Tag Archives: stress

The Power of Self-Expression: Art and Music Therapy in Recovery

Woman expressing herself through painting

If you are someone you know is recovering from addiction, you may need a way to stop the cycle of negative thoughts and self-destructive behaviors. Music and art therapy  can be part of successful treatment plan.  Creative expression has been used for years in either individual or group counseling. Art therapy is used in rehab centers, hospitals, schools, and other settings for recovery. Many people who do not respond well to more traditional treatments have success with music and art therapy.

Self-expression

Communication and self-expression issues are common among people with substance abuse problems. Creative communication can help people in recovery process their thoughts and feelings in a positive way. Often, those who suffer from addiction have trouble making sense of their emotions. And,  they struggle with how people respond to them. Creativity opens new avenues of understanding and helps people learn new thoughts, responses, and behavior patterns.

Art benefits for recovery

People often deny the need for help and may resist treatment.  Art therapy can help overcome this because art therapy can motivate people. They may want to achieve a healthier lifestyle, gain more self-confidence, and improve communication skills. Music is often used to help overcome depression, stress, anxiety and anger or rage issues. Those emotional responses often produce unhealthy thoughts and behaviors.

Music as therapy

Listening to and playing music creates a certain response in the brain. It stimulates the neurotransmitter dopamine which causes an overall sense of well-being. Music can help people be more likely to seek treatment, and more likely to continue toward recovery. Also, music therapy can increase positive feelings and self-awareness. Then, people can cope better with temptations and frustrations that come from addictions.

When listening to their favorite music, people experience a stimulation of the auditory cortex in anticipation of their favorite musical passages. And then, the feeling of exultation at its peak has a powerfully healing impact. Sometimes our brain helps us experience music even when we’re not actually listening to it or performing it.

Self-discovery

Art and music therapy help you get in touch with your feelings. They also help you learn to accept yourself, and decrease feelings of guilt and shame. The goal is to create a sense of happiness and hope through painting, sculpting, coloring, drawing, collages, or other artwork. Be very creative as you express every aspect of your emotions, both positive and negative.

Art in recovery

For the best results, continue art and music therapy even after formal treatment is done.  As they help to relieve stress, they can help you cope with depression, and fend off the temptation to use again.

At your home, choose art and music that expresses your emotions and helps your mood. According to HomeAdvisor, “Everyone deserves to have their own space for their passion project, be it a crafting station or simply a place to journal. Look around your home with a creative eye, and you’ll realize that much of what you need to create your ideal hobby workshop is already nearby and can be easily converted.” Staying sober or free of addictions is an ongoing struggle. It’s important to find a way to cope with the emotional chaos and pressures that make recovery so difficult.

Guest article by Kim Thomas of US Health Corps posted 8-12-18.

Updated for readability 5-25-20 by Mary Knutson

Suggested links:  https://healthvista.net/inspirational-music/
or https://healthvista.net/inspirational-music-for-teens/

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.com

3 Stress Relievers for Parents in Addiction Recovery

old shoes made into a flower planter

Being a parent is far from easy. Especially if you are a single parent who also is in addiction recovery. Parents are balancing meetings and therapy sessions with kids’ schedules and routines. They are making all the decisions and being the breadwinner, You face loads of stress each and every day.

Stress in Addiction Recovery

Stress takes its toll on parents in addiction recovery. You need to find ways to relieve your stress in healthy ways to avoid a relapse. Our X stress relievers will help.

Stick to a Daily Routine

While it may sound impossible to establish and stick to a daily routine, you need to make every effort to do so. A routine will help you keep track of where you need to be and when, and it will set a structured schedule for your children. Schedules and routines make children feel safe and secure. And, they help you relieve stress by knowing your responsibilities ahead of time. Daily routines also signify to your kids that you are reliable and accountable. This helps repair relationships with older children who may have been hurt emotionally by your addiction.

