“You are not lucky to be here. The world needs your perspective. They are lucky to have you.”

– Antonio Tijerino, President & CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation

Each year from September 15th to October 15th, National Hispanic-Latino Heritage month is recognized. This month is to celebrate the rich histories, cultures, and contributions of people whose ancestors come from Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America, and Spain. This month originally started as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968, and was expanded to a full 31-days in 1988. The month begins on September 15th because that is the anniversary of the independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua; Sept 16th is the anniversary of Mexico’s independence, Sept 18th
is the anniversary of Chile’s independence, and September 21st is when Belize declared its
independence; also Día de la Raza is on Oct 12th falling within the month.

Now the terms Hispanic and Latino encompass 62.1 million people (18.7% of the population in 2020) and has been steadily increasing for the past few decades. Originally the term “Hispanic” came from United States census’s need to categorize people and the term was used for “Americans who identify themselves as being of Spanish-speaking background and trace their origin or descent from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Central and South America, and other Spanish-speaking countries.” This excluded Brazil as it is a Portuguese-speaking country even though it is part of South America. There is a lot of discourse about the term “Hispanic” because of the fact that it highlights the colonial legacy of these diverse countries, especially with the emphasis being on Spanish-speaking. There is also discourse around the term “Latinx” when used to describe this community because of how gendered terms are in Spanish, and because Latinx came from academia and not the community; Latine or Latin are often preferred, but there is no consensus because this community is full of different people with different opinions.

It’s easy to see how this diverse group is often lumped into one by the dominant culture, because that’s easier than having to learn the histories and cultures of 45 countries in the Caribbean and Latin America. There are many cultural strengths seen in this community, but that implies that the whole community is a monolith. Each of these countries has a culture, history, and people groups that existed before colonization, was impacted by colonization in different ways, and have developed into their modern way of being in different ways.

These things can lead to vastly different experiences in the United States that can impact mental health. For example, the stress and/or trauma of immigrating to the U.S. would be different for a person coming from Honduras seeking asylum at the southern border compared with someone coming from Puerto Rico which is a U.S. territory. For either of these people, if they were Spanish-speaking, wherever they ended up it would often be assumed that they are a Mexican immigrant, a common microaggression. There are also the impacts of other forms of discrimination such as colorism and racism. The stresses of these experiences can cause psychological and physical harm. This can include physical affects like headaches, muscle tension or pain, chest pain, fatigue, stomach issues, and sleep problems; mood issues like anxiety, restlessness, lack of motivation or focus, feeling overwhelmed, irritability or anger, and sadness or depression; or behavioral issues like over- or under- eating, angry outbursts, drug or alcohol misuse, and social withdrawal. There can also higher risk for issues such as diabetes, substance use, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and autoimmune disorders. This can also impact interpersonal relationships and the ability to have strong social support. Often in communities of color, it is seen as a weakness to be dealing with mental health struggles which can lead to further isolation and further issues.

“Acknowledge and embrace the person you are, imperfections and all. That’s the highest service we can achieve: to give back and give to ourselves in the best way we know.”

-Dr. Paul Bonin Rodriguez

Living in a society that ignores your needs and piles stressors on makes it hard, but there are ways to approach healing despite that. First looking at the strength that is to be found within many cultural values such as family connections, community connection, respect, trust, and dignity.
Here are some suggestions to begin individual healing:

  • Take care of your physical health
    • Eat healthy and get 7-8 hours of sleep
    • Stay physically active by making space for joyous movement in your life
    • Explore relaxation techniques such as deep breathing
  • Connect with a community that will reaffirm your humanity in a society that dismisses it
  • Seek out healing practices consistent with your beliefs
  • Take breaks from technology and social media

This process can be difficult but important for one’s wellbeing and functioning. You have the skills to heal, and we can help.


Adames, H.Y., & Chavez-Dueñas, N.Y. (2017). Cultural foundations and interventions in Latino/a mental health: History, theory, and within group differences. New York, NY: Routledge Press.

This month’s blog post was written by Jessie Duncan, MA, LPC NCC, our Chronic Illness and Lantinx Mental Health Specialist.

