Tag Archive: exercise

  1. The Effects of Exercise on Adolescents With a Mental Health Disorder

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    The Effects of Exercise on Adolescents With a Mental Health Disorder

    In today’s culture, social media, technology, and a sedentary lifestyle are becoming more normalized. As a result, most adolescents get less exercise than experts advise. This lack of exercise results in an increased risk of mental health disorders and symptoms of mental health conditions that are present. Therefore, it is particularly important that adolescents with mental health disorders learn the value of exercise and how to make it a regular part of their lives.

    Adolescents are at a developmental point in their lives where they can learn how to integrate exercise into their daily routines. Helping them to do so will improve their mental health – now and in the future. The habits that they learn in adolescence are likely to be continued into adulthood.

    How Exercise Impacts Mental Health Disorders

    Depression and anxiety are two of the most common mental health disorders found in adolescents. Therefore, finding methods to help adolescents manage them is important. Exercise can help.


    As a serious mood disorder, depression is on the rise in adolescents. However, exercise can be extremely beneficial. Researchers have found that adolescents who get an adequate amount of exercise have decreased risk of depression and related symptoms. This illustrates the importance of exercise for adolescents, especially those struggling with depression.

    Getting the right amount of exercise is important when considering depression. While many teens do not get enough exercise, some are more prone to overdo it. Excessive exercise can be damaging for adolescents, causing an increase in depression. Therefore, adolescents need a balance of movement and rest to optimize mental health.


    Feeling anxious is normal in certain situations. However, anxiety as a mental health disorder is more complex. Catching it early in adolescents can help them to heal and build coping skills to manage their anxiety into adulthood. Managing anxiety will look different for each individual, but tools such as exercise can help.

    Researchers have found that low- and medium-intensity exercise helps adolescents decrease symptoms of anxiety, while high-intensity exercise was not found to be effective. Each individual will differ in terms of how they respond to exercising. However, helping adolescents increase their exercise habits is a good place to start. A change as simple as going on a walk a few days a week can make a difference in symptoms for an adolescent with anxiety.

    Improving Overall Mental Health With Exercise

    While exercising indeed helps adolescents who struggle with mental health disorders, it is also true that it can boost and improve overall mental health regardless of mental health disorders. By exercising, teens can improve both self-esteem and self-control, which are both factors of overall mental health.


    It is common for adolescents to struggle with low self-esteem. Those struggling with addiction and mental health disorders are even more likely to. However, exercising can help adolescents by impacting their self-esteem. Whether through combat sports, competitive sports, or individual outdoor activities, exercise will be beneficial.

    Researchers have found that when adolescents incorporate more movement into their lives, their self-esteem increases. Multiple factors likely play a role in this change. When adolescents learn new skills and push themselves physically, they learn that they can change and meet their goals. In turn, they build confidence in their abilities.


    Exercising is often thought of as an activity that requires self-control. It takes adhering to a schedule and overriding the impulse to stay sitting on the couch. However, there is a bi-directional relationship between the two. A study published in 2019 found that a single bout of exercise helps individuals increase self-control. The researchers define self-control as the ability to override impulses, desires, or responses based on habit.

    Self-control is an essential aspect of mental health, one that many adolescents struggle with. The external world is always shifting and changing, but teens need to be able to control their responses in multiple situations. This will help them make choices rather than act impulsively or follow along out of habit. As exercising contributes to one’s self-control, it is one way to help teens improve this skill and their overall mental health.

    Exercise Benefits Both Physical and Mental Health

    As a result of our sedentary culture, many adolescents struggle with physical health issues such as obesity from an early age. Helping adolescents to get more exercise can help them maintain a healthy weight, reduce their risk of disease, and strengthen their bodies. Additionally, it can help their overall mental health, as mental and physical health are closely related. Therefore, a lack of exercise not only impacts physical health but also commonly results in mental health challenges.

    Helping adolescents build a framework for exercising will impact them into adulthood. This is because when teens begin to live independently, they often continue habits from adolescence. Therefore, if they have a solid understanding of how to incorporate exercise into their life, they are more likely to be successful in maintaining it as adults.