That’s not to say that your daily routine has to be rigid. You must allow for some flexibility because rigid schedules can be too demanding and often cause more stress. Kids also enjoy surprises every once in awhile. So, allow for special events on the weekend. Plan a special treat after dinner to reward academic or behavior improvements. Be ready to change your daily routine at certain times throughout the year. Expect change when school begins or ends, when kids start athletic or music lessons or programs, or when you join a support group.

Take Care of Yourself

Parents in addiction recovery often don’t prioritize their own health and well-being because they feel guilty for being an addict. They know they impacted their children with their previous self-destructive decisions and actions. However, stress takes a tremendous toll, especially on single parents’ health and must be managed if parents will be able to take care of their children properly.

Taking care of yourself should include eating healthy, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising regularly. You can include your children in healthy eating by looking for and experimenting with recipes you find online. Cooking together teaches your children a new skill and provides you with quality time that will reduce your stress level. You also can exercise with your children. You could play football, baseball, or basketball, go for a family walk or bike ride. Try taking a hike, kayaking or fishing.

Enjoy Yourself Safely

Being a parent in addiction recovery does not mean that you cannot enjoy a night with friends or a social gathering. It is a good idea to relieve some stress and have some fun. It does, however, mean that you need to be smart about your choices and have a plan in place for maintaining your sobriety in tempting situations. If you are invited to a party that will put your sobriety at risk, take your own water or sparkling cider with you. Invite a friend who will keep you in check and who will not mind staying sober for the night with you. If you are concerned about being pressured to drink, tell people that you are a designated driver or that you don’t drink because you need to be available for your children.

It’s also a good idea to plan for a party or other tempting social situation by getting support ahead of time. If you are comfortable enough to do so, tell the party host that you are in recovery and ask whether nonalcoholic beverages will be served. You also can attend an extra meeting prior to the event or alert your sponsor to the event and make sure she will be available if you need her at the spur of the moment.

Parents in addiction recovery must manage their stress levels in healthy ways to maintain sobriety. Sticking to a daily routine, prioritizing self-care, and enjoying yourself safely are three great ways to relieve stress without putting your sobriety in jeopardy.

Blog  by guest contributor, Jackie Cortez of ThePreventionCoalition.org posted for Healthvista  8-5-17

Updated for readability by Mary Knutson 5-25-20

Coping with the Holidays

Old-fashioned Christmas Holiday tree

The holidays can be a stressful and hectic time of year.  It is important to find ways of coping and surviving the holidays. They seem to come so fast and it can seem like a letdown when they are over.

Ways of Coping

I have been trying to manage during the holiday season by being more mindful and grateful.  So far, it is helping. I also realize that I am not perfect and my family gatherings won’t be either. I have been using candles and scents more. Making efforts to add relaxation to my days or evenings has also been helpful for me.

More Resources for Coping:

On my website, www.healthvista.net,  I have several engaging Powerpoints written by Shari Cavadini, a registered nurse I used to work with.

One of those presentations can be helpful this time of year. It is called 12 Ways to Cope with the Holidays.  You can find it on the website or at the link below.

https://healthvista.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/12WaystoCopewiththeHolidays.pdf

The Coping and Relaxation Workbook can also help you cope with the Holiday, or at any time of the year.

As you use your own (both old and new) ways of coping, I hope you can feel the peace and joy of the season!

 

Blog #8 12/10/15 by Mary Knutson of Health Vista, Inc.

Updated 5-25-20

Inspirational Music for Teens

Musical notes for song written on paper

Music can help with coping:

I developed a list of old and new songs  for teenagers from many different kinds of music. Some of these songs and their lyrics could be helpful inspirational music for teens who need.  Music can help with coping and healing during recovery.

Sometimes the music that teen choose to listen too can be edgy or dark and brooding because it matches their mood.  It may feel like the music “understands” their anxiety, depression, or anger. But, music with a positive message would be more effective in the long run.  The following songs on YouTube.com were chosen by other teens.

Getting started with inspirational music:

First, try to find all of these songs from the Inspirational Music for Teens on www.YouTube.com and chose the versions that have lyrics on the screen so you can follow the words. The songs are appropriate for adults, but avoid any that have upsetting images (if you watch the music videos). Play the ones you like as often as you want to, as one of your ways of coping.

