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Relationship Challenges in Early Recovery

Relationship Challenges in Early RecoveryThe desire for a fulfilling romantic relationship is a fundamental human drive. Even a great relationship takes a lot of work to maintain; it requires commitment, effort, honesty, and compromise on the part of both partners. Throw addiction recovery into the mix, and relationships can be fraught with additional challenges.

It is universally recommended that we refrain from beginning new relationships for at least the first year of our recovery. Early sobriety is a fragile time, and it’s critical that we concentrate all our efforts on getting and staying well. Undertaking a new relationship can be dangerous for several reasons:

First, we don’t yet have the emotional stability to weather the ups and downs of a new romance so soon after getting sober; over-elation can lead us to relapse just as surely as disappointment can. Second, early sobriety is a process of discovery; few of us know ourselves well enough to even begin knowing how to choose a healthy partner. Third, even relationships with others in recovery are discouraged, since one partner’s relapse can often trigger a slip by the other. This is true even when one partner has been sober for quite a while. When an experienced member of a 12-step group begins a relationship with a newcomer, this is called “13th-stepping.”

Many of us who are new to recovery may already be in a committed relationship. Negotiating the landscape of dishonesty, resentment, and pain that addiction inevitably has brought to our relationship can be particularly tricky. This is especially true if both partners have addiction issues.

The two biggest relationship challenges in early recovery are learning to trust again, and learning to forgive. Both partners may struggle with these issues, and both will need to practice honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness. This does not happen overnight; remember, time takes time. Both partners will need to work at the relationship, not just the addicted person. However, it is critical that the addict maintain their sobriety, for without sobriety and recovery, there can be no basis for a healthy relationship.

If your partner tries to undermine your recovery in any way, resorts to emotional blackmail, refuses to forgive you, or refuses to get help for their own addiction, you may have no choice but to walk away. As painful as a breakup may be, it may prove to be the only way you can recover. In the end, nothing matters more.

 

Recovery doesn’t just happen. To fully recover in mind, body, and spirit requires professional guidance. You have work to do. At Harmony Place, you never have to do the work alone. We believe in your right of self-determination. We’re meeting where you are and taking you where you want to go. For information on our total continuum of care and luxury residential treatment and a private consultation, call us today: 1-855-652-9048

Reasons to be Grateful for Sobriety

Reasons to be Grateful for SobrietySobriety offers many reasons to be grateful, and these reasons become more and more apparent throughout our journey of recovery. We become grateful for the restoration of our physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing, and for a wealth of new opportunities that open up to us as a result of being sober. We learn to be grateful for sobriety’s many gifts, large and small.

One of the first things we feel gratitude for is relief from the relentless need to feed our addictions. Soon after becoming sober, the physical hunger for drugs and alcohol leaves us as these toxic substances are purged from our bodies. Gradually, we’re relieved of the mental obsession as well. As the burden of our compulsion is lifted, we’re grateful we’re no longer sick and suffering.

We’re grateful for the chance to regain the trust of our family, friends, and co-workers. Now that we’re sober, we can work on these vital relationships day by day, seeing great improvement over time. As we learn to be honest, dependable, and accountable, we become the person we were meant to be. Many of us are granted another chance with our partners and children as a direct result of our continued sobriety.

We’re thankful for new job opportunities as we become employable again. In sobriety, we’re able, perhaps for the first time, to do the kind of work we could only fantasize about in active addiction – meaningful work that benefits our fellows and allows us to “follow our bliss.”

We’re grateful we no longer need to worry about getting behind the wheel of a car while under the influence. If we had lost our driving privileges as a result of drugs or alcohol, we can be grateful when our license is restored.

As sobriety gives us a new or renewed connection with our Higher Power, we’re grateful to learn how to ask for help. We discover we don’t have to have all the answers in life or solve every problem. We learn the difference between “doing the work” and “letting go of the results.”

