier outlook.
Everyone needs food to survive. It provides the energy and nutrients we need to perform tasks and make it through daily activities. However, for a variety of reasons, sometimes people develop an unhealthy relationship with food.
What Does It Mean to Have a Healthy Relationship With Food?
The food we put into our bodies has a direct and long-term impact on our health and wellbeing. You should be mindful of what you eat — both the types of foods you consume and the amount you eat. When you have a healthy relationship with food, you do not fear eating. Not only do you eat for nutrition, but you also eat for enjoyment. This means eating healthy but also being able to enjoy a treat once in a while, like eating a slice of chocolate cake on your birthday. When you have a healthy relationship with food you eat a wide variety of foods in healthy portions, and you generally practice portion control, eating reasonable amounts of food when your body signals it is hungry.
Someone with a healthy relationship with food will also have a healthy view of exercise and its role in their daily life. You view it as a way to keep your body healthy and strong, not as a punishment for overeating. While you may desire to lose a few pounds or shave a couple inches off of your waist, you are not obsessed with your appearance and you love and accept who you are and how you look.
Tips for Developing a Healthy Relationship With Food
There are many ways to cultivate and maintain a healthy relationship with food. Everyone is different, which means that even the practices and habits they incorporate into their own lives vary. If you are looking for ways to improve your relationship with food, there are eight key strategies to incorporate into your lifestyle.
1. Stay Away From Overly Restrictive Diets
At one time or another, nearly everyone has tried a diet plan. While they do work for some, often people find that these restrictive diets are too hard to keep in practice. Trying to avoid certain foods altogether or cutting out calories can often result in overeating. Rather than restricting yourself to small portions or avoiding certain foods, learn to practice moderation in all areas of eating.
Listen to your body before, during and after a meal. Your body is designed to give you cues about what it needs, but often people ignore these cues and end up either depriving their bodies of the nutrients it needs or going overboard and eating much more than their body needs. Rather than following a specific diet plan, you may find that you benefit more from learning to read your body's cues and practicing "mindful eating."
2. Eat Regular, Healthy Meals
When you skip a meal, it makes your body even hungrier. When you are hungry, you are more likely to overeat or end up overindulging in foods that are high in fat and sugar. The best way to prevent overeating is to eat regular meals. There is a lot of conflicting research about how many meals you should eat during the day.
Conventionally, our society has three primary mealtimes — breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, some research has claimed there may be some benefits to eating five or six smaller meals throughout the day. But, as it turns out, WHEN you eat may not be as critical as WHAT you eat. Most research shows consuming foods rich in protein and fiber — those that keep you full longer — is the ultimate goal of a healthy eater, whether you eat three times a day or six.
3. Seek Out Support
For some people, this may be as simple as surrounding themselves with other healthy eaters. Making sure you eat with other people who have a healthy relationship with food can help you as you develop positive new habits. Staying away from people who practice negative eating behaviors may be important as well so you do not fall into their patterns and mindsets.
If you or a loved one suffer from an eating disorder, it may be beneficial to seek out help from a mental health professional who specializes in eating disorders. Not only can these trained pros help you work toward a healthy relationship with food, but they also can identify and treat the underlying issues that may have contributed to the unhealthy eating patterns you established.
4. Keep Unhealthy "Temptation" Foods Out of the House
Eating all foods in moderation is key, but some people find certain unhealthy foods are their undoing in times of stress. They may reach for a bag of potato chips or a container of ice cream, mindlessly eating as they watch television or think through their problems.
If you keep those unhealthy snacks out of your house, it will force you to venture out if you want that snack. Often, the thought of a trip to the grocery store or the ice cream shop can be enough of a deterrent that you may choose to ignore the craving.
However, if the craving is strong enough that you are willing to head out to satisfy it, you can avoid the temptation to overeat by heading to a restaurant instead of the grocery store. For example, rather than buying a half-gallon of ice cream, indulge in a small sundae at your nearest ice cream shop instead.
5. Know the Difference Between a Treat and a Snack
Snacks can help keep you from getting ravenously hungry between meals, which is a good thing when you are trying not to overeat at mealtime. However, a lot of people do not realize there is a big difference between a "treat" and a "snack:"
- A "treat" is something you eat because it is enjoyable. Examples of a treat would be chocolate, a pastry or some chips.
- A "snack" is something that you eat to help ward off hunger. It should comprise foods that are both healthy and good at keeping you comfortably full. Examples of a snack include fruit, nuts or low-fat cheese.
6. Eat Breakfast Every Day
We already talked about the importance of eating regular meals, but we would be remiss if we did not talk specifically about breakfast. Researchers agree people who eat breakfast tend to be healthier than people who skip the first meal of the day. Why? Starting the day with healthy foods sets you up for healthy eating success all day long because you will not be trying to play catch up on the calories you skipped at the beginning of the day.
However, note the emphasis on "healthy foods." Breakfast itself is important, but it is crucial your breakfast include foods rich in protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. Avoid sugary cereals or large amounts of bread and simple carbs because these will not provide the nutrients you need to stay satisfied until your next meal. If you are hungry again by 9:00 a.m., then you may set yourself up for unhealthy eating as the day goes on.
A healthy breakfast might be a piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter, scrambled eggs with vegetables or a bowl of oatmeal with nuts and fruit. Find something that you can enjoy in the morning and fits in your morning routine!
7. Find Alternative Ways to Cope With Stress
Many people turn to food for comfort when they are sad or stressed. If you are eating to deal with your feelings, then you are most likely not paying attention to things like portion control and nutrition. The best thing you can do is seek out alternative ways to process your emotions. Instead of turning to your pantry to cope with stress, consider going for a walk or calling a friend.
