I have dark thoughts, what can I do about it?

Yes, it is hard. Yes, it is scary.  Yes, it feels like you’re all alone. 

It’s okay if you don’t have it all together. We know how hard it is to struggle with your thoughts and feelings. Depression is dark and empty, making you believe that you can contribute nothing to anyone or anything. And it feels like life means nothing anymore.  

You may think that isolating yourself or dealing with it on your own is the best thing to do. You don’t want to be a burden to family and friends, and you may think you’re crazy for feeling this way, but that isn’t you. That is the bully in your head talking. 

The bully says it will be better without you. Don’t believe it. Suicide only causes lifelong trauma for the people you love. But you don’t have to live in this dark place.  

Or maybe you’re trying to push away the darkness or relieve the relentless pressure with substances or self-harm. 

If this is you, be honest with your feelings. Please talk.  

If this is someone you know, reach out, tough as it is. Maybe your support will help a friend or relative find the words and the assistance they need. 

Let’s Get Real  

If you’re in a dark place and feeling alone, ask yourself: “Who do I want to talk to?” A family member? A friend? An adult you trust? Chances are, that person already knows something is wrong, but maybe they just don’t quite know how to start the conversation.  

If you can’t think of anyone, don’t give up. Or maybe you’d rather talk about your feelings with someone who’s outside of your circle of family and friends. If either situation is true, call any of the resources listed below. That might feel a bit weird and impersonal, but truly, the people at the other end of the conversation care and will listen. 

Bottom line – if this is you, run toward help. If this is someone you’re worrying about, don’t run away if you think they’re struggling – show them support when they need it the most.  

Danger signs 

Honesty time. Do any of the following warning signs feel like you, or someone you know?  If this is you, a friend, or someone you know, seek help.

  • Talking about wanting to die or to attempt suicide, even jokingly 
  • Looking for suicide methods, like searching online or buying a gun 
  • Talking about or feeling anxious, hopeless or having no reason to live 
  • Pretending everything’s fine when it isn’t 
  • Talking about or feeling trapped or in unbearable pain 
  • Talking about being a burden to others 
  • Personality changes – not feeling, acting or behaving like the person you, or they used to be 
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs 
  • Feeling or acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly 
  • Unexplained or unusually severe, violent, or rebellious behavior 
  • Sleeping too little or too much 
  • Eating too little or too much 
  • Trouble focusing 
  • Withdrawing or isolating from friends and family 
  • Feeling or showing rage or talking about seeking revenge 
  • Extreme mood swings 

Does any of this sound like you? If you’re not sure, ask someone you trust if they’ve noticed any of these behaviors in you. If you’re worried about someone and seeing any of these actions or behaviors, take them as the warning signs they are.  

Been there: stories from the darkness 

Others have been through this. They know the fear, the shame, the aloneness. Maybe their stories will help you or someone you know to find the encouragement to reach out for help. 

Emma’s Story on Wellness Wednesday

Shattering the Silence: Youth Suicide Prevention | Sadie Penn | TEDxYouth@Lancaster 

I witnessed a suicide | Joseph Keogh | TEDxPSUBehrend 

Crisis Resources 

  • If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911 immediately. 
  • If you or someone you know are in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255) 
  • If talking on the phone is uncomfortable, text NAMI to 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line.  

Get Help 

Don’t minimize your feelings or someone else’s – look for a safe person and space to talkThe Bougainvilla House is there for you, with a safe and welcoming environment for teens and their families. Take that critical first step and ask for help to overcome anxiety and depression, and reconnect to the life you want to live, or want for someone you love. Call now to find support that works for you and your family: (954) 764-7337. 

Sources:  

https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=teen-suicide-learning-to-recognize-the-warning-signs-1-1696 

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/how-we-can-all-prevent-suicide/ 

https://www.nami.org/get-involved/awareness-events/suicide-prevention-awareness-month 

https://paradigmtreatment.com/teen-depression-really-feels-like-according-16-year-old/ 

 

 

Masks on, masks off: easing back into “normal” life

two woman’s walking out of a shopping store with bags with masks on

Wearing a mask in public places has been normalized during the COVID-19 pandemic. While mask mandates have been lifted in Florida, the recommendations for mask-wearing from public health experts have evolved with the shifting conditions of the pandemic – leaving many people confused about the best way to approach masking up. 

Earlier this summer, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provided guidance that “fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing,” except when there are restrictions in place from their city, county, or state. 

