Solutions Treatment Center Blog

Musings and interesting content by Solutions' staff and directors

Tips and Tools to Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Tips and Tools to Reduce Stress and Anxiety


In this unprecedented period of global uncertainty, we felt it was necessary to put together some ideas and ways to reduce stress and anxiety to provide our community with much-needed support.


The first thing to note right now is that it’s completely normal to be experiencing a wide range of

emotions. Accepting your feelings is an important first step to building resilience. The simple act of naming your emotions has been found to benefit well being. Below is a list of emotions you may be feeling.


  • Anxious
  • Stressed
  • Worried
  • Fearful
  • Low
  • Lonely
  • Overwhelmed
  • Helpless
  • Frustrated
  • Guilty
  • Angry


Remember: It’s okay to feel discomfort. Accepting distress is often the quickest way to feel

immediately calmer.



Reducing Stress and Anxiety With Thought Challenging


Thought challenging is a simple yet powerful cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) technique for

reducing anxiety. As mentioned, anxiety is best described as the unhelpful thinking patterns you experience when your mind fixates on a threat, uncertainty, and negativity. Thought challenging helps by broadening your focus to include the bigger picture.


Below are two thought challenging techniques you can experiment with. Keep practicing and

discover what works best for you.


The ABCDE Technique

Attention – When you feel distressed, stop what you’re doing and pay attention to your inner

dialogue. What is your mind telling you?

Believe? – Do not automatically believe your thoughts!

Challenge – Defuse anxiety by broadening your focus. What’s the bigger picture? Is the thought

fact or opinion? What might you think if you were feeling calmer?

Discount – Acknowledge that anxiety has been is dominating your thinking and let the unhelpful

thoughts go.

Explore options – What would be helpful to focus on right now? What options do I have available?


The THINK Technique

True? – Is this thought 100% true? If not, what are the facts, and what is opinion?

Helpful? – Is paying attention to the thought useful to me or others?

Inspiring? – Does the thought inspire me or does it have the opposite effect?

Necessary? – Is it important for me to focus on the thought? Is it necessary to act on it?

Kind? – Is the thought kind? If not, what would be a kinder thought?



Reducing Anxiety Through Distraction Activities


Here’s a checklist of ideas for healthy distraction activities.


  1. Browse mindfulness and meditation resources
  2. Work on personal development through journaling
  3. Browse new healthy recipes
  4. Plan your meals
  5. Play on a trivia or games app
  6. Learn some basic yoga poses
  7. Learn calligraphy or hand-lettering
  8. Learn how to play a musical instrument
  9. Read a biography about someone who inspires you
  10. Rediscover old music you liked when you were a teenager
  11. Watch a live stream theater show from The National Theater
  12. Make a list of things to save up for
  13. Have a relaxing DIY foot soak
  14. Start a blog
  15. Reorganize or redecorate your living space
  16. Do a jigsaw puzzle
  17. Make a list of goals for the year
  18. Find a new podcast to listen to
  19. Declutter
  20. Update your CV
  21. Make a list of books you want to read this year
  22. Search Pinterest for craft or DIY project ideas
  23. Arrange to catch up with someone over video chat
  24. Make a life experiences bucket list
  25. Get a 30 day free trial of Audible and listen to an audiobook
  26. Join an online book club
  27. Start learning a new language
  28. Plan some thoughtful birthday or Christmas gifts
  29. Research activities for your elderly relatives
  30. Start a side project to earn extra money
  31. Write a poem or short story
  32. Make a cookbook of your favorite recipes
  33. Make a list of things you’re looking forward to when the pandemic is over
  34. Watch TED Talks
  35. Use the Netflix Party extension to watch Netflix with your friends online
  36. Do a home improvement project
  37. Do some gardening
  38. Make a list of topics you’re curious about and research them online
  39. Search Pinterest for family bonding ideas
  40. Search Pinterest for indoor kids activities
  41. Learn knitting, cross-stitch or embroidery
  42. Find a new board game to play
  43. Do exercise song videos with your kids
  44. Start a dream journal
  45. Watch a live opera stream from The Metropolitan Opera
  46. Do some baking
  47. Feel more connected by finding a pen pal
  48. Explore ideas for camping in your backyard




Starting a Daily Breathing Practice




A few minutes a day of mindfulness practice can help ease anxiety and stress


The Benefits Of Meditation


Meditation can help one sit with and understand difficult emotions. Mindfulness can also bring about more awareness to emotional areas in your life that need more attention.


