Understanding the Consequences of Mass Shootings

Dr. James Flowers discusses the consequences of mass shootings following the recent shooting in Uvalde, TX

As the community of Uvalde, Texas begins to process the shock, horror, and tragedy of the senseless killing of 19 elementary school children and two teachers, our nation is also left with a sense of grief as we grapple with the question, “How can anyone survive such a horrific event and come out on the other side whole?”

It is at times like this that we as mental health counselors, parents, and adults must become the stretcher bearers and provide love, comfort, and strength to all around us and acknowledge what the victims and families will face. When we take time to understand the consequences they will experience as survivors, we can better serve as a strong support system to them in the coming days.

Mass shootings manifest profound mental health repercussions on survivors, families, and friends.

For survivors, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive disorder (MDD) are among the many mental health challenges encountered. Others include anxiety disorder, death anxiety, panic disorder, phobias, prolonged grief disorder, and substance abuse.

Acts of violence such as mass shootings cause PTSD in 95% of people, and studies show that children exposed to sudden, unexpected mass violence reported greater emotional trauma with PTSD rates of up to 100 percent.

A significant number of mass shooting survivors will face long-term mental health disorders.

For many trauma survivors, PTSD and MDD will overlap and comorbidity will occur causing greater impairment and development of chronic disorders. As we examine the lives of past survivors, we can see that psychological illnesses can play out in different ways. Sherrie Lewis survived the September 16, 2013, rampage at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. where 12 people were killed by 34-year-old Aaron Alexis. In a 2019 NPR interview, Lewis described her constant need to search for escape exits during the day, and her nightmares, panic attacks, and inability to sleep. She sought out a doctor after experiencing this for three months and was diagnosed with PTSD, MDD and severe anxiety. She suffered a mini-stroke a year later and eventually sought intensive PTSD treatment.

Another survivor, Austin Eubanks, with whom I had a personal relationship, was among students who witnessed the Columbine High School’s massacre on April 20, 1999, where 13 people were killed. The Columbine shooting was, at the time, the worst high school shooting in U.S. history. For Austin, the experience caused an addiction disorder. He became an Opioid drug addict and then overcame his addiction to become an advocate for others and a motivational speaker on addiction and recovery. He died of an accidental heroin overdose at the age of 37.

Studies reveal that psychological distress can cause a 20% increase in alcohol use following exposure to terror, and a 16.3% increase in drug use, as in Columbine survivor Eubanks’ case.

Other survivors will intentionally take their own lives. PTSD as well as “survivor’s guilt” can lead to suicidal ideation or attempts. Two Parkland, Florida survivors, 19-year-old Sydney Aiello and 16-year-old Calvin Desir, committed suicide within one week of one another. That same week, Jeremy Richmond, the father of Sandy Hook victim Avielle Richmond, ended his life.

Mass Shooting Communities and Americans’ everyday lives are impacted by terror.

Research of the impact a mass shooting can have on the community in which the crime occurred suggests that even those who did not witness the terror can experience mental health consequences. Increased levels of fear and a sense of loss of safety are often elevated within the community. A 5-10% increase in PTSD rates in one community was found after a mass violence incident. Mass shootings can impact communities with avoidance coping such as fear, anxiety, drug use, depression and can increase arousal, anger, and vigilance.

In addition, heightened levels of fear are more pervasive in our nation as more people are tethered to their smartphones and can access the news cycle 24 hours a day. With 301 million smartphone users in the United States, it is more likely that we perceive our safety is decreasing. Following the 2017 Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino shooting, in which 22,000 terrified concertgoers witnessed 59 people being killed, a Gallup poll revealed that four out of 10 Americans said they were “very” or “somewhat” worried that they or their loved ones would become victims of a mass shooting.

How we Move Forward to Heal Together

As our nation mourns the victims of another mass shooting, the small community of Uvalde, TX will experience profound feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. However, amid the tragedy, support has already begun to flood in via monetary donations on GoFundMe accounts, blood donations, funeral homes offering free burial services, and attorneys providing free legal services. Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, a couple who founded the organization Survivors Empowered , are already in Uvalde to assist. They lost their daughter, Jessica Redfield Ghawi, when she was killed in the 2012 shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. The Phillipses have made it their mission to offer comfort and resources to other survivors of gun violence. Crisis Response Canines is sending six teams of certified handlers and dogs to Uvalde from New Jersey, Ohio, and Florida.