On July 27, 2021, the CDC revised those guidelines to recommend that fully vaccinated people should still wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission. As of the date of this article’s publication, this includes many urban areas in Florida. 

While some people are excited to toss their masks in the back of the closet, many others have been experiencing a variety of emotions around wearing masks: 

  • When restrictions lift for fully vaccinated individuals, not wearing a mask might feel weird.  
  • If your community reinstates a policy of wearing of masks indoors, you might feel a sense of confusion about what you are supposed to do. 
  • When you go to large public indoor (or outdoor) events, you might feel a sense of anxiety and indecision over whether to mask up in the crowds. 

This uncertainty may be more pronounced if you have social anxiety. Social anxiety is characterized by negative self-perception and fear that one’s appearance or behavior will fail to conform with social expectations and norms. 

Research from David A. Moscovitch, professor of psychology at the University of Waterloo, found that mask protocols during the pandemic may increase struggles with social anxiety even after the pandemic.

“People with social anxiety will likely experience renewed fear and anxiety about behaving awkwardly or inappropriately (e.g., ‘should I be wearing my mask here?’ ‘Is it ok to have a close conversation?’) and being judged negatively by others,” Moscovitch says. 

If it is safe for you to break from your covid routine, but that change makes you feel uncomfortable, nervous, or you’re not ready to let go of the mask just yet, here are few ways you can cope with the transition back to “normal” life. 

5 tips to remember as we return to “normal” life  
 

  1. Stay informed. Be aware of your community’s specific pandemic conditions, such as the number of hospitalizations due to the coronavirus. Check the latest guidance from the CDC and your local public health officials. Make sure you know if your community is considered a high transmission area so you can act accordingly.
     
  2. Be respectful. Every community’s situation is different, and every individual has different needs. The person you see wearing a mask may want to protect a child who can’t be vaccinated yet, or a family member who is high risk. Many people may continue to wear masks for the foreseeable future, so it is important to be patient and respectful of others. Likewise, every business or event you visit may have different expectations about mask-wearing, so continue to respect any posted guidelines and the instructions of staff members.
     
  3. Recognize your comfort level. The world is changing frequently. Ask yourself questions that help you stay in touch with your emotions. Do I feel safe not wearing a mask at grocery store? Do I feel safe not wearing a mask at the gym? Am I comfortable going to crowded places with no mask? Am I comfortable not wearing a mask at the park? Take your comfort level into consideration when it comes to pandemic-related behavior changes.
      
  4. Take it at your own pace- If it is safe for you to start taking part in more activities, take it slow. It’s okay to return to pre-pandemic “busy-ness” at your own pace. Take small steps like meeting a friend outside or getting together with people who are also vaccinated, before diving into a large-scale public event like a wedding or concert. 
     
  5. Recognize and break the habit of avoidance. Avoidance and anxiety tend to go hand in hand. When you avoid the things that make you anxious, it may feel like a relief in the short term but will just lead to more anxiety in the long term. Although this might be uncomfortable at first, Moscovitch suggests participating in social situations rather than avoiding them. Try to catch yourself when you’re choosing to avoid interactions even when you aren’t being forced to do so by pandemic-related restrictions. Make plans to see a friend and act friendly with others by smiling as you connect with others once again. 

Need More Help? 

If you are struggling with your mental health or feeling anxious or depressed, please seek professional help. At The Bougainvilla House, we offer therapy sessions for families and young people who struggle with managing their thoughts, emotions, and behaviorsIf you would like to get started, please schedule your free screening here.   

Sources  

6 Ways for Teachers and Staff to Manage Back-to-School Anxiety

To help students succeed academically and manage the stressors of life in the classroom, it has always been important for teachers and staff to effectively manage their own anxieties.

For some, the changes, uncertainty, and stress of 2020 and 2021 have resulted in a lingering sense of anxiety. Even more students are likely return to full-time in-person learning in the fall, which will place renewed demands on staff and teachers to help them transition.

Even if your school is virtual or hybrid, back-to-school anxiety can still happen leading up to any new school year. This might be a general sense of anxiety, or because of specific challenges related to setting up a remote classroom, work-life imbalance, difficult student behaviors, and many other factors.

Whatever is causing your stress, here are a few tips to help you head into the new school year as your best self mentally and emotionally.