As we mentioned, there are times when you may need more than just a friend's listening ear. If you find your urges to eat during times of sadness or stress are uncontrollable, find professional help to process the things causing those negative feelings and responses.
8. Everything in Moderation
One of the ideas many people struggle with is that certain foods are their enemy, and this is just not true. Food is not the problem — often our experiences with it or preconceived notions about certain foods create the problem. To have a healthy relationship with food, you must become comfortable with consuming a wide variety of foods, even the occasional slice of pizza or order of chili cheese fries.
The best way to indulge safely is to plan ahead:
- Choose to indulge at a time when you are not hungry for a full meal. For example, if you want to eat chocolate cake, save it for after dinner so you can savor one moderately sized slice on an already contented stomach, rather than giving in to the temptation to eat several slices because you are famished after a long day at work.
- Or, if you want to eat crackers, put a set amount in a bowl and then put the box back in the pantry rather than just trying to moderate yourself as you eat directly out of the bag.
The ultimate tip for practicing a healthy relationship with food is to develop a healthy lifestyle. That means you may need time to cultivate new habits and break old ones. A slow and steady transformation is the best way for most people to develop a healthy relationship with food.
If you suspect you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder, which is a much more serious issue, then you need to seek out professional help.
The Impact of Unhealthy Relationships With Food
Whether healthy or unhealthy, your relationship with food is the result of a variety of factors, including:
- Body image
- Past experiences
Everyone has times where they are unhappy with the image they see in the mirror. You may have even tried a diet or exercise plan aimed to cut calories and reduce your weight. These behaviors and thoughts do not automatically mean that someone has, or is at risk for, an eating disorder. So, then, what is the difference?
At a high level — the difference is that when a person is on a diet, they may cut out unhealthy foods of their diet in an effort to improve their health. Once they reach a healthy weight or lifestyle, they are satisfied and feeling confident and good about themselves. A person with an eating disorder cannot just lose a few pounds and then be satisfied. This is because having an eating disorder is not really about food at all.
Reassessing Your Relationship With Food
When a person's relationship with food deteriorates to the point where they begin practicing unhealthy behaviors, such as excessively restricting themselves, purging or overeating, it is typically a sign there is a bigger problem. An eating disorder is an outward cry for help that indicates an equally serious problem on the inside.
For many people, their relationship with food can be traced back to their body image — how they think about their body when they look in a mirror or think about themselves. Besides their actual weight, this can include:
- How they perceive themselves
- How they move
- How they look
While everyone has these perceptions about their bodies, someone who has an unhealthy relationship with food often allows these perceptions to negatively influence their eating habits. However, despite many people's perception, an eating disorder does not always occur just because someone wants to get thin. Typically, an eating disorder is an outward sign of mental and emotional issues that need to be addressed by a team of medical and mental health professionals.
People who have negative perceptions about themselves and their bodies are at a higher risk for developing an eating disorder. Those struggling with an anxiety disorder, perfectionism, a history of trauma or bullying, among other factors, are at particularly high risk to develop an eating disorder. There is also a strong link between ADHD and eating disorders, particularly in women.
Eating disorders are not gender-specific, although statistically, women are more likely to struggle with an eating disorder than men. Regardless of gender, eating disorders tend to appear during adolescence or early adulthood. However, this does not mean adults cannot develop an eating disorder later in life. Age should never be a deciding factor in determining whether or not someone is struggling with an eating disorder.
While there are several different types of common eating disorders, most fall under one of three categories.
Anorexia nervosa may be the most well-known eating disorder. People who develop anorexia have a distorted view of their body image, which often leads them to think of themselves as overweight even when the numbers on the scale indicate that they are actually underweight. They often obsessively monitor their weight on the scale and restrict their calorie intake.
Symptoms of anorexia include:
- Severely restricted eating
- Underweight, especially when compared with peers of the same height and age
- Body image disorders and self-esteem issues driven by weight
- Fear of gaining weight
- Obsessive-compulsive tendencies demonstrated in a tendency to hoard food or collect recipes
- Trouble eating in public
- Intense desire to control their environment
Most people believe someone with anorexia does not eat. This is a false perception. There are actually two different kinds of anorexia nervosa. One kind is the restrictive-eating category most people are familiar with. The other kind is actually categorized by a cycle of binge eating and purging.
People struggling with the restrictive type of anorexia restrict themselves, sometimes to the point of not eating at all, and they also often exercise obsessively. Individuals with the bingeing and purging tendencies will eat — sometimes excessively, other times more moderately — and then purge the food they ate, either forcing themselves to vomit or taking laxatives, diuretics or obsessively exercising to erase the calories they consumed.
Over time, people with anorexia may find their bones become brittle. They can develop a fine layer of hair over their entire body, as well as see their hair and nails grow brittle. They may struggle with infertility issues as well. If left untreated, anorexia can lead to organ failure and death.
Bulimia nervosa is characterized by excessively bingeing — especially on foods that the individual would normally avoid — and then purging to relieve discomfort. The biggest difference between this and anorexia is people struggling with bulimia often maintain a fairly normal weight, which means their outward appearance may not change as drastically as that of someone suffering from anorexia.
Symptoms of bulimia include:
- Reoccuring binges, accompanied by an out-of-control feeling
- Reoccuring purging with the intent of preventing weight gain
- Fear of gaining weight
- Distorted body image and self-image shaped by views of appearance
Over time, people who struggle with bulimia may experience a sore throat, painful acid reflux, stomach irritation, tooth decay, dehydration and hormonal issues. In severe cases, a person with bulimia can experience low levels of electrolytes which, if not treated, can result in heart attack or stroke.