All of this is evidence that the resilience and grit in our nation’s psyche will prevail for healing to occur. In the days and weeks to come, we must all talk with each other about the incident. Families of survivors will need to be truthful about their feelings, open up the lines of communication in new ways with their spouses, and talk with their children about what has happened. Here is a list of additional resources for your family:

Houston Concierge Healthcare Provider Offers Brain Mapping Neuroengineering Used by NASA and Olympians

Houston Concierge Healthcare Provider Offers Brain Mapping Neuroengineering Used by NASA and Olympians

Houston Concierge Healthcare Provider Offers Brain Mapping Neuroengineering Used by NASA and Olympians

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J. Flowers Health Institute Delivers the Future of Health and Wellness

J. Flowers Health Institute has recently moved its brain mapping evaluations in-house as a core part of their Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation and Wellness & Restoration Program offerings. The Houston-based concierge healthcare provider has partnered with Neurologics Neuroengineering® to deliver these services to its clients.1 Neurologics Brain Mapping is the most technologically-advanced, comprehensive brain assessment in the world, delivering brain performance enhancement used by the world’s top performers, from NASA scientists to Olympic athletes.

“We are thrilled to announce our joint efforts to combine Neurologics’ technology with the concierge health and wellness services of J. Flowers Health Institute to deliver unparalleled healthcare to executives, high-profile individuals, young adults, adolescents, and those with complex conditions,” said Dr. James Flowers, Founder of the Institute. “I look forward to working with Neurologics for many years to come; there’s no telling where this technology will go in the future.”

Brain Mapping is the Future of Whole-Person Health

J. Flowers Health Institute offers brain mapping as an integral part of delivering the future of whole-person health and wellness. Neurologics Neuroengineering® includes a two-phase approach that maximizes brain potential for those struggling with concussion or brain injury, learning differences, child development, addiction, or peak performance. The Institute uses brain mapping throughout diagnosis and treatment to measure your healing and growth as your wellness evolves.

“Neurologics provides the most comprehensive brain function assessment based on active qEEG brain mapping that I have seen in my career,” noted COL (Ret.) Dallas Hack MD who chairs the Scientific Advisory Board of Neurologics.2 “I thought I had seen everything in the field of cognitive rehabilitation during my tenure leading the Department of Defense research efforts on neurotrauma, but the Neurologics Neuroengineering® approach is in a class by itself. Combining this with the J. Flowers Health Institute’s Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation Program truly provides the best technologies available to solve and resolve difficult body and brain challenges.”

J. Flowers Health Solves Complex Medical Problems

“People come to Flowers to solve complex medical problems,” said Karen Odell-Barber, CEO and Founder of Neurologics. “I have always operated from the perspective that you can solve any problem if you actually know what the problem is. But if you’re just guessing and you guess wrong, then the treatment plan isn’t going to be effective. Neurologics is thrilled to add its unique strengths to the J. Flowers Health Institute’s robust program of concierge diagnostics.”

About Neurologics Neuroengineering®

Neurologics uses FDA-approved technology and offers custom-designed, drug-free neuroengineering solutions preferred by Olympians, professional athletes, and world-renowned scientists. Selected by MIT as a top innovator in behavioral neuroscience, Neurologics Neuroengineering® unleashes radical improvements in brain performance.

About J. Flowers Health Institute

J. Flowers Health Institute delivers unparalleled concierge health care to executives, high-profile individuals, young adults, adolescents, and those with complex conditions. Our Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation Program uncovers the true source of any health issue and illuminates the most effective path to optimal wellness. The timeliness of our reports and diagnostic impressions allows the next appropriate level of care to begin promptly with a broad and deep understanding of the individual’s health and wellness.

 

Our multidisciplinary team of experts collaborates to deliver the future of whole-person health. We select the best providers and protocols from Western medicine, holistic health, integrative nutrition, sports medicine, and more that will help our clients reach optimal health. Our team’s coordination and collaboration offer each client a full continuum of concierge care as appropriate for their unique circumstances.

 

Every client receives one-on-one support and personalized care. Our high-end medical facilities, access to the world’s largest medical campus, and private partnerships with exquisite hotels and spas ensure that we deliver an exceptional experience for every client. No detail is ever left to chance. Clients of J. Flowers Health Institute focus and heal in discreet comfort.

