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Author: Shernide Delva
Happiness is essential to a fulfilling life. Want happiness? A pet might help. If you are one of the millions of pet owners around the country, you probably cannot imagine life without your animal companion. Pets have been shown to help increase health and happiness. Furthermore, studies show the more time you spend with your furry friend, the better you feel.
Check out the six science-backed ways pets boost your happiness. Perhaps this article will make you want to add a furry friend(s) in your home.
Pets offer a comforting presence.
Having a pet is a calm, comforting, and familiar greeting you receive every day. Studies reveal merely watching fish can help lower blood pressure and muscle tension in people about to undergo oral surgery. No wonder dentists are so fond of aquariums!
Other research reveals that pet owners have lower blood pressure and heart rate before and after performing stressful tasks. The presence of an animal is so beneficial for both physical and mental reasons.
Pets offer unconditional love.
Pets will love you no matter what. They are without opinions, critiques or verdicts. A study showed that nursing home residents in St. Louis felt less lonely with some quiet time with a dog alone than a visit with both a dog and other residents. The study had half the group spend alone time with just a dog and the other half shared the dog with other nursing home residents. Those who spent time with the dog alone felt the least alone compared to the others. This could mean that many people prefer to spend quality time with their furry little friends so they can divulge their innermost thoughts and not be judged.
Pets change our behavior.
You may have the worse day ever, but when you walk through the door, your pet will be excited and happy to see you. They will crave your attention and love. Pets have the ability to alter your behavior. You become less agitated and depressed after spending quality time with your loving pet.
Pets are a great distraction.
In the midst of the good and horrible things occurring in our lives, pets can be an excellent distraction. Pets only require food, water, affection and attention. They are simple beings. For that reason, pets can be an effective therapy when your head is flooding with distractions. It is tough to ruminate on how horrible things are when a dog or cat is breathing near your face.
Pets promote touch.
Touch is a powerful healing tool. Research indicates that a 45-minute massage can decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol and even allows for your immune system to run more efficiently by building white blood cells. Hugging floods our body with oxytocin, a chemical that reduces blood pressure, heart rate and lowers stress. It should come to no surprise then that petting a dog or cat can lower blood pressure and boost happy chemicals like serotonin and dopamine.
Pets make you more responsible.
With pets come responsibility, and sometimes that is very healthy for us. Psychologists agree that we build our self-esteem by taking ownership of a task. When we succeed, we can assure ourselves that we can take care of others as well as ourselves. Taking care of a pet brings structure to our day. Sleeping in becomes less likely because we have to walk our dogs. Staying out all night now requires more planning and thought. Essentially, you begin to spend more time conscious of your day to day duties.
Having a pet can be helpful for many reasons. Do you have a furry friend? If you or someone you love is struggling with mental illness, substance abuse or addiction, please call now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Shernide Delva
Just last week, Kid Cudi opened up about his battle with depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. Cudi was remarkably candid noting that he’s struggled with depression his entire life and “hasn’t been at peace” as long as he’s been in the public eye. Now, Cudi is finally seeking help for his condition by checking himself into rehab to deal with his mental health issues.
The post was emotionally raw and unexpectedly vulnerable of Cudi, but perhaps the most concerning part of his post was the amount of shame Cudi feels about his predicament. The note concludes with him stating he feels awful and is “so shamed.” He continued apologizing to fans multiple times for “letting them down.” He even describes himself as a “damaged human” and says, quite simply “I’m scared, I’m sad.”
Cudi came to prominence with his 2008 mixtape “A Kid Named Cudi” and its hit single “Day ‘n Nite.” He was first signed to Kanye West’s GOOD Music record label and has gone on to form his own labels, direct music videos and compose film scores.
Opening Up About His Depression
The rapper posted the message to his fans about his suicidal urges and lack of peace.
“I checked myself into rehab for depression and suicidal urges. I am not at peace,” Kid Cudi wrote in the post. “I haven’t been since you’ve known me. If I didn’t come here, I would’ve done something to myself. I simply am a damaged human swimming in a pool of emotions everyday of my life. There’s a ragin’ violent storm inside of my heart at all times. [I don’t know] what peace feels like. [I don’t know] how to relax.”
Cudi’s struggle for internal peace is not an uncommon one by any means. According to Healthline, one in 10 Americans is affected by depression and the number of patients diagnosed with depression increases by close to 20% each year. Sadly, over 80% of people that have depression are not being treated at all. Around 121 million people in the world struggle with depression and most fear to admit they are suffering.
“It’s been difficult for me to find the words to what I’m about to share with you because I feel ashamed,” Kid Cudi wrote on his Facebook status. “Ashamed to be a leader and hero to so many while admitting I’ve been living a lie. It took me a while to get to this place of commitment, but it is something I have to do for myself, my family, my best friend/daughter and all of you, my fans.”