Benefits of Yoga and Movement to Mental health

Close your eyes and notice if you are carrying any stress in your body in this moment. Maybe in the jaw or stomach? Now, try to create space around the tension or stress by sending the energy of the breath around the tension. Breath regulation is beneficial in allowing people to slow down into what is happening right now.

When we experience stress or trauma, it can live in the body and can create a stress response in people of all ages. The stress response may be varying in levels such as clenching your jaw, tensing your body, needing to leave the room, or having a panic attack. 

While it is happening, it can seem scary. There is some good news. Stress response can be controlled using modalities such as mindfulness, yoga, as well as therapeutic touch such as acupuncture or massage along with therapy. 

This gives us the ability to regulate and recalibrate the autonomic nervous system, to control a stress response. In children, similar activity to assist in this release of stress include needing movement, play, and joyful engagement. These are all considered bottom-up methods, which calm physical tensions in the body, and shifts people out of flight/fight to reorganize people’s perception of danger. Basically, it can help you feel better.

Memories of trauma can but not always, lead to physiological symptoms such as autoimmune disorders, or skeletal muscular problems. Why? Because there is a proven mind, brain, and body connection to stress. 

“So how can we help that? I am a busy person and life is hard.” When we practice asana (yoga movements) no matter how modified, gentle, or vigorous, a reconnection and ability to warmly love self exists. This then shifts to other areas of life including but not limited to diet, relationships, energy, etc, which helps us to feel better.

Proven studies exist to show the physiological benefits and shifts in breathing exercises which change when a person becomes upset, is having a trauma memory, or is well regulated. Interpreting physical sensations is called interoreception, which allows people to have a relationship with their interior world and self. To be able to understand what the body needs, allows people the ability to tune into nourishing and healing the self.

Studies exist that show after twenty weeks of one weekly yoga class in people who have experienced stress and trauma, there are increases in activation of brain structures involved in stress regulation. These brain structures include the insula, and medial prefrontal cortex. Does this have to be only yoga? No! For some it could be running, reiki, massage, or even gardening.

Feeling safe in our bodies allows people to communicate previously overwhelmed situations that were not easily felt or talked about.

Children and adults can be taught self-regulation skills. The act of educating about physical sensations and becoming friends with our bodies, can assist in healing. Yoga, therapeutic touch such as acupuncture or massage, and breath work in addition to talk therapy may help you feel better. Contact us to start your journey to wellness.


Chirokas, Dennis, C., & Bradshaw, M. (2021). Phenomenological Reflections of Trauma Survivors on Healing Through Yoga. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy75(S2), 7512505186–7512505186p1. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2021.75S2-RP186

Gulden, & Jennings, L. (2016). How Yoga Helps Heal Interpersonal Trauma: Perspectives and Themes from 11 Interpersonal Trauma Survivors. International Journal of Yoga Therapy26(1), 21–. https://doi.org/10.17761/IJYT2016_Research_Gulden_E-pub

Van der Kolk. (2014). The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Penguin Publishing Group.

This month’s blog post was written by TriWellness’s newest counseling intern, Rebecca Caliendo, MM, who has been teaching yoga from 2016.

Emotional Regulation and Chronic Illness

Emotional Regulation At A Glance

Within the field of counseling, therapy, and psychology as a whole, there exists a wealth of information that informs our daily practice. This information comes from research studies, controlled experiments designed for the purpose of advancing our understanding of the human mind, and in our case, how to treat the mind for mental illness.

One specific area of research that I particularly find interesting, relates to the realm of emotional regulation. Emotional regulation sounds like some enigmatic concept, but it is actually quite straight forward, contrary to its execution! Emotional regulation is a person’s ability to regulate the emotions they feel in a moment, and their ability to control them in a given situation. An example could be that during a job interview, you are nervous to go in front of the interviewer. Instead of your anxiety continuously ramping up uncontrolled, you are able to take some time to collect your thoughts, calm yourself, and reduce your anxiety.

To further dissect this scene, we might look at how facial expressions affect one’s emotional state. In “The Influence of Visual Context on the Evaluation of Facial Trustworthiness” the authors, Wang, Lin, Fang, and Mo found that one’s emotional, facial expression can affect another’s trust in them. So given that information, if the interviewee is unable to regulate their emotions, they may be perceived as untrustworthy, despite being nervous.

