Tag Archive: stress

  1. Why You Should Participate in National Unplugging Day

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    March 5 is National Unplugging Day. This annual event challenges people to go 24 hours without using electronics such as cell phones, computers, televisions, gaming systems, and anything else related to technology. The idea is to spend a day without relying on the internet and screen-based entertainment to connect in other ways of passing the time and accomplishing tasks. Pew Research reports that nine out of ten households have at least one technology-related device, with the average being five. Eighteen percent of households have a whopping ten or more devices. 

    The younger the person, the more likely they are to have access to multiple devices. An entire generation is growing up with no memory of a world where they could not immediately access information and entertainment on a handheld, portable device. For adolescents and young adults, the idea of spending 24 hours without engaging in their tech habits can be scary and frustrating; however, there are benefits for any age group to “unplug” from the e-world. A short respite from electronic life can offer a person the opportunity to let their minds quiet down and recharge

    Engaging the Five Senses

    While there is no denying the convenience of electronic devices, often, they rob a person of the advantages of real-time, in-person contact. Having a phone call instead of texting allows a person to hear things like tone of voice and laughter. However, speaking in-person opens the spectrum up even more. Face-to-face conversations allow for:

    • Seeing body language 
    • Establishing eye contact
    • Feeling a real connection 

    Many people enjoy cooking shows and recipe apps but do not take the next step of testing their skills in the kitchen. Spending some time trying a new recipe or fiddling around with an old one provides a person with the ability to smell cooking aromas and taste the results. 

    If a person considers playing a sport virtually as exercise, it’s time to rethink this. Toggling a few buttons or keys to play baseball or other sports does not provide the benefits of being on your feet, exercising, and getting fresh air. Choose activities that incorporate some or all five senses, making for a richer experience than one coming from electronic devices.

    Less Screen Time Can Mean Better Sleep

    Just the act of setting aside smartphones or turning off screens can mean a person is more likely to engage in other activities. Taking a brisk walk to stretch your legs or other exercise and getting fresh air lends itself to better sleeping patterns, and stop all screen time at least a half-hour before going to bed. Cell phones emit a type of blue light that affects melatonin production–the hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycle and circadian rhythm. When this is compromised, falling asleep and waking can be much more difficult. 

    Once a person is in bed, choosing a peaceful way to transition to sleep can decrease the amount of time to fall asleep. Reading a book (the physical kind, not an e-book) or listening to calming music are excellent choices. Even activities that seem harmless, like reading the news or scrolling through social media apps, can trick the brain into thinking it needs to stay awake to think about items read. Some news stories or updates on social media sites illicit strong reactions, such as anger, frustration, or sorrow. The mind may remain focused on these feelings rather than making a relaxing transition to sleep.

    Being Plugged in Can Be an Avoidance Technique

    Many people can relate to the idea of “just one more game” or “five more minutes” as an excuse to keep themselves occupied with electronics. In particular, adolescents will jockey for more time doing what feels most comfortable and most fun for them, making it imperative for parents to challenge them. Too often, burying one’s head in electronic devices can be a way of distracting a young person when dealing with mental health issues or sobriety. 

    While National Unplugging Day occurs once annually, unplugging from devices can be done on any day throughout the year. A parent or treatment professional can sit down with a young person to help them plan for a day of being “unplugged.” Discuss what activities they might be avoiding by being tethered to their devices. Make a list of things to accomplish on their “day off,” which could include household chores, studying, getting outside, socializing, journaling, doing volunteer work, or engaging in creative pursuits. Make sure kids understand that being unplugged for a day is not a punishment. Being “unplugged” is an opportunity to shake up a routine and see what one can accomplish.

    National Unplugging Day is a day set aside for people to abstain from their electronic devices, such as smartphones, televisions, computers, video gaming systems, and streaming services. The idea is to reconnect with non-electronic pastimes that involve movement and engaging in all five senses. Doing so can promote better sleep and counter the tendency to avoid accomplishing necessary tasks. When a young person seeks help from Sustain Recovery, we allow them the ability to unplug from their daily life to concentrate on healing. Our clients often find that being removed from their familiar home environment and any unhealthy temptations among peers proves beneficial to hitting the “reset button.” This allows them to learn to thrive in sobriety and manage any co-occurring mental illnesses. When they return home, they are equipped with the skills needed to heal and move forward. Call us today to find out how we can help your child unplug and rejoin life! (949) 407-9052

  2. How To Stay on Top of College Plans

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    Stressed About College

    ‘As we fully enter the new year, COVID-19 continues to influence many important life events. Balancing work and social life with quarantining takes up a lot of mental space for the average family these days. However, there is another concern weighing on the minds of many. Some of the most impactful decisions families and young people must make pertain to schooling. 

