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Starting March 18, 2020, we have been featuring a helpful post by many of the professionals associated with Privé-Swiss Wellness in which they share expert suggestions and tips to stay strong and well through this difficult time. They speak from their specific “wellness discipline” with our goal being to provide the public with a variety of different, “tried and true” tips for everyone to incorporate into our daily wellness routines. Our first article is from Joanna Crowell, Licensed Alcohol & Drug and Trauma Therapist. Any questions or if you wish to speak to any of the wellness professionals, visit www.priveswisswellness.com or call 860-767-7770. Stay well everyone and please share with your loved ones! Heidi



A Time for Heightened Addiction and Trauma Issues-Don’t Go It Alone

by Joanna Crowell, Licensed Therapist, Substance Abuse, Addiction and Trauma Specialist

The mental health landscape will be changing for many of us in the coming days and weeks. Those of us who are used to a certain level of social interaction will find ourselves without that connection. Many of us will experience an increase in alcohol and/or drug use. Some people will experience an exacerbation of anxiety or trauma symptoms, especially those of us who are already prone to these issues.

We are witnessing a level of fear, frustration and anger that can be unsettling. The media can provide helpful information, but it can also produce misinformation which leaves us feeling taxed, overwhelmed and confused about our current situation. If you suffer from PTSD you may notice that your symptoms are worsening. Some of us will try to escape these feelings with an increase in substance use.

This is a time when social distancing is encouraged so it is important to feel connected to one another. I encourage the use of Skype, Facetime and our media outlets to connect with friends and family. There are virtual online AA and NA meetings and phone line meetings. It is important to get enough sleep and exercise. It is important to take care of ourselves.

A licensed professional counselor and/or a licensed alcohol and drug counselor can help people eliminate or control troubling symptoms so that they can function better and increase a feeling of wellbeing and emotional stability. If you are experiencing negative anxiety symptoms or an increase in substance use, this is a very good time to engage in therapy. Emotional and physical self care can help us manage the disruption that this virus is causing in our lives. Through talk therapy you can work together with a professional to unpack your thoughts and feelings and restructure them to help you feel more stable and calm in this changing landscape.





Joanna Crowell sees clients at Privé-Swiss Wellness

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Nourish Your Soul
by Ellen Wasyl , Life/Professional Coaching

Amidst the chaos of navigating the implications of COVID-19 is the opportunity to get back to basics. A time of pause, evaluation of priorities, and permission to process all of the many moving pieces thoughtfully.

The call to action to nourish your soul is priority one. In addition to getting good quality rest, hydration, and clean healthy meals, it’s likewise critical to get into a rhythm of deeper self-care.

If you’re hunkered in, make sure to connect with others in creative ways, move your body, stretch your mind, and spend extra time with a good book, your pets, taking a longer soak, building blanket forts with the kids, and doing more of anything else you love and can’t get enough of right now.

Ellen Wasyl is a life/professional coach and can be reached at Privé-Swiss Wellness Center 860-391-8840.
Visit thepossibilityexperience.com for additional tips and suggestions to stay well!

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Feelings are What They Are, But Does Not Mean it is Reality

by Sandy Daignault, Dialectical-Behavioral Therapist

If we were to apply the DBT philosophy to the current COVID-19 health crisis, our narrative would look something like this:

I want to avoid avoidable suffering. Perhaps, in the past, I would have been more reckless in regards to my health and wellness but I am trying to do differently now. I need to learn how to nurture and protect myself as an adult. My behaviors in regards to self care and self awareness with this health crisis need to temporarily change. Doing things such as washing my hands and following the suggestions of those around me are only meant to protect people. I need to remember that people are stressed out and worried when I find myself getting upset, irritated or annoyed. I need to be mindful of my tendency to panic or become frantic about things I cannot control. I can only do my part. I can and will still stay in touch with others by phone, text and email. If I do end up needing to be at home more, I will use this time to try some of the things I’ve learned to help me with my mood and wellness. I don’t like it but I accept it so I can manage it and stay well.”