Furthermore, in “Social Judgments from Faces“, Todorov, Mende-Siedlecki, and Dotsch identified the the region of the brain, the amygdala, that is lit up when a person perceives an emotional response on another person’s face leading to a quick judgement. We also know that the amygdala is responsible for detecting whether something is threatening. So it is no wonder that if someone is nervous in an interview, it can lead to them feeling fearful if the interviewer’s stern expression is perceived negatively.

Emotional Regulation and Chronic Illness

Emotional regulation has a lot of applicability when it comes to the therapeutic environment. However, this area needs some more attention in assisting people with chronic illness emotionally regulate. Despite there are some great studies that focus on chronic illness and caregivers (check back in the future for a post on this topic!), this is an important area of focus. It is still part of a broad topic that has many facets from the individual with the illness to their caregivers as well as the different diagnoses. The more research that is done on such a complex topic, the more we can learn to help the individuals with different chronic illnesses.

While the literature surrounding this concept is limited, there are some articles we can look towards, at some level, to inform our practice. In “Motion Regulation in Chronic Disease Populations: An Integrative Review” Wierenga et al. reviewed 14 articles that looked at various variables (gender, age, education, stress, emotional health, etc.) that affect the chronic illness outcome as well as other physical health. After reviewing those articles, the authors concluded that emotion regulation should be included in the treatment process.

Another wonderful, but more specified, article Exploring Emotion Regulation and Emotion Recognition in People with Presymptomatic Huntington’s disease: The Role of Emotional Awareness details the emotional regulation development of those with presymptomatic Huntington’s disease. Due to the neurodegenerative nature of the disease, Zarotti and his colleagues found that emotion recognition and regulation become increasingly more impaired as the disease progresses. This suggests the struggle for those who experience Huntington’s Disease as well as their caregivers becomes intense as the disease progresses, which can further exacerbate the condition and the need for care in a cyclical nature.

Emotion regulation tips and tricks

Distractions- For good!

In these trying times, with the news of the pandemic to the state of our world it is completely understandable the desire to distract oneself. There are ways to distract yourself in a productive matter. Watching Netflix, Tic Tock, YouTube, or doom scrolling on Facebook or Reddit may be distracting, however it may cause for the news to creep back into focus. These methods are also neurologically stimulating at 60 HZ, which is the voltage associated with alertness as well as psychological conditions when exposed externally to for an extended amount of time.

Another method of productive distraction can be engaging in movement. Exercise is a good method to assist your Autonomic System (ANS) in the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) activation in times of stress (please see our previous blog posts about Trauma and Stress Response for further explanation of this process). If you are unable to exercise, walking around the block or at the park can also be a great, productive distractor along with engaging in a walking meditation or mindfulness.

Guided Imagery, Meditation, and Mindfulness

Mindfulness, guided imagery, and meditation are methods of being present in the moment. Guided imagery involves a recorded script or a clinician following a script in vivo. The script engages one’s imagination and breath as a method to be present in the moment. Mediation can be another method being in the present moment through the use of one’s breathe. Mindfulness involves engaging the five senses (sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste) to focus your attention on the present moment.

For example, when being mindful while going for a walk you may notice the greenery or the vibrant colors of the grass, trees, or flowers. You may hear the birds chirping as they pass you playfully through the air or the buzzing of the bees as they pollinate those vibrant flowers. You may also notice the smell in the air, it could be sweet from the fragrance of the flowers, or the Petrichor after a rainy night. You may also feel the warmth of the sun against your skin, or the balminess of the air causing you to perspire. Bonus sense: you may notice the way you feel as you put one foot in front of the other and how your legs connect to your body and how you are put together on this planet in the universe; this is called proprioception.


Neurofeedback is another method for regulating one’s emotions through the use of technology. As discussed in a previous blog post, Neurofeedback utilizes technology, neuroscience, and psychology to assist clients in neurological regulation. After assessing your baseline neural activity and identifying areas that can benefit from training, Neurofeedback would assist you in training your brain to operate in a more effective manner.

