By Natural Advocate | February 20, 2014 - 8:18 pm - Posted in General Health Updates

The road through alcohol and drug rehabilitation has many highs and lows for the individual in recovery as well as for their supporting friends and family. From one moment to the next, an individual coping with addiction may experience mood swings, bouts of depression, and even rage.

As a bystander observing from the sidelines, it can appear to be a never ending spiral of chaos. In contrast, those who are going through treatment are constantly faced with the potential for relapse.

Usually, this temptation is brought on by what’s known as “triggers.” These could be prompted by a number of things ranging from certain environments, to memories or social groups. The key to seizing control of your addiction and avoiding an unwelcome relapse is to manage these triggers in the appropriate manner.

Identify Triggers

If you’re serious about getting your triggers under control the first step is to identify exactly what they are. Put pen to paper and make an actual list of the environment, individuals, and words that evoke a desire to binge.

Some examples include driving past a liquor store, being in a bar, or around others who are engaging in the addiction you’re battling. Triggers also vary from person to person so just because one person is set off by something doesn’t mean it’ll have the same effect on you.

Create a Coping Strategy

After you have a solid understanding of your specific triggers, it’s critical to develop a strategy for overcoming them. Think of them as hurdles on the track to recovery. Your primary job is to learn the proper technique necessary to jump over them.

The Relapse Prevention Approach is a highly used psychotherapy method for executing this very thing. Based on the theories of G. Alan Marlatt and others in the field, the RP approach borrows concepts of self-organization, context effects, and feedback loops to understand the science behind addiction.

Address Your Needs

If you’ve gone through in-patient or addiction treatment then you’re probably already familiar with the 12-step model. In times of trouble, reverting back to the skills learned in this model can be very helpful for combating powerful urges.

Another exercise hailed for its efficacy is known as H.A.L.T (hungry, angry, lonely, and tired). These four components can help you quickly identify your conditioned responses to certain stimuli. From there you can retrain your mind to respond in a more appropriate manner. If you’re having difficulty identifying these needs, consider one of the drug addiction treatment programs at Ambrosia Treatment Center.

Monitor Your Progress

The last component of managing triggers is to monitor and track your results. Some individuals find it helpful to create a trigger chart with their ongoing progress.

On the chart, divide the trigger or situation into different categories (feelings, behavior, consequences) and document how each event triggers a different reaction. Over time, you should see a dramatic improvement in the way you handle certain scenarios and situations.

If you’re still not noticing the type of growth you’d like after employing these four strategies, seek professional help through an outpatient treatment facility or addiction specialist.

 

By Natural Advocate | April 13, 2013 - 7:17 am - Posted in General Health Updates

Well, we’ve all been loving the fact that it’s been such a mild and pleasant winter here with very little major snow where I live in Ohio. However, one of the consequences that often arises from a warmer than usual winter is the fact that a worse than usual allergy season tends to be born from these warm winters.

Colder winters are better for the following season’s allergen readings actually because the trees and plants all go fully dormant and the pollen counts go down instantly as soon as the freezing temps set in.

However, when you have a warm winter, the pollens in the trees never really go dormant, so they just stay in the air, and your body needs to become re-acclimated to them yet again when the spring time breaks. You’d think it would work opposite, and this would make the adjustment to the pollen in the warm weather easier, but it actually has the opposite effect.

This has been one of the few winters I can remember where I had more allergy recurrences than ever. Every time the weather would thaw, I’d start to get the sniffles and start to be a little more prone to asthma issues. In addition to this, changes in the barometric pressure and temperature cause a lot of people to get migraines (my husband is a perfect example). Sometimes people will also notice these frequent pressure changes in their joints if they have arthritis or other cartilage or joint problems.

So the frequent changes in weather really doesn’t do your body any favors, other than maybe getting you used to dramatic and fast changes in the weather and perhaps adding some levels of “street cred” to your adaptability!

Even though I’m highly allergic to some things, I will NOT take most allergy medications. I refuse to be enslaved to a medication during the allergy months, and I’ve heard too much about their side effects and how they can alter the way your hormones work, so there’s no way.

Instead I really try to naturally manage them. If it gets to the point where I simply cannot function, I will take something that’s over the counter to help it. However, that only happens maybe twice a year. There are some herbal remedies that can help with allergies as well.

But mostly what I do is try to mitigate my exposure to the things I know will drive me wild. One such thing is mold. There are some places that I simply cannot be comfortably because they have a lot of mold spores in the air. Dust can also set me off, so we do keep our house pretty dust free. Dust mites will make me sneeze in a heartbeat!

After cutting the grass and doing yard work, I always make sure I wash my hair that night so I don’t go to bed with all the pollen and dust on my head. I usually only wash my hair every other day, but I always make the exception when I know I’ve been outdoors and exposed to a lot of aggravating allergens.

This stuff really sticks to your hair, especially if you use hair gels or hairspray since it sticks much easier. I wash my winter clothes every year before I start wearing them again and likewise with my summer clothes before the summer season. I’ve found that the dust and mites that settle in clothes while they are not being used will set me off, so I’ve gotten in the practice of washing them before every season they’ll be used in.

 

By Natural Advocate | December 29, 2012 - 9:08 am - Posted in General Health Updates

I recently saw a headline that naturally caught my attention, my husband and I being childless by choice and likely for the rest of our lives together. It surprised me because I had also read other studies that showed that the lower stress lifestyle of not having children may make you live longer so of course I had to read a study that completely contradicted that.

