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All across this country in small towns, rural areas and cities, alcoholism and drug abuse are destroying the lives of men, women and their families. Where to turn for help? What to do when friends, dignity and perhaps employment are lost?

The answer is Palm Partners Recovery Center. It’s a proven path to getting sober and staying sober.

Palm Partners’ innovative and consistently successful treatment includes: a focus on holistic health, a multi-disciplinary approach, a 12-step recovery program and customized aftercare. Depend on us for help with:

6 Ways Pets Help Boost Your Happiness

A young man playing with his dog outdoors.

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

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4 Meditation Tips for More Mindfulness

4 Meditation Tips for More Mindfulness

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Author: Justin Mckibben

When we think of meditation and mindfulness we often have a certain image or experience in our mind. Some people think it must be a profound and extremely disciplined experience every time. Our misconceptions about what meditation really is often deter us from actively practicing it. However when we do practice, we realize the benefits of mindfulness. Regardless of how you imagine meditation should be, give yourself plenty of opportunity to try it out and see what is could be.

Here are 4 meditation tips for more mindfulness.

  1. You’re NOT “bad” at meditation

When the concept of meditation is suggested, some people immediately assume they are “bad at it.” They allow their preconceptions of what meditation is supposed to mean tell them can’t successfully use it to find serenity. The very simplicity of meditation can itself present a challenge because the mind’s habitual nature prefers stimulation through distraction over intense focus.

It is as if you find yourself in a quiet space, sit in silence and then continuously ask yourself- “am I meditating yet?” or “Is this how I’m supposed to do it?”

The reality is meditation is not strictly limited to sitting in full-lotus with candles everywhere and yogi music playing. Meditation is about the practice of drawing awareness to the present, and some people meditate through activities or exercise.

Yoga, for example, is described by many as a moving meditation. So, don’t trouble yourself with wondering if you’re meditating ‘right’ or if you are ‘bad at it,’ because your practice is yours. The more you practice, the more it will grow into whatever you need it to be.

  1. The goal is NOT to be “good” at meditation

Just like with the assumption that you can be ‘bad at it,’ if you approach meditation with the goal of “I want to be good at this” you’re probably going to be disappointed. There are no gold medals for meditation… at least, not that I know of. But anyone can just go buy a gold Buddha if it’s really that important to them.

Sometimes meditation can be boring. In our world on smartphones and constant connection, we rarely have to be bored anymore. Just because you get bored doesn’t mean you have to be better at meditating, it is just a thought we all feel. Recognize it, reflect and move on. Even people who have been meditating a long time can still get bored with it.

When meditation is offered to many of us in early recovery we may have this thought that once we ‘master’ meditation we will begin to see results right away. We are the type to thrive off instant gratification after all. We want it to help us get well right away, but it doesn’t always work like that. Just remember, there are no trophies for meditation… I think.

  1. Don’t criticize your mind

We utilize the practice of meditation to set an intention and focus, but also to notice when the mind loses focus, and to see where it goes. The mind is good at wandering, but you should never criticize yourself for it. Being the witness to the wandering mind is part of the practice. If you begin to think on other things, just be aware of those things as they present themselves.

Just as a random example- If my intention in meditation is on my gratitude, and suddenly my mind has drifted off into the dynamics of my relationships with my family, I should take notice. Maybe my mind is trying to tell me how grateful I am for my family. Maybe it is telling me how gratitude brings them to mind. I acknowledge the thought and come back into focus. I should not criticize my mind for drifting off topic, or criticize the thoughts themselves.

Sometimes we beat ourselves up because the mind will take us so far from our intention we forget how we got there. We begin to feel we are ‘bad at it’ again, or that we are wasting time. Don’t let these frustrations or the nature of the wandering mind make you critical. Be present to your mediation without judgment.