For example, as many of us may be experiencing anxiety right now, perhaps our prefrontal cortex is overly activated with Beta or Gamma (the higher end of the Beta wave spectrum and into Gamma are 35-60 Hz) brainwaves, which as we know those brainwaves are associated with anxiety and high stress. Neurofeedback would show you in real-time the status of your current brain activity through measurements gather from electrodes placed on your scalp and reward your brain with calming or fun feedback (playing music continuously or seeing a video in full screen mode) when those electrodes read Alpha (8-12 Hz) brainwaves, for example, which is associated with a calm, meditative, or restful state. Eventually, your brain will learn that this is a better state to be in and will know operate at that level when stressed without the need for continuous training or medication!

Additional Resources

Social Attributions from Faces: Determinants, Consequences, Accuracy, and Functional Significance (Todorov, Olivola, Dotsch, Mende-Siedlecki, 2015)

Emotion Regulation

Psychological Effects of Chronic Exposure to 50 Hz Magnetic Fields in Humans Living Near Extra-High-Voltage Transmission Lines (Beale, Pearce, Conroy, Henning, Murrell, 1997)

This month’s blog post was a joint effort

Aarti S. Felder, MA, LCPC is our Clinical Director who founded TriWellness to help individuals experiencing chronic illness. Aarti is also our chronic illness specialist.

and introducing:

Christian Moresco, BA is an intern here at TriWellness. He chose to study chronic illness and mental health as it is near and dear to him. His sister was diagnosed with a chronic illness and has seen the ravages that it had impacted her life and his. Christian hopes to add to the research, particularly emotion regulation and chronic illness, to further impact our field in helping individuals with chronic illness.

Chronic Illness Burnout

Managing a chronic illness can be exhausting! There are so many components that need to be addressed in the management of a chronic condition from appointments, to procedures, to medication, to life in general, with the added stressors of today simultaneously all the while managing the physical sensations that the condition may cause. In my practice I like to use the following metaphor:

In video games we start out with a few hearts and as we go through the game and defeat a boss, we gain more hearts. Now, lets just say that each person starts the day with ten hearts. A person with chronic condition(s) may have had a bad night and didn't sleep well, that knocks out possibly one-two hearts. Then they may wake up in pain (minus one-two hearts), attempt to do their morning routine while experiencing pain (minus another one-two hearts), perhaps they have kids and have to help them get ready for school (minus two or more for each child). Now they have to head to a big boss battle, perhaps it's a big presentation at work, at this point, however, they may have half to no hearts left to go into this battle. How are they supposed battle that big boss? 

This is how it can be for someone with a chronic condition, and of course they feel exhausted after their morning routine, needing a way to replenish their energy. However, life can be demanding and may require one to operate with little to no energy. It is completely understandable the difficulty one may endure in the attempt to comply with their medical team’s recommendations. With competing demands how does one manage their chronic condition and whatever life throws at them without experiencing burnout?

Acceptance and commitment Therapy

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Hexaflex

In my practice I utilize the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) Hexaflex points to assist clients to find direction and travel towards a person that they value. Using the Values point of the Hexaflex, I encourage clients to identify their values to facilitate a direction between the competing demands.

Another contribution to burnout, could be a consequence of having thoughts of past that could lead to depression which can further take a few hearts. Or perhaps it is a consequence of thinking about the future, resulting in freezing anxiety, and therefore consuming another few hearts. However, in placing one’s awareness in the Present Moment, can be energy replenishing. I encourage clients to practice present moment awareness by turning their focus to their five senses and how it can relate a sense of calm:

TasteWhat does the air taste like? Is it cool and refreshing or energizing?
SmellWhat does the air smell like? Is there a sweet floral scent, or does it smell clean and fresh?
SoundWhat do you hear? Is there birds that you can hear chirping or the wrestling leaves in the wind?
SightWhat do you see? Does the sun sparkle between the leaves wrestling in the wind?
FeelWhat do you feel? Do you feel the warmth of the sun on your face or chill of the wind as blows across your face?
Questions that I asked myself to engage five of my senses in the present moment to achieve a sense a calm.