Moving Toward Healing
Cudi also announced that he wouldn’t be promoting his new album, “Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’,” which has been delayed in publication. He informed fans that the album is still on its way but for now, he needs to get his head on right first.
“My anxiety and depression have ruled my life for as long as I can remember and I never leave the house because of it,” he wrote. “I can’t make new friends because of it. I don’t trust anyone because of it, and I’m tired of being held back in my life. I deserve to have peace. I deserve to be happy and smiling. Why not me? I guess I give so much of myself to others I forgot that I need to show myself some love too. I think I never really knew how. I’m scared, I’m sad, I feel like I let a lot of people down and again, I’m sorry. It’s time I fix me. I’m nervous, but ima get through this.”
World Mental Health Day: Spreading Awareness to Others
Today, October 10th is World Mental Health Day. World Mental Health Day is a day for global mental health education, awareness, and advocacy. On this day, thousands of supports come together to spread awareness about the effect of mental illnesses like depression. There is a great need to provide information on treatment options and support available to those who struggle with mental illnesses. There is no reason to be ashamed.
Cudi has decided to take the necessary time to get the help he desperately needs. Cudi is only focused on revamping the direction of his future. Over time, depression can lead to alcoholism, drug addiction, and even worse suicide. Fortunately, sufferers from depression can make a full recovery and return to regular life.
We must commend Cudi for opening up about his depression and getting treatment to make a full recovery. His admission will help in de-stigmatizing the act of reaching out for help to treat mental illness. If he can be brave enough to seek help for his mental illness, you can too. Do not ever be afraid to admit the need for treatment. You are not alone. We can help. Call today.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
Insecurity is a very common feeling in recovery. To be insecure means you are unsure and full of doubts about the future. It means you are worried about being unable to handle the challenges that will come your way.
A person in recovery with insecurity may perceive themselves to be at risk of a relapse. Unfortunately, it is true that the rate of relapsing after recovery is very high. You may have friends or family that have returned to their addiction after recovery and feel insecure that you will not be able to achieve sobriety on your own.
The reality is that many people who attempt to give up an addiction will fail. Even after months or years in sobriety, many will return to their self-destructive behavior. Studies suggest that approximately half of all individuals who try to get sober return to heavy use and many overdose. The good news is that staying sober is under your control and it is up to you whether you succeed or fail.
Reasons for Feeling Insecure
Insecurity stem from a wide variety of experiences. Insecurity may come from childhood, past traumas, recent experiences of failure or rejection, loneliness, social anxiety, negative beliefs, perfectionism, or having a critical parent or partner. Insecurity may be the reason you fell into substance abuse in the first place, and furthermore, insecurity could be the reason why you are struggling to stay sober after recovery. Overall, insecurity plays a role in every aspect of our life when we try to take risk or overcome a challenge.
There are a number of reasons for why people can feel insecure in their recovery. Here are three more common reasons:
- Seeing Other People Relapse: Seeing other people relapse can play a huge role in your insecurity. When people in recovery hear about statistics surrounding relapses, it can be a cause of worried. Even more concerning is seeing people you love and respect in recovery relapse. It can come as quite a shock to see someone who has strong sobriety return to substance abuse.
Another harmful source of insecurity is thinking about your past attempts to achieve sobriety that were unsuccessful. Perhaps, you believe that since you failed before, it is inevitable that you will not succeed this time. Learning to let go of these insecurities and learning how to overcome them will help increase your chance of a successful recovery.
- Low Self-Esteem: Another reason for insecurity is low self-esteem. Self-esteem plays a huge role in recovery and life in general. Low self-esteem could mean that you feel that you do not “deserve” to feel happy, or you do not deserve to be in recovery. These feelings could stem from a childhood experience or from past traumas. It may be a good idea to use therapy to overcome these feelings of low self-esteem. You may wonder if you even deserve a life free from an addiction. Remember that you do deserve to free from substance abuse and these are just fears that are challenging your opportunity to live a full life around the family and friends who love you.
- Denial of Addiction: After months, even years in recovery, another reason for insecurity is denial. During recovery, you may begin to feel that you are “cured” and can go back to a life using substances in moderation. Many in recovery believe if they can achieve sobriety for “x amount of time”, it means you can return to those substances and be fine. In recovery, you may challenge the ideas of staying sober and feel insecure about the tools you are using in recovery. Talking about these issues with a counselor, a sponsor, or a friend in recovery can help you understand how addiction is not something that goes away and must be continually worked on.
How to Become Secure in Your Recovery
Overall, insecurity plays a huge role in whether or not you are able to succeed in recovery. The good news is that you can control your insecurity and be successful. There are many things that you can do to be more secure in your recovery such as:
- Do not base your chances of sobriety on other people or statistics. Your sobriety is based by your own actions, not statistics.