We’re grateful, too, for a new sense of wonder at the world around us, now that sobriety has given our faculties back to us. We can deeply experience life’s joys and simple pleasures, and savor the miracle of life.

Finally, we’re grateful that our lives are becoming manageable again. Even in the face of great difficulties, we’re living life on life’s terms, without drugs and alcohol. It is often said that in recovery, we’ll be given a life beyond our wildest dreams. Sobriety gives us the chance to truly live.

 

Recovery doesn’t just happen. To fully recover in mind, body, and spirit requires professional guidance. You have work to do. At Harmony Place, you never have to do the work alone. We believe in your right of self-determination. We’re meeting where you are and taking you where you want to go. For information on our total continuum of care and luxury residential treatment and a private consultation, call us today: 1-855-652-9048

How Alumni of Treatment Can Give Back

How alumni of treatment can give backIf you’ve been through treatment for an addiction, you no doubt feel a depth of gratitude to those who helped you in your early days of recovery. Without them, you might not have survived the devastating effects of your addiction. Recovery thrives on the willingness of one addict to help others get well. There are many ways you can “pay it forward” to the newcomer in treatment.

If you have at least 90 days of sobriety, you are qualified to speak at 12-step meetings. These meetings are available in just about every community, and are regularly held at most treatment centers. If you belong to a 12-step home group, your group’s booker typically makes the arrangements. You might also wish to reach out on your own to the treatment center you attended, and offer to speak there. Nothing is more inspiring for those new to treatment than to hear the testimony of someone who’s been through the program.

If you’ve worked the steps of your 12-step program with the help of a sponsor, it may be time for you to begin working directly with newcomers. Many recovering addicts say the best way to remain sober is to “keep it green” by taking other addicts through the steps. It’s often said that, “We only keep it by giving it away.” By being active in your sober network, you’ll meet newcomers in need of a sponsor, just as you once were.

Even without sponsoring others, however, you can offer your phone number to newcomers at your 12-step group or treatment group. Every newcomer and old-timer alike must practice reaching out to others. Make it a habit to talk to at least one other addict every day.

Working the phones at an addiction hotline is another great way to give back. Phone work typically requires a commitment of time when you’re available to take calls from people seeking help. The expectation is that you’ll offer support and encouragement, and direct callers to resources in their community.

However you choose to give back, extending your hand to other addicts in need is a gift to yourself as well as those you help. As a sober recovering addict, you’ll offer proof that “it works if you work it.”

Recovery doesn’t just happen. To fully recover in mind, body, and spirit requires professional guidance. You have work to do. At Harmony Place, you never have to do the work alone. We believe in your right of self-determination. We’re meeting where you are and taking you where you want to go. For information on our total continuum of care and luxury residential treatment and a private consultation, call us today: 1-855-652-9048

How Many Meals a Day Do You Really Need?

How many meals a day do you really need?The debate about how much, and how often, to eat is an old one. Eating “three squares a day” has been the prevailing thought for many decades. Many so-called “gurus” of fitness and nutrition recommend we eat five to six smaller meals at more frequent intervals; the theory behind eating more often is that it speeds up our metabolism.

However, a number of registered dieticians counter that 2,000 calories is 2,000 calories, regardless of whether it’s divided among three meals or six. The body expends the same total energy in either case. A large number of studies also have cast doubt upon the idea that eating more frequently helps us lose weight. Many dieticians believe that eating more frequently only teaches us to be hungry all the time; many also caution that sometimes, more is more, not less. That is, if we’re not mindful of portion size, eating more frequently may simply increase our total caloric intake over the course of the day.

The modern prevailing thought is that most adults need just two meals a day – or three if we’re particularly active – followed by intermittent fasting. It’s a common belief that fasting puts the body into “starvation” mode, which actually causes us to gain weight, instead of losing it. Many studies dispute this theory, however. Short-term fasting increases metabolism initially; the so-called “starvation” mechanism, which slows metabolism and causes body to burn fat and muscle, only kicks in after two to three days of prolonged fasting.