  1. Let go of the outcome of your meditation

Once we’re aware of the benefits of meditating, we might set expectation on every experience. You might trick yourself into thinking you must feel a certain way, but expectations can be down-payments on disappointments. We may expect to feel calm and relaxed; clarity and serenity, and when we don’t get the outcome we anticipate we can get frustrated.

In reality meditation will lead you to several different experiences. Sometimes the experience will change multiple times within a single session. Part of the practice is letting go of the outcome. Approach your meditation with an open heart and mind. Waiting for a specific result can also distance us from the present moment.

Again, meditation is about being aware and in tune with the present. It is not about judging our experience. Meditating to be “good at it” is like saying you watched TV for hours just to make sure the remote works. Your mind and the present are already there, meditation is just about taking the time away from your overactive or analytical mode to notice them. Don’t expect answers all the time, just be aware and listen.

Meditation can reform the mind in the most incredible ways, and it is often one of the best medicines for people in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse. It can be used for mental, emotional and even physical fitness. Holistic recovery is about a lot more than removing drugs and alcohol; it is also about rewiring our thinking. If you or someone you love is struggling, find out how holistic healing can help.

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3 Ways to Build Mental Muscle in Recovery

3 Ways to Build Mental Muscle in Recovery

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Author: Justin Mckibben

When we ease our way out of the mental fog that is created in active addiction we may find ourselves with a bit of a mental block. Some people theorize that whatever age you are when you start excessively using substances is the age that you will remain mentally until you detox and break away from the substances. Then once you have cleaned up, you begin a slow process of redeveloping the mind to try and catch up with your age. While it makes sense that the brains growth is stunted by the use of drugs, we can admit some of it may not have to do with our capacity to cultivate our intellect, and more to do with the fact many of us shrug off intellectual pursuits while actively using drugs or alcohol.

We may find we have to put in more work to build mental muscle in recovery. Clearing our minds of years’ worth of chemical conditioning can take some time, but we can exercise our minds to help make ourselves smarter.

Here are 3 ways to build mental muscle in recovery.

  1. Challenge yourself in different ways

One way to step up your smarts is to go out of your way to engage in tasks that are diverse and challenging. If you are used to reading and writing a lot, try stepping out of that familiar space and working on something that stimulates the mind and body in a different way.

Other hobbies or chores can be challenging either mentally or physically. Some people will chose to exercise or play team sports, evoking a different form of concentration. Others will tackle a list of household projects which might not be intellectually stimulating, but require discipline.

“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

-Thomas A. Edison

In recovery you will find a lot of opportunities to experience different modes of thinking. One suggestion I will pass on is to practice meditation. Slowing down and finding quiet and reflective moments can help the mind sort through some of the busier information. For a lot of us just sitting still is extremely challenging.

Find ways to push your mind to grow in different directions once in a while.

  1. Learn to use social thinking

The fact is that intelligence has never been limited to what goes on in our own mind. A more inclusive definition of “thinking” includes external sources that supply us with a variety of perspectives. Makes sense, since basically everything you can “know” comes from experiencing the outside world and digesting the information on the inside.

Social dynamics and social remembering play a big part in committing information to memory. When we interact with each other and take on new data, we can attach emotions to it based on the social setting. These subtle anchors help us to store the information.

“Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who’ll argue with you.”

-John Wooden

In recovery you have countless opportunities every day to interact with others in recovery. You get to sit and discuss strategies for sobriety, philosophical ideas and share deep emotional experience. Through the experience, strength and hope of others we build mental muscle in recovery. This is part of why sharing and 12 Step meetings are so effective. They provide us with a new format to learn as we grow.

  1. Do things with passion

Another way to build mental muscle in recovery is to find passion in what you are doing. Wisdom comes from information and experience, and a lot of times our understanding is magnified when we can connect on a deeper level with it.

Sometimes it is difficult to be passionate about things that you wouldn’t be easily interested in. Some of us find we have to research things for school or work that aren’t what we naturally are attracted to intellectually. However, by seeking an aspect of every assignment that we can internalize and make it our own we can optimize our ability to retain the information. Our emotions are stronger for our minds than we think.