    As our culture changes, adolescents tend to have decreased amounts of physical activity in their daily lives and exercise. This can decrease mental health and worsen mental health conditions that are already there. However, exercise can help adolescents improve their mental and physical health and help them maintain it as they become adults. At Sustain Recovery, we use evidence-based treatment modalities to help adolescents improve their awareness and learn new behaviors. Many skills can benefit the mental health and physical health of adolescents – both in the present and further into their lives. To learn more about Sustain Recovery’s programs or to speak with a staff member, call us today at (949) 407-9052

  2. Helping Adolescents Maintain Joyful Exercise After Treatment

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    Helping Adolescents Maintain Joyful Exercise After Treatment

    When returning home after treatment, adolescents will need to build and develop a new lifestyle. Many aspects of their lifestyle can help them thrive after treatment, including exercise. While some teens will enjoy more stereotypical routes of exercise like running or going to the gym, others may find these more of a chore. As a parent, you can help your adolescent child to find a type of exercise that is joyful. When they incorporate it into their lives, they are more likely to stick with it long-term, which can help them maintain their sobriety and mental health after treatment.

    Helping Your Teen Find Joyful Exercise

    Due to the current culture, exercise is often thought of as going to the gym or jogging. For many adolescents, however, these activities can be dull and more of a chore than anything else. However, as a parent, you can encourage and support your adolescent in finding alternative methods to exercise that bring them true joy.

    The first step is to open your mind to all the ways an adolescent can exercise. It is helpful to think of exercise as physical movement. Help your teen find ways to get physical movement and increase their heart rate. This means that activities like playing frisbees, hiking, or dancing are all methods of exercise. Looking outside the box and exploring activities like martial arts is also an option.

    Supporting your teen in finding joyful exercise means taking the time to try multiple options. As a parent, you can help facilitate this by encouraging them to try something new. Then, ask them how they felt about it. Did it bring them joy? Do they want to go back? If not, were there any aspects that they enjoyed? By asking questions and listening, you can help your adolescent child discover how they feel about different forms of exercise. Over time, you can help them find what types and parts of different kinds of exercise they enjoy. This information will help them to find an exercise that they enjoy now; it can be adjusted in the future as needed.

    Importance of Finding Joyful Exercise

    When your teen is recently out of treatment, they need to find alternative ways to cope with life that do not include substance use. Exercising in a way they enjoy is a coping method with many benefits, including improving their mood, creating long-term healthy habits, and re-discovering how to feel happy without substances.

    Creating Long-Term Habits

    Adolescents who are in recovery benefit from long-term habits that support their physical and mental health. The lifestyle they have in their teenage years will often persist into adulthood. As a parent, you can help your teen develop habits that make a difference in their recovery – both now and in the future.

    When you help your adolescent discover how exercising can bring joy to their lives, you help them create long-term healthy habits. Research has found that joy and passion are two of the strongest driving forces for physical activity. Therefore, helping your teen discover ways of exercising that bring them joy will help them develop long-term positive habits.

    Improving Mood

    Many adolescents who struggle with addiction have mood disorders or struggle with their mood. Exercising is well known to impact mood in adolescents and adults; exercising joyfully is even more impactful. While each individual has unique triggers for relapse, improving their mood can help decrease their risk of relapse. Immediately after treatment, it is particularly important to help your teen find methods to manage their mood and other triggers.

    Rediscovering Joy Outside of Substances

    Addiction is a disease that impacts the brain. According to the US Surgeon General, every drug has a different effect on the brain, but addictive drugs cause a surge of pleasure neurotransmitters in the brain. The size of the neurotransmitter surge is significantly larger than what is produced in other healthy activities like social bonding or food. This results in activities that used to bring joy being overrun by the neurotransmitters released from substance use.

    As a parent, you can help your adolescent rediscover joy after treatment. In doing so, you are helping them to heal from addiction. Exercise is one way to remodel the reward system in the brain. You may have heard of a runner’s high, which describes the positive feelings an individual gets from running. This is a natural production of dopamine.

    By helping your adolescent find ways to exercise in a joyful way, you are encouraging them to remodel their life. When they find enjoyment through exercising they have an activity they can connect with that makes them feel good. This helps them to build a new life where they feel happiness and satisfaction that does not involve using substances.