In one school of thought on intermittent fasting, advocates say we should have only breakfast and dinner – or lunch and dinner – within an eight-hour period; we should then refrain from eating again until the following day. Other dieticians recommend eating three regular meals a day, with one to two 24-hour fasts per week. Studies on intermittent fasting have shown several health benefits, including lower glucose and insulin levels, as well as increased insulin sensitivity.

Still other dieticians say the best rule to follow in deciding how many meals a day to eat is to ask yourself: “Am I hungry?” If you’re hungry, eat; when you’re full, stop eating. It’s that simple.

When you are choosing a private residential treatment program, choose the program that focuses on personalized care, the greatest luxury accommodations, and has the highest accreditations. Harmony Place offers a full continuum of treatment options from detox to transitional living encouraging recovery for a lifetime. For a private consultation and more information, call us today: 1-855-652-9048

How long should you stay on Suboxone?

How long should you stay on Suboxone?Suboxone is routinely prescribed to ease the symptoms of opioid withdrawal and reduce cravings. It’s important to remember that Suboxone is not a cure for opioid addiction, but should be used as part of a broader treatment plan that includes, at a minimum, therapy and group support. Suboxone also must be taken under careful medical supervision, preferably at an inpatient treatment center.

The active ingredients in Suboxone are buprenorphine, which suppresses cravings, and naloxone, which blocks the effects of opiates and acts as a deterrent to relapsing. If you use opioids while taking Suboxone, the naloxone will induce withdrawal symptoms such as vomiting, muscle aches, headache, trembling, sweating, severe agitation, and anxiety. Suboxone can sometimes produce side effects, which include nausea, sleep disturbances, bowel irregularities, and confusion.

Suboxone is generally given in two forms: Sublingual film and tablet, each in four different doses to help you taper off the drug as your doctor advises. The prevailing approach in treatment centers is to use Suboxone as a long-term maintenance medication, rather than a short-term detox drug. Outpatient clinics may prescribe Suboxone for eight to 10 days, solely as a detox method. Studies show that patients who use Suboxone for 30 days or less have an alarmingly high rate of relapse. However, patients who use Suboxone treatment for a minimum of six to 12 months, in conjunction with therapy and support groups, tend to fare much better.

Suboxone does carry a risk of misuse, and when abused, it can become addicting. It’s vital that you take it exactly as prescribed and that you not use any other mind-altering drugs, including alcohol, while in recovery.

Several factors will influence your doctor’s recommendation for how long to keep you on Suboxone and how gradually to taper you off the drug. If you’re free of cravings, have a steady job and a stable home life, a network of sober friends, and a good support system in place, you are likely ready to begin coming off Suboxone. As with opioid use, however, Suboxone treatment should not end abruptly; going off Suboxone “cold turkey” produces withdrawal symptoms similar to sudden opioid withdrawal.

Addiction is a progressive, incurable, and fatal disease, if left untreated. Remission and long-term recovery are possible. Suboxone can be miracle drug for those suffering from opioid addiction, provided it is part of a larger treatment plan.

When you are choosing a private residential treatment program, choose the program that focuses on personalized care, the greatest luxury accommodations, and has the highest accreditations. Harmony Place offers a full continuum of treatment options from detox to transitional living encouraging recovery for a lifetime. For a private consultation and more information, call us today: 1-855-652-9048

7 Threats of Relapse

7 threats of relapseRecovery is a daily commitment, and we can’t rest on yesterday’s sobriety. Picking up a drug or a drink again actually marks the end of a relapse; the process begins with our thoughts and behaviors. Following are seven signs you’re headed for a relapse.