Mindfulness can help foster connections by practicing presence. Being present with yourself will also allow you to be present with others.









A daily practice can help focus your mind and divert attention away from constant brain chatter.

Meditation is a great way to increase your resilience to stress calm your nervous system.


Steps to Beginning a Meditation Practice


When Preparing for a Meditation


-Think about what you want to achieve with your meditation.

-Find a distraction-free area.

-Use a comfortable cushion if needed.

-Wear comfortable clothes.

-Choose a time when you’re not distracted.

-It can help when starting to have a timer at hand.


During Meditation


-Sit on the floor, cushion, or chair with a straight back.

-Don’t fret about what to do with your hands.

-Set your timer. You can try starting with a shorter time and gradually extending.

-Keep your mouth closed as you breathe.

-Focus on your breathing.

-Observe your breath, but don’t analyze it.

-Bring your attention back to your breath if it wanders.

-Don’t be too hard on yourself.








Visit Us At the Upcoming Event: ABQ Celebrates Recovery!

Albuquerque Celebrates Recovery 2019

Wednesday, September 25

Civic Plaza in Downtown Albuquerque

Come join us for great food, entertainment and 60+ resources for substance abuse and mental health. Please join us in celebrating those who are in recovery and helping those who need help! 

Also hosted by ABQ Celebrates Recovery is the Recovery Powwow:

Join Us at the Sixth Annual Santa Fe Rally for Recovery


During National Recovery Month, Santa Fe’s sixth annual “Rally for Recovery” brings the success of those in recovery and the continuing challenges of those struggling with addiction, mental illness, and other stigmatized illnesses into public awareness. This year’s rally highlights recovery success stories, especially Certified Peer Support Workers who are using their lived experience to bring hope to others. It also highlights the power of artistic creation in recovery. Recovery Santa Fe, the Santa Fe Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Santa Fe’s Friendship Club, the Santa Fe Recovery Center, Life Healing Center and other organizers are holding this event to energize our community’s support for the more than 10,000 Santa Feans in recovery and the many more seeking help to start recovery.

As Chris Wendel, Recovery Santa Fe’s co-founder says “we’ll make true progress healing our community’s addiction epidemic when we all understand recovery through the eyes of people with lived experience. This is the best way to ‘shatter the stigma and shame’ so more people feel safe seeking help”. This year’s rally includes:

• Recovery Stories—on stage, on the Recovery Wall, at the recovery video recording center, and person-to-person
• A celebration of Santa Fe Certified Peer Support Workers (CPSW) and information on the CPSW program and employment opportunities.
• Recovery Help Center where people seeking treatment and support can find answers
• Family Support Center where families supporting a struggling loved one can get support and information
• Recovery art show (co-sponsored with Meow Wolf) because art is part of so many people’s recovery
• Art Healing Center where attendees can make their own art during the rally (co-sponsored with Meow Wolf)
• Recovery Support Pet Appreciation Center
• Our Mayor reading Santa Fe’s Recovery Day Proclamation
• Our elected leaders speaking about their support for Recovery
• Opportunity to share your opinion with elected leaders and candidates for office
• Free lunch
• A chance to win tickets to Meow Wolf at our Recovery Drawing
• Over 50 recovery exhibits about treatment, support, resources, housing, opportunity, 12-Step, and recovery groups
• Wise Fool entertainers, face painting, popcorn, a photo booth, and games for kids
• Music


Adolescent Summer Out-Patient Program!

Solutions Treatment Center is Offering a Adolescent Summer Out-Patient Program!

8 Week Intensive Out-Patient Program for Adolescents beginning June 3 and running through July 26, 2019

Meets Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11:00-2:00 pm

This group is designed for teens ages 14-17 who are struggling with any or all of the following issues:



Individual Therapy is scheduled weekly


In network with Blue Cross, Presbyterian, New Mexico Health Connections, Molina, True Health, Christus Health and most Centennial Plans. Out of network PPO polices also accepted. Some sliding Scale and Payment Plans Available




Holiday Tips

A Holiday Message of Support

From all of us at Solutions Treatment Center, we hope you have a wonderful holiday season. We understand that holidays can be tough, and that staying sober and mentally level headed can be a challenge. If you are struggling or worrying about staying sober during the holidays, there are a few tips you might not know about. 