3. Binge Eating Disorder
You may not be as familiar with this particular condition because it has only recently been recognized as an eating disorder, which is ironic because some believe it is actually the most common eating disorder in the United States. Binge eating disorder starts out similar to both anorexia and bulimia — a person eats large amounts of food in a short amount of time and feels completely out of control to stop the consumption. However, the difference between this and the others is the person who binges does not do anything to purge the calories they have taken in.
Symptoms of binge eating disorder include:
- Eating large quantities of food quickly and secretly, even when you are not hungry
- Feeling powerless and out of control to stop eating
- Experiencing feelings of guilt, shame or disgust when thinking about bingeing
- No purging or attempts to "make up for" the calories consumed through exercise
People with binge eating disorder are typically overweight, which increases their risk of serious medical conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Know When It Is Time to Seek Help
If you or someone you love wants to know how to fix an unhealthy relationship with food, you are not alone. You may be feeling overwhelmed and ashamed by the behaviors you or your loved one are practicing. While these feelings themselves are normal, they are not true. Do not be ashamed or try to hide what is happening. An eating disorder is a treatable condition. It is not something to "get over" without proper treatment. If you experience these symptoms, the best thing you can do is ask for help.
Sometimes, well-meaning friends and family believe an eating disorder can be overcome by encouraging healthy eating. While this is admirable, someone struggling with an eating disorder has issues with a lot more than just calories. Eating disorders often have roots in other mental health disorders that need to be addressed by experienced and compassionate professionals.
Brookhaven Retreat is a women-only inpatient treatment center specializing in the treatment of mental health issues and substance addictions, including eating disorders and their underlying causes. Our team of doctors and mental health professionals is dedicated to providing individually tailored, holistic treatment plans for each patient based on their individual needs and situations. There is no reason to wait another day. If you or a loved one suffer from an eating disorder, we want to help you reclaim your life. Get the help you deserve by contacting us today.
When the to-do list is piling up, and you've got work, family and the hustle and bustle of daily life to worry about, self-care sounds like an impossible dream. But more medical and mental health experts are encouraging people to reevaluate their priorities to work a self-care routine into the rhythm of their day to day life.
Self-care looks different to each individual. For some, it means slicing out some time for a bubble bath and a good book. For another, it may be getting a solid workout in every morning. Whatever you choose, self-care involves a short amount of time each day dedicated to activities that help you recharge and feel good.
Those who treat self-care as a priority and dedicate even just 15 minutes a day to these kinds of activities experience huge benefits to their physical, mental and emotional health. They're not only likely to feel less stressed, but it also fills them with a deep satisfaction and fulfillment. If you're feeling overwhelmed by stress or like you need a little more self-love in your life, then it's time to implement a daily self-care routine.
Tips for Developing a Self-Care Routine You Can Actually Stick To
It sounds great — doing things that make you happy as a means of caring for yourself — but many find it difficult to carve out even small amounts of time for self-care. However, the benefits of these activities have long-lasting results, giving you improved overall health both now and in the future.
Whether you've attempted to implement a self-care routine before or this is your first try, here are some tips on how you can actually get these habits to be apart of your daily schedule and stick with it.
1. Schedule Your Time Wisely
If you find it difficult to prioritize self-care into your schedule, then you need to pencil in a time just for you. Whether it be 15-20 minutes in the morning to exercise and stretch or a half hour at night to watch the sun set, it's important to treat your self-care time with the same importance you would any other scheduled appointment. Even if you have to adjust when things get hectic, working self-care into your daily routine will help you make it a habit.
2. Do Things You Actually Enjoy
Exercise, making kale smoothies and reading are all great self-care activities, but if you don't like to do them, then they may be more of a burden than a relief. Also, if you don't like something, chances are your new self-care time won't stick. The goal of self-care is to find things that give you a sense of peace and help you feel energized.
There are tons of activities to choose from, such as:
- Get outdoors and take a walk
- Keep a journal
- Color or paint
- Play an instrument or listen to music
- Give yourself a manicure, facial or implement some other personal hygiene routine
- Plan time with friends
- Anything else that sounds relaxing and fun to you
3. Begin With the Basics
Self-care is intended to preserve your overall health and well-being. So the best way to start is by making sure you are practicing basic self-care, which includes a full night's rest and a proper eating schedule.
When you're deprived of the proper amount of sleep, you are more prone to both mental and physical ailments. Give yourself a regular bedtime and wake-up schedule so that you receive the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep. In the same vein, eating healthy is great, but you also need to space your meals properly, so your body feels nourished and energized. Try eating small, healthy snacks in between meals to help keep yourself from getting too hungry.
4. Practice Mindfulness
Many people lose the pleasure of their self-care routine because they're too busy stressing about what's coming next in their day. Focus on the present and allowing all other thoughts and worries to pass by without giving them attention. A great way to practice mindfulness is to incorporate gratitude and consciously acknowledge the things you're thankful for
5. Put Away Distractions
In our tech-savvy world, it's easy to squander our free time by checking our phones or computers. But it's recommended that your self-care activity include something other than staring at a screen. Be sure to focus your valuable time on an activity that will give you a sense of pleasure and accomplishment.
6. Keep It Simple
The last thing you need is another thing you have to do. When you view self-care in this way, it becomes a burden, and you may feel guilty when you don't have time for it. Focus on the pleasurable feelings that self-care is supposed to provide as opposed to the activities themselves. They don't have to be lengthy, costly or complicated to give positive benefits to your life.