    The coronavirus has caused an upheaval in the routines related to attending high school, preparing for college, and the career choices adolescents make as they begin to head out into adulthood. The good news is you still have some control over how to proceed with schooling at the high school and undergraduate level. 

    Change in Rules for College Prep Tests

    Typically, a student headed for college takes the SAT or ACT in person. These exams are often required to gain entrance to most colleges and universities. The New York Times reported last fall that if COVID-19 continued as a long-term threat to in-person testing, digital versions of entrance exams would be developed. Digital versions of the SAT and ACT will allow students to take these exams at home. Suggested ways to help prevent cheating include “locking down” a computer to use only the testing screen. The student would also appear with their camera and microphone on, providing proctors the ability to monitor students as they take the exam. 

    Due to some colleges temporarily making them optional for incoming students, the SAT and ACT exams may prove a moot issue. Keep these developments in mind as you and your child investigate school choices. If a pre-entrance exam is required, whether virtual or in-person, many options exist for study guides, including software, books, and websites. Take advantage of these guides to prepare for exams and excel.

    Choosing a College is a Multi-Step Process 

    Many considerations factor into the decision of what college to attend. Distance from home, housing options, tuition, and degrees are among the most important choices to consider. It can take more than one discussion with your child to decide which schools to put on a “shortlist” to send applications to. Your child’s interests and abilities must be strongly considered. 

    If your child is uncertain about what subject major to choose, they can enter as “undeclared.” They can take some of the required classes, such as English and History, with various courses that may spark their interest in a degree program. Many students discover their passion by taking just one elective class, like Music, Psychology, or Accounting. If your child already knows what major they want, focus on colleges that offer degrees in that subject. 

    Remember that a student can major in one subject and minor in another, allowing them to expand their expertise and combine two subjects. For example, a major in Art combined with a minor in Business can help prepare a student to build a career running a gallery.

    Financial Factors to Consider

    If finances are limited, a local community college can offer a low-cost start to a college career. This can also cut costs by allowing the student to commute from home. If your child is moving out-of-town for school, investigate the price of living on-campus. On-campus living often includes meal plans in addition to room and board. Sharing an apartment off-campus with other students will not include meals. 

    Put on your “detective hat” and look for financial assistance, such as scholarships and grants. High school and college counselors can offer insight and tips for cutting the cost of tuition. Consult with friends and extended family members who have dealt with this previously, as well as sources like librarians, books, and internet-based articles. 

    Many students work part-time to help pay for their expenses while at school. University advisors can connect you with on-campus employment opportunities, such as working in the library or cafeteria. Advisors can also provide lists of companies in the area that frequently employ students. 

    Transportation is another factor to consider for cutting costs. Many college campuses are “walker-friendly,” meaning that many businesses and restaurants are near the campus, allowing students to walk or ride a bike for necessities and entertainment. Many colleges have trams or buses that cater to students, some of them free-of-charge. Utilizing these options may make a car’s need and its related expenses unnecessary, saving money over several years.

    College Is Still a Reality During a Pandemic

    Campus safety is concerning for both parents and students.  The coronavirus has amplified the need for heightened security. The vaccine is now being distributed, expected to be widely implemented by the time the fall semester rolls around. While the concern about the virus will still be a reality this fall, the vaccine means that things will be much different from last fall. Be sure to check with any college you are interested in to see what COVID compliance practices they use. Many schools are currently offering some or all online classes for the current semester, with details potentially changing this fall.

    Every parent gets a little nervous about helping their child prepare for and choose a college, but it’s even tougher during a pandemic. Last fall had families in a panic about college plans, but due to the vaccine being rolled out now, this fall will likely look different. It’s not too early to start investigating entrance exam choices, financial aspects, and which schools offer what your child needs. Sustain Recovery offers schooling assistance while your child attends treatment with us, allowing them to stay up-to-date with their studies. We provide comprehensive programs designed to help clients who might have been treatment-resistant in the past and can benefit from our long-term programs. Our staff of treatment professionals excels at guiding adolescents and young adults, allowing them to achieve and maintain sobriety, as well as manage any co-occurring mental illnesses. For more details about how we can help you or your loved one, call us today! (949) 407-9052

  3. Using the Arts to Relieve Pandemic-Related Stress

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    Society is coming up on a solid year of various levels of quarantining and social distancing due to the coronavirus. What initially everyone hoped would be a short-term effort that would flatten the curve, allowing things to begin to return to normalcy, proved to be a long-haul effort that is still going on into the new year. As a result, millions of people are experiencing pandemic-related stress that impacts their work lives, home lives, and mental health.