How Teachers and Administrators Can Manage Anxiety

  1. Establish clear lines of communication. There is always a lot going on at the beginning of any school year, and peace of mind for students, parents, teachers, and staff alike starts with good communication. School administrators and teachers can make a difference by clearly communicating what to expect for the school year – including your recommendations for keeping children and teachers safe and healthy in the classroom.
  2. Reconnect with your colleagues – Your fellow staff members may be a great source of advice and empathy when it comes to easing your concerns about the new school year. Schedule time with your colleagues before school starts – either casual conversations over coffee, or formal meetings. This opportunity to discuss each other’s experiences may yield new techniques that alleviate your anxiety and will also help you build stronger professional ties with your colleagues.
  3. Understand your triggers. Understanding the source of your stress is essential to helping you address it. According to David Donnelly, a licensed behavioral analyst, we normally look to external triggers for the source of our stress, but we experience it internally. Understanding your underlying emotions will help manage your reaction. For example, many teachers are stressed because they care intensely about the success of their students. Make sure to acknowledge when caring is the source of your stress.
  4. Plan a routine that works for you. Just when you thought you had remote learning figured out, it is time to return to the routines of the classroom. A personal routine that addresses your daily needs – from exercise to food to grading — can make a big difference in your success. Think about your ideal daily schedule and energy levels. When are you at your most alert? When does your energy lag? Then match your most important daily habits to appropriate ties of day and do your best to stay consistent.
  5. Know your limits. Even more than other professions, teachers and school administrators bring their work home at night: grading assignments, planning upcoming classes, communicating with parents, and more. Despite the importance of these work activities, it is also vital to your mental health that you take time to “shut off.” If you are having trouble ending your workday, consider working only in designated areas and times. These predetermined boundaries will mentally help you shut off work when it is time to let your brain relax.
  6. Take time to relax. Educating children is an important, stressful job. Doing so much for others can distract you from self-care, so take time to sleep, exercise, maintain a healthy diet, and nurture hobbies and relationships with family or friends. And before the new school year begins, embrace the summer as a time to relax and enjoy yourself.

Transitioning to a new school year is never easy on teachers and staff – and the 2021-2022 academic year will be no exception. Working in education demands that teachers keep up with the ever-changing needs of students – including their emotional needs in a hyperconnected, smartphone-centered world. Teachers who can successfully manage their own anxieties are teachers who can be successful caregivers to the students and families they serve.

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Need more help?

Mental Health Awareness Month is coming to an end, but our mission to provide support for the mental and emotional wellness of children, youth, and young adults never stops. If you find yourself struggling with stress and anxiety. The Bougainvilla House, offers therapy sessions for students and adults who struggle with managing their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. If you would like to get started, please schedule your free screening here. 

Coping with Transition Anxiety: From High School to College to “The Real World”

Congratulations! You’re graduating. 

…Or is it, “You’re graduating! Are you okay?” 

Television, movies and other media have been telling you for years about how exciting it will be to transition from high school to college, or from college to the “real world.” In reality, although some students might be excited to start a new chapter in their life, you’re all confronted with the same challenges.  

In college, you’ll need to make new friends, navigate a heavy workload, and take your first steps toward independence by living on your own or with roommates, instead of with your family. 

These challenges seem like a piece of cake when you face the “Real World” for the first time, whether that’s after high school or after college.  

With all of these transitions loomingit’s normal for high school and college students to experience higher levels of stress and anxiety in these years 

So how can you learn to manage these feelings?  

High School Transitioning to College   

As exciting as it is, the initial transition to college can bring a lot of anxiety to students 

A recent study showed that levels of anxiety, depression, and stress among college students increased steadily during the first semester of college and remained elevated throughout the second semester. This reflects what many students already know: that the first year of college is particularly anxious time 

 

Here is what we encourage for first-year students:   

  1. Anxious about making friends? Get involved! In college, you might feel like a small fish in a big pond, but there’s something for everyone! If you’re stressed about making friends, start by researching student organizations that you’re interested in. Colleges often have organizations for any interest: from arts groups to intramural sports to student government and more!  These groups and events are a great way for students to get involved and meet new people.   
  1. Struggling with changing routines? Treat your body right! For some students, it’s difficult to maintain healthy eating habits, regular exercise, and proper sleep on their own. It’s important to remember that all of these things are important to your body and your overall well-being. They are the most essential forms of self-care and building a daily routine around them eases the mind and releases stress. Being physically active also gives your brain something to focus on and can be a positive coping strategy for difficult times.   
  1. Having trouble managing your new workload? Stay organized! College comes with a lot of substantial assignments and multiple exams in a week is not unusual. When you’re not organized and ready for the workload, the stress becomes even greaterYour disorganization, unfinished projects, and piles of “to-dos” may be contributing to your stress and depression. To avoid this, try to stay consistent with a schedule and plan ahead. Find a system that works for you. If you like to have a physical reminder and enjoy crossing off tasks, a paper agenda might work for you. If you’re always on the go, an electronic planner on your phone or laptop that sends you notifications might be ideal for you. Schedule your exams, quizzesand projects as well as events, days off, and self-care. This way you’re prioritizing school and your well-being. 