  1. You’re harboring a “reservation.” You might think you can one day use your substance of choice again, after a prolonged period of abstinence. It’s critical to remember that addicts can never safely use drugs or alcohol again. Sobriety does not “teach” us moderation, and no amount of abstinence entitles us to pick up again.
  2. You become dishonest. It might seem okay to tell a little white lie every now and then; it’s not. Sobriety requires rigorous honesty. This means we refuse to be deceitful in any way. Making excuses for our behavior is also a form of dishonesty, because it means we’re not holding ourselves accountable for our actions.
  3. You fall into depression or anxiety. While it’s true most people feel down or worried from time to time, prolonged feelings of depression or anxiety should be discussed with a therapist, trusted friend, relative, or members of our treatment group. Otherwise, we might think it’s okay to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.
  4. You indulge in self-pity. Feeling sorry for ourselves is a luxury no former addict can afford. Many recovering alcoholics, for example, abide by this expression: “Poor me will eventually pour me another drink.” Talk to your therapist, loved one, or a sober friend about your feelings.
  5. You become complacent or over-confident. You might think, “I haven’t used/drank/gambled/purged in such a long time. I’m okay now. I’ve got this.” It’s vital that we maintain a healthy fear of our addiction. When we become complacent or cocky, we stop working on our recovery, and this puts us at a high risk for relapsing.
  6. You forget what your “bottom” was like. When we fail to remember what we were really like in active addiction, we risk returning to it. This often happens when we stop going to therapy, or don’t maintain a network of sober friends, like those we meet in a 12-step program. Many former addicts say working with newcomers is what “keeps it green” for them, by reminding them of what it was like to be scared, lonely, and in desperate need of help.
  7. You substitute one addiction for another. For example, you stop using heroin, but start drinking, or you quit drinking, but go on “marijuana maintenance.” Maybe you stop overeating, but begin shopping compulsively. These are all signs of a relapse. When we enter recovery, we make a daily decision to abstain from all addictive substances and behaviors.

Recovery doesn’t just happen. To fully recover in mind, body, and spirit requires professional guidance. You have work to do. At Harmony Place, you never have to do the work alone. We believe in your right of self-determination. We’re meeting where you are and taking you where you want to go. For information on our total continuum of care and luxury residential treatment and a private consultation, call us today: 1-855-652-9048

How does addiction impair cognitive development?

How does addiction impair cognitive development?Addiction impairs the brain’s cognitive development in several profound ways.

Cognitive functions, or mental abilities, are activities of the brain’s frontal cortex that help us learn and interpret information. Reasoning, attention, language, memory, comprehension, judgment, problem-solving, and decision-making are all examples of cognitive functions.

Over a period of time in active addiction, our cognitive functions and development steadily decline, sometimes to a state of permanent brain damage. Substance abuse can impair virtually every cognitive function, most notably our inhibition, attention, memory, comprehension, problem-solving, and decision-making skills. Ultimately, the result is a decreased ability to learn.

  • Inhibition: Becoming uninhibited is perhaps the most widely recognized consequence of drug and alcohol abuse. Though we might normally be shy and withdrawn, a line of cocaine or a couple of drinks can quickly persuade us to belt out karaoke in a room full of strangers.
  • Attention: While under the influence of drugs or alcohol, we lose the ability to focus or concentrate. When our attention is impaired, we’re unable to isolate information from a larger context – for example, a red traffic light at an intersection. This is what makes driving under the influence so dangerous.
  • Memory: Addiction-induced memory impairment generally refers to short-term memory, which is the ability to immediately recall specific information. For example, while under the influence of alcohol, we can’t remember where we set down our glass, over and over again.
  • Comprehension: Drugs and alcohol severely limit our ability to interpret and understand information. Reading comprehension, in particular, is impaired by addiction. Ever try to read a book while drunk? Not gonna happen.
  • Problem-solving: One key component in problem-solving is visuospatial ability, which allows us to perceive objects in two- and three-dimensional space; our visuospatial ability helps us in assembling an item with the help of a diagram, for example. Drugs and alcohol profoundly impair our visuospatial ability, another cognitive function that’s critical in driving a car.
  • Decision-making: Sound decision-making is a notorious casualty of active addiction. We might decide to steal from a retail store or a close friend with equal indifference to the consequences. Addiction so severely impairs our decision-making ability, we lose the power of choice over whether to pick up a drug or a drink, despite knowing where it will lead us.