Dialectical Behavior Therapy, also known as DBT, is a form of therapy that aims to teach practical behaviors and coping skills . DBT is taught by a clinically trained, licensed and certified psychiatric clinician. It is used in therapy to help clients increase the effectiveness of reaching their goals in their life. In DBT, the goal is to help the person manage and stabilize by building their own defined ‘Life worth Living’. One of the ways I explain it to my clients is to think about DBT as a way to distinguish feelings from facts, while consulting your innermost self, with wisdom and care. DBT is a process of learning and identifying important parts about who you are and then doing your best to live life by those standards. In applying DBT, there are no good and bad emotions- just information to consider. Feelings are what they are, they are all ‘ok ‘and come from somewhere, however, just because we feel a certain way, it does not make something actually true .

Sandy Daignault is a Dialectical-Behavioral Therapist who sees clients at Privé-Swiss Wellness

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Your Resilient Brain, NOW!

by Elizabeth Hale-Rose, Mindfulness-Based Life Coaching and Therapy

The COVID-19 virus is the first time humans are encountering this infectious disease. However, it is a truth of our common humanity that times of hardship present themselves; and it will always be this way. What we do know about the rapid spread of the disease, coupled with what we have yet to learn, increases the stress of this already frightening time. However, we do know how the brain and nervous system work and we can use that knowledge to our advantage.

The brain does not like changes, especially changes that involve uncertainty. When our brain detects danger, our sympathetic nervous system kicks-in, meaning our primitive survival-mode brain takes over. The prefrontal cortex (the rational decision making part of the brain) gets taken off-line just when we need it the most. This makes it more difficult for our brain to rationally digest information. We also become more vulnerable to the phenomena of social contagion – the spread of thoughts, and emotions and behaviors from person to person and among larger groups – think toilet paper stockpiling! In other words, anxiety also becomes more contagious during these times!

We can use mindfulness to halt the spread of the anxiety virus. All of the world’s wisdom traditions and contemporary mindfulness-based psychological practices emphasize the importance of clearly seeing and accepting what is and then responding with value-informed skillful behaviors. Just by naming what thoughts and emotions are here for you right now is an important first step to mindfully handling this time in history.

A simple mindfulness practice to get our prefrontal cortex back online is what I call the Restorative Breath. This practice is more effective than deep breathing. The way to do this is simply to exhale twice as long as you inhale. For example, breathe in to a count of four and breathe out to a count of eight. If that length is too difficult, start where you are and begin with a count that works for you, slowly increasing the length of inhalations and exhalations as you are able. When one’s exhalation is longer than the inhalation, this signal activates the parasympathetic nervous system (controlling rest and digestion) which stops thoughts and emotions from snowballing.

You can also promote a sense of inner calm by focusing your attention and all of your senses during everyday tasks such as washing dishes, disinfecting doorknobs or eating a meal. Being in the moment by sensing the air on your face, the pressure of your feet on the ground or the touch of your own hand on your heart can be surprisingly calming.

Absolutely take the necessary precautions to keep yourself, your family and your community safe. Be sure to consult reputable sources like the CDC website! It is also very important to keep ourselves in the most resourced parts of our brains during this uncertain time. From a grounded place, we will be more likely to bring our best selves to the moment and see and appreciate others’ acts of generosity.

Elizabeth A. Hale-Rose is a Mindfulness-Based Life Coach and Therapist who sees clients at Privé-Swiss Wellness

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The Only Constant is Change

by Debbie Sodergren, Reiki & Energy Medicine Practitioner

As our world is changing every day, just remember that the only constant, is change. As humans, we don’t like change. We prefer habit. With that being said, I would like to offer some mindful shifts that I have been doing over the past 25 years to ease my own anxieties and stresses. We are all experiencing stress and anxiety at this time. Let’s collectively decide to each step back from it.

It is time to open your mind to new ideas of being in our world. Get off the auto pilot of living. Remember when you were a kid and you were playful and inquisitive? I invite you to get back to that mindset.

Only listen to 30 minutes of news a day. That’s it. You will get what you need to know.

Begin your morning with setting an intention for the day. If your thoughts create your reality, why not play with that idea and take a moment and see your day unfold in front of your minds eye. When you are done, smile, take a deep breath and say to yourself, “I’ve got this”.

Make time in your day for a walk in nature. Either by yourself or with your kids. Make it a game that you can’t talk on the walk. They say 30 minutes a day is all you need to feel happy. On your walk, be present to your surroundings. If you hear a bird singing, stop and enjoy it. See if you can find where the bird is. If with your kids, you all can use body language to communicate.