Transitioning to the “Real World”  

Whether you’re anxious about moving across the county, going on job interviews, starting your first job, or making life-changing decisions about relationships, being nervous about the future is a normal reaction to uncertainty.  

Uncertainty is a major stressor, preventing us from planning the future. When the future is uncertain or we’re experiencing something new, we can’t rely on past experiences to make decisions. Without that tool, we become anxious about what the future might hold.  

 

How can you deal with the uncertainty?   

  1. Put things into perspective. What’s the most optimistic scenario that could happen? What is the worst-case scenario? And what is the most likely scenario? Ask yourself these questions, then ask yourself how you would be most likely to handle the situation. You may realize that even in the worst-case scenario, things will be okay.    
  1. Understand what creates meaning and purpose for you Take some time to consider what you most value in different areas of your life. Your purpose can be anything that makes you feel the most fulfilled. Some people find purpose by reading, practicing meditation, through religion, by healing others, or by spending time with loved ones. Finding your purpose and meaning can help you to remain motivated to take action and face uncertainty. 
  1. Accept what you can’t control. Wanting to know and control everything fuels uncertainty. Recognize that sometimes all you can control is your effort and your attitude.   

Find Resources:   

Whether you look for help at your college or from a mental health professional, it can be helpful to seek support when you are dealing with transition anxiety. 

Colleges offer resources to help students navigate the initial transition to campus, including academic advising, counseling, and student mental health.  

At The Bougainvilla House, we offer therapy sessions for teens and young adults who struggle with managing their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. If you would like to get started, please schedule your free screening here.    

Why your child could be suffering holiday stress

sad-holiday-1024x581

The holidays can be an especially anxious time for anyone. If you’re noticing more tension than usual, your child may be experiencing similar feelings. Your child might seem a bit withdrawn or irritable, may sleep more than usual, or is exhibiting other signs of stress. Some stress is okay, but when these feelings start to overwhelm your child, it’s time to intervene.

Reasons for holiday stress and anxiety

 

fewer daylight hours and changes in routine

The ‘holiday blues’ are real, and have many underlying causes:

  • Fewer daylight hours. The decreased number of daylight hours can have a significant effect on mental health, including your child’s. Even in the Sunshine State, many begin to feel the effects of seasonal depression during these shorter winter days.
  • Changes in routine. When your child is off from school for winter break, the whole routine changes. Even if they don’t recognize it, your child could be affected when the familiar daily structure of school, bedtime, and mealtimes becomes less rigid.

Tips to help your child with holiday-related stress and anxiety

 

Even if your child isn’t showing any particular signs of holiday stress, these tips are great for fostering a healthy and strong family connection.

