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Mindfulness & Self-Care Checklist

As Mindful May comes to an end, we wanted to provide you with a tool to help assess where you are at and potentially help start you on your path to practice mindfulness more regularly.

 

It’s a busy world with a relentless pace. You cook dinner or fold the laundry while keeping one eye on the kids and another on the television. You plan your day while listening to the radio and commuting to work, and then plan your weekend all at the same time. But in the rush to accomplish the necessary tasks off the daily to-do list, you can easily find yourself losing your connection with the present moment. Days, weeks, even months can drift by all while missing out on truly taking stock of what you’re doing and how you’re feeling.

 

Taking care of yourself and working on your program of recovery are two in the same. I heard someone recently share that recovery is simply taking good care of myself in all areas of my life; physically, emotionally, mentally, socially and spiritually. 

 

Am I looking after my physical body? 

Am I looking after my emotional health?

How are my relationships?

Do I follow a daily spiritual practice?

 

In order for me to truly look after myself, I need to take care of my whole being. If one pillar of my foundation is shaky then truly my whole being is off kilter. The scary part is that I may not even notice I have a shaky pillar until all four of my pillars are in jeopardy and then I am in a pretty desperate situation.

 

When was the last time you took time to check in with yourself and deeply examine how you are doing/feeling? Not just physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually too?

It’s vital for me, especially as an addict in recovery, to take a pulse check often of how I’m doing in all areas of my life as it is very easy for me to slip back into poor self-care.

 

Below we’ve shared a tool called The Recovery Grid, created by Roland Williams. It is a checklist for you to go over and assess your overall self-care/health picture:

If you take the time to focus on yourself and answer these questions honestly without the presence of distractions, you are practicing mindfulness – Congratulations!

 

This chart is by no means perfect, however if you regularly assess these questions in a thoughtful way, carefully examining your feelings and answers, you can avoid creating a shaky foundation by neglecting one of your pillars.

 

We hope that you found this information helpful, and hope that mindfulness becomes a regular part of your life moving forward 🙂

 

Peace & Abstinence

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ New Relapse Prevention Meetings

Relapse can be a scary word. I have every right to be afraid of relapse. It could kill me. While relapse is common in addiction recovery, relapse is not inevitable nor is it mandatory!  The more we understand the relapse process, the less threatening it needs to be. Preventing a relapse is far easier than working to find recovery again. At SHiFT, we witness each day how much more difficult it is to come back from a relapse than it is to prevent one.

 

The relapse process starts long before we take the first bite or pick up our substance. Let me be crystal clear, eating even one bite of foods that cause an emotional and/or physiological reaction in your body leads directly to relapse. While it may not happen immediately, it won’t take long before the overwhelming cravings become too powerful to resist.

 

Though this may sound pessimistic, the good news is that you have a choice. Even though you may already know this, seeing this warning written down, will help to make it real and making it real means that you can prepare yourself to prevent a relapse.

 

The single most important way to deal with these feelings and to prevent a relapse is to stay as close to your recovery program as possible. Connect with others who are food dependent.  Keep going to support groups.

 

At SHiFT, we strongly believe in the importance of staying connected with your SHiFT Alumni network. It offers a safe place to be accountable and honest with others.

 

That’s why we’re excited to announce that we are starting a New Monthly Relapse Prevention Alumni Meeting! This free support meeting will be open to all SHiFT alumni, and will take place on the fourth Tuesday of every month at 5pm PST / 8pm EST.

 

We will send out an email reminder before each upcoming meeting so make sure to check your email for the zoom link, and for more details! We hope to see you there! 

 

In the meanwhile, here’s a helpful tip for you:

 

For food addicts in recovery, remembering where they came from is an important relapse prevention technique. Thinking about how demoralizing it felt to run to the refrigerator every few minutes to eat is sometimes all the motivation a recovering food addict needs to continue in recovery.

During emotionally-challenging times, it may take a little more remembering to prevent a relapse. This can almost always be done by reviewing a first step writing or taking a few minutes to journal about the food addict’s last binge, specifically what it felt like before, during and after bingeing.

 

Thanks for reading, hope to see you next Tuesday, May 25th at our first meeting!

 

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ Mental Health Month

May is Mental Health Month.

 

This past year presented so many different challenges and obstacles that tested our strength and resiliency. The global pandemic forced us to cope with situations we never even imagined, and a lot of us struggled with our mental health as a result. The good news is that there are tools and resources available that can support the well-being of individuals and communities.

 

Now, more than ever, we need to combat the stigma surrounding mental health concerns. That’s why this Mental Health Month SHiFT is highlighting #Tools2Thrive – what individuals can do throughout their daily lives to prioritize mental health, build resiliency, and continue to cope with the obstacles of COVID-19.