Walk around on the ground barefoot for 5 minutes a day. Studies show the importance of this simple act. There is a transfer of ions from the earth into your body via the bottoms of your feet.

Stretch your body. Dance like no one is watching.

Drink lots of water.

Take a few moments in your day and sit with your self in a quiet space. Maybe light a candle to really be present and remind yourself that you are a spiritual being having a human experience. Breathe. Breathe deeply in through your nose and hold the breath for a count of 4 then exhale through your mouth. Do this for a few times to get out of your head and back into your heart.

Listen to soothing music.

Find gratitude in your day for the small things. It keeps your spirits lifted and anxiety and stress away. This simple act, keeps you in the present moment.

Take vitamin C daily. Take Eldeberry syrup daily. With this particular virus, doctors say that this will build up your immune system.

Take an epsom salt bath with some essential oils in it to support your wellbeing, relax your body and mind and sooth your soul.

I can share with you what I am doing every single day. I have a tuning fork and use it on my body every day. I have my diffuser going with oils in it to clear the air. I meditate every day, sometimes more than once. I set my intentions every morning. I have gratitude though out my day. I talk to loved ones every day. I walk in nature everyday with my dog. For the past few years, I have been volunteering in our community sugar house. I have apprenticed and mastered the art of making maple syrup. The season is only 8 weeks long and it provided an outlet to being out doors during a season that is not my favorite. I invite you to challenge your self and learn something new during these times. Slow down. Be present. Spring is right around the corner, why not play with growing your food by planting some seeds? These small actions, put you back into your empowerment of doing something you can control.

Debbie Sodergren is available to meet with new clients at Privé Swiss Wellness

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Painting Fear Into It’s Corner: Ways to Use Art to Minimize Coronavirus Anxiety

by Comer Rudd-Gates, Art Therapist

All of us are being impacted by the uncertainty and confusion of this specific virus. Anxiety and fear has become out of control. What might help is creating art. It gives a way to release our fears, anxieties as we find safety, calm and peace within. Moving paint, chalk pastels across the paper, touching the various textures of paper provides a refuge and respite. There is relief by simply expressing what is inside. It provides structure, containment and grounding. By establishing emotional distance from drawing out anxiety one can begin to find a sense of safety. Art can soothe us and help us reconnect to our bodies.

You don’t have to be an artist to benefit from these experiences. When you are focusing on your art you get lost in the moment. This is an opportunity to turn your mind away from anxious thoughts. Redirecting the mind will break an unstoppable loop of anxiety. Try capturing your anxiety on paper using lines, shapes and images. What does my anxiety look like? Can I add something so it feels less intense? Can I shrink it and move into a corner of the page?

Comer Rudd-Gates ATR, NCC, LPC, CEDS is a practicing licensed psychotherapist, registered art therapist and a certified eating disorder/body image specialist. She is available to meet with new clients at Privé-Swiss Wellness

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Taking Time to Positively Impact Your Wellbeing,

by James Duffy MD, Integrative Neuropsychiatrist

An integrative neuropsychiatry approach provides a roadmap for understanding how we can flourish during challenging times. Contemporary medical psychiatry primarily focuses on providing “anti-dotes” to suffering (e.g ANTI-depressants, ANTI-anxiety medications etc.). This “focus on removing the negative” approach is certainly important and can help us get “unstuck” – but it does not foster our inherent ability to flourish – especially during difficult times.

Spacious Warrior Practice

Anxiety and fear narrow our focus onto what we believe is threatening our wellbeing. With the following steps you can move out of this fear-based tunnel vision and experience a wider perspective that offers many opportunities to thrive in challenging situations. As a spacious warrior, we have the skills and courage to navigate any challenge and thrive.

1. Release the Tension
– Take three breaths – breathing in for 4 seconds and out for 6 seconds. Let the out breath sink into your pelvis. With each out breath letting go of the tightness and experiencing more spacious awareness. Relaxing into the moment and letting go of the attachment to fear.
– Visualize yourself as a redwood tree, connected to the earth and extending into the spacious blue sky. Connected, firm, flexible, and optimistic.

