The news continues to be great! Yesterday we were accepted into Magellan’s Employee Assistance Program and today we are accepted into full pay Magellan HMO and PPO programs!
As of today, Healthy Strides are Magellan Employee Assistance Providers!
Hopefully more to come!
Brand new off the presses! Healthy strides has a new client portal that allows clients to perform multiple actions online in a secure environment. Clients can now:
- Make payments and see invoices
- Complete all paperwork
- Send secure messages to the team
- View and request changes to scheduled sessions
We are happy to make the process easier to let you focus on your recovery and support!
Anxiety is a complex issue and yet the solutions are simple. No matter how hard we try, anxiety, worry, and panic can take over our lives and stop us in our tracks.
THE MARATHON OF ANXIETY
Anxiety exists in a spectrum ranging from the benign to the traumatic. At its core, anxiety is helpful. In primal situations, anxiety keeps us out of danger. Our “gut feeling” tells us our situation was not in our best interests. These are times when we need to listen to our bodies and their reaction. In other cases, anxiety can be a disabling and lifelong problem. Anxiety can be negative and irrational and it deserves respect and attention.
Constant worry is painful. No matter how hard we try, it can grow in us until it takes over all but our basic functions. Existing in a constant state of panic harms us cognitively, emotionally, socially, and physically. When we are overanxious, we simply do not think at
the same level that we did prior to the provoking event. Cognitively, we slow down because our thought processes are shifted to ‘fixing’ the problem. Emotionally we become reactive. Socially we can become withdrawn. But what about our bodies? Are they affected by anxiety?
Yes they are…and they are affected dramatically! Picture running a marathon. After hours of grueling feet stomping, elevated heart beat, heavy breathing, sweating, fatigue, and overall fluid loss, the runner is physically destroyed. That was me in 2005 after finishing the Annual Duluth Grandma’s Marathon.
At the 6:43 minute mark, my foot crossed the barrier, marking the end of a bucket list item that I spent two years completing. At mile 22, I had slipped on a curb and broken a bone in my upper foot. At mile 25.5, I was so exhausted that I could not fathom going .7 more even though I was so close to done I could hear cheering from the grand stand around several corners. Finally, at mile 26.2, I hit the finish line dehydrated, exhausted, sore and in pain, fatigued, and overall weak from the effort. But I had finished.
Now I want you to imagine doing this every day for the rest of your life. No rest days. No time off. No carbs before to help you maintain. No protein after to help you recover. Just pure exhaustion, weakness, and pain, day after day. But there are differences between this accomplishment and anxiety. On June 18, 2005, I was elated in spite of myself. On June 18, 2005, there were clear and palpable reasons for my exhaustion. But the most important difference was that on June 19, 2005, I began to recover simply by resting.
SO WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?
The issue with anxiety is that every other day since June 18, 2005, I have felt the same exhaustion and weakness and pain. The problem…I hadn’t run a marathon on those days. I was simply exhausted from the toll that generalized anxiety and panic took on my body. This is the same physical pain felt by over 40 million people in the US each day. Anxiety causes a host of acute and chronic symptoms. Acute symptoms include uneasiness, insomnia, sweating, shortness of breath, numbness and tingling, nausea, and dizziness. Long term effects include muscle tension, pain, headaches, fatigue, and overall weakness.
COMPLICATIONS OF ANXIETY
Being in a constant state of fight, flight, or freeze potentially devastating complications. Over time, untreated anxiety can lead to several physical, emotional, and mental health problems.
- Alcohol and substance abuse
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Headache and migraine
- Cardiac problems
- Obesity or excessive weight-loss
- Digestive problems
THERE IS HOPE
If you believe you have untreated anxiety, panic, PTSD or obsessive-compulsive issues, seek medical and professional care. There are many routes to treating anxiety and coping with complications.
- Self-care – This can include any of the hobbies or activities that help you relax. Some people read, take walks, exercise, listen to music or engage in deep-breathing and meditative exercises.
- Spiritual – If self-care is not enough, you can seek guidance. One of the methods involves spiritual or religious leaders. Getting in touch with your own internal systems can be enlightening and refreshing.
