“You are not alone. This is not all there is. ” - Shawn Johnson
Let the light cast out the darkness.
Addiction is a complicated tapestry that involves our body, mind, and spirit.
I’m by no means a professional expert in the subject, but I live with a heritage of addictive behaviors passed down through the DNA of my ancestors, and I experience the constant hold of cravings as I seek to choose health and balance as best as I can.
People I love struggle deeply. People I love have destroyed or lost their lives in their struggle. We all self-medicate in some way and to varying degrees.
It’s time for the silence and stigma to end.
Below are a few resources I’ve encountered along my journey of trying to live well and fully -- body, mind, and spirit.
Please take what resonates and discard the rest. Please note that hyperlinks appear in bold font that will appear with an underline when you scroll your mouse past via desktop view.
“95% of our serotonin is created in our gut, which ties back to our mood, sleep, healing, sex drive and overall health.” - American Psychological Association
Our sleep quality, hormones, gut health are all interconnected and vital for our overall health and mood. If you aren’t sleeping well, do some research on “sleep hygiene” for ideas on getting more restorative rest.
Did you know our bodies actually store trauma? Oftentimes those who feel the urge to numb though self medicating have experienced deep childhood trauma. This short video from a licensed marriage and family therapist helps explains how.
Studies vary with correlation between trauma and addiction, but the link is clear, offering a pathway to explore healing for those struggling.
"With about two-thirds of all addicts having previously experienced some type of physical or sexual traumatic experiences during childhood, it's extremely important to understand how childhood trauma causes increased vulnerability to addiction."
- The Unfortunate Connection Between Childhood Trauma and Addiction in Adulthood from Old Vineyard Behavioral Health Services.
What can we do with stored trauma?
Reiki massage, EFT, EMDR, tapping, and yin yoga are some modalities to help the body release stored energy (see links for some of these modalities in the counseling section below). Some experts are also pioneering new ways to treat people according to their unique brain scans for trauma, and depression, etc. ( See findings from an M.D. and double board certified psychiatrist in this TEDx talk about brain scans.)
The more we move, the more we want to move. Exercise is vital for endorphins that balance our mood and help us feel good in our bodies. What’s your favorite way to move daily? Make time for that, and "stack" habits so that it becomes easy to do consistently. Curious about habit stacking? Add the audio book Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear to your book list. (Random tip: I use a free app called Libby to borrow audiobooks from my library and love it).
Consider getting help from a qualified naturopath or specialist to explore your gut health and any possible hormonal imbalances. Some practitioners offer Biome Fx testing to look for hormone cycling and other imbalance factors evidenced by your digestion. Explore "How your belly controls your brain" in a TEDxFulbrightSantaMonica talk from Ruairi Robertson.
Dig even deeper into the gut/brain connection with books like The Mind-Gut Connection: How the Hidden Conversation Within Our Bodies Impacts Our Mood, Our Choices, and Our Overall Health by Emeran Mayer.
The quality of our thoughts impacts the quality of our lives.
Just as our body needs regular nourishment and care, so does our mind. Here are some key mental health practices to explore:
Speaking with a trained counselor is an amazing step in the healing journey.
Think about what you need from a professional counselor and interview prospective counselors before working together.
Examples of questions to ask include: What modalities do you use for folks going through my struggles? Do you specialize in work releasing and reframing trauma? Have you benefited from the modalities you practice?
- Go beyond talk therapy: explore therapies for processing trauma and rewiring brain connections such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement and Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR), and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) or "tapping."
- Research providers in network with your insurer.
Did you know? Teens receive free counseling sessions in Colorado.
Better Help - explore virtual counseling from licensed therapists.
Does EMDR sound wacky by it's name? Read or grab and audio version of The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk for an impressive research survey of the impacts of EMDR helping folks heal from disturbing events that talk therapy hadn't resolved. It sounds nearly miraculous, and I'm looking forward to finding a practitioner to work with.
Reflection & presence.
Mindfulness, meditation and self reflection are powerful tools for deeper self awareness and healing.
Journaling and reflection.
Writing is one of my favorite self discovery tools for unraveling the mysteries of my mind and any feelings of unsettledness.
Apps like Calm, Headspace, and 10 Percent Happier along with free videos on YouTube provide guided meditations.
Make time to be aware of your thoughts, releasing and reframing what doesn't serve you.
Pausing for self reflection when feeling a craving can also help. Ask the following: Do I even know what triggered this? Am I trying to avoid a feeling? Am I afraid? What if I pause and take 5 deep breaths to observe and reframe my thoughts?
It’s hard to feel down when we are focused on our blessings. A daily gratitude practice truly helps build pathways in our brain towards positive thinking. Take stock of the everyday conveniences, comforts, joys, and beauty that surround you. With repetition and time, positive thought patterns build mental “freeways” to positive thinking, while old pathways to negative thoughts become “dirt roads.” (see quote below for more context).
“Most people have a dirt road to happiness and a highway to pain. Condition yourself so that you have a highway to pleasure.” - Tony Robbins
Belief: its power & reprogramming tools.