Dare You to Move by Switchfoot

Breathe by He is We

Fix You by Coldplay

Never Let Go by David Chowder Band

There is a Way by Newworldson

Everything by Lifehouse

Behind These Hazel Eyes by Kelly Clarkson

You Are More by Tenth Avenue North

Blackbird by the Beatles

Stand by Rascal Flatts

I Won’t Let Go by Rascal Flatts

Beautiful by Christina Aguilera

Anyway by Martina McBride

Skyscraper by Demi Lovato

Safe and Sound by Taylor Swift

A River Flows in You by Yiruma

Vanilla Twilight by Owl City

I Won’t Give Up by Jason Mraz

K’Naan Wavin’ Flag (Celebration Mix)

Brand New Me by Alicia Keyes

Hall of Fame by The Script

Enjoy the music!

Reflection:

What other songs have been inspirational, healing, or comforting to you?

Are there some other songs that you think should be added to this list?

Feel free to contact Mary Knutson to recommend more songs.

Blog #4 written 10-28-15 by Mary Knutson RN, MSN of Health Vista, Inc.

Updated 5-26-20

Videos to Help Teens Cope

Flower garden planted in old shoes

How to help you cope with stress:

Stress and anxiety are common emotions for teenagers. Sometimes what you need to distract yourself from what is bothering you.   The  following  list of Youtube.com videos is meant to help teens cope with stress in a positive way.

Check out the Ways of Coping Video List to help you to relax, heal, or be more mindful. Try to watch them all and see how they make you feel.  Then, choose the best ones to watch as often as you want to:

Videos for teens:

Succeed with a Positive Attitude                       1:00 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvtUByxnrGU

The Pandas: Belly of the Whale                          5:11 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWTFKihlhLQ

20 Words to Change Your Life                           4.29 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLZxJZ70MQ4

K’NAAN Wavin’ Flag Celebration Mix               3:75 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTJSt4wP2ME

The Interlude Dance (Original)                           3:52 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cuS_31zJ6U

The Gratitude Dance (Original)                          3:25 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9z2ELaBVJY

What is Mindfulness?                                           1:59 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCnB5i0ToUc

Stress – Let Go & Be in Flow of Life                   3:08 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMGOuHwfnFQ

Forgiveness & Freedom of Letting Go              4:02 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3D4VMZb8wLY

I Am Grateful                                                           4:11 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtoGY6zMXGM

Inspirational Video: Don’t Quit Poem              2:02 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkCFeNeqyHk

Eric Whitacre Virtual Choir –Lux Arumque     6:20 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7o7BrlbaDs

Relax – Zen Garden Kokin Gumi                                    7:09 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CR3dM-GlZK8

Yiruma – River Flows in You                                          3:08      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsTjI75uEUQ

Enjoy the videos!

 

Blog #3  10-28-15 by Mary Knutson RN, MSN of Health Vista, Inc.

Updated 5-27-20

 

Videos to Help You Cope

cat in windowsill

How to help you cope with stress:

Stress and anxiety are common emotions for everyone. Sometimes what you need to distract yourself from what is bothering you.   The  following  list of Youtube.com videos is meant to help you cope with stress in a positive way.

Check out the Ways of Coping Videos List to help you to relax, heal, or be more mindful. Try to watch them all and see how they make you feel.  Then, choose the best ones to watch as often as you want to:

Videos to watch:

Ten Tips for Stress Management                       2:14 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOpZU320v5E

Succeed with a Positive Attitude                       1:00 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvtUByxnrGU

42 Ways to Celebrate and Enjoy Life                5:10 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBqsWDaUdHM

Believe in Yourself                                                  3:42 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdpHaKkbmGk

K’NAAN Wavin’ Flag Celebration Mix               3:75 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTJSt4wP2ME

There is Hope (Meditation)                                 3:31 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7EuSeRBMnk

What is Mindfulness?                                           1:59 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCnB5i0ToUc

Stress – Let Go & Be in Flow of Life                   3:08 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMGOuHwfnFQ

Forgiveness & Freedom of Letting Go              4:02 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3D4VMZb8wLY

I Am Grateful                                                           4:11 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtoGY6zMXGM

Inspirational Video: Don’t Quit Poem              2:02 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkCFeNeqyHk

Relax – Zen Garden Kokin Gumi                                    7:09 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CR3dM-GlZK8

Eric Whitacre Virtual Choir – Lux Arumque     6:20 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7o7BrlbaDs

Yiruma – River Flows in You                                  3:08     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsTjI75uEUQ

Enjoy these videos!