  1. Take care of yourself. Kids are attentive, and they pick up on family ‘vibes’ more than you might think. If you are in a bad mood, it can affect their mood as well. When you are stressed and anxious, it can increase their levels of anxiety as well and make them more irritable. Although the holidays can be a busy time, make sure you set aside time to take care of yourself and unwind. Your body and mind will thank you for it and so will your children. You can start by exploring these ideas for taking a break.
  2. Stay active. Staying active as a family can be difficult, but keeping up with physical activities is crucial for a happy family and healthy children – and parents! If your child plays a sport, winter break might be their off season, but that doesn’t mean that all physical activity should stop. Physical activities aren’t just limited to sports, either. Here are some ways to help your child and your family stay active:
    1. Start a dance party in your living room with a fun dance cardio routine
    2. Start a small garden and celebrate that we can do that in Florida in December!
    3. Do some family-friendly yoga
    4. Create a scavenger hunt
    5. Here’s a list of even more fun activities 
  3. Eat well. Eating well is another crucial part of living a healthy lifestyle, but it can be difficult and sometimes inconvenient for busy families. It’s also difficult during the holiday season when many want to simply indulge. Along with their holiday treats, make sure your children are getting the proper nutrition they need daily. Involve your children in menu planning, shopping, and cooking!
  4. Meditate. Meditation can be intimidating at first, but can be extremely beneficial to anyone experiencing high levels of stress and take time to relaxanxiety. A guided body scan meditation can be a great introduction to meditating because the purpose is to check in with yourself and your feelings. Try this body scan meditation as a way to relax for yourself, or for your family to unwind together.
  5. Foster open communication. Talk to your children about your holiday traditions and be open to their answers. If they don’t like a certain tradition, talk about ways to change it and make it more special for your family. If family dynamics have changed (such as a divorce, new partner, or a death in the family), talk about that too. Let your child know that it’s okay (and encouraged!) for them to come to you and to be open with their feelings.
  6. Give your child control. During winter break and without a set routine, life can feel a bit unsettling. Talk to your child about what they want the winter break routine to look like. Having a discussion with them about their new schedule will give them a sense of autonomy and ownership over their own lives.
  7. Manage gift expectations. Gift-giving comes with its own stress, both for you and your child. If you know your child wants something out of your price range, be honest with them ahead of time. If your child believes the gift will come from Santa, be ready to deal with those expectations as well.
  8. Get crafty. Being creative is a lot of fun and a great family bonding activity. Have your kids choose and help with a new recipe, make some cookies that they can decorate, or create some fun holiday decorations and gifts. The possibilities are endless and anything that gets the creative juices flowing is a great stress reliever.
  9. Enjoy holiday stories, movies, and music. Even though some favorite community and school events have been canceled due to the pandemic, there are still many wonderful events happening online and through the creative programming of libraries and museums. Enjoy!

Don’t let the holidays get you and your family down.

If you need help talking to your child about changing family dynamics or just want to learn more about parenting, browse our parenting workshops or call us to schedule an appointment.

Who You Gonna Call?

Who You Gonna Call?

         Ghostbusters! Okay, maybe they can’t help you with your non-ghost problems, but it’s important to know who can. Who do you call when you’re having a bad day? Who can you reach out to when you’re struggling at school? Who do you trust when you’re struggling with your home-life? These answers are integral to ensuring you are focusing on proper mental health care and healthy communication.

What Constitutes Healthy Support?

  • Listening– a person who supports you not only listens to your thoughts, feelings, and experiences, but they do so without judgment. They aren’t simply looking to change you or force an opinion on you. True support is there to hold space for you without getting anything in return.
  • Consistent– a person who supports you will make time for you, especially if you are going through a rough patch. That doesn’t mean they can give you every moment of their lives, but they will work with you and your schedule to ensure you are supported and heard on a regular basis. They don’t come and go from your life. They are a consistent part of your health and wellness.
  • Support Not Enable– a person who supports you listens and validates your feelings and experiences, but they will not enable you. If you are partaking in destructive behaviors or relationships, they will let you know. They will also go above your head if self-harm or abuse is involved. This thought can feel like a betrayal, but keeping you safe stems from care, compassion, and love.
  • Honesty– a true supporter will tell you the truth and creates a space that allows you to do so, too. They provide a comfortable space where you can truly be yourself, so much so, you may tell them things you’ve never told anyone else. When you’re honest with yourself and, in turn, others, healing can begin.
  • Safe Space– a person who supports you, while still human, has shown you no signs of abuse, toxicity, or harm. They are stable and can consistently offer love, guidance, and emotional support.
  • Growth– a true supporter will always push you to be better. This may hurt sometimes to always hear the truth and see yourself through the eyes of another, but people who love us want the best for us. They help us become our best selves. People who care will help us get out of our comfort zones and help us make the best choices for our best possible future.

It’s important to remember that we are all human and to not make the mistake of putting someone on a pedestal. No one is perfect, so make sure you are reminding yourself that your supports are still humans with regular lives who make mistakes.

When it comes to our supports, we also want to ensure we aren’t creating co-dependency. It’s important to be able to reach out to people in a time of need, but it’s just as important to learn how to support yourself in those moments if others are occupied with their own lives. Lean on your supports, but remember: this time of growth means learning how to lean on yourself.

Who Supports Me?

         You don’t need a whole army of support. You need a few key people in your life you can connect with who will give you the support and guidance you need. This could come in the form of a family member or family friend, a friend, a teacher, a therapist, or a coach.

