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Non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms

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I like that one, Chessie!


More Non-Drug techniques from my thread:


1.  Putting on lotion.  This is a simple soothing thing that I find helps to comfort.  It becomes ritualized, as I've done it all my life.  First my arms, then my feet, then my legs & belly, then finally my hands.


Choose a lotion which smells good to you, which feels good on your skin.  Again, enage as many senses as possible - this will be mostly scent and touch.  As you smooth the lotion over your skin, you can "take stock" of good feelings.  This feels good on my feet.  That feels good on my calves.  If you choose a lotion with mint, it can help cool aching muscles.


2.  Ragas.  Indian classical musicians have designed ragas (musical pieces based on scale & tone) to correlate with the natural cycles of the nervous system.  If you have trouble awakening in the morning, go to YouTube and find a "Morning raga" which pleases you.  If you have trouble winding down at night, choose an "evening raga."  If you get an afternoon slump, find an afternoon one.


I would encourage you, after you have selected your ragas, to stay with the same one for a period of time.  The music is rich and varied, and your body and nervous system will become conditioned to the familiar raga.  Over time, you may find that you can just think of the melody, or the sound of the musical instrument, and it will achieve the desired response.


There are digital channels which will play (for a fee) the right ragas at the right time of day, but this is extreme.  I have a number of CD's and love reaching into them to find the raga for "right now."  The morning raga is my favourite, and I used to awaken to it every day instead of an alarm clock.


3.  An Australian one:  have a cuppa tea! (may also have deep roots in the UK, China, and India!)  When I first moved to Australia, it seemed that the first answer for any trauma was to put the kettle on.  It was an appropriate, soothing response to share a cuppa tea with someone who loves you.  This seems to apply equally to car accidents, natural disasters, exploding relationships, and skinned knees.  I see this as a caring community response - to offer a cuppa.


I don't always have someone to share a cuppa with, so I often will do it for myself.  Maybe it won't be a black tea, but a green one.  Maybe it will be an herbal tea or a Tulsi.  


The actual plant doesn't matter.  The ritual of putting the kettle on, preparing the teabags (or pot, or balls), pouring the steaming water over, dunking the tea, watching the colour spread into the hot water, waiting (waiting!) for it to be the strength you like, adding any extras like sweet or lemon or milk, smelling the aroma of the steaming cup, tasting it, feeling it soothe your vagus nerve as you drink it.


Like with the cool water sips, the act of swallowing communicates to your body that you are getting a need met, and it can quiet a demanding nervous system.


Tea as a practice, can be very healing.



I can't emphasize enough that - you are in the thrashing throes of akathisia, and you will believe that a cuppa tea won't make a difference.


But it is the small things, the insignificant things, which make living worthwhile.


If you make that cuppa tea, and it didn't work - guess what - time has passed and you've survived another 5-20 minutes of hardship.

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Non Drug techniques:


1.  Worry dolls.


You know, they are a favourite "cheap souvenir" from Central and South America - a tiny box with tiny little dolls in colorful clothing.


There is significant wisdom in the worry dolls, limited only by your imagination.  Some anti-anxiety CBT recommends that you dedicate 5 min a day to "worry" and then put it away, well the dolls give you a physical symbol of that.


It's simple.  You don't have anyone who understands you.  Maybe the yellow doll understands why you feel so helpless, but the red doll understands when you get angry, and the blue doll listens to you when you are crying.  Talk to the little dolls.  


Say it out loud, if you can, or whisper it to them:  "I'm afraid that...."  "that is making me tense...." "s/he is giving me a hard time" or even "nobody understands."  Whisper it to the dolls, and then close them up in their box.


The subconscious can then work on solutions - if you want to imagine, the dolls talking together to solve your problems, while you get on with your life.


I saw a Chinese set of Worry Dolls yesterday, and I'd never seen Chinese ones before.  They were beautiful, a set of 4 in an ornate carved little black box.


