Monday, October 14, 2019

Guest Post: Exercise Strengthens the Body and the Mind

Fitness, in my opinion, is a mental exercise more than just physical.”
– Indian actress Anushka Shetty

Exercise is indeed both a mental and physical activity. We often hear people talking about how Working out makes them feel better.
  • Taking walks helps them clear their minds.
  • Running helps them achieve a natural runner’s high.

Clearly, there’s a connection between physical and mental fitness. People who exercise regularly could:

  • Reduce fatigue if they’re undergoing cancer treatment. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network says that “exercise increases muscle strength, joint flexibility, and general conditioning.”
  • Provide mental and physical benefits if they’re recovering from addictions. Alcohol and drug addiction treatment centers often encourage their clients to hit the gym as a form of holistic treatment that addresses their minds, bodies, and spirits.
  • Strengthen their bones if they have osteoporosis. As an added bonus, if people don’t have osteoporosis, regular exercise may prevent it from occurring in the first place.

Thus, exercising regularly may reduce pain and fatigue. It may even prevent it. If we’re less tired and sore, we may be better able to function in general.

We certainly may be better able to handle our mental health. “Depressed adults who took part in a fitness program displayed significantly greater improvements in depression, anxiety, and self-concept than those in a control group after 12 weeks of training,” reported scholars who reviewed research about exercise and mental health.

During exercise, the brain’s pituitary gland and hypothalamus release chemicals known as endorphins. Endorphins are similar to the drug morphine, so they may fight pain. They may also boost our moods, because they’re chemicals that also relate to eating, drinking, sex, and maternal feelings.

When we exercise, we’re doing something positive for ourselves. Knowing that we’re making progress may make us feel better about ourselves and improve our self-esteem.

If we feel better about ourselves, we may be eager to continue to exercise to prolong these feelings. We may be less likely to do things that may derail this progress.

Exercise breeds positivity, which spurs further positivity, more exercise, and other constructive habits. Such habits and exercise generate further positivity, and so on.

While we often talk about breaking destructive cycles, this is one cycle we should encourage. Fitness engages, improves, and protects the mind and body in many ways.

About the author: Pamela Zuber is a writer and editor who is interested in many topics, including mental health, addiction and recovery, human rights, gender, and business.


Craft, Lynette L. and Frank M. Perna. “The Benefits of Exercise for the Clinically Depressed.” The Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 2004; 6(3): 104-111.

Domonell, Kristen. “Why Endorphins (and Exercise) Make You Happy.” January 13, 2016.

Exercising During Cancer Treatment.” Patient and Caregiver Resources. National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

Russo, Cosimo Roberto. “The Effects of Exercise on Bone. Basic Concepts and Implications for the Prevention of Fracture.” Clinical Cases in Mineral and Bone Metabolism. Sept.-Dec. 2009; 6(3): 223-228.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Guest Post: Substance Abuse & Eating Disorders - Fighting a Dual Diagnosis

Many people probably know that conditions such as anorexia and bulimia and disordered eating can wreak havoc on a person’s life. Did you know that other factors can make such conditions

Unfortunately, using drugs or drinking excessively can make an eating disorder much worse.

Also unfortunately, many people grapple with both substance abuse and eating disorders at the same time.

Up to 50% of individuals with eating disorders abused alcohol or illicit drugs, a rate five times higher than the general population,” says the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). In
fact, the combination of an eating disorder and substance abuse is so common that it goes by many terms, including dual diagnosis, co-occurring condition, or comorbidity.

People with just one of those conditions may find it difficult to treat. If they have both, treatment can be even more difficult, because the conditions may feed off each other. For example, people who feel ashamed or anxious about an eating disorder may get drunk to try to forget their problems.

Treatment may be difficult, but it’s necessary. It’s also available. People with eating disorders
and substance abuse problems may want to consider entering inpatient dual diagnosis
treatment centers.

While this name may sound intimidating, breaking it down is important. Similarly, while
treatment may sound daunting, addressing it step-by-step can make it seem less scary and
more accessible.