Now …

2. Focus your self-awareness on
– What am I thinking right now?
– How am I feeling?
– How does my body feel?

Then …

3. Reflect on these insights
– Are my thoughts supporting my wellbeing?
– Are my feelings supporting my wellbeing?
– What is my body telling me?

Then …

4. Recognizing these realities
– These are my thoughts … I can change them.
– These are my feelings … I can change them
– This my my body … I can change how it reacts

Then …

5. Taking Mastery
– Recognizing how many strengths I have
– Focusing on specific things I can do
– Releasing myself from feeling trapped. Remembering the serenity prayer … “Those things I can change, and those things I cannot … and the wisdom to tell the difference”

Then …

6. Congratulate yourself for doing this practice.
– Smile, and have gratitude for all the positive things in your life and the universe.

Each time, I experience the anxiety and feel trapped, I go back to these steps. Each time, I get better at it.

Working as part of an inter-disciplinary team, an integrative neuropsychiatrist works collaboratively with their client to understand all the factors that are positively or negating impacting their wellbeing. This approach includes mind-body, lifestyle, medications, emotional, social, psychological factors, as well as integrative therapies (such as acupuncture) that work synergistically to empower each person’s unique capacity for resilience.

This integrative approach recognizes that challenging life situations provide an opportunity for us to not only reassess our usual coping skills, but also develop new and more effective strategies for both surviving and thriving. Given this, we emerge from each life challenge stronger, more flexible and more confident in our ability to flourish, regardless of our life circumstances.

Dr. James Duffy will be providing services and programs at Privé-Swiss Wellness starting in June

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Keep Calm and Support Righteous Chi

by Alicia DeMartin, Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine

In moments of uncertainty with diagnosing or treating a patient, as a student, I was always advised by my trusted teachers, to go back to the classic texts for guidance. Close to 14 years of clinical practice later, this still applies! The fundamental doctrine and medical text in Chinese medicine is the Huangdi Neijing, literally the ”Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor” This text is over two thousand years old. The Neijing teaches that “people with strong Zheng Qi do not succumb to epidemic infections”. What does this mean, and how can we apply this to the current pandemic?

Qi or chi is a term used often by Chinese Medicine practitioners. It is difficult to translate into English, but can be considered the energy that makes us alive. Zheng Qi is is a subcategory also known as “righteous qi” and is a general term for the strength of the immune system that protects the body from external pathogens. This is contrasted with the strength of the pathogen. When in battle against a strong pathogen, we need to be armed with a strong Zheng Qi.

Clinically, acupuncture and Chinese herbs are utilized to support a patient’s Zheng Qi. Acupuncture, and Neuroacupuncture in particular, are calming to the central nervous system and successfully treat pain, stress, anxiety and depression. Acupuncture can regulate immune function and even raise interferon levels. Immune strengthening herb formulas, either prescribed or my favorite OTC formula Cold Snap, are powerful formulas to shore up your Zheng Qi.

Alternately, and fortunately, there are ways you can support your Zheng Qi at home. Healthy environment, healthy atmosphere, and righteousness. Maintain balance between movement and rest, sleep and activity. Preserve your body’s warmth and energy by slowing down, staying warm. Nourish your body by eating warm, easily digested meals like soups and stews. Try making congee, Chinese medicine’s comforting, nourishing rice soup. Do your best to maintain positive thoughts, and a restful home environment. Burn beeswax candles. Force flowering branches clipped from your yard. Bring the first daffodils in from outside to beautify your space. Play music. Read. Nourish yourself and others with loving connections even when physically isolated. Call a supportive friend or family member. Offer your support to others who are scared and anxious, and remember “Keep Calm and Support Righteous Chi”! We are all in this together.

Alicia DeMartin is a licensed Acupuncturist who sees clients at Privé-Swiss Wellness

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Tell the Page How You Feel

by Augusten Burroughs, Author, Writer-in-Residence

As I write these words, headlines are announcing that the Dow has plunged 2,997 points which is the largest drop ever to occur in one day.

Earlier, I went to my local grocery store and was confronted with bare metal shelving. Plenty of celery root and russet potatoes; three misshapen sweet potatoes and no cleaning supplies, paper goods or many of the other ordinary staples we take for granted.

