Many of us are well into our New Year’s resolutions by now and are moving forward with a level of enthusiasm that only happens in January. While some of us have set our intentions to achieve more and workout harder, some of us are striving to take care of our health by doing less.
We all know that being stressed out can cause a myriad of diseases. From deadly heart attacks to frustrating low back pain, stress is a word many of us would like to think of as something in the past. A lot of Americans are perpetually anxious and it is a good choice to slow down and take it easy for a change. Thankfully there are more and more places available beyond the typical yoga studio or massage parlor where one can experience some blissful down time.
At Raffa Yoga in Cranston, Rhode Island for example, members now have access to a 15,000 square foot mansion of leisure, equipped with seven heated therapy rooms to rest and experience mind-body healing. “When we relax, we are more ourselves,” says Christine Raffa, owner of Raffa Yoga and founder of Urban Sweat, a new destination where people can gather and get away from the turmoil of life.
Urban Sweat, an integral part of Raffa Yoga, began with the intention to offer more opportunity to improve health and well-being, not by adding more yoga to the schedule or increasing the intensity of classes, but by providing a space for deep relaxation. Recognizing that many cultures maintain rituals and gathering places to rest, detoxify and cleanse, Raffa thought it would be of great importance to stressed out Americans to have a place of their own as a refuge for healing.
A recent article at Good Therapy may make it seem like Adventure Therapy is a new treatment modality for men, but in fact, Adventure Therapy has been around in some form for more than a century and has been used to treat women, teens, and families, as well as men. Traditionally, men are not as drawn to talk therapy as women are. Simple discomfort with the process can make it less effective. However, my practice, which allows clients much control over their own process, draws in many more men than I have seen in other settings, and at least half of my clients are men. Feeling personally in control is only one of the characteristics of Adventure Therapy that is appealing to men.
Adventure Therapy includes group games, problem solving tasks, trust activities, and indoor and outdoor adventures such as camping, rock climbing, canoeing, sailing, etc. It generally involves the benefits of group therapy while allowing participants to process individually and share in their own time both during and in between group processing sessions. Adventure Therapy often includes some perceived physical or psychological risk such as danger of physical harm or risk of embarrassment, which can help clients invest in treatment and experience more intense positive emotions when a task is completed. Based on a conglomeration of theories of several well-known psychologists, including Alfred Adler, Albert Ellis, Milton Erickson, William Glasser, Carl Jung, Abraham Maslow, Jean Piaget, Carl Rogers, B.F. Skinner, Fritz Perls, and Viktor Frankl, Adventure Therapy can be defined as a cognitive-behavioral-affective approach which utilizes humanistic existential understandings. As a practicing professional, I very much appreciate this holistic theoretical approach.
When I have written about eating disorders previously for DietsInReview, I have stated that eating disorders require special treatment by a specially trained professional and often a team of professionals. The best treatments with which I am familiar include medical professionals, nutritionists, counselors, psychiatrists, and peer groups. Eating disorders are complicated syndromes that must take into account and treat a variety of factors. Because the professionals generally need to specialize in eating disorders, finding appropriate treatment options can often be more difficult.
Generally, stereotypical outpatient therapy is not enough for an eating disorder due to the health risks and impact eating or not eating has on one’s daily life. Generally, outpatient mental health treatment consists of one on one meetings with a therapist for 45-50 minutes every week or every other week. In more extreme cases, a therapist may meet with a client twice per week, but sometimes even that is not enough. One wonderful woman I know who is now recovered from her eating disorder shared, “When I was first confronted about my struggle with food, I attended an outpatient treatment center where I saw a doctor, psychiatrist and dietician two times a week. It was not enough to help me at the time, and I lost a lot of hope for ever finding freedom there.”
Tennessee’s TennCare may not want to pay for nutritional counseling, but the National Institute of Health requires some psychological counseling prior to any bariatric surgery. This counseling includes a psychological evaluation, often with a standardized objective test, as well as interviews to determine a patient’s preparedness for the life change required by weight loss surgery and information about those changes. One reason behind this requirement is that gastric bypass surgery cannot be reversed. It also requires major behavioral change to be successful; if a patient is not compliant with all behavior changes he or she can become very ill – I have even been told about the possibility of death. These are severe consequences for not following doctors orders implicitly.
Yet, the behavior change required is also severe. As a therapist, I see asking that kind of change from someone as setting them up for failure or disappointment because so much change is extremely stressful and mentally and emotionally taxing. I would caution any of my clients attempting such overnight life change, and counsel them on forgiving themselves when they do not stick to their plan. Eating more than planned one day may be a disappointment for someone committed to weight loss, but it can have devastating effects for someone who has had gastric bypass surgery.
Lifestyle change is difficult work and often requires the support of others. When undertaking a major life change, it is generally important to seek the assistance and guidance of professionals to encourage you and equip you with new tools and information to help.
When trying to lose weight, change eating habits, or increase exercise, you may need a coach, therapist, trainer, and/or a nutritionist, all of whom can help you in different ways. Even better, you can assemble a team of professionals that surround you with support, information, tools, and techniques to get your best results.
Coach: A coach collaborates with you to help you achieve the goals that you set through a structured, solution-focused process. Coaching differs from traditional therapy in that the focus is on what can be done today to improve your future, rather than working through the difficulties of the past or the present. Coaching generally involves homework and accountability and coaches are often able to be more flexible in working with clients over the phone or online. (more…)
Exercise can be an important part of mental health treatment. Often those experiencing difficulty with anxiety can benefit from regular cardiovascular exercise, which allows the opportunity for the body to learn recovery from arousal. On the other hand, yoga has been researched as a treatment for PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder. In two studies, the PTSD sufferers that were taught and practiced yoga experienced greater symptom reduction than those that were only a part of more traditional treatment.
Yoga is used as a relaxation technique because it focuses the mind and slows down the body. Simply learning to control your own breathing can allow you to feel more in control of yourself. (more…)
As we continue to work through Dr. Phil’s Keys to Weight Loss and keep track of his Ultimate Weight Loss Race, we dig a bit more deeply into the second key. Dr. Phil’s website directs focus using the second key with the following mandate, “Overcome emotional overeating by managing inappropriate reactions to stress; solving problems rather than dwelling on them; changing self-defeating thoughts, since more often than not, feelings follow thoughts; gaining closure on unfinished emotional business; and learning new ways to cope without resorting to food”. Just that statement could be overwhelming with all the difficult things that are included. One issue many have with Dr. Phil is that telling you what to do doesn’t necessarily lead to life change because it leaves you without knowing how to do what he told you to do. So let’s break it down. (more…)