 

Throughout the pandemic, many people who had never experienced mental health challenges found themselves struggling for the first time. During the month of May, we are focusing on different topics that can help process the events of the past year and the feelings that surround them, while also building up skills and supports that extend beyond COVID-19.

 

We know that the past year forced many to accept tough situations that they had little to no control over. If you found that it impacted your mental health, you aren’t alone. In fact, of the almost half a million individuals that took the anxiety screening at MHAscreening.org, 79% showed symptoms of moderate to severe anxiety. However, there are practical tools that can help improve your mental health. We are focused on managing anger and frustration, recognizing when trauma may be affecting your mental health, challenging negative thinking patterns, and making time to take care of yourself.

 

Much like recovery, It’s important to remember that working on your mental health and finding tools that help you thrive takes time. Change won’t happen overnight. Instead, by focusing on small changes, you can move through the stressors of the past year and develop long-term strategies to support yourself on an ongoing basis.

 

A great starting point for anyone who is ready to start prioritizing their mental health is to take a mental health screening at MHAscreening.org. It’s a quick, free, and confidential way for someone to assess their mental health and begin finding hope and healing.

 

Ultimately, during this month of May, SHiFT wants to remind everyone that mental illnesses are real, and recovery is possible. By developing your own #Tools2Thrive, it is possible to find balance between life’s ups and downs and continue to cope with the challenges brought on by the pandemic.

 

For more information, visit https://www.mhanational.org/mental-health-month

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ Mindful May

Welcome to Mindful May.

This month we aim to dive into the subject of Mindfulness, what it is, how it’s a beneficial practice, and how it relates to our lives.

 

Our first topic is: what is Mindfulness?

Well, Mindfulness is the opposite of avoidance.

 

What traps people in anxiety/depression, drives us to overindulge, perpetuates chronic pain, or gets us stuck in jobs or relationships?

A major contributing factor is avoidance.

Avoidance is evolutionarily hard-wired into our brains. It is similar to the fight or flight concept. Our brains are developed at their core for survival, and avoiding pain is a very natural and important part of survival. Unfortunately, this survival mechanism also sets us up for a lot of misery and prolonged pain/stress.

But don’t worry – there’s hope. Mindfulness is a simple practice that effectively counteracts avoidance. Mindfulness helps us lean into difficult experiences. It helps us be present, pause  and assess our thoughts and feelings. Once we’ve done that, we can respond to them, rather than react.

 

Now how can we practice mindfulness? Well here’s a few ways:

 

Meditate – Taking even 5-10 Minutes out of your day to sit quietly with your eyes closed and focus on your breathing and let your thoughts flow can do wonders in making you feel more connected and conscious for the rest of your day.

Eat Mindfully – Eating your food slowly without the distraction of the TV on or newspaper in front of you helps us, as food addicts, be mindful of our abstinence and appreciate the food for what it is.

Spend Time In Nature – Whether it is a walk through the park, the forest, the beach or wherever you please, spending time in nature keeps us grounded and connected to our natural environment. We also reaffirm our commitment to treat our beautiful earth with kindness and grace. 

Check in with our loved ones – We all have our struggles and go through ups and downs. Letting your loved ones know that you’re thinking about them and how much they mean to you will strengthen bonds and provide joy for everyone involved.

 

We hope you implement some of these tips in your life this May, and we look forward to slowing down and being more mindful ourselves.

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ 5 Reasons To Sign Up For an Intensive

Our 7 day residential program, the Acorn Intensive, is our signature food addiction treatment program. With Awareness April coming to an end, we wanted to shed light on why the primary Intensive is such a powerful tool for your recovery, and why you should attend one as soon as possible (whether Virtual or In-Person). Below, we have compiled a list of questions that you may be asking yourself, wrapped up into 5 reasons why our Primary Intensive will help answer these questions. Not only will the primary Intensive provide you with tools to use in the short term, it will give you clear direction moving forward.

 

1) Food Plan

Are you confused about what to eat? Have you visited multiple nutritionists and questioned yourself unable to follow the plan they give you? Are you eating uncontrollably and feel absolutely no sense of ‘willpower’ around the food? Have you been to a “food” 12 Step program and hear people talk about abstinence? What is abstinence anyway? There is a solution. Attendance at the Acorn Intensive guarantees that you will leave with a food plan that’s personal to you, that’s easy to understand, that will ensure you reach a healthy body weight, that includes specific guidance and clarity around what to eat on a daily basis and an understanding of what abstinence truly means. Doesn’t this sound freeing?

2) Community

Do you feel alone with your food and weight problems? Do you often think you are terminally unique and nobody else feels like you do about food and your body? At the Primary Intensive this myth will be dispelled. You will be surrounded by multiple other people with food, weight and body issues just like you. Better yet, you will leave the event with an easy, accessible, and fuss-free way of keeping in touch with your group on a daily basis. Long-lasting friendships are born here. You will also gain access to a strong support network of ACORN alumni.