ACT Made Simple

ACT Extra Bits

This is a portion of energy replenishing exercises to combat chronic illness burnout. To learn more strategies or to discuss other demanding life stressors, contact us and we can assist you on your journey to wellness.

This month’s blog post was written by Aarti Felder, our specialist on managing Chronic Illness and Mental Health. To learn more about her, please check out her bio.

EMDR and Interoception

Have you ever noticed that a certain thought, memory or experience can cause a physical reaction in your body? Our emotions are tied to this process. Noticing our body’s physical reaction is an important first step in learning emotion regulation. When you can identify it, you can begin to apply techniques to manage the distress  (See April’s blog, When “Just Breathe” Isn’t Enough). Awareness and sensitivity to the connection between cognitive activity, or negative cognitions as we refer to them in EMDR, and the body’s internal signals that accompany those thoughts or memories are an important part of the EMDR process.  

Interoception is the ability to identify physical sensation in the body, including the functioning of organs such as heartbeat, respiration and satiety, as well as the state of the autonomic nervous system (rest & digest, fight/flight or freeze). Take a moment and notice if your body feels pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. How do you know? Have you felt some tension in your shoulders ever since that guy cut you off in traffic? Did you just come back from the gym and notice that your heart rate is faster? Maybe you just spent some time doing one of your favorite things and now you’ve noticed that the muscles in your face have relaxed.

For a little practice “noticing,” the Pendulation technique created by Dr. Peter Levine, is a good starter exercise. To “pendulate” is to shift back and forth from one thing to another. Give the following a try:

  1. Do a body scan from head to toes and try to identify a part of your body that is distress free/neutral and focus on that for a moment. Does your breathing become more regulated, or your heart rate slow down?
  2. Next identify a part of your body that is uncomfortable or perhaps painful and focus on that for a moment. You may notice your breath, heart rate change or perhaps an increase in intensity as you bring your attention to it.
  3. Now shift your attention from the neutral part back to the uncomfortable part a couple of times. The uncomfortable part will likely begin to change, lessen in intensity or go away completely.

Now that you’ve practiced interoception, let’s move on to how this is an integral part of EMDR treatment for trauma. In October’s blog, Uncovering the Mysteries of EMDR and Trauma, I explain in detail how a traumatic event and the negative cognition associated with that event (exp. “I should have done something.”) leaves an imprint in the nervous system. The result is a whole slew of bodily reactions and sensations that can be activated in the future. Perhaps a completely unrelated and non-traumatic situation generates that same cognition of “I should have done something.” Due to the imprint that the previous trauma left, that negative cognition can conjure all of those same physical reactions, even when there is no danger. During EMDR, in addition to treating the traumatic memory, it detaches the associated negative cognition and discharges all of those physical changes in the body. During treatment I will frequently ask the client to do a body scan and tell me what they are noticing. Then we focus on clearing out the sensations that the client is noticing in their body. It may be a heaviness in their chest, nausea or a lump in their throat. Part of preparing for EMDR (phase 2) is teaching the client how to identify even the slightest changes in their body. The skill of interoception is incredibly useful in day to day life. Paying attention to how your body responds as you move through your day, from environment to environment and from one encounter to another. Listen to those cues and use those as a roadmap to create change and a lifestyle that is healthy and happy for you. And of course, seek out a skilled EMDR therapist to help you with the big stuff.


To learn more about Dr. Peter Levine and his work on Somatic Experiencing visit: https://traumahealing.org/about-us/

To learn more about EMDR visit:  http://www.emdr.com/

To learn more about our practice or wanting to connect with an EMDR clinician? Please contact us to set up an appointment.

This post was written by Tonya Nowlin, MA, LPC, to learn more about her please see her bio.

Dealing with a Chronic Illness During a Pandemic

It’s difficult enough to cope with a chronic illness as well as coping with the stressors of a pandemic, however it can be even more challenging to manage both concurrently. During the pandemic we are faced with many unknowns: Who has the virus? Do I have the virus? When will this all be over? What’s next after this? These questions can cause anxiety, fear, confusion which can further exacerbate a chronic condition especially if the condition is particularly susceptible to the more severe symptoms of the virus. If this describes you, what can you do? As a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, I have found some of these strategies to be helpful in alleviating some distressing feelings and thoughts in my clients through the focus of mind, body, and spirit.