7. Keep Yourself Accountable
You may feel that practicing self-care is selfish, but it's actually the best thing you can do for your family and friends. When you are revitalized, you can better take care of those around you. For that reason, it's important to hold yourself accountable. And if you find it difficult to prioritize your self-care, find a friend who can help keep you accountable. You can even find an activity you enjoy doing together.
Make Your Mental Health a Part of Your Self-Care Routine
Many people think self-care should focus only on their physical bodies, but your mental and emotional well-being is just as important as your physical health. The best self-care activities provide benefits on multiple fronts. They not only help us physically, but they also push us to improve our mental wellbeing.
Incorporating activities that promote positive mental health has other benefits such as improved immunity, increased productivity and even longer lifespans. Some self-care activities known for their mental health benefits include:
- Social time with family and friends
- Time in the outdoors
- Volunteering and good deeds for other people
- Learning new things
Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help
If anxiety, depression or another mental health issue is causing you to lose sight of your own self-care, then it may be time to reach out for help. Many people feel that they need to handle these issues on their own, but asking for help when you need it may be the first step to establishing a healthier outlook on life. Brookhaven Retreat provides women with the treatment and skills they need to overcome and manage a number of different mental health disorders. Contact us today to learn more!
For many, fall is associated with warm apple pies seasoned with cinnamon or pumpkin spice anything, from lattes to muffins. Although these yummy concoctions may be okay in moderation, there is a bounty of other fall foods available that offer a bit more nutrition and that you are sure to love.
10 Healthy Foods to Try This Fall
Fall is the perfect season to enjoy a wide variety of produce. You can likely find some items on our list at your local grocery store all year round, but now is the time when they are at their optimal freshness — especially if you source them from a local farm or farmer's market. This autumn, be sure to add the following 10 healthy foods to your shopping list:
Pumpkin: It's a cliché for a reason — fall and pumpkins go hand-in-hand. If you stay away from the pumpkin-inspired desserts, this squash is a low-calorie treat packed with healthy antioxidants and nutrients like vitamin A, zinc and fiber. Plus, there are tons of ways to enjoy this favorite orange crop, from pumpkin gnocchi to roasted pumpkin seeds.
Apples: One apple has a whopping 20 percent of the fiber you need in a day. Plus, researchers have found that it has tons of benefits like boosting your immunity, promoting gut health, reducing blood pressure and even lowering the risk of cancer. In the autumn, there are tons of apple varieties that aren't available at other times of the year.
Artichokes: Canned artichokes will never compare to the fresh and flavorful options available every fall. They're full of disease-fighting antioxidants, which are important when the fall cold and flu season comes calling. Plus, roasted artichokes packed with flavorful seasonings is a treat that will keep you coming back for more.
Pomegranates: Pomegranates are full of antioxidants. Although getting at those delicious red seeds requires a little effort, it's worth the work — of course, you can also find just the seeds or even pomegranate juice at the store.
Chestnuts: You don't have to wait until winter to get some chestnuts roasting on the open fire. These cold weather nuts offer a rich flavor while still remaining lower in fat and calories than other nuts.
Brussels Sprouts: Often compared to miniature cabbage, Brussels sprouts have never been appreciated as they should. However, more and more people are discovering that with a bit of seasoning and some roasting, Brussels sprouts are not only a delicious side dish, but they also provide natural detoxification properties for your body.
Carrots: The best, most flavorful carrots hit the shelves at the end of summer and continue throughout the fall season. You probably already know that this root vegetable contributes to eye health, but it also has cancer-fighting and cardiovascular benefits as well. Eat them raw or cook them up in a delicious fall bisque.
Sweet Potatoes: These naturally sweet spuds will probably make you feel like you're indulging, but thankfully, sweet potatoes are full of things that are good for your body. Vitamins, fiber, nutrients — sweet potatoes have a healthy dose of all of these. Plus, there are hundreds of different recipes to try, so you'll never run out of new creations.
Cranberries: You don't have to wait until Thanksgiving for this tart snack. Their anti-inflammatory properties aid with hypertension, arterial stiffness and more. Plus, you can enjoy them juiced, dried and in your morning oatmeal. They're even great as a complement to a savory meat dish.
- Persimmons: Chances are you've never tried a persimmon before. These are small, orange fruits resembling tomatoes, but they have a honey flavor you won't forget. You can eat them whole or add them to your parfait or salad. They have antioxidants, vitamins and even more fiber than the trusty apple.
Whatever foods you decide to indulge in this fall, these nutrient-packed options will help keep your body happy and healthy.
In most cases, you are your own worst critic. That critical inner voice points out your flaws, your failings and everything you don't like about yourself. However, the way you view and speak to yourself plays a huge role in your overall well-being.
One way to be kinder to yourself is to practice the art of self-compassion. Here are some ways that you can develop self-compassion to live a fuller and happier life.
What Is Self-Compassion?
Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone has shortcomings. When we show compassion to others, we recognize their suffering and offer them kindness when they fail instead of harsh judgment or criticism. Self-compassion is the same practice, except you're acting compassionately toward yourself.
No one expects you to be perfect. Self-compassion allows you to stop mercilessly judging yourself and criticizing your own inadequacies. It also requires you to be kind and understanding when confronted with your own personal failings.
Five Ways to Develop Self-Compassion
To quiet the loud voice of the self-critic, you need to recognize you are not worthless or unacceptable. Being able to care for yourself and extend self-compassion will allow you to be happier and healthier. Here are five tips for developing that all-important self-compassion:
1. Forgive Yourself
When you make a mistake, do you dwell on it for a long time? Do you chastise yourself and ruminate over how things could have gone differently? When you derive our self-worth from a need to do things perfectly or a performance mentality, these feelings are often the result.