This could also work with regular dolls or stuffed animals - just to get it out - but there is something special about closing the box on your troubles when you are done.  I suppose a box of stones might work, too.


2.  Affirmation Altoids.  So you gave your troubles to the trouble dolls.  Now it's time to do something positive.


I love my cinnamon altoids.  To mix it up, I put in a box of peppermint ones.  Just to challenge my senses.


Hold the altoid in your hand, accept the stress you are facing, and say, "I got this," as you pop the altoid in your mouth. 


Repeat the positive affirmation for as long as the altoid is in your mouth, and then when it is gone, let go.


Letting go of an affirmation is an essential part of making them work.  It gives your subconscious time to latch onto the idea and warm to it, and accept it, and even work towards bringing you closer to your positive goal.


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From:  https://www.madinamerica.com/2016/12/tai-chi-potential-treatment-vets-ptsd/


Tai Chi, a traditional Chinese form of exercise which consists of slow, gentle movements and deep breathing, has been found to be beneficial in the treatment of sleep issuesdepression, and chronic pain. These slow, deliberate movements coupled with mindful breathing, the researchers hypothesize, could positively impact the hyperarousal symptoms related to PTSD. For this study, the researchers aimed to examine participant reactions, as well as the characteristics, adherence, adverse events, and satisfaction in regards the Tai Chi intervention.


Reference:  Niles, B. L., Mori, D. L., Polizzi, C. P., Kaiser, A. P., Ledoux, A. M., Wang, C., & Li, B. M. D. (2016). Feasibility, qualitative findings and satisfaction of a brief Tai Chi mind–body programme for veterans with post-traumatic stress symptoms. BMJ Open6(11), e012464. (Full Text)

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More Non-Drug Techniques:



3.  Body Brushing:


Wet or dry.


Get a sisal body brush with a long handle.  


Dry brushing is a detox protocol, so not for someone who is having intense withdrawal symptoms - but can be helpful for mood adjustment.  It's actually been beneficial for my niacin flushes, and sometimes I run the brush over my back before going to back at night.


There are dry brushing fanatics who insist that you would never need to bathe if you dry brushed your skin regularly and properly (and probably slather it in coconut oil afterwards).


Wet brushing is just good hygiene, making sure you clean and exfoliate - especially places you can't easily reach (I have more of those now than I did 20 years ago!).  A wet brush can be softer than sisal.  Some people like using a loofah-on-a-stick, but I prefer a good, firm sisal brush.


Afterwards, you feel clean and lightly stimulated.




4.  Vagus Workout:

  1.  The simplest vagus workout is when you are alone in the car, to turn up the music and sing along at the top of your lungs.  Sing so loudly that you are nearly breathless!  Try to sing well, to match the notes, or sing your heart out - feeling every word as you sing.  My favorite song for this is REM's "Losing My Religion," it seems to capture emotion and challenges my breathing at the same time.  (silly me, I have lots of songs I try and do this to, but my voice has been surgically altered, and I can't sing like I want to).
  2. The next level:  I discovered this in the gym:  singing and walking.  I was on the treadmill, and nobody was around.  I had earphones in, and the music was so good I had to sing.  It boosted my workout, and I had to be able to walk and sing at the same time, challenging my cardio and my brain while massaging my vagus nerve at the same time!  This could work with circuit training, weightlifting, or even walks around the neighborhood!  It's great for challenging that "crazy lady" syndrome - heck yes, I'm Mad and Proud!  
  3. The ultimate level:   Chanting and yoga.  I haven't tried this one yet, I am often breathless in yoga.  Plus, I can't do it in class, I will have to try it at home.  The basic "Om" instead of exhaling, while holding a pose.  I've been wanting to develop my own vagus chants based on the tones and notes of the chakras - but that is still a work in progress (and I don't know how to turn on the keyboard yet to find the right notes!)

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I use a timer, even when I'm feeling ok. Hate housework. As you say, something gets done.

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LOL LL!  I don't need to use a timer, my brain just "switches off" and I know it's time to do something else for awhile.