    Not all teens enjoy stereotypical exercise methods like team sports or going to the gym. Fortunately, there are many ways to get the benefits of increased exercise. As a parent, you can help your child discover methods of exercise that they enjoy. This in turn will help them to participate in exercise long-term and build a life outside of substance use. At Sustain Recovery, our goal is to facilitate education and improved awareness and build new behaviors that support adolescents in recovery. We offer a variety of treatment levels that can meet your teen where they are. To learn more about our programs and how we can help, call us today at (949) 407-9052

  3. Self-Care for Treatment Providers in a Post-Pandemic World

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    When the COVID-19 crisis began a year ago, an unprecedented number of people developed high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. Those who already suffered from those mental health issues before the pandemic often found their conditions worsened.

    The spotlight turned to the professional treatment community. Therapists, doctors, and other treatment program providers found themselves charged with providing the answers to how to cope. Many treatment providers themselves faced stress and anxiety over COVID-19. They worried about the health of their families and themselves.

    These treatment providers were tasked with leading others in healing while trailblazing the path needed to cope during a worldwide pandemic. Now, as society moves into the beginning stages of the post-pandemic world, the same treatment professionals find themselves in similar leadership roles. Once again, they must navigate the unknown and remain a consistent beacon of light for their patients.

    Focusing on Self-Care Benefits Both You and Your Clients

    The first step to helping patients make the switch to a post-pandemic society revolves around self-care. While self-care for the patient remains important, self-care for the providers should not be neglected. How well you take care of yourself spills over into the care of your patients.

    Setting a Policy on What Types of Appointments You Will Offer

    Many treatment providers find themselves preparing to transition away from schedules heavy with telehealth appointments. Some may employ a hybrid method of offering both telehealth and in-person sessions. Others may find it best to make a complete switch back to office appointments only. Make a decision based on what works best for you.

    You may not feel prepared to see patients only in the office. You might prefer to start conducting all sessions in your office. Whatever your instinct is for the beginning stages of reintegration, respect your level of comfort moving forward.

    Once you have decided what approach works for you, explain your policy to your patients. Knowing you have settled on what the next phase of your treatment practice will look like helps with self-care. Making this decision removes uncertainty and instills the confidence of having a game plan.

    Exercise and Eating Healthy Benefits Any Self-Care Plan

    Sometimes telling patients to eat healthy and exercise becomes routine, but remember that the advice also applies to you. Many people slipped into unhealthy eating habits while quarantined. Give your dietary intake some consideration. If you see room for improvement, take action.

    Many professionals enjoyed the benefit of exercising as part of a group. The pandemic closed down many options for that, but many gyms and fitness centers show signs of reopening. If you are ready to restart (or begin) a group workout, look around for options. Many gyms are cautiously reopening. Choices like yoga classes and running groups now offer spaces again.

    If you prefer to work out alone, make sure you establish a schedule and keep to it. At-home gym equipment paired with upbeat music can inspire you to keep up with your workouts. Like running, biking, or hiking, outdoor exercise gives you the bonus of fresh air and warmer weather.

    Choosing Which Pandemic Guidelines Should Still Apply For Now

    The pandemic swept in a host of boundaries people had to learn. Avoiding things like hugging and handshaking became a habit. People habitually wore masks and respected recommended social distancing guidelines. As society reintegrates, many may assume those rules all go out the window.

    Make no assumptions about how you should behave. If you still feel wearing a mask during in-person appointments should be required, that is your right. You may also want to talk to your patients about other related policies. Let them know if you still want to refrain from handshaking, hugging, or other forms of physical contact. Discuss with your staff what your policy will be for themselves and your patients.

    Sneak in Short Moments of Self-Care

    A typical day does not always provide long stretches of time for self-care. While an hour of yoga or a massage might be tempting, your schedule may not be open to these activities. Keep in mind that you can take small chunks of time and devote them to self-care.

    Try closing yourself off in a private area, putting in earbuds, and playing a favorite song at top volume. Dance if the spirit moves you! You can also use the same space to take five minutes to close your eyes, concentrate on your breathing, and clear your mind.