Friends of Bill W. 
Friends of Bill W. is a great resource for anyone struggling with staying sober in airports or anywhere in general that has a bar close by. If you are walking towards a bar, or to somewhere that challenges your sobriety or healthy choices, ask a staff to page “Bill W.” on the intercom system. This is most popular in airports or on cruises, but anywhere in a group of people should work. If you are actively involved in AA, you would know the name Bill W. If you say this over an intercom, someone else who is involved in AA or NA will be called to find you. When this person finds you, talk to them, they are fighting the same fight you are, and probably know of a meeting around, if they are a local. 

Involve your family in your choices.
Family time can feel pressuring so make sure you have a plan of action at the ready in case someone asks is you want a drink. Use phrases such as “No thank you” or “I’m driving tonight.” There are all options if your family might not know that you are trying to get sober, or are actively working on maintaining long term sobriety. Many times family events can be triggers, so have a plan of action in case things get too intense. Have a friend call you and say he needs your help changing a tire, or maybe your dog got out. Anything that would give you an excuse to leave the situation you are in. Be strong this season, you are bigger and better than this disease! 

Please use these simple tips and tricks to help make this holiday season the best possible. We know that these will not solve all your problems, but we hope that they can help. If you feel like you need to talk to someone, please do not hesitate to call us. This can be the last holiday season you spend drinking or depressed, without the help of others. We are all one, and we all are here to help. 

The Solutions Method® Boundaries Week

At the core of the Solutions Method® to treatment is a 17-week therapeutic themed curriculum.  This week, our core theme for our Intensive Out-Patient and Out-Patient Programs is Personal Boundaries. We will spend the entire week exploring this important aspect of developing relational wellness. The overriding goal of this theme is to work with clients to develop skills in setting boundaries with others regarding how our clients wish to be treated and to explore parameters around personal space and safety. This tends to be a big week in the wellness journey as many clients find they do not have many experiences with healthy boundaries.

Over the course of the fifteen hours that we meet (3 hours a day for five days), we present each Solutions Method theme in the context of four key areas:

  1. Psycho-Education – Providing information on the theme such as definitions, origins and various points of view
  2. Personal awareness – Identify how it applies to the individual and which areas of their lives are impacted
  3. Process – Understand and explore how the information presented effects their lives and where changes may need to be made
  4. Skills application as an ongoing practice – Learn ways to apply the theme in everyday experiences, relationships and means to sustain the new awareness

How much space do you need?
One area we explore in depth is sensory boundaries. This is also called proprioception, or the ability to cultivate an awareness of space and things around oneself using the five senses. This gives clients the opportunity to set up their personal sense of safe space and discover how much space they need in order to feel comfortable. Clients learn to discern where they are comfortable in relationship to another person in physical space. In general we find:

  • 0-2 feet for intimate relationship
  • 1-3 feet for familial space
  • 3-6 feet for strangers
  • 6-12 feet for groups

The benefit of this work is that it helps clients to clearly identify and recognize where oneself ends and another person begins.

Throughout the week we engage in boundary exercises through visualization, role playing, experiential techniques or by physical creation using clay, pen on paper, or other art materials. The purpose is to have a hands-on experience of boundaries and to process how it feels to apply them in relationship with partners, parents, children, coworkers and friends. We want clients to have plenty of practice in establishing boundaries.

Use “I” Statements
In order to apply this principle, we offer the opportunity for role playing which helps the client conceptualize, understand and learn how to use words to set boundaries.

When using Istatements to express what one needs without judgement of self and others, it offers a tool for more productive communication in creating healthy boundaries. We also make time for our clients to role play with a peer who may play the role of the wiser self so they are able to hear what self acceptance and wisdom sounds like through this compassionate voice.

Pattern Exploration
During this week we also explore patterns of family enabling and enmeshment as it relates to boundaries and work on skills and healthy behaviors to avoid codependent tendencies. For example, we recognize that boundaries can often be too rigid, some clients close themselves off and need assistance in learning to accept help.

Seeking Safety
We incorporate some of the tools and worksheets for our boundaries theme from Seeking Safety, an evidence-based, present-focused counseling manual that helps people who have experienced trauma and/or substance abuse. Examples include Setting Boundaries in Relationships in which clients are able to explore ‘Healthy Boundaries’, ‘Too Much Closeness’, ‘Too Much Distance’, and/or ‘Getting Out of Abusive Relationships’. A consistent tool from Seeking Safety that applies to any of our weekly themes is Grounding Techniques in which a client learns to detach themselves from emotional pain in order to increase management of their actions.