I'm constantly switching tasks to ensure that I'm interested in all of them.  It means my house is a mess, I have projects scattered everywhere - but - I am engaged with my life!


Non-Drug Techniques for the Day:

1.  Burden Basket - another version of the "worry doll" technique.  But this is one to be kind to your neighbors, to your home.


I gained this technique from Lakota and Cherokee practice as expounded in the book, "Sacred Path Cards,"  by Jamie Sams


When you go to visit another, there will be a basket by the door.  Before you step across the threshhold, take your problems, your worries, your stresses, and leave them in the basket by the door.  This way, you do not burden your friends and loved ones with your problems.  They will be there for you to take up when you leave.


Likewise, if you keep a burden basket outside your own home (this is especially beneficial for working people), as you pass the basket, you shed the work stress, the awful boss or coworker, the angry client, the traffic, the commute, and the difficulty you had at the shops.  Leave them in the burden basket, they will be there for you when you leave again, and you can take them up as you go into battle again.


This keeps your home a sanctuary, a safe place.


2.  Brush your Teeth.


Oh I struggle with this one.  I think this is a hallmark of those of us who have struggled with mental, emotional & chronic physical problems.  Nobody really sees your teeth, right?  You're not going out or anywhere, right?  


It's a 2-3 minute ritual that you can really use to improve your health.


I used to postulate (before I learned how damaging the drugs were) that the connection between cardiovascular problems and "mental illness" was brushing the teeth.  Poorly maintained teeth lead to more than just bad gums and breath - they can damage your heart, too.  And your digestion.  Everything you take in comes through your mouth.  The first place of purity should be (notice I say "should," because I still struggle with this!) your mouth.


I still don't do it daily, but when I can maintain a practice of teeth brushing, my digestion is better.  My bruxism is better (I'm more likely to wear my splint when my teeth are clean), and I believe I lose a little weight.  


I also scrape my tongue, a la yogic cleansing, as part of my teeth brushing routine.  It's gross - but - better out than in!

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These are all really great tips, emerging!


Though it is kind of hard to get hugs during the work day... But my wife and daughter load me up with hugs before I leave in the morning.


Still, I do wish there was a magic "anti-cortisol pill."



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The Speakmans are a couple in the UK who are therapists and have amazing results. I have seen them live and watched them on tv. Their therapy is simple and effective for fears, phobias, anxiety and PTSD.  My only reservation is that they claim to have helped people to get off the drugs that peple have needed to get through their anxieties. I have no idea how they do this but intend to email them to see how they taper.  


Take a look at their youtube channel. 



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Cinnamon Altoids - my favorite.  A sharp spike to the taste buds, and a soothing, yet stimulating feeling.  It seems to enliven thought, and helps with sugar cravings.


Peppermint Altoids - awesome.  Cooling, intense.  Also very good for thinking.


Ginger Altoids - okay, these weren't "Altoids," but Paul Newman's.  It was weird.  It doesn't feel like a lolly - feels a bit like medicine.  I can feel it heat up my digestion, and seems to help things work better in the belly.  But it is not the mental (peppermint) or emotional (cinnamon) rush that I get from the Altoids.

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I don't want to reinvent the wheel with this recommendation, but I suggest 

I find it really rewarding and makes me focus for a while, especially when I am feeling bad. Guessing some difficult clues gives enjoyment. And once you start, it is like a drug, but a positive one. 

I must have read into some mindfulness book (or maybe it is just what pretty much what every MF book says), that one can not experience depression while being curious. I think this can suit well crosswords, jigsaw puzzles, board games and quizzes. 

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Crosswords are a good suggestion.  However, I have found that during withdrawal there have been times where I haven't been able to do word puzzles yet I can do a number puzzle like sudoku.  I'm a jigsaw puzzle lover but haven't been able to do them recently.  My brain just couldn't turn the pieces around in my mind like they usually can.