So now, ask yourself: Who supports you unconditionally? Who ensures you’re feeling okay? Who is there to listen to? Most importantly, who hears you but doesn’t enable negative or self-destructive behaviors? When it comes to a confidant, someone you can trust to help and support, you want to ensure they have your best interest in mind. Take some time to evaluate the people in your life and make sure to tell those who care for you that you see them and they matter.

 Learning to Support Yourself

No matter where you are on your health and wellness journey, the goal is to learn how to support yourself. Yes, you can always rely on a group meeting, a therapist, and close friends and family, but it’s important to learn how to cope and manage your feelings when no one else is available or present. While you work through addiction issues, mental health illness or trauma, be sure to create the ultimate support with yourself. Ask yourself how you are. Make some time to get to know yourself, just as you would a new friend. You might be surprised at how deep the relationship can get.

Sometimes we can’t find the right supports in our families, schools, or communities, and that’s okay. If you or an adolescent you know is struggling with addiction or mental health issues, you can always reach out to the Bougainvilla House. We are here to support you! We offer individual and group therapy programs, along with family counseling to help bring you closer to those who love and care for you. Let us help you create the ultimate support with your community and most importantly, yourself. Call today to learn about our programs and treatment options: (954) 764-7337

The Importance of Coping Mechanisms

         You’ve probably heard the term coping mechanism, especially if you’ve ever been to therapy or a treatment program. Coping mechanisms are behaviors or strategies used to help us deal with a difficult moment or emotion. They are an integral part of health and wellness by helping you focus on what to do instead of enacting a negative behavior or following through with an addictive pattern.

Coping mechanisms can take the place of using, drinking, self-harm, and negative self-talk. They can keep us safe from harm, and they can help us work through an emotional trigger while it’s happening. They are the lifeline to grounding ourselves in reality in a safe and healthy way when facing trauma, dark thoughts, and difficult feelings. Overall, coping mechanisms help us slow down and work through tough moments while they are occurring.

A Coping Mechanism Starter-Pack

Coping mechanisms can be any type of strategy that keeps us from following addictive patterns or negative self-talk, so that means there isn’t one right way to cope. Here are a few proven ways to help you stay safe. You can use the list below as a guide to start your own list and add to it when you learn what works for you.

  •  Breathing: It may sound silly but breathing through a difficult moment can transform your life. It can ground you and slow down your anxiety so you can hear your inner voice. A great technique is called the 4-5-7 method. Breathe in for four seconds, hold the breath for five seconds, and release the breath for a duration of seven seconds. Repeat this sequence ten times and watch your body begin to slow down and regroup.
  • Releasing Tension: In a moment of duress, it’s easy to feed into the anxiety and panic that is building because of nerves or anger. In the moment, stop and do a scan of your body. Where are you holding the tension? Some common areas include clenching your teeth/jaw, shrugging your shoulders up into your ears, and clenching your fists or your legs. When you’re facing a tough moment, assess your body. Make space between your top and bottom jaw and run your tongue along the front of your teeth. Roll your shoulders up and back to release tension and breathe into the space that you feel yourself clenching. Release it all with your exhaling breath.
  •  Movement: Sometimes when our bodies get so worked up, no amount of breathing seems to help. In this case, physically work it out. Head to the gym, go for a run or long walk, dance, or stretch. Sometimes all the body needs is a physical way to release the energy and tension you are currently holding.
  • Get Creative:  Grab a pencil and some paper, pull out an old coloring book, or grab some paint and a brush. Art therapy is a proven way to relax your body and slow your mind while lighting up other areas of the brain that can be healing and therapeutic. Some people may feel they don’t have a creative bone in their body, but the word creative simply means leaning into your own version of art. Cut out magazine clippings and make a collage, create a paper mâché structure, or learn calligraphy. When it comes to mental health, this isn’t about the end result. It’s about exploring new emotions and releasing that which no longer serves us.
  •  Phone a “Friend”: Sometimes our emotions get the best of us, and we get stuck in a mental loop that feels impossible to break free from. Talking to someone can help us acknowledge negative self-talk, recognize harmful patterns, and ultimately calm us down. You could call a close friend, talk to a family member, reach out to a sponsor, set up a time to meet with your therapist, or check in at a group meeting. There are many supports out there available to help, but you have to take the first step to make the call or send the text.