- Trust yourself: Your past does not determine your future. Do not base you chances of recovery on past failures.
- Stick with the winners. Spend time with positive people who have aspirations, so you feel more positive about your own future.
- Keep a journal. Writing can be an excellent healing tool. Keep a gratitude journal to remind yourself what you are grateful for or write about your personal experiences and feelings so you can look back on them. Plus, it can be a great tool to read your journal to others who are struggling with issues you have overcome.
- Complement Yourself. Remind yourself of your strides and achievements. Sometimes we focus too much on what we have not accomplished. Instead, focus on all that you have achieved and gained in your sobriety.
- Find a Higher Power: If you do a 12 step fellowship, you may be familiar with the idea of finding a higher power. Finding a higher power has been very beneficial for those in recovery. Gaining a spiritual path may be the best way to give your life some direction.
Overall, success in recovery depends on you and only you. Do not let insecurity get in the way of your success. Get help for your addiction now. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Author: Justin Mckibben
In the past few months I have touched a lot on the concerns surrounding the evolution of social media as an addiction and a compulsive obsession for so many people. This site has also touched on how social media can be an influential and versatile tool, especially when utilized in recovery from drugs and/or alcohol. It has been said that our texting, tweeting and sharing generation is so strangely disconnected on a personal level for being constantly connected wirelessly, but at the same time we have to appreciate and revel in that we’ve been given a unique opportunity to enjoy the experiences of others from halfway across the world, even in real time.
Social media is like any power; when it is respected and used for a common good it is a beautiful thing. But they do say absolute power corrupts absolutely, and when social media is abused it can take on a whole new meaning, especially for someone in the grips of depression.
So many people base their day, their relationships, even their lives and feelings on what they perceive to be the world around them through social media. Obsessing over ‘likes’ and comparing our accomplishments and self-worth to what we read on Facebook or what we see on Instagram is already a bad move, so for someone with depression, this mode of thinking can be infectious and critically cynical, because social media can feed into those haunting and painful feelings of ‘less than’, which addicts especially are familiar with.
Social Media Obsession
Stephanie Mihalas, PhD, a psychologist and a clinical instructor in the department of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA has said that getting wrapped up in social media can create a negative, even self-destructive cycle. A lot of people spend time surfing Facebook and other sites trying to escape their depressive symptoms, looking for a quick fix of happiness, and this can become an addiction, and today more and more people are beginning to recognize the concept of internet addiction.
Relying on social media will backfire more often than people think, and create a new root of unhealthy emotions. This type of negative cycle begins when you spend excessive amounts of time on social media instead of engaging in activities that might encourage better emotional health. Basic things like exercising or spending time with friends can promote emotional growth and stability, so of course avoiding these things to type comments and troll photo albums is not helping.
Contribution to Depression
According to the 2010 Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, social media users who consume the highest amounts of content have reported a decrease in social bonding and an increase in loneliness, which is one huge factor in a lot of depression. No shock that people who spend more time peaking into the lives of others through a touch-screen feel lonelier than people who don’t.
Dr. Mihalas points out several possible negative outcomes from a dependence on social media:
- It furthers the vicious cycle of isolation
- Overthinking takes the place of interaction with the outside world
- You might get steered into chat rooms with people who prompt negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions instead of engaging with people who are living a more positive, healthier lifestyle.
Social media obsession can lead an individual to get a chip on their shoulder and begin to process information negatively. That automatic negative association can also cause them to develop dysfunctional beliefs, which they then base the rest of their lives off of.
When you live in depression, you are at a great risk of create faulty beliefs from excessively surfing the internet and viewing the world under the influence of social media. For instance, people might process a photo or a post of someone elses in a way that glamorizes their life, which may or may not be what they seem, and ultimately feel they are living a less full life in comparison.
This negative bias can lead you to minimize the positives of your own life when compared to the perceived lives of others, and thus you no longer appreciate what you have and all focus goes toward the ‘have not’ in your life. Things like relationships may be portrayed online as picture perfect, but in reality they are just like your own, but in the world of social media we would rather compare and contrast based on an image instead of experience.
Disconnecting in Depression
Isolation is an obvious sign of depression, and social media has a pretty strange way of keeping us alone while we are ‘connected’ to others. In 2011 a study was published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior that had tested the impact of both face-to-face and computer-mediated social support. While both types of support were found to be beneficial, face-to-face support showed a greater impact on protecting an individual’s emotions from life’s disruptions.
Dr. Santos says that in-person interaction is especially important when someone is depressed, because in a one-on-one face-to-face setting, the real world provides the environment in which those faulty beliefs we build around our presumptions from posts and pictures can be countered with evidence that proves them irrational or wrong.
