How to break a bad habit

Edwards-Elmhurst Health shared that we all have some not-so-good habits. What’s yours? Are you a junk food fanatic? Do you often skimp on sleep? Are you a couch potato? A smoker?

Habits are a normal part of life. Some are more serious or harder to break than others. About 70 percent of smokers say they would like to quit. Why is it so hard to break a habit, especially if you know it’s not good for you?

Habits are patterns of behavior that arise through repetition. Scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have studied what happens in our brains as habits form.

Habits are deeply wired into our brains by constant repetition. Some habits are helpful. When behaviors become automatic, it frees up our brains to focus on different things. We wake up, brush our teeth, shower and get dressed without having to think much about it. We can drive to a familiar destination without even realizing how we got there.

Habits can also develop when enjoyable events trigger the brain’s “reward” centers. The pleasure-based habits are much harder to break. When you enjoy doing something, it prompts your brain to release a chemical called dopamine, which strengthens the habit even more and creates the craving to do it again. Read more


Ashley Brewer shared with Healthy Lombard that the holidays can be an extremely happy time of the year for most everyone, but for those in recovery from substance abuse and/or alcoholism, it can be a time of high stress and fear of relapse triggers. It is not uncommon for addicts/alcoholics to relapse during this time of year for a multitude of reasons, but generally, a relapse is linked to three main reasons:

  1. Complacency
  2. Lack of a plan/exit plan
  3. Overwhelming Emotions

In this article, I will share tips to help those in recovery from addiction not only understand the importance of maintaining their recovery programs but also, ways to be mindful of the ever-present triggers that surround us on a daily basis, not just around the holidays.

What is an Addiction Trigger?

“A “trigger” of addiction involves any high-risk situation or stressor that sparks off a thought, feeling or action to use drugs/alcohol. This spark, which is experienced as a temptation or desire to use, is called a “craving” or “urge”. So in short, triggers lead to cravings and urges to use.” – Dr. Chad Coren PsyD CAADC

With that being said, one can see how important it is to have specific tools in play, as pretty much anything can be a trigger depending on the person and can affect each individual differently. Whether it is external such as people, places, things, or situations, or internal such as thoughts, emotions, or physical issues, it is imperative for each addict/alcoholic to narrow down what triggers them specifically. I have outlined some of the tools below that will assist you in guarding yourself and your recovery program. I’m not an addiction professional, but I am a recovering addict and have definitely had my share of stumbles along the way. My hopes are that you won’t have to learn the hard way like I did, as we are never guaranteed another shot at recovery if we choose to go “back out there.”

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It Could all be so Simple

College of Dupage Nursing Student   Kenia Chamorro shared that she is guilty of it and she thinks we all are. Kenia relates that most of the time, she goes about her day without truly pausing. Next thing she knows, she is in bed exhausted and ready to sleep, only to wake and let another day pass by like nothing. It’s time to break the cycle. Mindfulness is the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. There are simple things you can do to practice mindfulness so that you can feel like you are truly living instead of feeling like a robot while life flies by.

You can start at this very moment by simply pausing. Take a deep breath right now and realize what you are doing. You are reading a blog on a topic that you found interesting and would like to know more about it; think about how lucky you are to have the life you have and to be able to educate yourself on whatever topic you desire at the click of a button. This should make you realize that you can do anything you want to do. You can even make a wish list of all the things you wish to learn about and all the new things you are curious to try out.

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The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Confidence – November 14

Come and hear (for FREE) at noon at the Marquardt District 15 Administration Center,  1860 Glen Ellyn Road  Glendale Heights,

or at 7 pm at  Glenbard West High School, Ned Johnson and Dr. William Stixrud’s presentation on “Self-Driven: The Science and Sense  of Giving Your Kids More Confidence, Purpose and Control.” 

From different vantage points, William Stixrud Ph.D. and Ned Johnson saw kids struggling with a lack of motivation, a lack of ambition, and toxic stress. Dr. Stixrud is a clinical neuropsychologist, a member of the Adjunct Faculty of the Children’s National Medical Center, and an  Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the George Washington School of Medicine who assists kids gripped by anxiety or struggling to learn.

Johnson is a motivational and educational coach, founder of the elite tutoring company PrepMatters, and author of “Conquering the SAT.”

He is considered by many to be the most sought-after instructor in the Washington, DC metropolitan area,

In this groundbreaking presentation, parents will learn compassionate, concrete solutions to help students deal with competitive academics, extracurriculars, and feelings of hopelessness. Parents and educators will learn how to best instill joy in their students and the skills of self- direction.   Read more

Help kids manage their holiday expectations

The holiday season seems to start earlier every year. By the time Thanksgiving arrives, many kids will have worked themselves into a frenzy that often is followed by disappointment and tears.
So what can you do to help your children manage holiday expectations?

According to experts with the Amita Health Pediatrics Institute, the first step is to manage your own. Often children are reacting to the signals they are picking up from parents who are increasingly stressed as they try to juggle planning parties, buying gifts, decorating the house, sending cards and all the rest.
If you want your kids to slow down and appreciate the season, try doing it yourself.

Wishlists. For most kids, gifts are a huge focus on the holidays. When it comes to gifts, be honest. With older children, you can have a frank discussion about how your family chooses to spend money. Talk about the relative value of purchases. Even with younger children, you can explain that having a few meaningful gifts can be better than having piles of things that will break or get lost.

