The Focus On You

Self-Care Is A Lifestyle

Tag: mental health (page 1 of 4)

Yoga, Mental Health and Healing: An Interview With A Yoga Instructor

Sometimes the things that look so simple, bring the most benefits to our lives. If you have been curious about yoga and wonder why people get hooked on it, this article can definitely help!

When we’re looking at restructuring our overall wellness, there are many healing activities that can incorporate your mind and body. I sat with a fellow mental health therapist, blogger, Podcaster and registered yoga teacher, Davia Roberts, and asked her to help us understand how yoga can change lives.

Davia was first introduced to yoga in her teens and she practiced it on and off throughout college. Fast forward a few years and in 2017 she decided to take the leap and become a registered yoga teacher. She spent three weeks in Costa Rica in September 2017 and acquired 200 hours of hatha yoga training.

Here are some highlights of our discussion:

“What surprises did you learn about yourself after the training program and what changes have you made since then?

Davia states that she learned how much of an introvert she really is. She realized how sensitive she is to people’s energy. As a therapist she listens to, and sometimes carries, other people’s wounds. It can be easy to get overwhelmed with this baggage. A fellow student in her training was impressed at how Davia was able to separate herself from uncomfortable energy. Davia realized how confident she really is because of this.

In yoga practice, there isn’t a focus on poses. The focus is on the feeling. Pinpointing where in your body you feel tension and discomfort. Davia can now pinpoint where she holds certain feelings and is more conscious about what she does with that energy. She is now changing how she handles stress, is open to asking for help from her “team” and prioritizing more quiet time to help her recharge. She emphasized that she is now more “proactive” instead of “reactive.”

Sidenote: If you’re a beginner to yoga but are serious about reducing your trauma or mental health symptoms, you don’t have to become an instructor to enjoy these benefits. Personally, I use yoga to help with fibromyalgia and as a stress reliever. Despite my aches and pains, I walk away from an hour-long session feeling like I got a massage. It loosens my tight, anxious and under used muscles and gives me one hour where I’m not thinking about anything but breathing and keeping my balance.

“Therapeutically, what benefits does yoga provide?”

Although yoga isn’t a cure-all for everything, it can provide relief from symptoms of anxiety. She added that anxiety can be wrapped up in many other diagnoses or ailments and having healthy anxiety reduction skills is crucial. Yoga can help you slow down and be present, regulate your breathing, slow your heart rate and quiet racing thoughts. Becoming more aware of your body can help you before your next anxiety attack. You understand how to ask yourself, “How can I slow down so I don’t have an attack.”

In addition, research now shows that certain yoga poses can help with depression. It helps reduce inflammation in the body, which can contribute to chronic pain issues. She also mentioned that for trauma sufferers, it is important to tell your yoga instructor that you don’t like to be touched. I have personally been in classes where an instructor may come by and assist you with stretches or correct your form. This isn’t always the case, but it’s worth noting.

Davia says she will soon begin yoga classes in collaboration with a mindfulness teacher in the women’s correctional system. Yoga stretches and breathing exercises are low maintenance and easily accessible tools for healing trauma and managing stress.

  “How does healing the body relate to healing the mind?”

Davia shared that therapy is now treating trauma as a physiological issue, and not just a mental health issue. Research is now showing how trauma gets “stuck” in our bodies and many people don’t know how to let go of it. Certain yoga poses have been shown to help with depression and stimulate parts of the body that may have trapped energy.

She emphasized that someone with trauma and/or mental health issues shouldn’t get forced into thinking their only solution is psychotropic medications or talk therapy. Therapists are moving away from traditional treatments and can now use free tools like yoga and mindfulness to help people manage their symptoms.

For further resources on mental health and wellness, check out Davia’s website, Redefine Enough. She hosts a biweekly podcast called Affirm (you can find me chatting on Episode 18 about Domestic Violence and Relationships) and will be hosting a webinar on February 15th called, Mental Health Maintenance For Creatives. Register here

How are you incorporating overall wellness into your routine this year? How could yoga help you or a loved one?

Huddle Redefines The Importance Of Social Support: App Review

This writer was not compensated for reviewing this product and her opinions are her own.

When in-person support groups weren’t meeting the mark for one of the founders of the app, Huddle, he developed a solution. How about an app that provides community support through video?

I recently chatted with Tyler, one of the founders of Huddle, and he described how the app was developed to support addicts in recovery. They have since expanded this app to provide group chats for people with anxiety, self-image issues, eating disorders and physical disabilities, to name a few. Huddle is also proud to support undocumented individuals who need support. They have an “Immigrant” support group where people can discuss their anxieties, stories and hopes for the future.



Their groups include:

  • Depression
  • Self-Image
  • Addiction
  • Stress & Anxiety
  • Relationships
  • High School Problems
  • College Stress
  • Military girlfriends/wives
  • People of Color
  • Abuse Recovery
  • Healthy Lifestyle Support
  • Bipolar
  • Borderline Personality Disorder/EUPD
  • Dissociative Disorders
  • Semicolon Group
  • Side Effects
  • Eating Disorders
  • Grief and Loss
  • LGBTQ + Community
  • Women’s Experiences
  • Support For The Betrayer
  • Body Positivity
  • Quitting Tobacco
  • Parenting
  • Self-Love
  • Social Anxiety
  • Trichotillomania
  • Spectrum
  • Family Problems
  • Poz (HIV + status)
  • Caregivers
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Physical Disability
  • Immigrant’s Experience
  • Spina Bifida

Huddle believes that video provides a better conversation than text. When people are reaching out for help a text mesage can only go so far. Delayed responses in texts can be harmful to someone in need.

I have tested out Huddle’s app and one of the pieces I like is that you can choose to have your picture pixelated. Tyler mentioned that they notice people begin un-pixelating their pictures after they get comfortable in a group. I have facilitated group therapy sessions before and I have seen similar comfort levels change after people begin to feel less judgment and more open to share.

This app is easy to navigate and I love how it provides a synopsis of what to expect within each group. Plus, they provide hotline numbers for anyone in crisis. The app has a no-bullying policy as well.

As I spoke to Tyler about my work in outpatient settings he said that they hoped Huddle could be used as aftercare for someone exiting inpatient or outpatient treatment. When someone leaves addiction or mental health treatment, they are reminded a million times to “go to meetings” and “call your support network” but I always wonder if they stick to those promises. This app could be another resource for people who don’t have the time or financial means to attend meetings or support groups.

Peer networks and social supports are crucial in an age of isolation and tech addiction. The premise behind this app is client centered, sensitive to people’s mental health needs and appears to lessen the barriers people face when seeking support outside of their inner circle.

This app is now available on iTunes and you can join the waiting list for Android here!


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