J. Flowers Health Institute Expands Team of Experts

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Strategic Growth Underway

Located in Houston, Texas, J. Flowers Health Institute has recently added key staff members to their team of experts.

Since its founding in 2019, the Institute has shown aggressive and promising growth. This recent expansion of their core team will accelerate their pursuit of raising the standards of effectiveness and client service in healthcare.

Each new team member will spearhead strategic growth in various aspects of the business, from diagnostic evaluations to clinical care to client and referral relations.

Meet the New Key Team Members

Shay-Butts

Shay Butts – Vice President of Growth and Client Experience

Since the early 2000s, Shay Butts has been a part of modernizing the mental healthcare industry. She has worked with programs and families in various roles to create excellence in young adult and adolescent residential mental health and addiction treatment. Shay has an extensive background in program leadership, program development, admissions, and therapeutic consulting. Her passion is to create fresh and innovative programming and strategies that offer families not only a baseline standard of care but a level of care that surpasses expectations and provides cutting-edge, world-class services. Shay believes that every family deserves hope and a comprehensive plan to move forward into collective wellness.

After winding down a successful therapeutic consulting practice, Shay began to consult with a variety of programs and found a common bond with Dr. James Flowers. Their vision for world-class care was very much aligned, and the ability to recognize the need for an alternative to the treatment currently available sparked many conversations about “what’s next?” Ultimately, Shay joined Dr. Flowers and the J. Flowers Health Institute as the Vice President of Growth and Client Experience. Shay works directly with the clinical team, families, and referral sources to ensure high-quality care and identify growth areas. Shay also serves as the liaison for Therapeutic & Educational Consultants and their clients.

Susan Nelson – Regional Director of Professional Relations

As far back as she can remember, Susan has had profound respect for ethical, well-trained, and compassionate health professionals, no matter their area of specialty. She has been fortunate to know and work with many over the years with a heart for helping people and a level of commitment fueled by a desire to make a positive difference.

Prior to joining J. Flowers Health Institute, Susan worked for more than 30 years in behavioral healthcare marketing, professional relations, and business development at The Menninger Clinic.

Susan believes in the importance of solid, reliable, professional relationships and connecting people with excellent, quality care. Susan shares her enthusiasm for the work being done by the professionals at J. Flowers Health Institute in Houston.

Arti-Patel

Arti Patel, LCSW-S – Clinical Supervisor

Arti Patel has been working in the field of social work/mental health since 2003. Arti attended Rutgers University in New Jersey, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Social Work in 2005. Arti received her Master of Social Work Degree from Yeshiva University in New York City in 2008. She has worked in a number of different settings, including schools, outpatient substance use treatment, private practice mental health, residential treatment centers, and inpatient psychiatric units. She has a passion for the adolescent population and their families. Arti especially enjoys facilitating psychotherapy groups and is creative in this area.

Arti is trained in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), family systems, child attachment, trauma-informed care, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Her particular areas of interest are in psychodynamic therapy, adoption, attachment, mentalizing, and grief/loss. Arti’s philosophy on therapy comes from a humanistic approach with the idea that anyone can work through and feel a range of emotions without suppressing them. Arti comes from a place of cultural humility and believes that addressing cultural diversity and race in psychotherapy is vital to develop a higher standard of care in this area.

About J. Flowers Health Institute

Flowers Health Institute delivers unparalleled concierge health care to executives, high-profile individuals, young adults, adolescents, and those with complex conditions. Our Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation Program uncovers the true source of any health issue and illuminates the most effective path to optimal wellness. The timeliness of our reports and diagnostic impressions allows the next appropriate level of care to begin promptly with a broad and deep understanding of the individual’s health and wellness.

Our multidisciplinary team of experts collaborates to deliver the future of whole-person health. We select the best providers and protocols from Western medicine, holistic health, integrative nutrition, sports medicine, and more that will help our clients reach optimal health. Our team’s coordination and collaboration offer each client a full continuum of concierge care as appropriate for their unique circumstances.

Every client receives one-on-one support and personalized care. Our high-end medical facilities, access to the world’s largest medical campus, and private partnerships with exquisite hotels and spas ensure that we deliver an exceptional experience for every client. No detail is ever left to chance. Clients of J. Flowers Health Institute focus and heal in discreet comfort.