“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”

-Albert Einstein

So, to build more mental muscle in recovery using your passion, you can look for the element of each obstacle that makes it matter to you on a personal level. Sometimes therapy or 12 Step work will seem tedious and irrelevant, but if you find a way to be passionate about it, even if it’s just to get it done, you have a better chance of holding onto the information.

In fact, finding a passion for your sobriety is probably a huge way of building your mental muscles in recovery. Getting smarter isn’t just about staring into a book and recording the words. Intelligence doesn’t just mean collecting data. It also means knowing why the data matters at all.

Do Better

In life you don’t necessarily need to be the most book smart person to succeed. In all honesty, everyone has their own measure of what success even means. Building mental muscle in recovery might give you a new definition of what success means. Either way, to open your mind and grow in knowledge and awareness has the ability to change your life.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

-Maya Angelou

Overall, it is important for us to pay attention to our mind and bodies. As we change our lives, it is important to grow. Only by building mental muscle in recovery can we reach our potential for freedom and fulfillment. In recovery, it is important to recognize what drives you, and expand your awareness and understanding. 

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free:

   1-800-951-6135

Trigger Warnings: Have We Taken It Too Far?

Trigger Warnings: Have We Taken It Too Far?

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Author: Shernide Delva

*Trigger Warning* This piece discusses trigger warnings. Please avoid if you are uncomfortable with the idea of questioning whether or not trigger warnings should exist.

—-

The use of trigger warnings has become more mainstream. Now, some are wondering if this generation has taken it too far. Are we overdoing the trigger warnings?

In case you do not know, a “trigger” is something that triggers a negative or uncomfortable reaction. “Trigger Warnings” work to warn people the content they are about to see or read could make them uncomfortable. Trigger warnings give people the option of avoiding content that could cause emotional distress.

Recently, many have observed that society has become more socially conscious or “politically correct.” Whether or not that is a positive thing is a manner of opinion. However, the use of “trigger warnings” have undeniably increased in use.

Initially, trigger warnings spawned from post-traumatic stress disorders.  Those who suffer from PTSD benefit from these warnings because they are more sensitive to sensory input.  Anything from a film or piece of media might trigger a person with PTSD and cause them to suffer PTSD symptoms. It could be as simple as a sound or smell, physical space, a particular object, or a person. Anything that reminds the mind of a past trauma can result in PTSD symptoms.  A person with PTSD may find trigger warnings helpful because it helps them avoid situations that trigger their PTSD symptoms.

The problem with trigger warnings is that everyone is affected differently. Even arbitrary things can be triggering for someone. It is natural for people to be more sensitive to things than others. We all come from a diverse background and upbringing. The question is whether protecting people from possible triggers is beneficial. Everyone is different. If everyone has one, should they all be accommodated? Are we becoming overly sensitive to other people’s “triggers?”

Do Trigger Warnings Help Those With Mental Health Issues?

An article in The Atlantic thoroughly questions whether or not trigger warnings are beneficial to those who have mental health challenges like anxiety and depression. The author argues that trigger warnings create a “fortune telling” society in which people prepare for the worse every time they speak.  The act of “fortune telling” involves “seeing the potential danger in an everyday situation.”

On some college campuses, students demand trigger warnings for classic novels like The Great Gatsby and Catcher in the Rye. They argue that the sexually explicit content, violence, and language of these books should come with a trigger warning.  As an avid reader, I find the concept of this unusual. While it is true that some students will react more to the content than others, are trigger warnings helping or hurting these developing students?

PTSD and Anxiety: Do Trigger Warnings Benefit Them?

For those who suffer from PTSD, like Molly Miller, trigger warnings have prevented her PTSD episodes and have helped her live a more manageable life.

“Some people feel like trigger warnings coddle sensitive people. I don’t see it that way. I see trigger warnings as a common courtesy to help prevent sufferers of PTSD, like me, from reliving our trauma. I recognize it is not fail-proof, and getting upset by our memories is a part of life. But what is so wrong with making an effort?” She wrote.