 

Blog #2 10-28-15 by Mary Knutson RN, MSN  of Health Vista, Inc.

Updated 5-27-20

(Next  – Blog #3 will be inspirational videos for teens)

Forgiveness and the Heart

This heart shaped potato was found in my garden.
This heart shaped potato was found in my garden!

A Heart-Shaped Surprise:

A surprise from my garden helped me reflect on forgiveness and the heart. I was divorced and lonely, not yet ready to forgive. Gardening was something I enjoyed.  It helped me to relax and heal. 

While digging up some potatoes in the Fall, I found a little heart-shaped potato ! I was planning to show it to my  daughter. But, then I forgot about it for several days.  There was plenty of “hustle and bustle” because my daughter’s wedding was coming up soon.

Attending a stressful event:

I was not looking forward to seeing my ex-husband and his second wife at the wedding and the reception. I had resented them for over 7 years because of their part in ending our marriage. But, during the time of the wedding celebration, I was finally able to forgive them and move on. After that, I had more peace in my heart even though there was no conversation about forgiveness with them.

Forgiveness and the heart:

The next day, I saw the heart-shaped potato again. It helped me to realize how much lighter my heart felt after forgiving them. I felt healthier and more at peace. The heart-shaped symbol of love is more that – It is also a symbol of healing. You can read more about forgiving and forgetting below:

What does “forgiving” mean?

  • Forgiving means understanding that making mistakes is part of being human. Remember that when you hear people say things that hurt your feelings, often they weren’t meant the way they sounded.
  • Accept an apology (If you get one) – Believe people if they say they’re “sorry.”
  • Forgiving is a way to reopen and heal the channels of communication.
  • It helps calm the fears of rejection, failure, or guilt.
  • Forgiveness can be an act of compassion, humanity, and gentleness – It can let someone know that she/he is valued as a person with potential for goodness.
  • But you don’t actually have to tell someone that they are forgiven. You can forgive someone in your heart (to make yourself feel better), without even telling them.
  • Forgiving can be done for your sake rather than for another person. But talking about it can be helpful to mend relationships.

What does “forgetting” mean?

  • You don’t really “forget” what happened, but you can put the issues behind you, and not bring them up again and again.
  • You “clear the air” and let go of anger, hurt, and pain over what happened.
  • Forgetting encourages and helps the other person to rebuild, reconnect, and re-establish caring, healthy relationships.
  • Forgetting doesn’t mean that you return to an abusive or unhealthy relationship. You can continue to avoid people who are toxic to you, while you wish them well in their future without you.
  • Understand that some people do not know how or are not able to love others enough to be in a healthy relationship with you. If you think of it that way, you may be able to feel sorry for them because “it’s their loss.”

What can happen if you don’t forgive?

  • Without forgiveness, the pain and hurt will stay with you.
  • Guilt and sadness continue, along with more problems in relationships.

Which of the following do you do?

  • Seek revenge and payback
  • Become angry and bitter
  • Feel defensive, self-protective, or distant
  • Blame each other
  • Have negative thinking or unhealthy behaviors
  • Feel lost or afraid – Avoid sharing or showing your feelings
  • Have fear of making mistakes, or low self-esteem
  • Fear failure, rejection, or conflict
  • Have high stress in relationships

What do people think when they refuse to forgive?

  • “You don’t deserve any kindness, concern, or forgiveness for what you did.”
  • “It hurt so much that I’ll never be able to forgive you.”
  • “I’ll never let you forget what you did, no matter how sorry you are.”
  • “People who hurt other people deserve the worst that life has to offer.”
  • “I resent everyone who has hurt me – I will make sure I’m never hurt again.”