When confronted with your shortcomings, accept that you are not perfect. Remind yourself that you are valued by friends, family and colleagues. This will help you to be gentler with yourself, grow from your mistakes and then let them go.
2. Embrace Challenges as a Chance to Grow
Too often, when a challenge comes our way that's difficult to overcome, we feel defeated, especially when we fail. But challenges should be viewed as opportunities. There's a well-known quote by Thomas Edison when asked about the thousands of times he failed before successfully creating the light bulb — "I have not failed 10,000 times. I have successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work."
Your failings don't have to keep you down. They can inspire you to continue and succeed as you learn from your mistakes.
3. Avoid Comparing Yourself to Others
Comparing yourself to others is a dangerous trap. It is easy to feel threatened or defeated when someone else excels at something you wish you were better at.
Appreciating the talents that others possess, while also accepting your strengths and weaknesses, will allow you to find inspiration in their journey rather than feeling threatened. Also, remember that you will never know their internal struggles. After all, they could be wrestling with their own personal inner critic.
4. Develop a Sense of Gratitude
Rather than dwelling on what you don't have or what you're not, work to appreciate what you have and who you are right now. Gratitude is a powerful tool. By focusing your mind on your blessings and learning to appreciate them, you can take the focus off your shortcomings that your inner critic likes to focus on.
5. Practice Mindfulness
It's not healthy to suppress your negative emotions, but it is also not helpful to dwell on them or exaggerate them. Mindfulness is the ability to view your pessimistic thoughts or feelings without judgment or labeling. You do not have to suppress them or deny that they are there. At any given moment, be aware of how you are feeling and acknowledge it, but then you must let it go so that you can move forward.
Reach out to Receive Help
If the voice of your self-critic is becoming too much and is rooted in other mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety, then it may be time to seek professional help. Brookhaven Retreat offers women a safe environment where you can receive professional and discreet assistance for mental health issues. Admitting you need help doesn't mean accepting defeat. In fact, reaching out could be the beginning of a new chapter in developing self-compassion. Contact us today to find out more.
Have you ever felt the nagging sensation that you are not good enough or that you cannot pursue a dream or goal? These thoughts and feelings can weigh you down and make day to day activities seem daunting.
However, there is hope. By taking the right steps, you can change your outlook on life and pursue your goals and dreams with new fervor, while conquering those feelings of self-doubt.
What Is Self-Doubt?
Self-doubt refers to a lack of self-assuredness or belief in yourself and your abilities. It is a feeling of negativity that can heavily impact your day-to-day life. This lack of confidence can prevent you from pursuing your goals and new opportunities while missing what life has to offer.
So how can you overcome self-doubt?
Tips for Overcoming Self-Doubt
1. Recognize the Voice
It is important to acknowledge the feelings of self-doubt in order to begin addressing these feelings. You cannot begin forming a plan on how to overcome an obstacle without knowing where to start. Recognizing self-doubt is one of the first steps to moving forward.
2. Positivity Begets Positivity
Self-doubt draws energy from negative emotions. Maintaining positive emotions is key. Surrounding yourself with people and things that you enjoy helps boost your positive energy levels. After some practice, maintaining an upbeat attitude will become second nature and help combat your feelings of self-doubt.
3. Focus on You
You are the person who matters. Put yourself first, and do not focus on what others are thinking. Having confidence in yourself naturally projects a confident persona to those around you. Feeling good about yourself starts with you!
4. Reach Out
Support systems are crucial for a well-rounded and positive self-image. If you are having feelings of self-doubt, reach out to those you trust for support. Just having someone listen to how you're feeling can be a good way to start coping with those negative thoughts and feelings.
These tips may not come easy at first and it will take time to implement these strategies and see a change, but just because you may encounter a setback does not mean that you should give up.
Seeking Help for Your Mental Health
Feel that you need more help? Where should you begin?
It is important to understand the cause of self-doubt. If you believe that your self-doubt may have deeper roots in a mental health disorder like anxiety or depression, then you may benefit from seeking professional help.
Developing a plan to begin this journey of moving forward may seem difficult, but you are not alone. Brookhaven Retreat is a women-only treatment center that provides customized treatment plans for women who need help healing from the effects of mental health or substance dependency issues. With beautiful facilities and welcoming staff members, we offer individualized and discreet treatment.
We understand that self-doubt can leave you feeling unsure and confused about which path to take, but we want to offer a positive support system for all women who are seeking a positive outlook for the future. Contact us today!
If you're like most people, you can identify certain "healthy" foods, but you are not sure why you should choose some foods over others. Regardless of your health history, it's important to eat a healthy diet of whole foods — primarily fruits, vegetables and lean meats. But understanding the impact certain foods have on your body is critical to managing mental health issues, particularly depression and anxiety.
Recently an area of study has emerged globally, called "nutritional psychiatry." It's a fancy term for the field of study aimed at the correlation between diet and mental health. While this area of study is relatively new to the scene, it is rapidly becoming a bigger topic of discussion because, by 2020, the Centers for Disease Control has projected depression will rank as the second-most common cause of disability.
How Nutrition Affects Mental Health
In the last five years, researchers have publicized the results of several studies showing the link between what people eat and their mental health. While there is a growing interest in the impact of food for mental health wellness, the studies have focused explicitly on the importance of diet in depression and anxiety. And the results are notable.
For one thing, a healthy diet is important for brain development in both children and adults. Why? When a person eats something high in nutrients, their body converts those nutrients and uses them to fuel brain function. It enables the brain to transmit messages to other parts of the body for optimal functioning, and it can also help the brain stay strong and send signals to other parts of the brain. When someone is struggling with depression or anxiety, it becomes even more critical that their brain is functioning well. If they lack essential nutrients, their brain will not be able to work and send signals the way it should, and this will likely have a direct impact on their mood.