What we focus on matters, and our body responds to our beliefs. Therefore, embrace mindsets that support the healthy life you want to live.
The Placebo Effect is real. Harness it for good.
- A number of books from doctors and scientists summarize studies illustrating the astounding power of the placebo effect: if we simply believe that something will help us, it is much more likely to. If we think something will cause adverse side effects, it is more likely to harm us. (See books like The Biology of Belief by Bruce H. Lipton, PhD, and Mind Over Medicine by Lissa Rankin, M.D.).
- Why not use the placebo effect for good? Choose to believe in good things for yourself and your future. Choose to believe in your unlimited possibility. Choose to believe you can be happy, healthy, and thriving. Don't worry about "how" this will happen; start with believing, and you'll begin taking actions to attract what you believe.
Reprogramming Tool: Affirmation Decks
Need a tool to retrain limiting beliefs? Create a deck of affirmation flashcards that flip your negative and limiting beliefs on their head and replace them with abundant truths to uplevel the possibilities of your life. Read them aloud morning and night. (Google “how to create an affirmation deck” or check out this starter blog post for ideas.
Here's a video from a brain surgeon addressing How To Heal Trauma and Destroy Negative Thoughts, and a TEDx talk "Change Your Brain, Change Your Life" from Daniel Amen, M.D.
How to change your state.
Check out what Tony Robbins has to say about changing your physiological state so that you can truly change limiting beliefs. Here’s a link to get you started.
“Your are more than your thoughts. Your are more than you body. ”
We can fuel our inner fire or dampen it through our outlook, environment, habits, and choices.
Outlook: find hope and purpose.
“Without Hope, A People Perish.” - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.What can you do to bring hope to your situation? Does gratitude give you hope? Does prayer help you feel connected to a higher power? Do you have a clear purpose for your life? If not, there is no time like the present to unlock one! How can you take steps towards exploring your unique offering to the world?
Cultivate your spirit.Organized religion has caused a lot of hurt with institutional power. It can also be a source of profound community and support.
If you aren't part of a faith community why not visit one? Do new or familiar traditions sound inviting?
If you aren’t attracted to an organized faith community, don’t let that keep you from cultivating your own sweet, spiritual connection with the Divine Source. Seek and you will find. Go to nature to connect. Pray, meditate, dance, sing, serve. Do what makes you feel open to or connected with something larger than yourself.
Christians don't necessarily do him justice, but the radical love of religious revolutionary, Jesus Christ, was my first invitation to know God and feel radical acceptance from a source of unconditional love. Check out The Chosen TV series on the Angel Studios app to watch an imagination of what this revolutionary was like, rejecting the religious people of his day, and drawing close to the suffering "who need a doctor." I feel most connected to Spirit when I'm in nature and in flow with music, but community with those who choose to hold faith often encourages me as well at various seasons.
Environment: surround yourself with goodness.
Connection & community.Studies have shown that loneliness is worse for our health that avidly smoking cigarettes.
Don’t do life alone. Find your tribe and hold them close. If you haven’t found your tribe, continue to seek them out doing what you love or try a new social activity.
Laughter is good medicine.Seriously thought – see the science from the Mayo Clinic.
Surround yourself with people and things that make you laugh. Check out Denver’s 103.1FM radio station offering 24/7 laughs, rent a funny movie or buy tickets to see a comedian perform live.
Nature is medicine.Spend more time where the blacktop ends or at least get to your local park as often as possible and savor your senses.
Music is Medicine.What we listen to affects our mood and outlook. Curate your audio environment with music that makes you feel good, releases grief or pain, or brings calm and peace to your busy work day or hectic commute.
- Here’s my morning jumpstart playlist full of good vibes on Spotify.
- Search Spotify for playlists by mood related to happy vibes.
- A Scandinavian songwriter named Fia creates sweet and simple songs elevating goodness and light. Find her on any streaming channel.
- “Breakthrough” from Red Rocks worship is an original song that speaks to me when I want encouragement through tough times.
- If you want to geek out on the science of vibration for healing, do some research around 528 Hz healing frequencies.
- I'll be creating and sharing more music medicine with live take videos on my YouTube channel in 2023. Check it out my first mantra, "I Am Okay." (My TEDxWomen talk centering Music Medicine will be out soon too! Keep an eye on the TEDx YouTube page or join my backstage pass email tribe to hear first).
“Music is Medicine”
Habits and choices: build a better life one choice at a time.
Seek inspiration/ renew your mind.Listening to a short, motivational video or song each morning refreshes our outlook.
Focusing on affirmations and mantras filled with hope and gratitude helps us start each day fresh.
Give back.Giving back to our community can be a humbling and rewarding way of putting our problems into the perspective of a larger context, and feeling a sense of greater purpose.
Courage to speak your Truth.Reconnecting with our feelings and allowing ourselves to face and name our pains goes a long way in casting out the suffering caused by shame and secrecy.
Imagine experiencing the freedom in being known and loved as you come clean with your truths to someone trusted.
Seek the ear of wise and loving folks you trust. Seek support from a trained counselor who can offer you new tools and resources for your journey. Then pass it along.