What can help us to forgive and forget?

  • Let go of past hurt and pain.
  • Letting go and letting [God or your other spiritual beliefs] leads you during hurtful times.
  • Let go of fears for the future and allow yourself to take a risk.
  • Letting go of anger, hostility and resentment can give you more peace.
  • Overlook slight relapses or steps backward.
  • Develop an openness to the belief that people can change (but only if they want to) and realize that we can’t make other people change. The only thing we can change is ourselves.
  • Be open and honest with others about how you have been hurt.
  • Seek professional help when necessary for unhealthy, distant or cold relationships.
  • Recognize your part in what happened because “It takes two to fight”.
  • Identify and replace irrational beliefs that make it harder to forgive.

Ask Yourself:  How do you forgive others?

List something that you have been unable to forgive someone for.

How much energy, is sapped from you when you think about the hurt you went through?

What do I gain from blaming others for my feelings?

How can you put the past behind you and learn to trust again?

 

Revised from Messina, J. & Messina, C. (2009). Handling forgiving and forgetting. Retrieved from http://www.jamesjmessina.com/improvingrelationships/forgivingforgetting.html

 

Blog # 1 by Mary Knutson RN, MSN for Health Vista, Inc. 10-26-15

Updated 5-27-20

Resources for Recovery

Recovery Resources:

Many of the recovery resources were written while working with psychiatric patients. However, they were made to be helpful for recovery from other kinds of illness, or for general wellness or well-being. Many presentations and learning activities are shared in Health Vista’s resources for recovery.  They are organized under the seven elements of recovery, the same framework used for Recovery Education lessons.

Elements of Recovery:

  • Hope
  • Security
  • Support/Managing Symptoms
  • Empowerment
  • Relationships
  • Coping
  • Finding Meaning

Find resources for recovery from Health Vista

When I was working in Inpatient Behavioral Health, I started developing and writing simple but engaging and effective patient education and learning activities.

Through the years, I also collected a wide variety of free resources for recovery include Powerpoints and many other links for health education and motivation. I wanted to make them available for others to use. Although not all of the Recovery Education lessons are posted online, many of them are.  More may be added in the future, so check back often. Here are some examples:

You can find the Hopelessness to Hope Lesson handout here.

Click to see the Finding Hope Pathfinder. That recovery lesson was made into a video YouTube to help you toward the first step to recovery.  You can also use the Positive Words Discussion Guide.

Finding Hope Pathfinder narrated video

Click the title to watch another learning activity for Finding Your Way to Recovery

Recovery Workbooks:

I wrote many simple, clear, and short workbooks to share. I have donated some to community groups, but the cost of printing is too high to make them all free.  The workbooks have a cost, but they are on the healthvista.net website. Topics include Managing Pain,  Managing Long-term Pain, Managing Depression,  Managing Anger, Managing Addiction, Managing Illness, Managing Mental Illness, and Coping with Trauma.

Contact me by e-mail if you want to ask if some prices can be changed.  The following coping workbook is available free of charge:

Your Recovery Workbook: Coping and Relaxation  [.pdf] can be downloaded free and printed out. 

As you will see, my website contains many free, but very valuable resources,  Please browse and explore the lessons, handouts, learning activities, and links at https://healthvista.net/health-resources/recovery-resources/

I suggest that you start by Exploring Mindfulness . Then, begin  Taking Recovery Steps:

  • Ups and downs are to be expected – It is best to handle them as calmly as possible, using help and support to get back on track
  • Take small steps – You will get to where you are going (no matter how long it takes) if you go in the right direction
  • You feel more in control when you take the recovery steps at your own pace
  • In life, there is always hope, but sometimes you have to change what you are hoping for.
  • Be open to learning and change as you start your recovery journey

“I am not interested in the past. I am interested in the future, for that is where I expect to spend the rest of my life.”  – Charles F. Kettering

Updated 5-27-20 by Mary Knutson