New Office Space June 2020

We are excited to announce that we have moved into a new suite! We are still located on the beautiful Post Oak Park business campus. Our larger professional office will better accommodate our growing team of health experts and clients.

Our new office features a more spacious concierge lounge to cater to the comfort and privacy of clientele. The large windows display beautiful vistas of downtown Houston, The Galleria, and the Texas Medical Center from the 23rd floor.

This is the third office space for J. Flowers Health Institute since its founding due to our success in helping clients get to the root causes of their issues. We are pleased with the growing awareness of the need for comprehensive diagnostic evaluations for long-lasting health. Health professionals and families are recognizing a thorough evaluation should be the standard of care prior to receiving treatment.

We will be hosting an open house event to celebrate our new location. Stay tuned for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About J. Flowers Health Institute

The J. Flowers Health Institute provides concierge care to busy professionals and executives who may only have a short time to focus on health and wellness, as well as individuals who want to concentrate on improving the overall quality of life.

We specialize in complex health conditions. Through our Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation Program, no detail is ever left to chance. Every client receives one-on-one support and personalized care.

 

Please Contact Us for More Information

Robbin Mooney, Co-Founder & CDO

robbin@jflowershealth.com | 912.682.7700

Leonard Green, National Director of Professional Relations

leonard@jflowershealth.com | 928.308.5139

Bob Banks, Regional Director Professional Relations

robert@jflowershealth.com | 404.426.7612

Leslie Clarke, Director of Admissions

leslie@jflowershealth.com | 713.715.1618

Spirituality in the eight dimensions of wellness

Spirituality was not Invented by Humankind; it Emerged from Our Essence. 

Spirituality has been a fundamental dimension of the human experience since the beginning of human cultural expression.  Even before modern human beings emerged and formed civilizations, the Neanderthal showed evidence of spiritual beliefs and customs.

Neanderthal people would bury the dead with tools and implements that held great value for survival success in the journey beyond life. This burial with tools ritual was evidence to suggest belief in a spiritual dimension of the person that went on to an afterlife. These artifacts of Homo sapiens neanderthalensis that date back over 40,000 years ago are evidence of spirituality emerging long before civilization. Beliefs in an afterlife and a force of power greater than oneself has evolved into the variety of spiritual expressions we see today.

The Eight Dimensions of Wellness

Spirituality is one of the eight dimensions of wellness. These eight dimensions of wellness include the following dimensions of the human experience:

  1. Emotional Resilience
  2. Environmental Consciousness
  3. Financial Responsibility
  4. Intellectual Inquiry
  5. Vocational Purpose
  6. Physical Vitality
  7. Social Connection
  8. Spirituality

All of these dimensions are interconnected such that growth and satisfaction in one area has the potential to stimulate growth and satisfaction in other dimensions as well. As a person exercises spiritual discipline and achieves spiritual wellness, their concept of self changes, their behavior towards other people changes and their overall wellness improves.

Spirituality is a protective factor motivating people to think beyond the here and now and outside of self, as they strive for some greater meaning in life. This fundamental dimension of human psychological experience is a useful resource for facilitating growth to wellness. Wellness is not only experiencing freedom from disease, but also experiencing healthy functioning in multiple dimensions of life.

 

Spiritual Disciplines are the Exercises of Spiritual Growth

Spiritual growth is facilitated by the exercise of spiritual disciplines.  Spiritual Disciplines are practices that lead to meaningful changes in thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Every person who desires to enhance wellness in the spiritual dimension of their life can practice these disciplines on a daily basis to harmonize their inner core values with their everyday lifestyle.

 

Meditation – active and open attention to the present. This discipline leads you to be mindful of self and others with attention to all the valuable resources around and within you.

Prayer – intimate and authentic communication with God. This discipline improves your conscious connection with the Source of energy that fuels your spirituality. Pray for wisdom about all aspects of your life. Pray for peace. Pray for healing and restoration. Pray for the well-being of others. Pray for the power you need to deal with the demands of life.

Fellowship – social connection with others in warmth, cooperation and genuine engagement. This discipline places you in proximity to others and allows you to experience the warmth of inclusion in community. Let your presence in community focus on what you can contribute with your time, attention and genuine care for others, to help others experience authentic connection.