Thoughts, emotions, and the things we do are all interconnected and can impact our bodies. For example, if one has asthma and is experiencing tightness in their chest because they are fearful of catching the virus further intensifying their asthmatic symptoms and ultimately arriving to the decision to not engage in any activities, even in activities that are considered low risk. They can then feel frozen by their fear, leading to more feelings of anxiety and even depression in a vicious cycle.

In order to impact the cycle, one must examine their thoughts through different forms. Some of my clients find it helpful to journal their thoughts to allow a space to keep their thoughts rather than in their head. Others find it therapeutic to mediate and place themselves in a calm space to examine those thoughts.


The body and mind are connected. As previously mentioned, in our mind we may have thoughts and emotions that affect our bodies. Whether it’s an individual with asthma who experiences anxiety in their chest and lungs or an individual with gastric issues experiencing that same anxiety in their gut, their emotions and thoughts impact their body.

This is another cycle that can be affected with physical activity. It can be difficult to get out of the house to go to the gym or maybe it’s impossible to socially distance yourself at the beach. However, clients have found the therapeutic impact of getting some fresh air by going for hikes in the forest where they can maintain social distance while also wearing a mask, if possible. Other clients found a sense of serenity in doing yoga on their balcony in their high rise.

Here is a guided walking meditation by Headspace that can provide a sense of tranquility through engaging the mind through mindfulness, body through walking, and spirit through the connection with the Earth.


Each person may define their spirituality differently and may find different ways to incorporate their spirituality through rituals, gatherings, or any other way. Spirituality often involves the connection with someone or something outside ourselves. Engaging spiritual activities can be difficult during the pandemic, especially if you have a condition that makes you vulnerable to the virus.

We live in the age of spectacular technology with devices that allow us to connect with people all around the world in many different forums right at our finger tips! Utilizing such devices to connect with loved ones or to a community of like-minded individuals can be an effective way to connect with other people and embolden the spirit.

If you are introvert, perhaps the idea of connecting with people is not as appealing. However, taking notice of your connection with the earth beneath your feet, the air you breathe, and the beauty all around you and the universe can give you a sense of serenity in your heart.

The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.

Carl Sagan describes our connection with the universe.

You may also find other helpful strategies in our previous blog posts, check it out!

Some of the strategies that were discussed here can be difficult to engage without some guidance. These skills can be utilized as training activities in the gym where you are training to be your optimal self. If you find yourself needing assistance or interested in developing more skills, please reach out to us through the Contact Us page or give us a call.

This article was written by Aarti S. Felder, MA, LCPC, to learn more about her you can find her bio here.

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When “Just Breathe” Isn’t Enough

It seems almost everyone is struggling right now in some way. I think it is safe to assume the COVID-19 global pandemic has brought major change to pretty much everyone in one aspect or another. For some the disruption is mere inconvenience, but for many the changes represent a major trauma. Wherever you fall on this spectrum, conditions are ripe for mental health challenges. Some of those challenges may bring intense emotions, intrusive thoughts, bodily discomfort, and possibly traumatic memories.  We’ve all been told to “just breathe” at one point or another. It can come across as diminishing or making light of the distressing feelings, as if it is a magic eraser or cure-all. While diaphragmatic breathing with mindfulness and intention can be quite effective, for some kinds of distress, it is not enough. The following are some exercises that can address disturbing thoughts, feelings, memories and bodily sensations/discomfort.

ENERGY SWIRL (Shapiro 2012)

Here is a technique that anyone can use.  It is from Francine Shapiro’s book, Getting Past Your Past:  Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR Therapy.  It is called the Spiral Technique (found on page 108).

 If you are experiencing upset or discomfort, try the following:

  1. Bring up an image that represents your discomfort.
  2. As you think of the image that represents it, notice where you feel the disturbance in your body.
  3. Now pretend that the feeling is “energy.”  If it was a spiral of energy, which direction is it moving in:  clockwise or counterclockwise?
  4. Now, with your mind, gently change the direction of the spiral in your body.  For instance, if it was originally moving clockwise, gently change it to counterclockwise.