Though permanent brain damage may result from prolonged addiction, certain cognitive functions can be restored with abstinence. Specifically, over a period of several months to a year or more, recovering addicts can regain short-term memory, attention, visuospatial functioning, and problem-solving skills. At the very least, when we recover from addiction, we arrest the decline in our cognitive functions and development.

When you are choosing a private residential treatment program, choose the program that focuses on personalized care, the greatest luxury accommodations, and has the highest accreditations. Harmony Place offers a full continuum of treatment options from detox to transitional living encouraging recovery for a lifetime. For a private consultation and more information, call us today: 1-855-652-9048

How do Habits Work?

How do habits work?The way in which habits work has long been studied by psychologists and scientists. It’s a fairly simple process, really. Whether we deem them “good” or “bad,” all habits consist of three elements: A cue, a routine, and a reward. Once a habit is formed, we perform it without thinking.

The cue is the signal or trigger that sets the habit in motion, telling our brain to perform an action or set of actions. For example, when the alarm goes off in the morning, it’s a cue for us to get out of bed and begin our morning activities. Other cues are more subtle: The smell of the coffee brewing may prompt a craving for a cigarette, if we smoke. Feelings can also act as powerful cues: For example, boredom, anxiety or sadness might be a cue for us to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. Happiness, too, can be a cue that prompts us to uncork a bottle and celebrate.

Once we process the cue, our brain goes on “autopilot,” performing a routine. In the first example above, the sound of the alarm clock is the cue for us to get out of bed and brush our teeth, make coffee, make the bed, shower, and get dressed. When we don’t set the alarm, such as on the weekend, the cue is missing, and our routine may be interrupted. We might lie in bed for some time after we awaken. We might read the paper before showering, or choose to stay in our pajamas all day. The bed may go unmade.

The reward is what causes us to repeat an activity over and over again. Ultimately, the reward is what satisfies the craving, if only temporarily, until the cue prompts us to begin the routine again.

Rewards can be pleasurable, such as the initial buzz we get when consuming drugs or alcohol. However, rewards can be negative as well, such as the hangover we suffer after drinking too much. The routine feels good, until at some point it doesn’t feel good; still, we continue to repeat the routine, despite our frequent promises to “never do that again.” That is the point at which habits spiral out of control into addiction.

When you are choosing a private residential treatment program, choose the program that focuses on personalized care, the greatest luxury accommodations, and has the highest accreditations. Harmony Place offers a full continuum of treatment options from detox to transitional living encouraging recovery for a lifetime. For a private consultation and more information, call us today: 1-855-652-9048

5 Tips for Interviewing After Rehab

5 tips for interviewing after rehabIf you’ve successfully completed your stay in rehab as part of your recovery, congratulations! You’ve already put in a lot of hard work to get clean and sober, and that is no small accomplishment. As you return to your daily life at home, one of the first hurdles you may face is finding a job. During your stay at the treatment center, you might have received employment coaching or training. Whatever your situation is, you are likely wondering, “How do I explain lapses in my work history as a result of my addiction?” Following are five useful tips for interviewing after rehab.