Service – to give your own time and talent to be helpful to others. This discipline results in the most valuable use of your time and talent to enhance the world around you by helping others who will experience greater wellness from you serving them.

Gratitude – to give thanks. This discipline alters your mood and changes your personality. Gratitude causes you to be mindful of the blessings present all around you. Gratitude orients your attention toward what is right in your life and the world around you.

Sacrifice – to release something you treasure or to give up pursuit of something you covet. This discipline starves dysfunctional compulsions in your life. Fasting serves the purpose of exercising discipline through deprivation of self-centered desires. Abstinence from unhealthy substances or behaviors is an example of sacrifice through fasting. Another important aspect of the discipline of sacrifice is to release attachment to unhealthy connections in your life. Any void that is felt when you make sacrifices will be filled by the satisfaction of connection and dependence on the Source of your spirituality.

Forgiveness – to release resentment you hold against another. This discipline releases you from bitterness and the discontentment of resentment. Forgiveness is a gift that you give yourself that releases you from the bondage of self-centered resentment.

Love – is the meaning of life. Love is the most powerful force in the universe. Love is creative, restorative, healing and empowering. Love is a renewable energy source that gains strength when you transfer it to others through loving actions. Love’s potential is not achieved through feeling, but rather through action. If you feel love, then do something about it.  Love is as love does. Express your love for others with loving words and actions.

Imagine the positive impact on your own psychological well-being, relational health, and general productivity if you were to practice each of these spiritual disciplines every day.

by Vaughn M. Bryant, III, PhD, LPC-CCS, LMFT-S, LCDC-CCS

Mental Health Specialist at J Flowers Health Institute

Stress and resilience to covid 19 part-2

by Vaughn M. Bryant, III, PhD, LPC-CCS, LMFT-S, LCDC-CCS

Mental Health Specialist at J Flowers Health Institute

www.jflowershealth.com

What was once “out there” feels like it is getting closer to “right here”.

Last month, I wrote an article on Stress and Resilience to COVID-19. I appreciate all the feedback I received from people who informed me that the Mental Health Self Care strategies have helped them with the stress of this pandemic.

Master your mind or your mind will master you.

I want to validate you and affirm that the situation we are in is stressful.  Our lifestyle has dramatically changed. The future is uncertain and the threat that was once “out there” feels like it is getting closer and closer to “right here”.

The future was always uncertain.

There have been so many times in your life when you feared the future. You may have feared some outcome that eventually never came to pass. You may have feared some outcome thinking that you could never handle it, then once it did happen, you handled it. You survived!  Not only did you survive, but you came out even stronger than you were before.

You are stronger than you seem.

I heard it once said that when a broken bone heals, the place where it was broken has a higher density than the unfractured place and the broken spot heals to be stronger than that the rest of the bone.  That happened in your psyche when you “handled” the past crisis in your life. You became stronger. You learned that you are stronger than you seem. That strength you gained dealing with an earlier crisis in your life has made you stronger.  Access that strength now to handle this situation.  Access that strength and have faith in your ability to see it through this crisis.

Lean into your faith.

In Part I “Stress and Resilience to COVID-19”, I encouraged you to enhance your spiritual condition. There is a delicate balance between faith and action.  Most crisis situations in our life can be improved by making changes in our thoughts and behaviors.  The really stressful situations are those situations where we have done all we can, yet the situation is not getting better.  Those are the times when we need to lean into our faith with the acceptance that we have done all we can and believe that God will do the rest – whatever that turns out to be.

That is what it feels like right now with the COVID-19 pandemic.  We are doing all we can by practicing universal precautions and social distancing, but it does not feel like it is getting better.  The public health experts tell us that our precautions are “flattening the curve” which means that the growth of the pandemic is being slowed down from what it could have been without our successful interventions.

There is a power greater than yourself that intersects your human consciousness, restores your soul and guides your attention toward the divine truth of the power of hope and love.  Lean into to that Power now. Access your faith in that Power greater than yourself to help you through this time.

Meditate on these words from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous:

Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power. That One is God. May you find Him now! (AA Big Book p.59)

I will publish another blog about Spiritual Disciplines in the next couple weeks so stay in touch as you remember these final words of help from Winnie the Pooh written by A. A. Milne:

Always remember…

You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think and you are loved more than you know.