Keep in mind that for every study, there is almost always another study that “debunks” that first one. It seems like there are so many research studies that are deeply flawed in one way or another so as to make the findings nearly irrelevant.

This seems to be one of those extremely flawed studies. The findings I’m referring to is the study that shows that childless women are up to four times more likely to die earlier deaths than their counterparts who have children. Men were up to two times more likely to die if they had no children than men who did have children.

Sounds pretty alarming, right? Until you consider the fact that the study followed men and women (couples) who had undergone IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) which is a rather drastic and of course very expensive form of impregnating a woman who has otherwise had a lot of trouble getting pregnant naturally.

The study found that the men and women who were unsuccessful at getting pregnant (and had wanted a child, this is the important part) died much more prematurely than the men and women who did end up having the children successfully.

Not only does this study not include couples who voluntarily do not have children as a lifestyle choice, but it has also been criticized because the numbers that were studied and the time frame they were studied for was very small in the grand scheme of things. This to me just means that the findings are virtually baseless and meaningless because they include and exclude too many important variables in the equation.

With more and more people opting not to have children as a lifestyle choice, of course this sort of study perks some ears up, as it did mine. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t like kids, but my husband and I have a very full life as it is, and we have plenty of children surrounding us already that we love, so we just didn’t feel the need to have one of our own in our lives.

It may sound like an excuse, but it’s true. My life feels pretty darn fulfilled although I would be lying if I said that seeing certain adorable children doesn’t pull on my heart strings and make me wonder if I made the right decision. In the end, it’s a very personal decision and one that should not be taken lightly. It’s the most important job you’ll ever have in your life :)

By Natural Advocate | August 17, 2012 - 9:10 pm - Posted in General Health Updates

Sometimes it seems like a constant struggle to manage our weight. As we age, our metabolism naturally dips down into a lower gear, our fat burning capabilities take a nose dive, and we are generally more prone to fat storage and less prone to add lean muscle mass which is excellent at burning fat and calories.

Although it has always been a generally accepted fact of life that too much sitting is not healthy because it promotes weight gain and bad posture, there is now actual data that supports the fact that a chronically sedentary lifestyle actually shortens the lifespan and contributes greatly to the likelihood that you are going to be either overweight or obese.

Why does sitting too much negatively impact your weight?

Aside from the fact that you are not actively burning any calories typically when you are in a sitting position, there is also data that the position itself promotes a massive slowdown of the metabolism.

If you don’t get up at least once every half hour to an hour and stand or walk around, you are actually slowing your metabolism down for hours at a time. This means your body is allowed to collect fat stores more readily and the calories you consume just sit in the body rather than being burned off as energy.

Excess calories mean excess weight accumulation. That’s weight gain 101!

You see, when you are standing – even if you are not walking but just standing in a stationary position, you are still using multiple stabilizing muscles in the legs and the core. This constant stabilization of the body when standing keeps the metabolic torches going in the body.

As soon as you sit down, the switch goes into snooze mode even if you’re only sitting for a half hour to an hour at a time. This is why it is so important to get up as often as possible. Even if you have a desk job, try to just stand at your desk (some workplaces even provide standing desks) for a while instead of sitting the entire day.

I tried it and was shocked at how much more alert I felt that rest of the day. I didn’t feel totally exhausted at the end of my workday like I usually do. All this just from standing – not even walking around for a long time! This goes to show that sitting down is detrimental to your health in many more ways than once though.

 

By Natural Advocate | July 8, 2012 - 9:12 am - Posted in General Health Updates

Celiac disease is one that has really commanded more attention over the last decade. As gluten free diets have become somewhat of a fad for people who do not even suffer from celiac disease, it has some wondering if there is any way that developing the disease can be avoided, or whether it’s truly just a genetic crapshoot on whether you get the disease or not.

The answer may be a bit of both, but there are identifiable genetic traits that make some people more susceptible to celiac disease.  Let’s first talk about what celiacs is.  It is a condition where the small intestine has a reaction to the consumption of anything with gluten (which is unfortunately a great many products these days).

The small intestine is extremely important to the human body as it is the place where most of the nutrition is absorbed from the food we eat. Without this absorption we would literally die of malnutrition.

When a person with celiac disease consumes any foods with gluten in it, small absorbent “fingers” called villi, which line the small intestine get destroyed and this ability to absorb nutrients is hindered more and more.

People are put on a gluten free diet, which can actually be extremely challenging to deal with since so many of the foods we eat contain gluten in some form. Many canned foods, soups, ice creams, boxed foods, and any other processed food today pretty much contains the ingredient.

If you want to eat out in a restaurant, you pretty much are relegated to eating only the salads on the menu, and even at that you have to watch what ingredients they put on the salad.  Even marinades that coat meats can contain gluten, so it is a very pervasive ingredient and very difficult to avoid.

There are more gluten free foods than ever being offered today though at least, in the special gluten free section of the grocery store, or at health food stores.  You just have to eat at home a whole lot more than usual because making the food yourself may be the only definite guarantee that you are avoiding the ingredient.

So far reasearch has not yielded any information on whether celiac disease can be avoided by changes in lifestyle or diet.  This is unfortunate, because it means that if you have a family member with the disease, you are more likely to develop it and since there is no known way to avoid it, your hands are really tied.

Symptoms of celiac diease are varied, so it can often be difficult to pinpoint for healthcare professionals.  It can be marked by fatigue, weight loss, depression, hair loss and a variety of other symptoms that are the hallmark of malnutrition, but these can vary from person to person.

 


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