At the other end of the body, healthy food has a huge impact on your gut, which is where your immune system lives. Not only does your body use this system of "good" bacteria to prevent disease and infection, but it is also designed to control inflammation and even generate B vitamins. Inflammation, in particular, has a direct impact on a person's mood and understanding of what's going on around them.
While there has been much study into this topic over the last several years, researchers still have a long way to go in truly understanding the connection between a healthy diet and mental health. Much of the early evidence has come from "observational studies," meaning the researchers collected data from observing how people were already living, and not from a study with controlled variables.
It will take some time to establish a fuller understanding of how diet affects mental health, but, for now, the message is clear: While good nutrition is important for everyone, it can be a vital tool for someone struggling with mental health issues because of its impact on the brain.
There are a number of foods that are high in nutrients that directly impact brain health, including the following nutrients:
1. B Vitamins
There are several different B vitamins, but one of the most important for brain function and health is B12. People who are low in B12 have higher levels of inflammation and often higher rates of depression. Low levels of folate, which is also one form of the vitamin B9, have also been connected with depressed moods.
This mineral is vital because it helps the body control its stress levels. Because of this, the less zinc you have in your body, the higher risk you have of being negatively impacted by stress.
Iron deficiency, also known as anemia, has also been linked to depression.
4. Omega 3s
These are also called "fatty acids," but they are not a "fat" like we'd associate with butter or meat. Instead, they are powerhouse nutrients that have been shown to improve memory and brain function and may also play an essential role in your mood.
How to Eat a Well-Balanced Diet
This may seem like a lot to take in. After all, terms like "fatty acids," "anemia" and "folate" probably are not ones you use in daily life. And they certainly are not in the foods you eat. Or, are they?
The truth is, these essential nutrients are easy to find — if you know where to look.
A healthy diet is more than just portion control or skipping dessert after meals. In this case, a healthy diet includes fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, yogurt, seafood and lean meats, in moderation. It means avoiding added sugars and junk food, and using "healthy fats," such as olive oil, avocado and nuts. This type of eating is often called the "Mediterranean Diet" or "eating clean," although such labels can be confusing, since there are many variations on these terms and many weight-loss plans claiming to implement their principles.
We are not advocating a particular diet plan or weight loss of any kind. What we are talking about here is much more than a fad or a diet. We are talking about a lifestyle that has the potential to have a major impact on people's mental health.
What you eat matters.
The Benefits of Eating a Healthy, Well-Balanced Diet
Much of the significant research that supports the role of nutrition in mental health has been conducted on people who were simultaneously receiving treatment or taking medication for depression or anxiety. So, while nutrition has shown to be a valuable part of a treatment plan for depression and anxiety, it is just one component. An individual who is undergoing treatment for depression or anxiety needs to continue on a well-rounded treatment plan as determined by their doctor, which often also includes a combination of medication and therapy.
The reason it is important to understand the link between nutrition and mental health is that it has been a valuable addition to the treatment toolkit. It helps strengthen a person's mind and body to be able to process their medication better. When your body is receiving the proper nutrition it needs, it can receive medication more effectively. Not only that, but certain foods contain nutrients that improve mood and decrease feelings of depression by providing the proper nutrients to your brain. "Brain food" really is a thing!
Not only will eating the right foods help balance out your brain and body chemistry, but it is essential for someone who is coping with a mental health condition to learn how to care for themselves physically, as well as mentally. If you neglect your physical health, it will be harder to achieve real and lasting results in treatment for your mental health.
In other words, medication works better when a person is eating healthy. But, as we mentioned before, nutrition is just one of several tools to incorporate into a successful treatment strategy. Besides a healthy diet, there are several other things you can do to strengthen the mind and body along with your treatment journey and even once you reach the end of your formal treatment plan.
Exercise is a hugely important way to improve your physical and mental health. Not only does exercise release endorphins, or chemicals that promote a feeling of well-being, but it can also serve as a healthy outlet for your energy. The other excellent thing about exercise is that it is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to participate in your treatment actively.
It can be empowering to know you are doing something that will help improve the condition of your mind and body. And, depending on what you are doing to get exercise, you may find it gives you the opportunity to become more social and interact with other people. When you take an exercise class or even walk through your neighborhood, you'll have more opportunities to greet and interact with others.
It's no secret sleep troubles are often tangled in a complicated web. But, as part of your treatment plan, it is critical to work toward getting enough sleep on a nightly basis. Depending on your diagnosis, your treatment team may have prescribed sleep aids to help with this. Whether you are taking sleep medication or not, you can actively help set yourself up for better sleep. Reserve time at the end of your day to read a book or listen to soft music. Avoid late-night screen time, and put away your phone or computer because the LED screen can actively stimulate your brain, rather than preparing it to sleep. And, of course, avoid consuming caffeine late in the day so it will not disrupt your sleep.
3. Drink Water
Everyone knows it's important to drink water, but did you know if your body is habitually dehydrated, it could be contributing to your depression? That's right. Chronic dehydration can negatively impact serotonin levels — which affect your mood — as well as brain energy. It can also increase the stress in your body. If you are receiving treatment for depression and anxiety, it is vital to drink enough water each day to help improve your body and brain function.
Foods for Mental Wellness
One thing we have not discussed in much detail is why the focus on nutrition seems to center on depression and anxiety. These two mental health conditions have the most research in understanding the link between nutrition and symptom control. However, that does not mean that those struggling with other mental health issues, such as bipolar disorder, may not benefit from eating a balanced diet as well. Anyone struggling with illness — mental or physical — should always consult with their doctor about nutrition and how to arrange their diet during treatment.