My town has a large community of senior citizens and there were many of them at the store. One woman was paused on the bread aisle, leaning against her cart. She was starring at the rack where the bread used to be. In her cart was a bunch of green bananas and a package of that brown bread from Germany that never seems to go stale.

As I steered my cart down the aisle and approached her, she continued to stare at the empty shelves. My mother is dead but this woman looked to be the age my mother would be if she were still alive: 85.

As I passed her, holding my breath, I saw wetness glint in her eyes. Was she remembering her childhood? Growing up, as she did, at the end of the Great Depression. Could she have imagined a day when, living in a state where the average home price is $662,447, she would be unable to buy a package of rolls?

I left the grocery store with two bags of things I would never normally buy but bought because they were there: vegan protein shake powder, grits, three bottles of Vietnamese cinnamon.

I felt haunted by the woman. As I climbed into my truck, I still saw her bewildered gaze, the hopeless slump of her shoulders as she leaned against her shopping cart for support.

Once I was home and after I showered and changed clothes, I checked the headlines and saw that the world seemed to be closing in on us all.

When they close the bars, that’s when you know, this is bad. When Superstorm Sandy swallowed my neighborhood in Manhattan, any bars that weren’t underwater remained open.

We don’t know how long this will last, how bad this will be, if we will become infected or if somebody we love will die. Behind us is everything we have ever done; ahead of us is a terrifying mystery.

And so, I sit here on a sofa covered by an antique carpet from Iran and I write. I write about the old woman on the bread aisle because the act of describing her, of telling the page what I saw releases some of the grief that I felt when I saw her.

To write something is to release it. To set it free. It is a blood-letting, or sorts.

I am afraid.

Are you afraid?

I am writing because this dulls the fear. The act of writing occupies both my hands and my mind. And just saying, I am afraid makes me ever so slightly less so.

It will work for you, too. You don’t have to be a “writer” to experience the benefits of writing.

In fact, let’s not even call it writing. Let’s call it telling.

Tell the page what you saw. Tell the page how you feel. Tell the page your worst fear. Tell the page the truth. Tell the page what you dare not tell another person.

I will be here doing the same thing.

And neither of us will be alone.

Augusten Burroughs is a Best Selling Author and Writer-in-Residence at Privé-Swiss Wellness

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Stimulate your Endorphins and Energize Your Spirits with Pilates

by Dana Brown, Pilates Instructor and Fitness Director

Everyone handles stressful situations differently. The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus has created strong emotions for many people that can affect us physically, mentally and spiritually.

We all know that there are many physical benefits of exercising like maintaining a healthy body weight and improved cardiovascular health. But did you know that mind/body disciplines like Pilates provide a distraction from negative thoughts, release stress and improve mindfulness? Joseph Pilates originally called his method of movement “Contrology”. He considered this to be a body/mind/spirit approach to movement founded on the integrative effect of 6 principles: Centering, Concentration, Control, Precision, Breath, and Flow. Whether you’re on the mat or using Pilates equipment, these basic principles infuse each exercise with intention and focus.

If you find yourself feeling tense and need a quick release that you can do anywhere, try the following spinal articulation exercise:

Stand against a wall with your feet hip width apart and 12 inches away from the wall. Inhale deeply. As you slowly exhale, peel your spine away from the wall leading with your head, followed by your neck, shoulders and ribs while pressing your hips into the wall. Roll back up, vertebrae by vertebrae to create more space and length in your spine. Repeat 5 times.

Pilates stimulates the production of your brain’s feel good neurotransmitters – endorphins – promoting a feeling of well-being and energizing your spirits. Since our bodies and minds are so closely intertwined, stress affects us physically. Your muscles become tense and you may experience back pain and tightness in your chest. Pilates helps to relieve these symptoms and helps us connect with our breath. Deep, diaphragmatic breathing immediately increases the supply of oxygen to the brain, promoting a state of calmness. Think of Pilates as Meditation in Motion. By giving our conscious minds something to focus on, we’re making it easier to let other thoughts leave our minds. During this stressful time, Pilates can help you maintain your health – physically, mentally and spiritually.

Dana Brown is Operations Director and Pilates Instructor who works with clients at Privé-Swiss Fitness

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