Notice what happens to the feelings in your body.  For many people, their feelings will lessen as they change the direction of the spiral.  If one direction didn’t work, try the other direction and see if it lessens the disturbance.  If this has been helpful, practice this regularly so it becomes a stronger coping skill for you!

LIGHT STREAM (Shapiro 2012)

  1. Bring up some disturbing thought, feeling, memory or sensation and concentrate on the body sensations that accompany the disturbance. 
  2. Next bring a disturbing memory, situation, feeling, or sensation to mind and notice the resulting changes in the body sensations. 
  3. Now concentrate on the feeling in your body…. If the feeling had a shape what would it be? 
  4. And if it had a size, color, temperature, texture (exp. prickly), and sound (high or low pitch), what would it be?
  5. Which of your favorite colors might you associate with healing? 
  6. Imagine that this favorite colored light is coming in through the top of your head and directing itself at the shape in your body. Let’s pretend that the source of this light is the cosmos: The more you see, the more you have available. The light directs itself at the shape and penetrates it, resonating and vibrating in and around it. As it does, what happens to the shape, size, or color?
  7. As the light continues to direct itself to that area, you can allow the light to come in gently and easily fill your entire head. Now allow it to descend through your neck, into your shoulders, and down your arms into your hands and out your fingertips. Now allow it to come down your neck and into the trunk, fill your body, easily and gently. Now allow it to descend through your buttocks into your legs, streaming down your legs and flowing out through your heel. 
  8. Lastly, I’d like to ask you to become awake and aware on the count of five, four, three, two, one…


The following is an exercise that can help regulate the nervous system, which can either become underactive (depression) or overactive (fight/flight/freeze) during times of distress. Toning the vagus nerve also activates the “social engagement” reward center in the brain, which we can all use right now.

  1. Lie down or sit upright comfortably in a chair with support.
  2. Gently roll your head and stretch your neck side to side, noticing and tension or pain.
  3. Interlock your fingers and cradle the back of your head at the base of your skull, supporting it as you remain facing forward.
  4. Moving only your eyes, look up and to the right as far as you can (may be some mild discomfort) and hold this position 30-60 seconds at a minimum, until you notice a sigh, yawn or swallow. This is a release of tension. You may feel a sensation of calm trickle down from your head like a waterfall.
  5. Once you notice this shift, come back to center.
  6. Repeat on the left side until you notice this same shift.
  7. Come back to center, take a deep cleansing breath. 
  8. Rotate your head and stretch your neck, noticing how it feels differently than it felt in the beginning.

(If you feel slightly dizzy, this is normal. It means you fully relaxed and your blood pressure dropped. Take a moment for this to subside before standing)


This guided meditation script is a popular Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) exercise designed to diffuse negative thoughts. 

Leaves on a stream Guided Meditation Script

Imagine you are sitting or standing in the middle of a stream. 

The water is flowing away in front of you. 

Notice if there is any sound from the running water.

Notice if there are any trees, etc. on the banks of the stream.

Now see leaves floating down the stream away from you.

They can be any shape, color, or size. 

As the negative thoughts come into your mind, 

be aware of what the thought is, 

and then place it on a leaf.

Now watch it float away down the stream.

Do this with each thought as you notice it and for as long you like until you feel better.

As you acknowledge each of your thoughts,

you do not need to hang onto them. 

There is no need to become attached to the thought. 

Just acknowledge it and then place it on a leaf.
By watching it float away, it loses its hold on you and its intensity.

For more information on these techniques and others please check out:

  • Shapiro, F. (2012). Getting past your past: Take control of your life with self-help techniques from EMDR therapy. Emmaus, Pa: Rodale Books.
  • Rosenberg, S. (2017). Accessing the healing power of the Vagus Nerve. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
  • Walser PhD, R. (2007). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Trauma Related Problems. New Harbinger Publications.

If you find that your symptoms are unmanageable through these or other exercises, perhaps seeking the assistance of a licensed professional may be necessary. Most mental health professionals are offering telehealth services due to social distancing. TriWellness clinicians continue to offer services utilizing HIPAA compliant teletherapy services, contact us to schedule a free brief phone consultation today.