- Friends and family – Friends and family can offer a gentle ear and a means of distraction when necessary. However, if you feel you have a problem requiring clinical expertise, you should seek professional or medical advice.
- Professional – Professional care covers a multitude of therapies. Counseling, therapy, psychotherapy, analysis, and psychology are all means to working on anxiety and panic. There are ample schools of treatment such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, REBT, and existential psychology that can be adapted and personalized to your needs. See more on how therapy works in an upcoming article
- Medical – In order to receive medical care for anxiety, you must seek a medical professional. Doctors, psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, and physician’s assistants are prepared to treat anxiety from a chemical perspective. Medications can be long-term anti-depressants such as Prozac and Effexor, or acute anxiolytics (anti-anxiety) pills such as Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, and Ativan. It is important to take all medications as prescribed. Always be cautious on heavy or long-term use of anxiolytics as they can be physically addicting and lead to increases in anxiety if abused. Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of anxiolytic use.
THE FINAL WORD
Always remember that if you or a loved one suffers anxiety, care is needed. We must strive to remove the stigma of anxiety. Sufferers are not weak, broken, or damaged goods. They are in pain, anxiety IS real, and it deserves as much gentle attention as any other physical disease.
Time to stop running the daily marathon and get the help you need…
….you deserve it. Let us help you end the marathon!
How to carry your recovery with you wherever you go. It sounds impossible. Fortunately with a strong foundation, it is as real and simple enough. Today I will briefly post on how to carry your recovery with you everywhere you go.
WHERE DOES RECOVERY TAKE PLACE?
No matter who you are or what you survived, you can find healing so long as some piece of you desires it. Coping takes place in the therapist’s office, at the barn, with the doctor, in support groups, with friends, family, in yoga classes, the park, and even at home on a quiet day. All of these locations have one thing in common…
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO CARRY RECOVERY WITH YOU?
In Alcoholics Anonymous and in clinical support groups, we discuss foundations and higher powers. A higher power can be anything from God to the support group to some internal process, so long as it is genuine and will help you maintain the foundations of recovery. Your higher power has to be something you can access at all times and in all places. We don’t profess to tell you what your higher power should be, but we can tell you that using it frequently can help with recovery at all stages and of all types.
Carrying recovery with you means bringing your desire to carry on the fight no matter your location. Recovery from addiction, trauma, or coping with disability and abuse is difficult at best, and life-threatening at worst. Having support is the by far the best method of survival. All of the pills and therapy can do so much without support. The greatest advocate for your health and safety is you.
Fortunately, it is easy to start an inner fire. Keeping the flame stoked is by far the more difficult part. However, with internal and consistent desire, the pilot light is always ready to spark even after you fall or relapse. To always carry the torch is to be constantly prepared to mount the horse after a tumble. So how do you light the initial fire?
IT STARTS WITH A QUESTION
What is it that you want, right now, more than anything?
Don’t start with the epic questions of life purpose or how will to get to the plateaus of recovery. Instead, ask simply, “what do I want, right now, more than anything?” For many survivors, the answer involves relief from some pain. Then you can begin figuring out what the pain entails. From there you can ask yourself where did the pain come from. Next, you discover methods to start relieving the pain. Afterwards, you make calls and contacts to professionals, groups, or allies to add to your herd. Thus begins to great recircle!
You can see how an exceptionally simple question launches a fleet of a thousand answers. It all begins with superficial seeking of knowledge. That’s the benefit of carrying recovery with you. It all starts so easily. “What do I want, right now, more than anything?”
We will not pretend that the thousand follow up answers will be an easy journey. On the contrary, it will be more difficult and likely more painful before the day breaks. We use the surgery analogy quite often. If you have a painful ailment such as a fracture, you sometimes need an operation to fix it. And for a brief time following the operation, it hurts more than initial injury. Then slowly the pain fades and the function returns. Recovery follows the same path. First you confront yourself and the demon, and then pain fades and functioning returns.
IS IT REALLY THAT EASY?
Yes. It really, truly is that easy to spark the flame. Once you enable your curiosity, you’ll find yourself more curious. “What do I want, right now, more than anything?” Answer that and answer it frequently. The beauty of such a simple question is that you can ask it every year, month, day, hour or even minute until the question blossoms into the answer that starts you on the road to healing. Even after you begin to recover, keep asking the question.