As their name indicates, inpatient centers require people to stay at designated facilities while
they receive treatment. This removes people from places, people, and circumstances that may
trigger their eating disorders and substance abuse. It allows people to press the reset buttons
on their lives.

Inpatient care is also medical care. Eating disorders and substance abuse can be deadly, but
treating them is also a delicate matter. Treatment requires people to make changes. Their
bodies may not be accustomed to such changes, so staying in inpatient facilities that offer
constant medical supervision may make treatment safer and more effective.

Therapy is also a vital component feature of dual diagnosis facilities. Therapists can help people
determine how eating disorders may influence substance abuse and vice versa. They can work
with clients to develop new eating patterns and new ways to cope with stress.

Dual diagnosis centers also introduce clients to other helpful people: their peers. Many inpatient
dual diagnosis treatment centers feature group therapy and support group meetings.

Professionals at the centers often find support groups that people can attend after they leave
their treatment facilities.

Peer assistance may be very helpful. After all, people in support groups and group therapy
sessions have experienced eating disorders, addiction, and recovery themselves, so they can
empathize with others in their groups. They may be less likely to judge because they’ve been
through the same things. They can ask for advice or give advice because they’ve been there
and done that.

Eating disorders and substance abuse are complex problems. Treating them is no less
complex. As with other issues of mental health, finding effective support may be challenging, but
it can make all the difference.

About the author: Pamela Zuber is a writer and editor interested in inpatient dual diagnosis
treatment centers and other aspects of mental health, as well as wellness, gender, human
rights, and many other topics.

The Contemporary Psychoanalysis Group, “Disordered Eating or Eating Disorder: What’s the
Difference?,” Psychology Today, February 23, 2014,

National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), “Substance Abuse and Eating Disorders,”

Wade, Stephanie, Hunna Watson, Jemma Caswell, and Julie Purcell, “Peer Support for Eating
Disorders: A Pilot Open Trial of Peer Support for Children and Adolescents with Eating
Disorders,” Journal of Eating Disorders, November 24, 2014,

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Guest Post: Back on Track - How Fitness Helps Recovery

Statistics from 2014 reveal that 
21.5 million people aged 12 or 
older had a substance 
abuse disorder that year alone. 
Over the last 25 years, the 
addiction treatment industry 
has tripled in size, currently 
raking in about $35 billion in 
annual revenue. So it seems 
that, for all the money spent 
on addiction prevention, 
addiction still hasn’t been 
prevented. Instead, it morphed into a 
business, while the failsafe way to getting 
clean has been endlessly debated.

If you are recovering from drugs and alcohol, here are some tips to 
maintaining a healthy lifestyle to help you find your way onto the 

Back on Track

Perhaps the first step in picking up the pieces of your life after an addiction 
is not so much physical as mental and emotional. People who base their 
schedules and relationships around drugs for years often feel lonely or 
rudderless once they quit. One way to overcome this sense of isolation is 
to get a support network around you. That might include family, old friends, 
or other recovering addicts.

Also, take care of yourself: Get enough sleep. Eat healthy foods such as 
fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and omega-3 fish like salmon. Declutter 
your life. That could mean cleaning up your apartment, throwing out clothes 
you don’t wear, cutting people who are toxic out of your life, or deleting the 
apps that you don’t use off your iPhone. Whatever steps you take, make 
sure where and how you live is light, bright, open and full of possibility.

Get a Routine
Now that you’ve begun to address your mental health, turn to how you’re 
doing physically. Drugs wear down your body and fully recovering from them 
means adopting a healthy, active routine that you keep up through the years. 
A natural midway point between attending to your mental and physical states 
could be yoga, which focuses on deep-breathing, meditation, relaxing and 
staying in tune with your body. Biking, tennis, running, baseball, basketball, 
swimming and weightlifting are all solid options, too. Pick something you 
love, because you’ll keep doing it, rather than view it as a chore. Moreover, 
physical activity has been shown to sharpen memory, lower cholesterol, 
combat inflammation and fight off type 2 diabetes.