On the contrary, author Samuel Barr described his experience with PTSD. At the age of ten, Barr was abused by an older boy. He was left emotionally devastated and suffered PTSD because of the experience. He talks about how he spiraled “downward into a  deep depression.” Still, Barr does not believe his mental health condition should warrant a trigger warning.  Until he learned to stop seeing himself as a victim and finally received helped, he was forced to tip-toe in society. He says he believes this trigger warning mindset is not beneficial.

“Trigger warnings are one of the latest fads in an ongoing cultural obsession with glorifying victimhood, and as a former victim, I can confidently say there is nothing glorious about it. Contrary to the noble intentions of its supporters, trigger warnings do more to harm people with trauma backgrounds than help them.”

Should We Embrace Them?

Furthermore, Barr believes people should face their trauma rather than run away from them.  These warnings will only continue to get out of hand and affect those who produce content in the first place.

“If you start warning, for one thing, you have to decide which unpleasant thing is worth a trigger and which isn’t. That isn’t a position an editor should be in,” stated Jessica Coen, editor at Jezebel magazine.

Johnathan Heidt, the author of “The Coddling of the American Mind,”says we are entering a climate where we presume the worse about the fragility and vulnerability of others. He describes this as vindictive impulsiveness which is “ a culture in which everyone must think twice before speaking up.”

Does this help anyone? Once again, that question can be debated, however for some mental health conditions, it can cause more harm than good:

“According to the most-basic tenets of psychology, helping people with anxiety disorders avoid the things they fear is misguided,” he continues.

Trigger Warnings and Addiction Treatment

When dealing with addiction treatment, addicts who seek treatment come from all types of background and find they are more sensitive to certain things than others.  Professionals in the addiction field work to help those seeking treatment develop the tools to lead a healthy life in recovery.

In treatments, clients learn what triggers could result in a relapse.  When It comes to addiction, triggers are a very real thing.  A person, place, event, or unresolved mental health are triggers in addiction. Therapists help addicts understand what their triggers are. Ultimately, each person has to decide whether to avoid all their triggers or try to overcome them.

For those early in recovery, facing triggers can be a very dangerous idea. Therefore, trigger warnings appearing before photos or content that could raise temptation might be helpful. However, years into the recovery, triggers may not be triggering at all.

Everyone should play an active role in helping others feel comfortable and safe. Sometimes it is good to be aware of how you affect other and what types of things affect you emotionally. You may have to navigate life avoiding triggers and paying more attention to the positives. In recovery, you learn the tools you need to succeed. Take it a day at a time.  If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

Yoga as Holistic Medicine for Depression

Yoga as Holistic Medicine for Depression

Author: Justin Mckibben

In the past, eastern medicines, theologies and practices have been observed by the western world with a heavy hint of speculation. There was a time science was limited as to what it could and could not prove through technical studies what scriptures like the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali or the Bhagavad Gita, both sacred and valued text in connection to Indian and Hindu philosophy, told us about the mind, body and spirit. However as time and science has caught up with the claims made in the ancient manuscripts we have discovered more of the remarkable catalogs of evidence to support eastern medicines and practices… especially yoga.

Yoga has become more mainstream over the last decade plus, and it would seem that since its inception into western culture there have been compiling examples of how gurus from hundreds or even thousands of years ago have actually been telling us all along about the healing power in the science of spirituality.

Today, health and human service providers across America have shown a mounting interest in using yoga as a form of holistic healing, especially as an option for treating people with mental health problems. There is a multitude of reasons why the aspects of yoga would benefit those struggling with depression.

  • Mindfulness and meditation
  • Exercising physical health promoting mental well-being
  • Emphasis on detachment from negativity and connection to higher self

The list goes on and on… let us make a few points about how yoga can be amazing medicine for depression.