Healing Beyond the Strategies

Coping mechanisms are an important part of the recovery process, but they shouldn’t be the end all be all. It can be difficult to tell when a coping mechanism should be used, especially if we are just starting out on our journey to recovery because, at times, they can be used as a crutch instead of a healing tool. Coping mechanisms help us in the moment, but there is also a lot of work to be done outside of those moments. We need to continuously acknowledge our triggers, work through past traumas in therapy or group, and make healthy choices in our daily lives at school and work. Coping is a way to heal in the moment, but the deeper healing work can’t be forgotten. Cope in the moment but be sure you’re taking time every day to practice self-work and self-care.

Dealing with anxiety, depression, and addiction can be tiring, especially in the beginning stages. It can feel frustrating and isolating, and rightly so. But this work doesn’t need to be done in a vacuum. The Bougainvilla House was created with the intention of helping kids and adolescents work through these feelings and break addictive patterns with the help of family and community. If you or someone you know is struggling to make healthy choices or needs help with the self-work, reach out today at (954) 764-7337 or use our convenient Contact form. Let us help you cope and heal.

Cleaning Up Your Social Media Accounts

Cancel culture has become popular over the last few years. If you make a mistake, society cancels you out which means there are no second chances. While cancel culture may have been based on important movements in this country, it’s an unhealthy way to view the world because there is no room for forgiveness. However, it’s an unfortunate reality we are facing, and whether we want to believe it or not, we are all affected by it.

That’s not to say people who post horrible things shouldn’t be held accountable. The point here is that no one is safe. Whether you’re a 15-year-old in Indiana or a major celebrity, it’s a reminder that perception is a reality. We need to be aware of our words and actions now more than ever. There are celebrities losing work over old Tweets and college students losing scholarships over old pictures. This is a hard truth, but in a world flooded with social media accounts, what we see becomes what we believe.

Because we live in a world where perception is a reality, it’s easy to look at someone’s pictures on Instagram or read a handful of Tweets and begin to make assumptions about that person. We start to draw conclusions based on a few moments in a person’s life. What you see in others is who they become to you. You may think these judgments are harmless but have you stopped to think about the other side of the coin? What are you putting out into the world? What do others see when they see your social media posts? It could be a positive thing if your posts are promoting world change or equality, but if your posts are crude jokes and pictures of you partying, a new narrative is being written.

We can set our profiles to private, and we can send snaps to certain groups, but there are very real dangers behind sending and posting personal information online. A lot of this stuff is permanent, and when you are at the age of college and career, you want to ensure nothing is going to come back and bite you in the butt. It may be time to clean up your social media accounts.

Spring Cleaning Tips

Take some time to scroll through your accounts. If you’ve struggled with drinking or have been known to use in the past, you want to make sure to take down those pictures. This is not to say you should be ashamed of past choices, but others may take posts of drinking, posts where you’re clearly intoxicated, to mean this is who you are. Don’t let those old images define who you are today.  

You also want to be cognizant of what you retweet or repost. If there are vulgar words, posts that are offensive or marginalize, those need to go, especially the latter. We watch people on a daily basis get called out for marginalizing tweets, racists repostings, and far worse. The same can happen to you. All an employer or school needs to do is Google your name. More importantly, if you are someone that enjoys this type of humor, it may be time to dig deeper and ask why. Your humor is a reflection of how you view yourself.

 The last point stems from tone. It’s very difficult to read someone’s tone through their written words, especially if you don’t know them well. If something can be taken the wrong way, or if there is an inside joke that is seemingly offensive, it might be time to remove those posts as well. Many say the world is becoming “too sensitive,” but if someone else is the butt of a joke or comment, you may want to rethink that mindset based on compassion and kindness.

These suggestions may feel like an invasion of freedom, and if that rings true, it may be time to answer the following questions:

-What is my intention behind posting this picture, article, or tweet?

-Am I posting this for attention or validation? If so, what am I lacking in my life?

-Do I need to be on social media? If so, why?

These questions aren’t to suggest that social media is wrong or that you shouldn’t be using these apps. These questions get to the root of your actions. They reveal the intention behind your usage which could illuminate a larger issue within your heart and mind. If you are uncomfortable with the answers, it may be time to dig deeper.

The Bottom Line with Social Media

When you work for a company or attend college, you represent their mission. Most businesses, big or small, don’t want an employee partying on Facebook or posting racy content on Twitter. And colleges definitely don’t want scandal based on illegal substances and or racially charged content. You become a reflection of their values, and if they don’t align, you probably won’t be working there long and or you could quickly lose a scholarship.