Stress and resilience to covid-19

Written by Vaughn M. Bryant, III, PHD

Master your mind or your mind will master you.

COVID-19, Acute Stress Disorder, and PTSD

The COVID-19 pandemic is a historic event that has exposed a significant number of people to a stressful situation that meets the first criteria for diagnosis of Acute Stress Disorder (ASD). Acute Stress Disorder is the precursor to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Acute stress disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder are not diseases, they are maladaptive responses to traumatic stressful events. Acute stress disorder can be resolved before it develops into a chronic state of post-traumatic stress through early intervention, effective self care and resiliency in the individual.

Diagnosing Acute Stress Disorder from COVID-19

The prerequisite for diagnosis of an acute stress disorder or a post-traumatic stress disorder is that the person has been exposed to actual or threatened death or serious injury. In the case of the COVID-19 pandemic the threat of infection appears real but for the most part, the threat of death or serious injury is low.

How You Conceptualize Stress Matters

Stress has a significant psychological dimension that is influenced by the way a person conceptualizes the stressful event and the way they think about their ability to cope with the stress. When a person tells their self; “I can’t handle this.” then the stress they feel intensifies. When a person tells their self; “I can handle this.” and they actually believe they can, then the stress they feel decreases. In the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact that the stress of the pandemic has on the individual will be significantly influenced by the way they conceptualize and perceive the threat in their own psyche.

How to Prevent ASD from Becoming PTSD

Acute stress disorder can be resolved before it develops into a chronic state of post-traumatic stress disorder through preventative mental health self care. Acute stress can overwhelm the adaptive information processing system within the human psyche leading to disturbances in mood, cognition, behavior and relationships.

Know the Signs of Acute Stress Disorder

Some of the early signs of acute stress disorder include:

  • Intrusive preoccupation with the traumatic event
  • Negative mood
  • Dissociative symptoms
  • Avoidance
  • Alterations in arousal

When the human psyche becomes overwhelmed by the acute stress, essential adaptive reprocessing of the stressful event is prevented because the nervous system gets frozen in a state of over-arousal and the memory of the event gets associated with distressing thought and emotion.

Early Intervention and Self Care are Key

With effective early intervention, people experiencing stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic can engage in proactive mental health self care to activate their adaptive information processing system and reprocess their reaction to this stressful event in a way that effectively decreases the arousal of their nervous system and prevents the stress from overwhelming their psyche and becoming a chronic disabling condition.

How the Autonomic Nervous System Functions Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

The autonomic nervous system has two basic modes of functioning; the sympathetic response and the parasympathetic response.

Sympathetic Response from COVID-19: Fight, Flight or Freeze

During times when the psyche perceives a threat to safety and well being, the sympathetic nervous system response dominates and floods the brain with excitatory neurotransmitters like adrenaline to activate the brain and body to face the perceived threat. This action is what is commonly referred to as the “fight, flight or freeze” reaction. In this state of increased arousal, the higher order executive functions of the human psyche are bypassed by automatic reflexive responses and people are vulnerable to irrational thoughts and behavior.

Prolonged Exposure to Acute Stress Can Lead to Chronic Disorders Like PTSD

Most situations that activate the “fight, flight or freeze” response are short lived and the over-arousal of the nervous system switches off after a few seconds or minutes. Prolonged exposure to acute stress creates the conditions that can lead to chronic impairment in psychological functioning characteristic of trauma and stressor related disorders.

Constant COVID-19 Warnings Prolong Sympathetic Response

The COVID-19 pandemic is a historic event that has triggered a relentless cascade of information that is being instantly delivered to people on television, radio, internet, cell phone alerts and social media. The overwhelming majority of that information is in the form of “warnings” or “alerts” that often serve to intensify and prolong exposure to acute stress. This barrage of alerts and warnings can keep an individual’s nervous system stuck in the sympathetic response mode.

Parasympathetic Nervous Response: Perceived Safety and Security

During times when the psyche perceives safety and security, the parasympathetic nervous system response dominates. In this mode of autonomic nervous system response, the body will rest, relax and direct energy toward regenerative functions.