  1. Don’t lie. Even if you have one or more significant gaps in your employment history, you don’t have to disclose your addiction. However, if you prefer to keep your stay in rehab private, don’t fabricate stories, either. You can simply say, “I was dealing with a personal health issue from which I’ve since recovered.”
  2. To share or not to share? Deciding whether to divulge your addiction is not a one-size-fits-all answer. It depends entirely on where you are in your recovery, who you’re interviewing with, and how comfortable you feel. Even if you do open up, you are not obligated to share specific details; in fact, it’s always wise to avoid going into your “drunkalogue” with a prospective employer, unless perhaps you’re interviewing for a job in the addiction recovery field.
  3.     Be prepared for a negative response. Federal and state laws prohibit employers from discriminating against people with substance use disorders, provided they are currently drug-free. However, divulging your stay in rehab could elicit a judgmental response from a prospective employer. Understand that you may encounter negativity.
  4.     Emphasize your strengths. The fundamentals you’ve learned in recovery can be assets to any employer. When interviewing, focus on your honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness to learn, as well as other qualities you’ve gained in recovery. For example, you might say, “I’ve learned the importance of being punctual, reliable, and accountable. I’m cooperative and like to be part of a team. I’m able to think through problems and find solutions.”
  5. Find the right balance. It’s vital that you not take any job that puts your recovery in jeopardy. Look for a position that allows you time to attend treatment, therapy, and a 12-step group. A supportive work environment is one that helps you grow both professionally and personally. In recovery, you’ll be able to take pride in your work, while being of service to others.

Recovery doesn’t just happen. To fully recover in mind, body, and spirit requires professional guidance. You have work to do. At Harmony Place, you never have to do the work alone. We believe in your right of self-determination. We’re meeting where you are and taking you where you want to go. For information on our total continuum of care and luxury residential treatment and a private consultation, call us today: 1-855-652-9048

Does meditation change the brain?

Does meditation change the brain?Meditation changes the brain in several significant ways, both physiologically and psychologically. A number of studies have shown the benefits of long-term meditation – whether it’s mindfulness meditation, Zen meditation, transcendental meditation, or Taoist meditation, to name a few. People who meditate daily for 10-30 minutes at a time almost universally express fewer feelings of stress, anxiety, depression, and fear than do non-meditators. How, exactly, does meditation affect the brain?

First, it’s helpful to understand certain areas of the brain and they way each one functions:

  • The lateral prefrontal cortex (lPFC), also called the assessment center, is the seat of logic and rational thinking. The lPFC allows us to override our emotions and habitual responses.
  • The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) is often called the “me center,” because it refers back to the self. The mPFC operates in default mode network (DMN) when we’re doing things like daydreaming, thinking about ourselves, our social interactions, the past, or the future. Within the mPFC are two more areas: The ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), the region responsible for “unhelpful” responses like anxiety, over-thinking, and depression; and the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC), which allows us to feel empathy for other people.
  • The insula is the part of the brain that monitors our bodily sensations, such as those we call gut feelings.
  • The amygdala is the fear center of the brain, where we perceive feelings of danger. It is responsible for our fight-or-flight response.

Over time, meditation changes the brain’s responses, both within and between these centers. Specifically, meditation reduces activity in the “me center” by quieting the default mode network. The result is an increase in feelings of peace and serenity.

Meditation also strengthens the assessment center, resulting in increased emotional balance. Regular meditation strengthens the connection between the assessment center and “me center,” as well. This improved connection allows us to more easily break bad habits and overcome addictions by decoupling the craving from the act of picking up.

Regular meditation leads to structural changes within the brain, too. A 2011 study out of Harvard University found that subjects who meditated for eight weeks showed cortical thickening in the hippocampus, the center of learning and memory. In addition, subjects in the same study showed a decrease in brain cell volume in the amygdala, resulting in decreased fear, anxiety, and stress.

Even short periods of meditation, practiced daily, offer many benefits: Better concentration and attention, emotional and cognitive gains, and feelings of wellbeing. Why not give it a try?

When you are choosing a private residential treatment program, choose the program that focuses on personalized care, the greatest luxury accommodations, and has the highest accreditations. Harmony Place offers a full continuum of treatment options from detox to transitional living encouraging recovery for a lifetime. For a private consultation and more information, call us today: 1-855-652-9048

Does Anxiety Cause Relapse?

Does anxiety cause relapse?There are many precursors to relapsing into active addiction. Those in the recovery field often say a relapse begins with our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, before we ever pick up a drink or a drug. Anxiety is one such trigger that can lead to a relapse, unless we take steps to address it.