Practice New Behaviors
An essential part of the weekly program structure is teaching clients new skills in establishing boundaries and being able to practice them. Examples of these new behaviors may include, role playing in establishing physical boundaries of moving away, moving forward, sitting in a chair or putting an object between themselves and another person, such as a purse or a table. Another new behavior clients may practice is learning how to saying “no.” This sounds simple, but many people with substance abuse or a history of trauma are unable or uncomfortable to say no.

Learning to establish healthy boundaries is critical in long term healing and recovery. When we have rigid boundaries we may not allow others in emotionally and may feel lonely and isolated. Conversely, if our boundaries are too loose, we may take on more than we should or do things for others to our own detriment. Boundaries week is a very important part of our program for all of our clients.   

Working With the Medicine Wheel to Help Heal Grief and Loss

Solutions Treatment Center is proud to host professional training and CEU opportunities for those in the Substance Abuse, Mental and Behavioral Health Treatment Fields 
(Workshops provide 3 CEU credits each)

                                                            Title:                                         Working With the Medicine Wheel   to Help Heal Grief and Loss

Date:                                       December 16, 2017                           9:00 am-Noon

Presented by:                                   Carol Parker PhD, LPCC

Description:                                                                                                                                            This workshop will integrate age-old wisdom teachings with our contemporary   experiences of grief and loss. Carol will present activities and practices that can be   utilized with individuals and groups..

Price:                                                                                                                                                       Single 3-hour Workshop: $75.82
 10% Discount Fee for Students: $68.24

Call (505) 388-2361 extension 809 or e-mail for more information or to pre-register. 

Drop-in workshop participants are welcome, but pre-registration is encouraged as space is limited! Approved CEU Provider by New Mexico Counseling & Therapy Practice Board and the New Mexico Board of Social Workers

How Perinatal Experiences Shape our Clients’ Lives

Solutions Treatment Center is proud to host professional training and CEU opportunities for those in the Substance Abuse, Mental and Behavioral Health Treatment Fields 
(Workshops provide 3 CEU credits each)

                                                            “How Perinatal Experiences Shape our Clients’ Lives” 

             November 18, 2017                                 9:00 am-Noon

Presented by:  Emma Simmons MA, LPCC and Scott Zamurut, RCST®


Description:  Our birth is a transition from one world to another, offering both triumphs and challenges. How we navigate our birth can leave a significant imprint on mind and body, such as experiences of abandonment and alienation. In this presentation we will introduce 4 themes of birth: meeting obstacles, finding direction, achieving completion, and integrating into the new. We will also explore possible pathways for transformation.

Price: Single 3-hour Workshop: $75.82
10% Discount Fee for Students: $68.24

Call (505) 388-2361 extension 809 or e-mail for more information or to pre-register. 

Drop-in workshop participants are welcome, but pre-registration is encouraged as space is limited! Approved CEU Provider by New Mexico Counseling & Therapy Practice Board and the New Mexico Board of Social Workers

Understanding Process Addictions

Addiction isn’t limited to drugs and alcohol. These are substance addiction. However, we can become addicted to almost anything.

Many people know that gambling can be an addiction, but it isn’t to a substance. It’s a process addiction, as are addictions to food, sex, internet, gaming, work, relationships, you name it. These addictions are just as real, and affect all parts of person’s life, including their brain chemistry, just as a drug can.

Any process of thinking about something or choosing behaviors can also become addictive. It depends on how and why we’re thinking and/or behaving the way we are. Is it to avoid feeling too much pain? To avoid dealing with everyday life? Because we’re unhappy with the choices we’ve made?

Are your behaviors negatively affecting your life? Do you keep repeating them, even if you don’t want to?

Process addiction treatment needs to guided by experts who understand the underlying issues. There are important questions to be answered:

  • Why are you behaving this way?
  • How and when did the pattern begin?
  • What can be done now to get your life back on track?
  • Where else might this pattern be causing you harm?

Dr. Melanie Harth

Call and talk with an Intake Counselor, no charge:
877-499-1354 or 505-369-2777– We will be glad to help you understand process addictions and if they might be affecting you or a loved one.