This article was written by Tonya Nowlin, MA, LPC. To learn more about Tonya please visit her bio.

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Staying Well in the Time of Social Distancing Part II

At TriWellness we are passionate about the mind, body, and soul connection. Social distancing can impact our minds in that the media that we are consuming can be anxiety provoking and confusing. It can also impact our bodies in the lack of movement we may be engaging in due to self-quarantine. Our spirit can be affected by the constant bombardment of negative emotions and thoughts without having the ability to do something with these thoughts and emotions.


Anxiety can often be exacerbated by the fear and uncertainty of the future. My clients often find relief by grounding themselves in the present moment through utilizing the following senses:

  1. Sight
  2. Smell
  3. Hearing
  4. Touch
  5. Taste

For example, I find solace in having a nice cup of hot tea, feeling the warmth in may hands, smelling the leaves and spices in the steam, and looking out the window in my kitchen (tasting the tea, feeling the warmth of my tea cup, smelling the tea, and looking out the window).

The focus is in the present moment as that is what is in our control while utilizing activities that are calming or bring joy.

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the ‘present‘.

Quote from Kung Fu Panda


Some individuals may be unable to leave their homes and engage in activities outside. Practicing yoga can be beneficial in reducing stress as it promotes the unity between breath and movement creating a sense of tranquility and feeling centered. Having calm and deep breaths bring oxygen to the brain and encourages clear thinking.

A simple yoga routine to reduce anxiety and utilizes equipment that you can find around your house


Finding peace within oneself can be difficult in a time like this. However, taking a moment to practice meditation or guided imagery can bring oneself inwards. I often recommend these practices to my own clients, who note calming their anxiety provoking thoughts. I have personally and professionally utilized these apps and found them to be particularly helpful:

  1. Meditation Studio
  2. Insight Timer
  3. Headspace
  4. Calm
  5. Stop, Breathe, Think
  6. Simple Habit

Please check our blog everyday, as we will be providing resources to promote wellness in the time of social distancing in this week-long Wellness Series.

To learn more about skills for staying well or to schedule an appointment with a clinician please visit our Contact Us page or call the office.

This article was written by Aarti S. Felder, MA, LCPC, to learn more about her you can find her bio here.

The Mind-Body Connection and The Effect of Mindfulness Exercises

*Disclaimer: This article provides an example that is solely to display the connection between psychological, neurological, and physical health, and is not to be used for diagnostic purposes.

Philosophers have often contemplated the connection between the mind and body. Some philosophers believe that the mind and body are separate entities while other philosophers believe it is connected. However, in psychology, neuroscience, and medicine scientists find evidence that the mind and body appear to be connected.

For example, if the effects of anxiety are untreated, it can manifest in one’s gut through symptoms of gastric distress. Furthermore, it also alters one’s neurological connections. In expansion of the example of the individual that experiences anxiety, her data from an Electroencephalography (EEG) demonstrates the neurological connections that express anxiety are strengthened.

However, as research dictates, the brain’s ability to form new connections is possible through training. Training can be defined by one’s daily life. In continuation of the aforementioned individual, if the individual continued to experience anxiety and leave it untreated this individual will continue to have difficulty alleviating the symptoms. Yet if this same individual trains herself through use of skills developed with a trained clinician on a daily basis, she can experience relief and eventually strengthen the neurological connections to combat the anxious thoughts and feelings.

One such skill that an individual can learn to utilize is Mindfulness exercises. In a type of Mindfulness exercise that a mental health clinician may use called, Guided Mediation, assists individuals in realizing their self-defeating thoughts in a safe and calm space. The mental health clinician will assist the individual in processing these thoughts and emotions that can arise. Through repeated exercises and training, the individual will be able to continue to utilize these practices in their daily lives.

In the previous case of the individual who experienced anxiety, and she enlisted the assistance of a mental health clinician to “re-train” her brain through Mindfulness practices. She continues to utilize these skills outside of session, she can realize her full potential, experience the gastric relief, and is on her journey to wellbeing.  

To learn more about mindfulness-based practices or to schedule an appointment with a clinician please visit our Contact Us page or call the office.

This article was written by Aarti S. Felder, MA, LCPC, to learn more about her you can find her bio here.