When it comes to food for mental health and wellness, it's essential to eat things that give you the most nutrients with a healthy number of calories. While there are many options out there, here are 10 foods that pack a nutritional punch.
Just one serving of salmon will give you tons of vitamin D, potassium, protein, vitamin B and omega 3s. The omega 3s are especially good for brain health. And, as if all those nutrients weren't enough, salmon also contains tryptophan, which the body converts to serotonin. As we mentioned before, serotonin works inside the brain to regulate moods.
This one is good for both brain and gut health, thanks to its ample supply of vitamin C, potassium, folate and fiber. The first three are essential for good brain health, while fiber has huge benefits lower in the body. The fiber acts as something called a "prebiotic," which is essential for fostering good probiotic growth in the gut.
It is incredible to realize what happens in your digestive tract can have a direct impact on what is going on in your brain! If you seem to have trouble eating fresh vegetables fast enough and they go bad, buying bags of frozen broccoli can be a good way to keep this important vegetable on hand.
3. Chia Seeds
Not only are chia seeds a huge source of omega 3s, but they also contain magnesium, potassium and calcium. All that in just one tablespoon of these little tiny seeds! Unlike sunflower seeds, you shouldn't eat them plain. Typically, people eat them in chia pudding, which is reminiscent of tapioca, or add them to smoothies or yogurt.
Yes, that's right. We said liver. Now, before you completely gloss over this one, hear us out. Liver is high in potassium, protein, selenium, zinc, iron, B6, B12, folate and niacin. And all of those are essential nutrients for mental health. So, if you are one of those people who likes liver and onions, then dig right in! If not, there are other ways to get the benefits of this. You can eat a liverwurst sandwich or pate on crackers and still get the same benefits. In fact, because liver is so high in B12, you'll only need a small amount once or twice a month to reap the benefits of this.
Spinach is just one of several dark, leafy greens that have considerable benefits on mental health. There's also kale, collard greens, beet greens and chard, all of which are high in potassium, magnesium, iron, folate and calcium. They also contain omega 3s. Sometimes people balk at this because they picture eating spinach plain. But it is easy to incorporate these leafy greens into things you already love. For example, you can blend spinach or kale into a smoothie or add it to your favorite homemade soup recipe.
Yogurt is well-known for its probiotics, which are essential to good gut health. And, as we have said, good gut health is important. Different varieties of yogurt have different kinds of probiotics, so if you alternate which types of yogurt you eat, you'll get the benefits of each. Besides probiotics, yogurt is also an excellent source of potassium, calcium and B vitamins, including the all-important B12.
These powerhouses are full of nutrition. Besides being one of a small group of food sources for vitamin D — the nutrient you get primarily from sunlight — they are also full of protein, B12 and, if they are pasture-raised eggs, omega 3s. While most people think of eggs as only a breakfast food, they are easy to incorporate into any meal.
Berries are proof good nutrition does not need to be complicated. These versatile, readily available foods can have incredible health benefits. Whether you choose strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or blackberries, you'll be consuming fruit full of antioxidants, vitamin C, potassium, fiber and important digestive enzymes. Berries are delightful plain or added to yogurt or smoothies.
9. Oysters and Mussels
We've already established salmon is one seafood item that provides several important nutrients. But did you know oysters do, too? Just four ounces of oysters has more than five times the recommended daily amount of zinc. Besides that, they also contain B12, magnesium and calcium, as well as iron. Similar to oysters, mussels are also excellent for brain health because they provide high levels of selenium. Studies have shown a correlation between low selenium levels and increased risk of depression.
10. Brazil Nuts
Nuts, in general, have a range of nutritional properties. They contain vitamin E, tryptophan and magnesium. But the thing that sets the Brazil nut apart from the rest is its high selenium content. A serving of Brazil nuts has 125 percent of the suggested daily intake of this crucial nutrient. As we just stated, this mineral is vital in improving and maintaining several health conditions, including overall brain health and function.
Seek Help When You Need It
When you have a mental health issue, it can be tempting to try to cope on your own. Many people find they need professional help to treat a mental health disorder. As hard as it can be to ask, there is no shame in asking for help.
At Brookhaven Retreat, we provide comprehensive, individualized treatment for depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, trauma, addiction and more. What makes us unique is that we are a voluntary, private mental health treatment facility for women only. We understand the unique mental health challenges facing women and it is our goal to provide a safe and secure environment for women to confront these issues and heal.
If you or a loved one is struggling with depression, anxiety or another mental health issue, we hope you will have the courage to seek help. For more information about Brookhaven Retreat and how we can help you change your life and take back your future, contact us today.
Everyone at one point or another will deal with bad habits. For example, not making your bed in the morning when you rush to work or nail-biting. However, bad habits do not define you as a person. You can change bad habits and become the person you desire to be with a little extra effort and awareness.
How Do Bad Habits Form?
Bad habits form from patterns we make when we are on autopilot. They become routines encouraged by the reward of feeling good, like the feeling of eating ice cream. You know it isn't healthy, but it initially makes you happy. It's important to stop bad habits before they become even more ingrained in us, becoming harder to break.
7 Steps to Break Bad Habits
1. Define Specific Habits You Want to Break
Kick start your journey by defining clear habits you want to stop. You may find brainstorming a list to be helpful and then identify your top priorities. These should be specific and doable items. Wanting to be more healthy is great, but it's a broad goal, whereas only eating out twice a month is specific and trackable. Think simple and doable! Do not set your expectations too high at first: start slow.