Amita Health experts also suggest that you give your children a limit — either a general dollar amount or a number of gifts — and ask them to suggest gifts for themselves within that limit. Then ask them to rank the gifts according to which they want most. Have them revisit their list and their rankings several times — that can encourage them to take a more thoughtful look at their choices.

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October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month

The Center for Disease Control shared that Bullying is any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) toward a youth by another youth or group of youths, who are not siblings or current dating partners, involving an observed or perceived power imbalance. These behaviors are repeated, or have the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying can happen in person and electronically (known as cyberbullying) and can occur at school or in other settings. A recent study on youth risk behavior[12.1 MB] showed the following statistics:

Nineteen percent of U.S. high school students reported being bullied at school in the last year.

About 15 percent of U.S. high school students reported being bullied electronically in the last year.

“Cyberbullying” is bullying that takes places over digital devices and can occur through email, text message, social media, and other digital applications.

What CDC Is Doing

CDC works to prevent bullying before it starts. We support evidence-based actions in communities to effectively prevent bullying and other forms of youth violence. Research on preventing bullying is still developing, but the promising evidence is available for school-wide programs. Read more

Why Therapy is Essential for Treating Addiction

September is National Recovery Month. Tricia Moceo is passionate about sharing her story, as a mom in recovery, through writing and spreading awareness on addiction. Following is an article she composed for Healthy Lombard.

Most people assume the remedy for recovery involves detox and abstinence from the drugs/alcohol. The truth is, this is only the beginning. Recovery is a lifelong process, one that requires discipline and most importantly intensive treatment and therapy. Addiction is usually a symptom of an underlying issue such as trauma, abuse, grief, and many other mental health disorders. Addiction has been named “disease of the brain”. This complicated idea suggests that the issue stems from the brain. Complex and often confusing, this disease attacks the thinking and behaviors of an individual. Therapy is one of the most useful tools utilized to promote long-term sobriety.

There are many different types of therapy integrated into the recovery process. Almost all addiction programs recognize this and have found that there is not a one size fits all method to this approach. Behavioral therapy is perhaps the most effective in treating the root of addiction and preventing cravings and relapse. However, there are many different forms of therapy. The goal is to identify and address the fundamental issues the addict may be facing. For centuries, therapy has been used for treating addiction of all sorts. Read more

45% of teens are online ‘almost constantly.’ But is it good for them?

Abby OhlheiserThe Washington Post shared that forty-five percent of teens say they are online “almost constantly,” according to a new Pew Research Center study on teens and social media use. That percentage has nearly doubled in just a few years: In a 2014-2015 Pew survey, just 24 percent of teens said the same.

Pew’s survey, released on Thursday, asked American teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 about their social media use.

“One of the questions we wanted to examine was how teens evaluate the impact of social media on their lives,” said Monica Anderson, a Pew research associate and the lead author of the study. After conducting the survey, Anderson said, Pew found that “there’s not really a strong consensus” on what that impact is.

In all, 89 percent of teens surveyed in 2018 said they were either online “almost constantly” or “several times a day,” with just 11 percent telling Pew they were online once a day or less.

That rise in the “almost constantly” category is likely linked to “a pretty big jump” in teens who have access to smartphones, Anderson said. Ninety-five percent of teens have access to a smartphone in 2018. Three years ago, Pew reported that 73 percent of teens said the same. Read more

There’s no place like home

College of DuPage Nursing Student Erin O’Loughlin researched that the DuPage County Department of Economic Development and Planning reported in 2011 that 11.4% of DuPage County’s population are senior citizens. A senior citizen is anyone at or over the age of 65. Seniors can experience overall wellness through diet, exercise, healthy lifestyle, and other health promoting activities. However, some seniors begin to need more help with everyday life and health in order to remain living in their home safely. DuPage County is fortunate enough to a vast amount of resources and professionals to help seniors remain safe at home.

DuPage County Community Services has a Senior Services department to assist seniors to remain at home by using supportive resources. These support resources can include transportation vouchers, home care workers, adult day care, life alert buttons, food pantries, support groups, senior centers, senior activity groups, Meals on Wheels, and more. Low income residents can be assessed and educated about different state and county services. The county can also provide information about private services. According to Nursing Economics, these kinds of resources have been shown to help seniors improve thinking and reasoning, improve senior depression, reduce episodes of incontinence, decrease pain, and increase activities of daily living. Seniors may even qualify for routine home visits. Read more

How Music Helps with Mental Health – Mind Boosting Benefits of Music Therapy

Music has been with us for thousands of years as a form of entertainment, communication, celebration, and mourning. There are so many different emotions that music can help us to express, and it is a language that we share universally, as well as one that everyone can understand.

The style of music that we listen to most and enjoy may change every decade, but that sense of communication and feeling always remains. If you, or someone close to you, suffer from mental health conditions, you may find that they listen to music quite a lot, or even play it.

Music has a way of helping us express emotions that we don’t even understand ourselves, and can put these feelings into meaningful lyrics, or just a tune that resonates with every fiber of our being.

For many, music is a lifeline that keeps them tethered to the world, and without it, so many of us would be lost entirely. It is because of this link that music therapy was developed, and it is a great way to learn how to channel your feelings and combat mental illness. As someone who suffers from crippling anxiety and waves of depression, I have always been interested in trying this form of therapy out.

Whether you like to play the music or listen to it, you might be surprised to discover how beneficial this form of treatment can be, and in this extensive article, we look at the different ways in which music therapy can boost mental health. Read more