I think doing things which use the brain does help as long as we don't over stress the brain.  For people who can't do crosswords, find a word puzzles might be an alternative.


I noticed that recently I have begun singing out loud again, but this was something that I haven't done for a long while.  I just didn't have the mental energy to do it.  Same with laughing.  During the process of lowering my dose I have gone from not finding things funny, to thinking that something is funny, then added a very small smile but couldn't laugh, then a small laugh and now I laugh out loud.

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Hi. I wanted to share something very simple. I see some people have similar advice, like pottery and gardening.

Something that has helped me is to work with stuff that require attention to detail. It calms me down a lot, and my mind is not wandering off in the same way. For example I sat and decorated a glass jar for about 3 hours without problem, because it was an escape for me I think. Same with puzzles in the beginning of my withdrawal like someone else mentioned, but not anymore. I also picked a small part of a certain kind of flower and cleaned them up (took around 2 hours) in case I wanted to make a wine out of it, but when I was done picking and fixing the flowers I was satisfied and the rest (wine-making) felt more like a burden. 


So the very small things that take time, are extremely relaxing for me at least. Just wanted to mention that. And pets of course, like others have mentioned. Pets are invaluable to me. It gives a responsibility and most of all something to care for (which I believe is very important).

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I recently came across a song that is apparently scientifically proven to reduce anxiety by 65%. It's called "Weightless" and is by a band called Marconi Union. Apparently they were in the charts in 2017 so some of you might already be familiar with it (I only just heard of the song). Whether the track can reduce anxiety caused by withdrawal to such an extent I don't know (maybe the 65% applies to "normal", everyday stress and anxiety experienced by most people). But after having listened to it myself, I have to say that it does seem to have a calming effect. So maybe it'd be worth a try for those having trouble with symptoms of stress and anxiety caused by withdrawal.


Here's the original (8 minute) version from youtube:




There's also a 30 minute and a 10 hour version on Youtube.


30 minute version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYoqCJNPxv4


10 hour version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYnA9wWFHLI



And here are some links to articles in which it's mentioned that the effect of the track is scientifically proven:






(Note: The second article also contains a list of other songs (with links) that apparently have a similar effect and which therefore might also be worth a try)




What I've also found useful when it comes to music is tracks containing binaural beats and/or isochronic tones. One of the best tracks of this kind that I've used (and continue to use) that helps me get to sleep, for example, is a track called "Peaceful Ocean" by Project Meditation, which is part of their "Sleep Easy Solution" package, which contains a couple of different tracks and can be found on their website (simple google search).


Unfortunately, it's not available for free (which is why I can't provide a link to the track itself) and costs just under $100. Personally, I think it's worth the investment, though, if you happen to have the cash to spare (and no, I'm not affiliated with "Project Meditation" in any way and have nothing to gain financially by mentioning it).


They also offer a whole program called "Life Flow", by the way, which basically consists of tracks using certain binaural beats and isochronic tones that are apparently specifically designed to enhance meditation (ten one-hour discs in total). I purchased the program myself years ago (i.e. while going through acute cold turkey withdrawal) but found it very difficult to meditate, which is why I never used it much. And although the tracks themselves seem to be relatively decent (that is with regard to their quality), I personally think they're way overpriced (the whole system costs about $700, which is about two or three times more than it should cost, in my opinion). So beware not to get suckered in by their somewhat aggressive sales/advertising tactics (i.e. the way their website is designed).


Also, you can find relatively decent tracks using the same principles on youtube. Just type in "sleep binaural beats" or "sleep isochronic tones" or something like that in the search bar (the same goes for stress relief and anxiety). But as for the "Sleep Easy Solution" (i.e the "Peaceful Ocean" track I mentioned), I do think it's worth the money. So that might be something to consider.


That being said, I'm going to see what happens after listening to the first track I mentioned above (i.e. "Weightless") regularly. Who knows, maybe it'll help reduce certain symptoms long term and not just temporarily.


Anyway, hope this helps.

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