    Seek Support From Your Peers

    Other treatment professionals can be a valuable source of support. They understand the career concerns you are up against better than anyone. Look for formal support groups, both in-person and virtual.

    If you can’t find one of those, form a chain of colleagues with a similar interest in self-care. The group can look to each other for support. They can also bounce ideas off each other. Brainstorming how to take care of yourselves spills over into taking better care of your patients.

    When the pandemic began over a year ago, treatment professionals were expected to provide all the answers for their patients. Now that society is reintegrating again, the same treatment providers are tasked with helping others navigate this change. The first priority for therapists, doctors, and others in the field is their own self-care. When they make sure to take care of themselves, self-care practices will spill over into their work. Sustain Recovery provides pandemic-stress-related care as part of our treatment programs. We can offer your adolescent and young adult patients a place to address their substance use disorder and any co-occurring diagnoses. If you have a patient who did not thrive while in other treatment programs, we are happy to discuss why our program is often the one that works. Call Sustain Recovery today at (949) 407-9052. We will be happy to detail a plan to help your young patient embrace recovery and a post-pandemic world.

  4. Getting Kids Outside to Exercise

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    exercising outsideCold weather naturally causes many people to stay indoors more often. The added pressure of needing to socially distance for the past year increased time spent inside. Many spent much of that time leading a sedentary lifestyle. Now that the temperature is warmer and the days are longer, it’s time to guide your child into moving around outside.

    Warmer months mean people get outside more and have more options for outdoor exercise. Many adolescents and young adults who struggle with an addiction to alcohol and drugs find that their physical health has suffered, too. Regular exercise can help them improve their physical health. Exercise also establishes a healthy routine that can help replace previous, unhealthy habits.

    If your child is prone to passing the time by staring at screens, exercise becomes even more vital. Take advantage of warmer temperatures and fresh air to give your child a memorable summer. Often it just takes a trip or two outside to remind them of the joys of sunny days and moving their bodies.

    Group Activities Flourish In the Summertime

    Look for group activities that emphasize being physical. Team sports such as soccer and baseball provide a great way to get some exercise. Check neighborhood organizations and community listings for summer teams that are forming. You can also talk to other parents for suggestions on what activities their kids enjoy.

    Activities that don’t feature an actual sport can still provide needed movement for a child. Camping provides an opportunity for hiking, setting up camp, and building muscles while carrying equipment. Young peer groups that go camping together experience multiple benefits. They engage in exercise, problem-solve as a team, and enjoy relaxing time around a fire or gazing up at the stars.

    Membership to a local swimming pool can help your child be among others while they enjoy regular swim sessions. A family membership can help the entire family enjoy time together splashing around.

    Volunteer work that involves being physical also provides a child a chance to get some exercise. Seek out groups that build housing for those in need or require volunteers to help exercise dogs at a shelter. Doing a good deed while working on their physical self can do wonders for a child.

    Exercising Solo Helps Get Your Child Moving

    Your child can also enjoy the sunshine and fresh air with solo activities. Riding a bicycle, skateboarding, and inline skating can give a child an opportunity to move around outside. Track and field events also provide the ability to get their heart rates up. Encourage your child to consider solo exercise-related hobbies that get them moving.

    Exercise Can Help Manage Mental Health

    Many young people who have a substance use disorder also cope with co-occurring disorders. These include mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other conditions. Exercise can also do wonders for mental health by reducing levels of anxiety and elevating positive moods.

    Establishing a habit of engaging in regular exercise can offer the one-two punch that kids need. Their new exercise routines can help them stay on the recovery path and manage their mental health. Addressing both issues provides a young person with a way to feel empowered and healthier.

    If Your Child Is Hesitant to Join a Group or Team

    A child who might have spent a lot of time isolating due to their addiction may be wary of becoming social again. Being part of a group working together as a team can offer benefits. Forming friendships and developing bonds with other members of their age group can have lasting effects.

    Talk to your child about any hesitancy they may feel about becoming more social this summer. Assure them that many kids may be nervous at first when they become part of a new group. Your child may have attended a residential treatment program in the past. If so, remind them of how they likely felt unsure of that in the beginning. They likely shifted to occupying a comfort zone reasonably quickly.