    Approaches to relieving stress brought on by living long-term in a world riddled with COVID-19 can include engaging in regular exercise, talking to a mental health professional, or the use of prescription medications. An often overlooked option is taking part in one (or more) of the creative arts. They not only can provide an outlet for built-up stress and anxiety but provide a welcome change of pace from a person’s day-to-day activities. Engaging in an artistic activity may also create a welcome new hobby that you will enjoy for years.

    The Art of the Written Word

    Creative writing can take many forms, including fictional stories, essays, and poetry. If you are new to trying your hand at writing, find a quiet place in your home and carve out some time for yourself. You can write about anything you want and don’t worry about if it’s necessarily good or not. If you aren’t sure what subject to tackle, consider writing about a memory from your past, like a favorite childhood birthday or a great love of your life who you still think about. 

    Short stories and poetry also prove to be great outlets for exercising your creative muscles. Remember you do not have to show your work to anyone unless you want to, which helps reduce the fear about whether or not your work is good. Another excellent writing outlet is journaling. Often the act of purging your pent-up emotions helps counter the ill effects they have on a person. You can either write on a computer in a word document or use an actual pen and paper in a journal or notebook. 

    Channel Your Inner Artist

    Since ancient man (and woman) first drew rudimentary pictures on cave walls, art has proven to be a wonderful way to express yourself. Whether you want to try your hand at using acrylic paint, watercolor, or sketching with ink, local craft stores and the internet offer many options for procuring supplies. Many artists find the act of turning on some favorite music and sitting down with a sketchbook or setting up their easel provides them with a good chunk of time to let the worries of the day fade away while they escape into the beauty of color and form. 

    Dance Like Nobody’s Watching

    If you used to make a habit of going out to clubs and bars and dancing, you probably miss being able to do that. Even if you have the proverbial two left feet and want to dance but are intimidated by it, taking advantage of private time at home can give you the outlet you need. Put on a playlist of music that makes you want to move your feet and create a dance floor in a room in your house. You might play a dance instruction video or a scene from a favorite musical (think the high school dance in “Grease”) for inspiration and get your groove on. 

    Dancing doesn’t have to be a solo act. Couples can let go of stress via dance and entire families can get in on it. Little kids love to express themselves through movement and music, making it a perfect opportunity to have a family dance party for all ages. Dancing can also provide needed exercise, which can also contribute to stress relief.

    Create Wearable Art for Yourself and Others

    Many people relax by sitting in a favorite chair and putting their talents to work with knitting, crocheting, or sewing. This type of artistic endeavor can help focus the mind on the task at hand, relieving you from the daily stress that builds up. Hobbies like these build up hand-eye coordination and can be done solo or with others who share your hobby via social distancing or on a meetup app. The bonus is you can create wearable art for yourself or that makes a great gift for friends and family.

    Free Advice From the Pros

    If insecurity about your skill level for any of these artistic options has a grip on you, remember that the internet provides innumerable options for free instructional videos and classes that help guide people through their first steps. Videos about how to construct a short story, tips for choosing paints, how-to instructions on dancing, and so much more give people the ability to embrace a new artistic endeavor with expert advice they can return to whenever they need it. 

    Everyone is experiencing some level of stress due to the coronavirus and the restrictions it imposes on pastimes and hobbies. Turning to artistic activities, such as dance, art, writing, and sewing-related pastimes can help relieve stress, pass the time, and potentially become a new hobby. When a young person is struggling with mental health issues and addiction, it’s important for them to find a way to deal with their issues, including pandemic-related stress. Sustain Recovery understands how to address an adolescent’s underlying issues and point them in the right direction. We offer multiple treatment modalities, including residential, intensive outpatient programs, and partial hospitalization programs. If your client needs a long-term treatment program that includes treatment for mental health and addiction and has experience providing the solution for clients who did not respond to other programs, we can help. Call us today at (949) 407-9052 to discuss how to get through not only the pandemic but all of life with a healthy new attitude and focus on recovery.


  4. Using Mindfulness-Based Treatments in Addiction Recovery

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    adolescent mindfulness training

    Mindfulness is a practice and philosophy that has been used for millennia. Originating in the Himalayan region, mindfulness teaches people to become self-aware. The philosophy teaches that by focusing on moment-to-moment experiences, a person can become aware of their behaviors and emotional reactions. This is helpful because instead of avoiding feelings and urges, a person can name and accept them. Acceptance leads to less self-judgment, and in return, a person has better tools for dealing with cravings or negative emotions.