UNC Yoga Study

A recent study published in the journal Trauma, Violence, & Abuse from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found there are some exceptionally encouraging benefits to using yoga to help address mental health disorders, specifically when coupled with other forms of holistic healing and intervention.

Rebecca Macy is a researcher who works with violence and trauma survivors. She also helped lead the study at the UNC School of Social Work on utilizing yoga to treat mental health disorders. In a statement about the study Macy said she was especially interested to really know what the evidence said; is yoga something healthcare providers should be suggesting to people who struggle with various mental health problems, such as:

Overall, the researchers determined that yoga holds a high potential for helping improve anxiety, depression, PTSD and/or the psychological consequences of trauma.

Depression, Posture and the Heart Chakra

Truthfully, any asana (posture) from the yoga practice has the potential to make a drastic difference when trying to overcome depression. Yoga engages the physical body to focus the mind and create space for intuitive introspection or spiritual reflection. Every pose can make a strong contribution to rewiring the patterns in the brain, while systematically utilizing an individual’s biology to alter their mindset.

That being said, I will promote one of my favorite types of asana when it comes to changing the mood- Heart Openers!

Research does show that sudden emotional stress can actually release hormones in the body that prevent the heart from pumping normally, which of course has an adverse ripple effect. So if we can scientifically say that emotions affect the body so acutely, it would only seem logical that the body could in fact be used to influence our emotions. If you open your heart, give it space to breathe and be beat, it might just surprise you.

Back-bends are some of the simple heart-opening poses that ease breathing and reduce stress by releasing tension held in the tissues of the whole chest and lung region of the body. A variety of back-bending postures are great heart-openers, here are just a few examples:

  • Bhujangasana- Cobra
  • Ustrasana- Camel
  • Anjaneyasana- Low Lunge
  • Urdhva Mukha Svanasana- Upward-facing Dog
  • Dhanurasana- Bow

Physiology has a very real impression on our psychology, and it has been said that opening the heart in some yoga poses has a way of letting positive energy make its way into our system. Warm up your body, warm up your heart and start to change the language of your life by engaging in yoga that heals.

Of course a yoga teacher and a believer in the power of yoga, I am a little biased… but that’s besides the point…

In yogi traditions the heart chakra, Anahata in Sanskrit, is located in the center of the chest at the heart level. Anahata is thought of as the wellspring of love, warmth, compassion, and joy that moves love through our lives. It is said to act as an integrating focal point of energy and as love is often thought of in most spiritual practices as the ultimate element of healing, the heart chakra is thought of as the healing center of the body. So when we talk about opening the heart we are tapping into the healing inside us all.

Mindfulness is Medicine

There has also been past research suggesting that mindfulness and meditation could be considered as alternatives to anti-depressant medications, or could also be used to combat the side-effects of medications.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) may now offer a welcome alternative for people wishing to avoid long-term use of anti-depressants, and mindfulness and meditation are bread-and-butter with the practice of yoga.

The list goes on and on as to the benefits of practicing yoga for the individual struggling with mental health disorders such as severe anxiety or depression, and I could sit here and write all day about studies and strategies closely connecting yoga to incredible outcomes in recovery from mental health and addiction issues.

My personal experience itself can support the idea of using yoga to overcome depression, as I am someone who has struggled with anxiety, depression and addiction chronically in my lifetime. As someone now in long-term recovery I can say that one of the most amazing experiences I have been given is to practice yoga and cultivate an intimate understanding with how unifying the mind, body and spirit has helped me dramatically reduce anxiety attacks, overcome suicidal ideation, and even helped me find new passion and serenity while rebuilding a life devastated by drugs and alcohol. My testimony is just one of countless accounts of how yoga transforms lives in recovery, so if depression is an obstacle in your life yoga can be a means to overcome it.

At Palm Partners, we believe in treating and healing the mind, body and spirit as equally important and unified parts that make up the whole person, and yoga is one opportunity offered as part of an innovative and restorative personalized treatment plan to creating lasting change. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

 

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