Anxiety is characterized by an unrealistic fear of the future that causes us to feel excessively nervous or worried. Anxiety also produces irritability, anger, and hypersensitivity, and can lead to difficulty in concentrating, sleeping, and socializing. When these feelings persist over a period of months, it is called generalized anxiety disorder.

The longer we suffer from anxiety, the more imminent is the possibility we’ll relapse. We may think our only relief from anxiety is to self-medicate with drugs, alcohol, and other addictive behaviors. “Treating” our anxiety with mind-altering substances or compulsive behaviors, however, only serves to make us more anxious, not less.

The treatment of choice for anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy, which will teach us to identify the root cause of our feelings and help us develop coping strategies. Relaxation techniques such as meditation are also extremely effective in relieving anxiety. Medications such as benzodiazepines and antidepressants are helpful as well, if taken exactly as prescribed.

Simply acknowledging an anxiety attack as it’s happening can drastically reduce its power over us. Often, it is what we say to ourselves that relieves our anxiety and restores us to balance. When we are experiencing anxiety, we tell ourselves, “I am safe at this moment. My anxiety is not a reasonable response, and nothing bad is happening right now.”

Worrying about situations we can’t control will not influence the outcome. Worry simply begets more worry, which leaves us feeling helpless. Recognizing these feelings as they arise, and remembering to adjust our thinking, is the surest way to stop a relapse in its tracks. It’s important to remember that overcoming anxiety does not happen overnight; remaining calm and “in the moment” takes patience and practice. As with recovery itself, the goal is progress, not perfection.

When you are choosing a private residential treatment program, choose the program that focuses on personalized care, the greatest luxury accommodations, and has the highest accreditations. Harmony Place offers a full continuum of treatment options from detox to transitional living encouraging recovery for a lifetime. For a private consultation and more information, call us today: 1-855-652-9048

5 ways you can train your brain every day

5 ways you can train your brain every dayKeeping your brain sharp is your best defense against mental atrophy, or loss of cognitive functions. It’s also a great way to offset some of the damage substance abuse and addiction can do to our brains. Here are five ways you can train your brain every day.

  1. Be smarter than your smartphone. Remember the days before contact lists? Try dialing frequently called phone numbers the old-fashioned way: from memory. If you have to pick up a handful of items from the store, or if you have a series of tasks to accomplish, try remembering them without a list. Playing memory games, such as the card game “Concentration,” is also a great way to increase your powers of recall.
  2. Another way to be smarter than your smartphone is to calculate a restaurant tip in your head, without whipping out your phone. Keep a running tally of items you are buying, so you’ll know the approximate total before you reach the checkout; don’t forget to add the tax. Doing basic arithmetic, as well as math puzzles such as Sudoku, will hone your problem-solving skills.
  3. Play video games or other electronic brain-training games. These games sharpen our hand-eye coordination and work several areas of the brain at the same time. Just be sure to play these games in moderation, as they can become addictive. Set a time limit of 20 minutes, and then move on to another activity.
  4. Get some exercise. Countless studies have confirmed the benefits of regular exercise on our cognitive functions. The mind is better able to focus and process complex information after just about any type of exercise, from jogging, cycling, or team sports, to yoga and tai chi.
  5. Practice a new skill. Whether learning to speak a new language, play a musical instrument, knit, dance, or skateboard, you’ll exercise many areas of your brain. The repetition that comes with practice will also benefit your comprehension and memory. Plus, you’ll feel accomplished!

Even if you never excelled in school, exercising your brain is entirely possible – and it can be fun! Studies show that an active mind is a happier mind. Brain exercise will benefit you in more ways than one.

Recovery doesn’t just happen. To fully recover in mind, body, and spirit requires professional guidance. You have work to do. At Harmony Place, you never have to do the work alone. We believe in your right of self-determination. We’re meeting where you are and taking you where you want to go. For information on our total continuum of care and luxury residential treatment and a private consultation, call us today: 1-855-652-9048