    Taking part in your child’s recovery is very important. Educating yourself on topics like substances and their effects on children, as well as different treatment programs is vital to their success. While they receive plenty of support from their treatment facilitators, recovery is a 24/7 process. This is why support at home is critical.

    Mindfulness in Youth Addiction Recovery

    Simply put, mindfulness brings a person’s attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present and is often taught through meditation exercises. There have been many studies on the effects of mindfulness-based treatments in adult populations, but the research of its effects on youth populations is emerging.

    A study conducted in 2009 showed evidence of a positive change in emotional, physical, and behavioral health in children and adolescents. A different study conducted that same year focusing on teens ages 14-18 showed a significant increase in their ability to deal with stress, regulate behavior, and improve their psychological well-being. There are several key aspects of why mindfulness-based treatments are successful when treating addiction in kids.

    These include qualities such as:

    • Reduced impulsiveness
    • Increased ability to accept drug cravings without using
    • Increased perception of risk in drug-use
    • An increased overall sense of well-being

    These skills are essential for helping your child through their recovery process and studies have proven that mindfulness can be used to prevent relapse, as well.

    What the Science Says

    Because mindfulness-based treatment is an emerging practice, there has been a rush by researchers to test its success. While an overwhelming amount of evidence points towards a decrease in drug use, some evidence points to it being a selective treatment; something that is not one-size-fits-all. What research does suggest is that adding mindfulness exercises into a child’s treatment can improve their motivation and decrease their chances of relapse. This can be linked to the patient’s newfound ability to confront their emotions or impulses without judgment and become aware of what triggers their cravings.

    There have been studies conducted specifically on adolescents who are mandated to participate in drug treatment programs. The outcomes are the same. There is a decreased chance of relapse and an increased ability to deal with stressors and impulses. Also, mindfulness practices increase their perceptions of risk from using drugs. Mindfulness works because it presents children with tools they can practice anywhere. Prolonged practice of mindfulness techniques supports long-term success. It provides the child with an internal process of dealing with negative emotions, impulses, or environments.

    Moving Forward

    Researches make a point to discuss a few assumptions about mindfulness-based treatment for youth addiction recovery. First, there is an assumption that counselors and families are interested in applying mindfulness activities to treatment programs. While many programs are being created to combine contemporary treatment programs with mindfulness-based treatments, they are not readily available everywhere. This is something to talk about with your child’s recovery facility. Ask if they are familiar with the practice and if they have any ways of applying it to your child’s treatment.

    The second assumption is that facilities and families have a working knowledge of mindfulness and mindfulness-based treatments. There is no need to be an expert on mindfulness to facilitate the practice with your child. A lot of resources exist online with guides on how to introduce mindfulness to your children and keep them engaged in the practice. This also leads to the assumption that you are willing to take an active role in your child’s recovery.

    The third assumption is that you have knowledge of substance abuse and addiction and their effects on children. Realize that when working with a treatment facility, questions about different types of drugs and their effects will come up. It’s important to prepare yourself by having some knowledge of these topics or knowing where to find it.

    Your child’s treatment facility is a great place to start. Also, many schools have programs on drug education. Talk to your child’s school counselor and ask if they have any literature on common or popular drugs and their effects on children. Remember, taking an active part in your child’s recovery is key to their success.

    To learn more about how mindfulness-based therapy can benefit your child in their recovery, please contact Sustain Recovery today at (949) 407-9052. Our outpatient, intensive outpatient, and residential programs are all built around evidence-based clinical treatment modalities. Our knowledgeable and compassionate staff can help your child begin to lead a happier, healthier life and decrease their chances of relapse.

  5. How to Know if the Stress is Too Much

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    Stress occurs when the individual perceives that demands placed on them — such as work, school or relationships — exceed their ability to cope. Not all stress is a bad thing. A little bit of stress can keep the individual alert, motivated and ready to respond to threat. Whether it’s preparing for a job interview or getting out of the way of a speeding car, it’s stress that gets the job done. However, unregulated stress can take its toll on the body and brain. A lot of repeated stress has been linked to conditions like heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, anxiety, chronic pain and depression, among others. So how can stress be identified?