Everyone can do this. It does not have to be the survivor either. Family and friends can ask the question to see how best to support someone’s wellness. We ask the question every day in order to ultimately treat clients efficiently and personally. Allies can ask the question to figure out how best to destroy stigma for friends, family, and even strangers they will never meet.
So ultimately, it all comes down to one thing…
…”What do YOU want, right now, more than anything?”
Early in our training, Greg Kersten explained the power of the recircle. His Website for the OK Corral Series, the foundation of Healthy Strides, can be found here. Back in May, Dan explained how the recircle works and what it can do as the basis for psychotherapy. The article is found here.
Then in June, Healthy Strides had a change in vision which included their new processing and communications protocol for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). As their client list increased, they discovered that a community and county were in desperate need of treatment for ASD and took it upon themselves to make that available. In their first weeks of work, they found a rather incredible use for the recircle. In this case, the recircle was nothing short of literal…and IT WORKS!
After working with clients who were largely nonverbal, Kim and Dan made a discovery. The recircle, when done literally with the horse, can have an immediate and profound effect on a client with ASD.
Science News added a brief short in 2015 by Frontiers (2015) discussing the social and sensory overstimulation that is becoming known as a driver for behavior. [LINK] In a recent session, one of their lovely clients was having a rougher day than usual. Kim and Dan thought on their feet and made the simple choice to remove Gracie from the scene with an actual recircle led by Dan. There was no “bad boy” or verbal explanation of the consequences. Instead, when his behavior was upsetting, Gracie performed a recircle to fantastic effect. After Gracie distanced herself, Kim offered to give food to Gracie and before the team knew it, their client was offering hay. When she ate, Gracie recircled again and came back for new food. Needless to say, she LOVED it! Food, food, food!
But what the team noticed was a rapid relaxation of their client. He calmed significantly and was able, and willing, to perform the same, and new functions to include petting, brushing, riding, and pointing out new body parts. He even nailed the sign language for ‘horse!’
Dan and Kim talked, and Dan pulled out some dusty books on cognition and set to work figuring out what happened. The hunch was that by removing Gracie, their client was destimulated which allowed for more processing power to work towards figuring out the problem. For the most part, people recircle in verbal or physical ways in order to locate new information and form a new herd to help us figure out the problem. In the case of someone who is neurodiverse, the verbal may not always be at command. Instead, by destimulating, Gracie gave her client time to think it through and re-establish his footing. Kim noticed rather quickly that his attention sharpened and soon enough he was doing his horse care.
When I speak about cognitive processing to students or interns, I explain that the fastest way to decrease a person’s ability is to scare the heck out of them. As more and instant attention and focus is brought into the realm of the problem or fear, less is held back for the nonessential functions. An example is when someone is cornered aggressively with a mistake they previously made. Instead of a slow and well-thought response, out comes the first defense mechanism they can muster. So too with over-stimulation of the neurodiverse mind. While the science will likely always be out when it comes to psychology, we learn more each day about the neurodiverse mind. If overstimulation is the problem, then destimulation is the coping tool. In this case, by Gracie recircling, our client was able to relax and work the problem.
Our client is clearly bright and intelligent. And that is one of the problems of stigma we will cover in a later article. For now, know that the stigma often includes looking at a neurodiverse child or teenager and thinking that a “bizarre” behavior equals lack of intelligence. But studies are finding that overstimulation of even the most intelligent mind can be troubling. Gracie helped us destimulate, but she helped us in another way we did not see during the session. As our client was working out the dilemma, Gracie’s return was an instantaneous and positive reinforcement. As soon as I saw our client begin to work the problem, as Kim says “at the top of the thought,” I immediately got Gracie walking on a line to our client. In short, we provided destimulation, time, empowerment, validation, and feedback with a simple re-imagining of a very literal recircle! And an overall benefit was adding Gracie to our client’s herd!
As time passes, we will continue to try this method and report with updates.
Frontiers. (2015, June 2). Social and sensory overstimulation drives autistic behaviors, animal study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 6, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150602164024.htm