Recommending exercise to someone deep in a depressive episode or meditation to someone in the middle of a panic attack may not be the most appropriate way of dealing with their emotions. However, they can be healthy coping mechanisms to have in one’s toolbelt to manage emotions on an ongoing basis–both in the background and in the moment. Lifestyle changes are simple but powerful tools in treating depression and anxiety, and they are an essential component of an integrated approach to treatment.
Lifestyle Changes Critical to Maintaining Progress
Many of the girls that we work with have noted that self-care was not one of their priorities when they entered residential treatment. Some had trouble getting out of bed in the mornings and skipped class frequently to lay in bed, scrolling through social media or found themselves taking daily “depression naps.” They may have felt like they were living on autopilot mode–just trying to get from one thing to the next–that, at the end of the day, they didn’t have much energy left to do much else.
After beginning to explore the root causes of these issues during individual therapy, many young women feel confident that they will be able to return to the same environment and pick back up where they left off with a different mindset. Adopting a healthier mindset is the first step in staying motivated to maintain progress, but it is also important to put thoughts into action.
If they were to return to the same routine they associate with feeling anxious, depressed, and insecure, they may find it easier to slip back into old habits of isolation, avoidance, or disordered eating. Making lifestyle changes helps young women stick to their goals and identify what they what for themselves.
Developing Healthy Habits in Transition Programs
In order to manage stress, we need to know the warning signs that stress levels are too high and learn healthy coping techniques. During residential treatment, girls may become more aware of their triggers and are exposed to different coping skills. Transition programs give residents the opportunity to practice these skills and develop healthier habits.
How to take care of oneself physically and emotionally is a large aspect of the life coaching that occurs at Journey Home East.
- Many girls choose to integrate exercise into their weekly schedules and have tried various gyms and workout classes in the area.
- Girls share recipes and often cook family-style dinners for the group, which reduces stress around meal times.
- The Journey Home East girls just started making their own kombucha. Kombucha is a fermented tea rich in probiotics that helps with digestion–and is a healthier alternative to caffeine or alcohol!
- Mentors help with schedule planning, transportation, and budgeting to help girls reach their personal goals.
Why is Wellness Important?
Instead of focusing on specific symptoms, we look at individuals holistically and offer wellness programming to help teach students how to incorporate healthy habits into their daily lives. Lifestyle changes may not be a quick fix for symptoms of mental health struggles, but they may improve one’s mood, energy levels, and openness to new experiences, which have an indirect effect on one’s overall wellbeing. Adopting a healthier overall lifestyle gives girls the tools that prepare them to deal with a variety of stressors.
Some activities that we offer or encourage at our transition program include mindfulness and yoga, creative arts, experiential self-care, group wellness discussions, and learning how to cook. It is up to the residents to decide what changes they want to make in their lives and what healthy habits they may want to try incorporating into their week.
The objectives of our wellness programming include:
- Understanding the mind-body connection
- Encouraging self-care and positive self-image
- Establishing healthy daily routines that might serve as a buffer against mental health struggles
Journey Home East Can Help
Journey Home East is a transitional living program for young women ages 16-21 that focuses on helping young women transition from long-term treatment to the real world. While they are at our program, we help build confidence in young adults. The idea is to ween them off support systems of being in programs for many years and hone in on functional living skills they need to be independent. Journey Home East provides academic support, health coaching, relationship building, dating safety, and personal safety tips. Students have the opportunity to equip themselves with the skills they need to lead healthy and successful lives post-treatment. We can help your family today!
Contact us at 1-855-290-9684 to learn more about lifestyle changes in transition programs!