3) Clarity

Are you questioning if you are a food addict? Do you feel shame about your eating because you believe that the strength of your willpower is why you can never follow a ‘diet’? Do you believe your issues with food are all your fault? At the ACORN Primary Intensive we will provide clarity around what it means to be a food addict. We will give you information regarding the common myth around food addicts having a ‘lack of willpower’. We will help you explore the methods you have tried to control your food and weight with opportunities to share and collaborate with other people in your process group. By the time you leave the event you will have a deeper understanding of food addiction and where you may fall on the food addiction spectrum.

4) Emotional Work

Do you feel numb? When people ask how you’re feeling do you often respond ‘good’ or ‘okay’ or ‘bad’? If you were to ask yourself how you’re feeling at this very moment reading this article… do you have trouble coming up with a response? At the Intensive we will help you identify and work through emotions that are often difficult to access and identify. You will be given the opportunity to identify your emotions multiple times throughout the day. Addicts often have trouble identifying and accessing their emotions. At ACORN we believe learning to do this is an important part of long term food addiction recovery. When you leave you will have a better understanding of your emotions.

5) Action Plan and Self-Care!

Do you tell yourself that there is no way you can leave your life, your family, your job for 5 days to travel to an ACORN Primary Intensive? What if we told you your life depended on it? When was the last time you took time for yourself? Food addiction is a disease with very deep levels of denial. Because of this, at ACORN we believe that your complete, 100% full attention must be devoted to recovery in these 5 days. Imagine the impact that recovery could have on your life once you return home after only 5 days. And think about how long you have had issues with food and weight…5 days is really not that long in the grand scheme of things! You will leave the event feeling refreshed and detoxed. You will also leave with a FULL recovery action plan including: how to return back to your previous life with a fresh perspective on food addiction and your individualized recovery needs.

 

Whether it is Virtual or In-Person, all of these 5 reasons are extremely valuable and will set you up for long term success with your recovery. So with all of that said, what are you waiting for?

Register For An Upcoming Intensive Today!

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ How Abstinence Helps The Planet

Happy Earth Day! This is such an important day to celebrate the incredible planet we live on and remind ourselves to all be conscious of our decisions every day. Our daily decisions with food, transportation, and more directly impact our sustainable future on this planet and we all must do our part to ensure that is the case.

This week, we asked our staff the question…

 

“How are you kinder to the earth as a result of your recovery?”

 

Here’s what they had to say:

 

Tina:

Before recovery, I really never thought about the “Earth” or my impact on it. In recovery, I want to respect the Earth the same way that I respect my body. I eat healthy, nourishing food and recycle to the best of my ability. I eat low on the food chain and that helps reduce my carbon footprint. I try not to buy a lot of things that I don’t need. And when I see trash on the ground, I bend over, pick it up, and thank my Higher Power that my body still works as well as it does. Bringing grateful energy to the planet can help heal us all!!!!

 

Calen:

As a result of my recovery I am more aware of and present with nature. 

As a result of my recovery I have the energy and will to take care of my little corner of the world – recycling, limited use of plastics and products with harsh chemicals, changing how I behave as a consumer. When I was in the food none of this mattered to me. 

 

Mary:

I no longer litter by throwing boxes and bags from my binges out the car window.

I rarely throw away spoiled food – especially fruits and vegetables – because I actually eat the food I buy.

I recycle when before I didn’t care about anything beyond myself.

Recovery allows me to think about the future and the world I inhabit rather than thinking only about my next food fix.

Life used to be all about ME and what I wanted. Since recovery, I am able to look beyond my wants and needs and care about those around me.

 

Karla:

When I was in active addiction I was constantly consuming. I had several wardrobes because my body size was always changing, I supported the tobacco and alcohol industries through my consumption, I was constantly shopping- looking for external validation that I was OK- everything had to “look right”, and of course I was always seeking more hyperpalatable food.

Now my food is simple and my life is simple. Through recovery I have the space to be more thoughtful about how I use my resources. Instead of being in self-obsession, I am concerned with my impact on others as well as my impact on the bigger picture (including our beautiful world).

My answer to this question may seem broad… I believe that in recovery I am more in alignment with our natural world, including the beings that inhabit it. I am more available to care about something other than myself and my behavior is informed by that love.

 

Karen:

Because I plan my food ahead of time daily and weekly I use less food.

They say that addiction is a “disease of needing more”. In recovery, I need less, I use less and my life is bigger and more fulfilling.

 

It is amazing to see all the different perspectives on how their individual experiences help the planet in one way or the other. All this to say, abstinence is a conscious approach to not only eating, but life in general. It is calculated, it is thoughtful, and as a result we are kinder to our beautiful earth.

To learn more, or to see how you can do your part for Earth Day, click the link below:

Earth Day 2021