It is in this state of homeostasis that the brain can regenerate by synthesizing essential neurotransmitters to optimize mental functioning and engage in adaptive information processing to enhance feelings of well-being. The higher order executive functions of the psyche are available to reprocess experiences and construct more effective ways to interpret life events. This effective reprocessing leads to growth, wisdom, acceptance and meaningful change.

Effective Mental Health Self Care Strategies During Times of Acute Stress

The rest of this article will describe effective strategies for prevention and early intervention to avoid the development of acute stress disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

With concentrated effort and the development of effective coping strategies, a person in a state of acute stress can learn to turn off the sympathetic nervous system response and turn on the parasympathetic nervous system response. These effective mental health self-care strategies are essential for the prevention of a chronic trauma and stressor related disorder.

Rational Self Analysis

Make a realistic and rational analysis of the threat you perceive and your reaction to it.

Ask yourself these three questions;

  1. What am I feeling?
  2. Why am I feeling this way?
  3. What can I do about this?

Realize that feelings are real but they are not necessarily facts. You may fear death but that does not necessarily mean that you are dying. If you measure your vital signs like pulse, breathing, temperature, blood pressure and realize that the vital signs in your body are within normal limits then the facts are that you are living, you are not dying. It is important to confront your feelings with facts so that your emotional response can migrate toward a more rational response to the facts.

If your feelings are irrational then change the way you think.

In the event that your feelings are rational (the feeling fits the facts), then do something about it. Engage in meaningful change to improve the condition that is causing the feeling. If you are feeling fear about your health because you have significant symptoms of disease then seek medical health care and follow through on the medical advice given by a specialist who treats that condition.

If your feeling fits the facts then engage in meaningful action to change your condition.

Effective Self Care

Take care of yourself in all dimensions of your life.

Improve your physical health. Practice disease prevention with social distancing, good hand hygiene, drink plenty of water, healthy nutrition, adequate rest and physical activity.

Improve your mental health with optimism and gratitude. Live in a state of contentment about how fabulous your life really is. You have the mental clarity to read and understand this article. You have the motivation to improve yourself. You have a vast array of resources available for you to access that can transform the way you think and respond to life.

Improve your social / relational health. Reach out to others with love and compassion. Graciously receive the love and compassion that others extend to you. Be generous with your time and attention to others. In this time of “social distancing”, reach out to others through phone and electronic messaging. If someone you love is at a distance away from you, call them and tell them “I Love you.” Post messages in social media that lift up people’s spirit. Use your words to build people up and enhance their well-being.

Improve your spiritual condition. Practice the spiritual disciplines of prayer, meditation, reading of sacred text, repentance, devotion and fidelity. There is a power greater than yourself that intersects your human consciousness, restores your soul and guides your attention toward the divine truth of hope and love.

Experience pleasure. Engage in the moderate consumption of pleasurable activity. Slow down and be intentional in your pursuit of enjoyable experiences. The intentional pursuit of enjoyable experiences represents mastery of your thoughts and behavior. When a person is stuck in a state of acute stress, the brain gets hijacked by the stress response and their thoughts become obsessive and behavior becomes compulsive.

When a person will slow down and seize control of their thought and mindfully direct their behavior then they have mastered their mind. Focus your attention on what you really enjoy in life; the company of someone you love, the mindful consumption of enjoyable food, engaging in a recreational activity, appreciation of art, listening to music, playing with a dog, experiencing the sights, sounds and smell of nature.

Celebrating one year

We’re so grateful to celebrate one full year of service! In 2019, J. Flowers Heath Institute was founded by Dr. James Flowers and Robbin Mooney with the mission of giving individuals with difficult-to-pinpoint issues a clear diagnosis and a solid treatment plan to lead them to a higher quality of life.

Luxury Healthcare with Concrete Results

Different from a traditional rehabilitation center, our program is designed around the concept of comprehensive diagnostic evaluations and concierge care. Clients from across the nation (locals too) traveled to Houston last year to experience the J. Flowers Health Institute approach, and we’re pleased to be given the opportunity to change a significant number of lives for the better.

Our Phenomenal Team

It’s because of our phenomenal health and wellness team that we’re able to give our clients some of the best testing, evaluation and health assessment services in the nation. Our clients receive an accurate and concrete diagnosis, sometimes for the first time in their struggle, and we then prescribe a treatment plan that gets to the root of the problem that really works.