Anger and Addiction
Mental illness and substance addiction frequently co-occur. According to the 
Journal of the American Medical Association, roughly 50 percent of people who 
suffer a serious cognitive disorder abuse drugs. Anger, meanwhile, is often 
symptomatic of a range of mental problems including mania and depression 
in bipolar disorder, among others. After you go cold turkey from drugs, many 
factors may still cause you to become angry. These might include unpaid 
debts, broken friendships, or any that anxiety you may have harbored for 
years while on drugs.

Fitness has been shown to moderate anger by releasing chemicals such as 
serotonin and dopamine in your brain. So if you’re recovering from an addiction, 
do any of the exercises listed above to relax. If you are unable to control your anger
decide whether competitive sports fuel your stress or not. For instance, if you know 
that losing a game of pickup basketball will upset you, you might opt to drive out 
to a forest to hike through the pine air and feel at peace.

Finding your way out of the darkness of addiction is nearly a miracle. That’s 
why it’s important to keep moving. Exercise rewires our brain and helps stave 
off depression, so we can muster the strength to keep on the track that leads 
toward recovery.

Image via Unsplash

About the Author

Molly knows what it’s like having a loved one suffering from an addiction. Through 
her writing, she offers support and advice for those with addictions and their loved 
ones. Molly writes for RecoveryHope. She’s passionate about supporting those in 
recovery and their family and friends.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Guest Post: Can Self-Employment Benefit People with Mental Illness?

Is your mental health interfering with your 

Conditions like depression and anxiety 
make it hard to show up to a job day 
after day and give it your all — not to 
mention dealing with office politics and 
other workplace stressors. 

Rather than going through the motions 
and letting your mental health suffer, 
consider branching out into the world of 

The rise of the gig economy has made self-employment possible for countless people. 
No longer do you have to launch your own full-fledged business to be self-employed. 
Between apps that let customers hire on-demand services to websites that connect 
freelancers with paying clients, it’s easier than ever to make money without signing up 
for an office job.

The flexibility of self-employment offers enormous benefit to people with mental illnesses. 
Mental illnesses make it difficult to adhere to rigid office schedules — and when you do 
show up despite feeling unwell, it’s impossible to give it your all. According to Inc, 
absenteeism and presenteeism due to mental illness cost U.S. businesses an estimated 
$225.8 billion per year. Workers in the gig economy, on the other hand, can set their own 
hours so they can work when they’re feeling most capable and productive.

While not for everyone, working solo can be an ideal scenario for people with social anxiety. 
In a self-employment scenario, you control when and how you interact with others. That’s a 
big shift from an office setting where coworkers drop in on a whim, managers peer over your 
shoulder, and office politics reign supreme. While few people can (or should) escape inter-
acting with others entirely, working independently gives you time and space to craft cogent 
messages and rehearse interactions.

Of course, there’s also the benefit of not working a job that feels like drudgery day in and 
day out. Whether you have a preexisting condition or not, spending 40 hours per week doing 
something you dislike isn’t doing your mental health any favors. By striking out on your own, 
you can pursue an interest or schedule paying work in a way that accommodates unpaid pursuits.

Despite the benefits, working in the gig economy isn’t for everyone. Running your own business 
requires specific traits: you must be self-motivated so you can set and meet deadlines without a 
supervisor pressuring you — because while you may have a flexible schedule, you only get paid 
if the work gets done. You have to present yourself well and interact confidently with clients and 
fellow business owners, because branding and networking are key to business success. You need 
to be a natural problem solver; when you work alone, it’s up to you to fix any and every problem 
that arises. And you must be orderly and regimented, because if you can’t follow up on invoices, 
keep the books, and pay your taxes, you won’t last long in business. If you feel you may fall 
short on any of the above, find and pay someone trustworthy to handle this for you. 