    Identifying Stress

    It is important to deal with stress, but it can be tricky to identify whether what the individual is feeling is stress or something else. This can be difficult because stress is subjective and reveals itself differently in different people. Some common signs of stress may be:

    • Shallow breathing.
    • Tensed body, like hunched shoulders and stiff neck. Clenching of the fists and jaw.
    • Skin break outs. Stress raises the levels of cortisol in the body which boosts oil production in the skin and can result in acne and blemishes.
    • Fatigue.
    • Difficulty sleeping.
    • Constantly worrying.
    • Physically shaky.
    • Thinning hair. Stress can cause the body to put a halt on hair growth.
    • More than usual use of substances like alcohol, tobacco and drugs.
    • Feeling feverish. Psychological stress can raise body temperature.
    • Grinding teeth while sleeping.
    • Brittle nails.
    • Troubled digestive tract, suffering from constipation, indigestion or diarrhea.
    • Feeling restless and fidgety.
    • Difficulty in decision making.
    • Trouble concentrating and thinking clearly.
    • Very emotional.
    • Feeling unhappy without any real cause.
    • Changes in eating patterns.  

    Tips to Manage Stress

    What is the individual to do when they are stressed? Dealing with stress is an individual pursuit, just like stress itself is subjective. Some techniques to reduce stress are:

    • Take a break – The individual should give themselves permission to step away from whatever it is that’s stressing them out. Doing something else, even for a short amount of time, will allow the individual to feel less overwhelmed.
    • Exercise – There are multiple benefits to exercise for the mind as well as the body. A short walk or run, pool time, yoga class, any form of exercise in the midst of a stressful time can immediately calm the individual down and keep them calm for several hours.
    • Social support – It can often help to call a friend, or send an email to a loved one. Sharing one’s concerns or feelings with another person can help relieve stress.
    • Meditate – One of the most popular ways to relieve stress, mindful meditation can help the mind and body to relax. Meditation can help release emotions that the individual has been holding on to which is causing them stress. Similar to exercising, even brief meditation sessions can reap immediate benefits.

    Stress can’t be eliminated, but it can be identified, and by finding positive and healthy ways to deal with it, can be managed.


    Sustain Recovery offers extended stay treatment programs for adolescents. Learn to deal with stress and other issues in a safe, structured environment. Call us to find out more.

  6. Avoiding Relapse During Crisis

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    Avoiding Relapse During CrisisRecovery is a process of gaining the awareness, tools, mindfulness, and skills to maintain sobriety through any of life’s circumstances. Life is not always easy. That is why one of the mantras in recovery mentions learning to “live life on life’s terms.” One of the alcoholic’s and addict’s primary struggles is the marked inability to cope with living life itself. Life is full of difficulties, challenges, responsibility, and pain. On the other hand, life is full of beauty, love, purity, celebration, and joy.

    A relapse will typically occur as a result of two things. First, is neglecting to place recovery first. Minimizing meeting attendance, not participating in therapy, or refusing to attend group results in spiritual deprivation. Recovery is maintained by staying spiritually fit. All the components of a comprehensive recovery program are geared toward developing and sustaining a manner of spiritual living. Correlating to a lack of spiritual centeredness is the adverse response to stresses or crises. Without that spiritual foundation for living developed through recovery, young adult addicts find themselves lacking in resource to handle what comes their way.  They turn to the patterns of behavior and action which comes most naturally to them: get drunk and get high. Using and drinking as a solution to life’s problems is the most innate programming an adolescent in early recovery has. They’ve only just begun to learn how to react differently. When we drop the tools we’ve learned to pick up, it’s easy to forget how to access them. Right when we need them most, we find ourselves in a struggle of choices.

    Every difficult situation presents opportunities for growth, development, and change. In fact, the “serenity prayer” often used in recovery advocates for meeting stress with exactly this philosophy. We ask for the serenity to accept what cannot be changed, the courage to change what can be changed, and the wisdom to know the difference between the two. Most wise, of course, is choosing not to return to drugs and alcohol as a way of responding to crisis in life.


    Recovering adolescents suffering from addiction will learn to develop many other tools  for managing relapse prevention. Sustain Recovery Services in southern California provides extended care services to young adults and adolescents in recovery from drugs and alcohol. We offer a comprehensive and structured program as a foundation for building a life of long term sobriety. Please visit our website or call us at 949-407-9052 for more information.

I first met Sayeh in November of 2013 just after my 15 year old daughter had been admitted to a residential treatment program. As part of the program I was required to attend 2-3 AlAnon meetings a week. Sayeh attended the same AlAnon meetings as well as Alumni events as I. It soon became apparent to me that Sayeh had a heart for recovery, program, and God. When I was encouraged to get a sponsor I didn’t hesitate. Dependable, respectful, kind and generous of spirit, she exudes an inner peace that I hope to achieve with her loving guidance, as I work my own program. She is patient, & full of wisdom that she is always happy to share with her sponsees and fellow parents. I am so grateful our journeys brought us together.

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