Being socially withdrawn creates a greater tendency to deliberate over and over what’s bothering you, so in the presence of other people, you can talk about what’s right in your life, or at least what’s going on with them to get outside yourself and your own sad story. Your brain’s stress response decreases when you’re able to talk about other things rather than focus on your problems.
As with most things in life, knowing boundaries and limitations can make every bit of difference, even though phrases like ‘know you limit’ and ‘in moderation’ are like a foreign language to an addict, it is still possible to at least consider how it is you are using the time you spend on certain sites, and trying to re-evaluate your motives.
Basically, do not use social media as a constant means of keeping tabs on what your life looks like compared to those on your friends list. The true nature of these sites was created to help people stay in contact when needed, and to stayed updated with life changes and shared experiences over time. Conservative and constructive use of social media for things such as:
- Networking on professional websites
- Keeping in touch with distant relatives
- Staying on top of current events
A lot of people tend to log on just because they’re bored. I know I do, and for someone who has dealt with depression it is a slippery slope. So when people jump online just to kill time when they are unhappy and end up feeling worse afterwards, then it’s not serving a positive function, and is just a form of self-sabotage.
Another boundary to set is with people you reach out to. Sometimes when we are depressed or anxious we set ourselves up to feel worse with habits like contacting too many people, jumping into a Facebook debate or a Twitter war which can ignite an anxiety attack or depressive episode. Staying connected to people we actually feel are our friends, and that we can communicate with is important, and when we are depressed we should reach out to them.
If you feel social media is the best way you know to escape from reality, or you directly (or indirectly) use it to avoid interactions with people who are trying to help you, it may be time to re-evaluate the function of social media in your affairs before it adds new dimensions to the depression that is already tormenting your life. If I were to relate my own personal experience, I would say this seems like a legitimate concept.
Working on social media on a pretty regular basis and seeing how at times it feels like my mood is determined by what is put on my news-feed is enough evidence for me, as a person who has fought depression, that I need to be aware of how much influence I let social media have on my own life, and the way I perceive it. There is so much more value in the moments I spend with the people I love than there could ever be in the way I ‘post’ about it.
Addiction to drugs and alcohol is a terrible reality, and depression can go with or without that added affliction. Excessive use and dependence on social media can be its own addiction, and with depression it can magnify those feelings you’re struggling to cope with, but there is help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
It is true a mind is a terrible thing to waste, but some would say you can waste too much time stuck in your own mind. As important as reflection and self-knowledge can be in recovery, it is not always safe to get trapped in your thoughts. My great-great-grand-sponsor told me once “I don’t go into my own head without a flashlight and a hand-gun! It’s a dangerous place to get stuck.” I think with my thought process this is a pretty safe analogy. If I get trapped in morbid reflection, anxiety, or resentments I open myself up to harmful energy and depression, and possibly relapse behavior. There are 5 ways to get out of your own head that I tend to use as an emergency exit when I’m trapped between my own ears.
I know when I was in treatment reading and writing was the top of my list of things to do when I needed to avoid anxiety or give myself a break. Fictional novels especially helped because they took me to an abstract place. Thriller Novels or Horror Stories are good because they usually keep things intense, and reading poetry can give you some practice with emotional balance. Writing also has the same effect. Or get your head in the game and read some 12 Step literature or spiritual books.
I know a lot of people who take advantage of any opportunity to get involved in sports and exercise, especially with groups in recovery. Not only does this give you a new format to socialize with others and take the focus off of your minds spinning wheels, it also creates some self-confidence and promotes physical health. Playing volley-ball or basketball with friends in recovery gives some of that energy a place to go.
- Stay Socially Active
Sometimes all you need to get out of your own head is some time with your A-team! If you feel you’re getting all wrapped up in what is going on upstairs, reaching out to spend time with others is always a good strategy. Try hitting a movie, maybe get some people together for some food or coffee, or just lounge around and talk with friends. It helps to relate to others, so share what’s on your mind if needed.
- Seeking Spirituality
Prayer and Meditation are always awesome! That’s my personal opinion. Some may wonder how meditation isn’t just getting deeper into your head, but in my experience when done a specific way, it clears out all the fog, fear, and frustration and makes room for a little more peace. Taking a walk in nature, sitting on a beach, or just listening to some music in a quiet room to clear your thoughts can help if you take the focus off yourself.
- Help Someone Else
This is probably the best possible way I know how to get out of my head. In sobriety my sponsor emphasized the importance of doing for others whenever possible, especially someone else struggling in recovery. Putting positive energy into action creates more positive energy, both for you and others. So by giving your time to help someone else you take a lot of the focus off the things that are renting space in your head, and give that focus to someone who might just be helping you more than you’re helping them.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135