    Similar to adolescents grouped together in a treatment program, summer activities can help bond them. The members all work towards making good use of free time and socialization. Everyone wants to end the summer with good memories of the fun they had and new friends they made. This sort of experience can help a young person focus on maintaining their sobriety.

    Planning For Staying Safe This Summer

    Each community and activity will have its own rules for social distancing. You can check around to see what each activity requires and then determine your comfort level with your child participating in a group or program.

    Pandemic restrictions on movement meant many people have missed out on getting outside to enjoy some exercise. Now that society is starting to reopen and summer is almost here, it’s a whole new ballgame. If your child who copes with a substance use disorder is coming off months of lethargy and staying indoors, you can help them get excited about getting outdoors again. Exercise opportunities include group and solo sports, outside hobbies, and volunteer work. These can benefit their physical and mental health. Sustain Recovery offers well-rounded, long-term programs that help young people embrace recovery. We treat co-occurring mental health disorders and prepare your child for rejoining the family in a healthier mind and body. Our sunny Southern California location offers programs that help kids who may not have responded well to other treatment plans. Call us now at (949) 407-9052 to discuss how we can help bring your child back to an active life.

  5. Alternative Coping Strategies for Recovering Teens

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    Alternative Coping Strategies for Recovering TeensThere are many different ways that people deal with the challenges of life. When life is going well, we feel on top of the world. When life throws us a curve ball, that’s when we find out our true coping skills. Some people have strong, solid coping mechanisms and can deal with problems in a healthy way, while others of us find that we do not have a solid coping foundation and turn to substances or other vice to deal with our problems.  If you’re out of rehab and looking for ways to cope with life’s turmoils and difficulties without turning to substance use, consider these options;


    Exercising To Feel Good

    The vast improvement that exercise can have on the mind and body are hard to grasp until you actually start doing it. It doesn’t take long, though. Endorphins released during physical activity cause a natural, healthy euphoria which encourages you to repeat the productive and beneficial act. Exercise also helps remove byproducts of the stress response. If you’re feeling agitated, anxious, or angry—some of the biggest cornerstones of addiction recovery—a quick run or bike ride can do wonders for peace-of-mind and clear thinking.


    Journaling To Express Yourself

    By putting your thoughts on paper, you’re not just expressing your feelings—you’re gaining insight on them. You have to talk to someone, even if it’s just yourself. The major advantage of journaling in recovery from addiction is that it provides a clear and motivating record showcasing your treatment progress and which actions, attitudes, or choices worked for you along the way. Not only does the act of writing often reduce the symptoms of stress, anxiety, and cravings, it can serve as a useful tool to look back on when you need insight or inspiration in the future.


    Talking It Out With Someone

    In addition to self-regulation and analysis, it’s important to have another listening ear. When stress and devastation make life seem unbearable, the act of communicating with another human being serves to help ground you in relationships and human interaction, which helps you to not feel so alone. Talking to a trusted friend takes some of the burden off yourself. It also makes way for multiple perspectives, both yours and theirs. If you’re attending AA or a similar program, you can even obtain a sponsor–a fellow addict with whom you can interweave your motivations and skill-building.


    There’s no better place to learn and utilize coping skills for recovery and sober living than right here, with us. Sustain Recovery offers a multitude of counseling and guidance services for building effective coping skills in and after treatment. For a consultation, call 949-637-5499.

Sustain Recovery changed my life in a way I never considered remotely possible. I arrived in a place where I knew nobody. Sustain Recovery gave me tools so that I never had to be alone again. I learned how to live like an adult and have genuine relationships with other human beings. I gained a sense of self respect, love, and pride from the challenges I was given by staff. I was able to work through the recent loss of my father and I achieved my goal of not taking any psychiatric medication.
I learned that life is an endless balancing act. I have to continually work on myself and my relationships with the people in my life. The staff at Sustain Recovery are all incredibly experienced and spiritual. They were available to me whether I wanted their help or not. Through their efforts and experience, I experienced the inner workings of having an intimate, loving relationship with a loving creator.
Sustain Recovery is “home” for me. I discovered a loving, caring family that helped launch me to a place I would have never dreamed and, if I would have dreamed it, I would never have believed I would be able to accomplish it.

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