If you’re still not convinced, consider this. Say you want to be a doctor, a lawyer, or a teacher, and think back to the judgments you make while scrolling. Do you want your kid being taught by a party monster? Do you want your surgeon drinking every night? Do you want your lawyer making racist jokes? We all make mistakes growing up, and there is no shame in that. But it’s time to step up into the best version of yourself and help this world grow.

         If you’ve been questioning your behaviors and want to take the first step in turning your life around, professional help is always a great option. The Bougainvilla House offers adolescent behavioral health programs for individuals and families. Call us today to see how we can help 954-764-7337 , or use our convenient Contact form.

Finding Balance in an Ever-Changing World

Finding Balance in an Ever-Changing World

There are a million metaphors and similes about life. It’s a roller coaster, it’s like a box of chocolates, and it’s a journey, yet these comparisons have implicit reminders that sometimes life is hard. There are ups and downs, there are various surprises, and it’s a long road we must continue walking with moments of struggle. Some may find this sentiment beautiful, but for others, those who crave routine, peace, and stability, these metaphors are tough truths.

The uncertainty of life stems from many things. Some are internal as the body ages and others are external factors relating to fate, yet both connect to one word: control. Unfortunately, we cannot control fate—internally or externally—but we can control how we react to it all.

Internal and External Factors

It may be an uncomfortable topic, but puberty is real. It brings about significant changes to our bodies, our emotions, and our perspectives. These changes alter mood and can cause teens to feel jaded, tired, or even the vast opposite. Along with the internal changes of the body comes the external consequences. This could look like growth spurts, voice changes, and personality changes that can cause unwanted attention. Put two and two together and you have an awkward math problem.

Besides hormonal issues and physiological happenings in the body, most of our emotions are connected to the outside world. Think about it in terms of literature and the fact that books are centered around conflict. We are humans, humans have emotions, and emotions create conflict. But conflict doesn’t magically arise. External forces affect us, trigger us, and force us to confront whatever is happening. So, while our emotions play a huge factor, they connect to catalysts in the external world.

On top of all that, we have another aspect of the external world called expectation. As teens, we are expected to do the chores, go to school, get a job, possibly go to college, and so much more. Then, there are topics like gender norms, cultural norms, and societal norms that attempt to force us into another box. It’s as if we are in a maze, and we are getting pushed to turn right then left then right again. We don’t really know where we are going, yet we know we are supposed to keep moving forward.

Now think about this new internal world mixed with a new external world. It can feel like the recipe for disaster, and for some of us, we are already experiencing this war. The bottom line here is that this is normal, everyone goes through it, and not every day is going to be a good day. Many people want to preach “good vibes only” and the power of a positive attitude, but the reality is that because we have emotions and myriad external factors, we are undoubtedly going to experience the drops on the roller coaster. However, the drops don’t last forever, and when we accept this truth and process our emotions while they are occurring, we can take negative moments as they come, release them, and return to joy.

Balance and Shifting Perspective

Unlike a roller coaster or box of chocolates, we don’t have a choice when it comes to, well, choice. We are on the ride, we don’t know the outcome, and to find balance, we must accept this idea first. You can find balance by shifting your perspective. Instead of saying, “I hate this ride,” switch the narrative to, “I’m excited to see where it takes me.” If you hate the big dips, focus on cherishing the straightaways and practicing gratitude while they are occurring. If you bite into a candy with a nut and you wanted caramel, remind yourself you can try again.

We want to be present in our darker moments because we want to avoid repressing these experiences. During the drops, try this perspective shift. Instead of asking, “why is this happening to me?” ask, “what is this trying to teach me?” See the difference? Instead of playing the victim to fate, you put the power back in your hands by becoming an adventurer, the warrior of your story. It’s not always easy, but when we finally look under the bed, we realize the monster isn’t so big, and sometimes, it was never there to begin with.

Just because we experience the dips doesn’t mean we have to sit in those moments and stay there. Just like the ride, we won’t constantly be plummeting down. The moment will pass, as will every other emotion and experience. When we are present, we can acknowledge the difficult moments, and more importantly, we can enjoy the good.

It can be difficult to balance all of the emotional and physical changes of adolescence. If you or someone you know is struggling to balance and is using substances to cope, professional help is always a great option. The Bougainvilla House offers adolescent behavioral health programs for individuals and families. Call us today to see how we can help 954-764-7337 , or use our convenient Contact form.