Champions of the Healthcare Industry

We were privileged to be a part of our industry’s community last year through keynotes, conferences, speaking engagements, and networking events across the country. It was an honor to be involved with the Continuum of Care event in Nashville, C-4 Events, TPN.Health and the New York Center for Living Development Workshop in partnership with MusiCares, just to name a few. These events are so valuable for education purposes for health care professionals and to our staff. Strengthening our relationships with our colleagues in the industry is one of the many reasons we look forward to participating in continuing education events such as these.

New Location in Houston, Texas

We also made a significant move in 2019. In June, the J. Flowers Health Institute team relocated into our new office at 4400 Post Oak Parkway in the center of Uptown Houston. This location provides easy access to the Texas Medical Center as well as the luxury amenities our clients are offered during their stay. Our goal with this office was to create a space that is both comfortable and conducive to healing for our clients as well as functional for our staff.

With a successful 2019 in the books and 2020 off to a great start, we’re excited to see what year two of operation will bring!

The dietitian specialist

Many people are unaware of how diet impacts their lifestyle, dependencies, pain tolerance and mental health. Making healthy food choices is one of the first steps in altering the substance abuse cycle and aiding in pain management. A dietitian can analyze a patient’s current diet and make realistic recommendations including keeping track of the nutrients you put in your body, following an eating schedule and staying away from foods known to cause inflammation to help them get on the right path to recovery from the inside out.

When treating patients with a history of substance abuse and chronic pain, we recommend consulting with a professional to examine nutrient deficiencies and suggest a plan to replace them. Each person’s needs are different depending on their eating habits, and those facing health issues often have significant room for improvement.

How diet, substance abuse and chronic pain connect

Substance abuse often leads to nutrient deficiencies as a result of ingesting empty calories or by forgetting to eat altogether. Deficiencies in your diet can induce anxiety and low energy levels, which can ultimately trigger a relapse. These missing nutrients can also deprive the body of the supplies it needs to heal and combat pain.

Many of the patients we see have turned to drugs and alcohol in an attempt to alleviate their chronic pain. However, as a result of a decrease in appetite or a switch to quick, unhealthy foods, patients do not digest enough nutrients, and in turn actually experience more pain. It’s a vicious cycle, but by controlling the substances you put in your body, patients see a difference in mood, stress levels, and chronic symptoms.

What healthy foods can do for a patient

When discussing specific dietary options, it is best to avoid inflammatory foods such as sweets and processed foods. Anti-inflammatory foods, including berries, fish and avocados will reduce chronic pain and increase your energy levels. Not only will the patient see a difference in their recovery process but changing their diet will also encourage a healthy lifestyle for the future.

For more information on addiction, chronic pain and dietary recommendations, contact our J. Flowers

Meet the team addictionologist neurologist

When substance use disorder is involved, our double board-certified addictionologist/Neurologist steps into the recovery process.

Recovering individuals have a high chance of relapsing and our addictionologist is intricately involved in our evaluation program to ensure the best chance of healing the individual’s body mind and soul. In addition to their expertise in substance dependency, this professional is a licensed neurologist with the knowledge of how cognitive functions affect addiction.

The J. Flowers substance use disorder experts implement evidence-based research and practices to address the difficult-to-pinpoint issues unique to the individual’s recovery. When determining an appropriate treatment method, our experts carefully consider all potentially influential factors including substance of choice, any preexisting health conditions and external motivators.

Throughout the individual’s continued recovery, it is important to maintain stable stress levels, social interactions and positive relationships. Our job as a comprehensive evaluation program is to identify potential triggers, offer tools and support for stress reduction and help the individual cultivate a healthy lifestyle independent of drugs or alcohol. Our experts are trained to develop an executive-level care program that will meet your individual health and wellness needs.

At the J. Flowers Health Institute, we value expertise, comfort, efficiency and privacy over all else and work to provide every patient with a personalized comprehensive care experience. Following a thorough diagnostic evaluation, we review the findings carefully and then determine the best course of action for the client’s unique situation. We work together with our evaluation team, families of the client and any professionals that may be involved for further strategies for total health and wellness. Our goal is to provide the individual with strategies to leave J. Flowers Health Institute with confidence, support and a workable plan for future health.

For more information on substance use disorder, chronic pain and mental health, contact our J. Flowers Health Institute team.