If you don’t have these essential traits, self-employment may not be the path for you. However, 
that doesn’t mean you’re stuck in 9-to-5 drudgery until the day you retire. An increasing number 
of companies are offering flexibility to employees. Flexible workplaces include perks like 
working from home, flexible work hours, compressed workweeks, and generous paid time off. 
Even if an employer doesn’t offer these benefits as standard, workers may be able to request 
flexible working accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) if they 
have a diagnosed psychiatric disability. Learn more about workplace accommodations for 
mental health conditions at ADA National Network.

For many people with mental illness, self-employment is ripe with opportunity — both for a 
fulfilling career and improved mental health. However, if you don’t have the right personality 
for it, entering the gig economy could do more harm than good to your mental well-being. 
Before you take the leap and strike out on your own, make sure you’re suited for the path ahead.

Image via Unsplash

Brad Krause graduated from college in 2010 and went straight to the corporate world at the 
headquarters of a popular retail company. But what started as a dream job soured quickly. 
After four years of working 15-hour days and neglecting his health, he decided enough was 
enough. Through aiding a friend during a tough time, Brad discovered his real calling-helping 
people implement self-care practices that improve their overall wellbeing. He created to share his own knowledge and the many great resources he finds on his 
self-care journey.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Guest Post: Help for Teens Struggling with the Darkness of Suicidal Thoughts: A Prevention Toolkit

The most common underlying cause of suicidal thoughts is depression – a medical condition that affects millions of people. It’s not a brain defect and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. It is simply a condition that, like other medical issues, can be treated and managed through treatment, counseling, and various lifestyle changes. For both boys and girls, depression increases the risk of suicide 12-fold, and can lead to negative coping mechanisms such as substance abuse. In order to get to the heart of thoughts of suicide, it’s important to tackle what’s likely causing them. 

Use this toolkit for helpful resources and tips as you navigate this journey to the top.

Helpful Resources

When you are struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide, it can make you feel as if all hope is lost. The funk your brain is in is tricking you into thinking you can’t do this, but you can! When your mind is playing games, here are some resources to reach out to:

      Access help 24/7 with the Crisis Text Line.
      Put the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on speed dial.
      Reach out to other teens.
      Browse helpful information at the SPTS website.

      Educate yourself about depression.

Steps to Take If You Are Having Suicidal Thoughts

Stop and Think.

First and foremost, if you’re currently thinking about harming yourself the first thing you should do is take a step back. Commit to at least 24 hours to let your emotions settle. Suicide is permanent, while emotions can be fleeting. Take some time to think. It’s vital that you know that you are not alone. Some of the most admired and accomplished people have been overwhelmed by depression and contemplated ending their life. Rest assured that your depression can be treated, driving away thoughts of suicide and that feeling of hopelessness.

Build Your Network

Do not try to deal with your suicidal thoughts by yourself. Reach out to someone. If you want to talk to someone other than a friend or family member, there are many suicide lifelines out there that will help you any day of the year, any time of the day. Talk with your parents or caregivers about your thoughts. Your biggest ally during this time will be your support network. If you are worried about how they will react, or don’t feel comfortable talking to them, consider using one of these letters and simply sign your name at the bottom.

If you need a number right now, dial 1-800-273-8255.

Get Professional Help

Building your support network is a great start, but depression is a mental illness that is best treated by a professional. They will be able to create the treatment plan that works best for you, and become yet another member of your growing network of support.

Extra Tools to Tackle Your Depression

      Get up and get moving.
      Practice deep breathing and yoga.
      Adopt a service dog.
      Get a good night’s sleep.
      Fuel your body with the proper nutrition.

When it comes to depression and suicide, there is an established link. Untreated depression is a leading cause of suicide attempts and completions. If you are feeling depressed, talk to someone. Seek help from a mental health professional. You are not alone and you can get through this.

Photo Credit:

By Mariah Kaye Williams
Ever since her daughter-in-law was suicidal three years ago, Mariah Williams resolved to fight stressors in her own life and encouraged those she loves to do the same. Mariah now researches and writes daily to promote self-care.