2. Identify Triggers
Many bad habits form in reaction to triggers. Often these can range from stress or life changes to seeing junk food in the fridge. Identifying these triggers will allow you to be more aware of your bad habits and ask your self "what's going on to cause this?" It is not easy, but taking this step will drastically help you avoid living your life in autopilot mode.
3. Create a Plan
There is no need for you to tackle all of your bad habits all at once. Rome was not built in a day! Take steps one at a time and create a plan - either in your head or on paper - that does not entirely get rid of your junk food eating, for example, but puts in place simple actions for you to substitute your breakfast burrito with a bowl of oatmeal and fruit. Be specific. What actions can you take to reach your goal and change a bad habit?
4. Deal with Triggers
With your plan of action, you can begin dealing with your triggers. This will look different for everyone. For some, this may mean counting to 10 and taking some deep breaths when stressed. For others, it may mean directing anxious energy into listening to music or exercise instead of into nail-biting or excessive alcohol consumption.
5. Use Reminders
Setting a daily alarm to check in with yourself about your stress level or meal-prepping healthy snacks for the work week ahead is much easier than relying on your memory. These simple reminders will propel you on your journey to breaking bad habits.
6. Have Support and Rewards
Everyone needs support, so get a friend to help you along the way, whether they are someone you can call or someone who may even be struggling with the same bad habit. In addition, give yourself incentives for hard work, like a trip to the movies after every five days of sticking with your exercise routine.
7. Be Patient with Yourself
You would not criticize a friend for making mistakes, so don't expect perfection in yourself. Stopping bad habits takes time. Be kind to yourself and you will see progress!
When It's More Than a Bad Habit
Mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety, are more than just bad habits and often require professional intervention for effective recovery. If you or a loved one suffer from a mental health disorder, don't be afraid to ask for help.
Brookhaven Retreat is a women-only mental health treatment center that offers customized treatment programs for women affected by depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. Contact us today to learn more about our residential treatment programs and begin your journey of healing.
We've all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but when you are constantly on the go, breakfast tends to get put on the back burner. However, the importance of breakfast can not be understated. Not only does it nourish your body, allowing you to establish a healthy lifestyle, but it can also boost your mood and let you start your day off right.
You may not have time to make a healthy meal for yourself every morning, but most people can take the time to push a button on their blender. Smoothies are blended concoctions that allow you to have a quick and healthy meal every morning. Depending on what you add to your mix, certain ingredients can help you to think more clearly and be at your best for the day. In other words, you can create a brain-boosting smoothie.
5 Brain-Boosting Smoothie Recipes
There are tons of ingredients you can pack into your morning smoothies, including those that make your brain happy and healthy. Here are five brain-boosting smoothies filled with foods that give tons of benefits to your mind and body, such as:
- Boosting blood flow
- Stabilizing blood sugar
- Protecting brain cells
- Improving memory
1. Blueberry Brain-Boost Smoothie
Infused with both blueberries and walnuts, this smoothie gives you a double dose of antioxidants and phytochemicals. These components are essential to cognitive function, giving your morning memory the boost it needs. Plus, walnuts contain essential fatty acids that support brain cell development. The rich nutty taste blended with blueberries is a delicious bonus.
- 1 cup of apple juice
- 1 fresh ripe banana
- 1 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
- 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
- 1/4 cup raw walnuts
Combine all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth.
2. Banana Coconut Smoothie
Low in natural sugars and high in fiber and other nutrients, coconut may be an essential ingredient in the battle against memory loss. This smoothie also contains medium-chain triglycerides, which act as a steady source of fuel for your brain all morning long.
- 1 cup 1% milk or substitute hemp, almond or rice milk
- 1 frozen banana, thawed slightly
- 1 scoop of protein powder
- 2 tablespoons of unsweetened coconut
In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend well.
3. Flaxseed Smoothie
Although this smoothie recipe is pretty standard, it incorporates a number of ingredients that add to brain health. Flaxseed is not only an excellent source of fiber, but it also has omega-3 fatty acids that give your body a healthy source of fat while still being a low-calorie grab every morning.
- 1/2 frozen banana cut into chunks
- 1 cup frozen strawberries
- 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
- 1 cup vanilla soy milk or substitute with vanilla almond milk
Place all ingredients into the blender and puree until smooth.
4. Dopamine Delight Smoothie
If you need a little extra boost, then you'll love this energizing smoothie. It contains a healthy dose of protein that will give you a boost dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with motivation and happiness. The moderate caffeine is a nice added ingredient to keep you focused during your morning routine.
- 1/2 cup small, frozen banana
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 cup soy milk, either vanilla or plain
- 1 double shot espresso (You may substitute for 1/4 cup regular or decaf coffee if desired!)
- 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder (or other protein powder of your choice!)
Combine all ingredients except for the protein powder. Blend on high in the blender until smooth. Add a scoop of protein powder and blend lightly until incorporated.
5. Green Tea and Blueberry Smoothie
This smoothie is chock full of ingredients that will benefit your brain immensely. The blueberries and green tea provide essential antioxidants. On top of that, green tea includes theanine and amino acids that help you focus and relax. The addition of honey is not just to sweeten the smoothie, either. It contains 22 essential amino acids that are the building blocks of brain cells.
- 3 tablespoons of water
- 1 green tea bag
- 2 teaspoons of honey
- 1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries
- 1/2 medium banana
- 3/4 cup calcium-rich vanilla soy milk
Microwave or boil water and steep the green tea bag for three minutes, then remove tea bag. Stir honey into the tea until it dissolves. Combine all the ingredients in a blender, including the tea, and blend on high until smooth.
We hope all these amazing smoothies will give your brain a happy and healthy morning for a great start to a productive day!