The Sanctuary Byron Bay
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Newsletter #6 - November 2009

In this issue:

Director's Introduction - Michael Goldberg

Welcome to our fourth Sanctuary E-Newsletter. The purpose of this newsletter is to keep you informed of new developments in our constantly evolving Sanctuary model.

As the year draws to a close, the Sanctuary Byron Bay continues to lead the treatment field with its unique integrated treatment philosophy drawing together the best of both medical and complementary healthcare approaches.  The Sanctuary has been operating at capacity for most of this year, and as we consolidate our reputation as one of the best therapeutic retreats in the world, we continue to strive for treatment excellence and innovation.

The Sanctuary Byron Bay’s model is increasing recognised as a best practice approach to the resolution of complex health issues.  We are now considered THE premier therapeutic destination in Australia with increasing media coverage of best practice principles in the treatment of addictions, mood disorders and chronic pain making reference to our model.

In a rapidly changing world, the Sanctuary Byron Bay represents the maturing of a much needed shift towards holistic healing where body and mind are inseparable and where a range of healthcare perspectives are harmonised in service of a client’s healing.

In this issue, we feature one of our key practitioners: physiotherapist and craniosacral therapist, Claudia Mirdita.  We also invite medical, allied health and complementary health practitioners to contact us to find out more about how a collaborative stance can improve patient outcomes.

Please note I am very aware that some people will prefer not to receive this newsletter. In that respect, if you would like to be removed from our distribution list, please reply to this email and insert “Unsubscribe” in the subject heading of the email and we will remove you from the list. For those who are happy to continue receiving the newsletter, I sincerely hope you enjoy the information we have provided. Please feel free to contact me should you wish to ask any questions, discuss any aspect of this newsletter or find out more about our programmes.

I thank you for your time and wish you all the best in health and happines

Yours sincerely,

Michael Goldberg,
Director.

We Are What We Eat - Luke Southwood (Senior Chef)

Director's Introduction

If it’s true that ‘we are what we eat’, then it stands to reason that a large percentage of people living with modern afflictions such as depression, anxiety, addiction and stress are suffering from ailments in some way related to a modern day diet.

As society struggles to keep pace with rapid advances in technology and the lightning pace of a digitised world, we are fast losing touch with what can only be described as ‘real food’.

Previous generations, who had little or no access to ‘convenience’ foods, consequently had a much deeper connection with fresh, seasonal produce and the basic raw materials needed to provide essential, daily nourishment. The skills and techniques needed to produce a nourishing diet of healthy, balanced meals were constantly being re-invented, re-worked and refined. Accumulated culinary knowledge was passed down from generation to generation.

In fact the need to eat was more than the necessary inconvenience or the unhealthy obsession it is to many people today; it was the ultimate reward for a hard day’s toil, a sacred experience to be shared and a real cause for celebration.

In many ways we have now replaced, or are fast replacing, our ancient connections with ‘real food’ and basic nutrition with a vast array of unhealthy, modern alternatives. The kitchen is no longer the hearth, the engine room, nor the fundamental centre of many households.

We live in a world where the intrinsic values we place on our different senses have been redefined; where the tangible properties of true taste, texture and aroma have taken a backseat to a bevy of artificial stimulants, such as sight, sound and speed. Convenience rules the day.

We’re encouraged to ‘order-in’, ‘drive-thru’ or ‘heat-‘n’-serve’ processed meals devoid of any real alimentary goodness, so as not to interrupt our all important ‘viewing pleasure’ or to squeeze more work hours into a day. Ironically, the chances are high that we will be watching one of the many primetime shows about food and cooking while we consume our nutritionally bereft ‘TV dinners’.

The impetus to do more, be more, consume more – although it may be of  increasingly of inferior quality – is the ultimate double-edged sword. The more economically advanced our society becomes, the more self-destructive our eating habits.

While modern science, technology and medicine are heralded as being the building blocks for a previously unknown quality of life, obesity, diabetes, depression, disillusion, and a general sense of disenfranchisement pervade the lives of many who have benefited from such ‘progress’. Could it be that we are fast losing touch with one of our more basic, primordial instincts or that our most vital reward center is being ignored and, literally, starved – all in the name of progress?

Fast foods, processed foods, genetically modified foods; foods high in saturated fats and trans-fatty acids, preservatives, additives, flavor enhancers, refined sugars and salts are making us both incredibly unhealthy and unhappy. Perhaps deep down in our collective consciousness we know that we are becoming little more than highly processed human junk.

Besides struggling with physical health, more people now battle mental health issues, with depression predicted to become the second highest cause of the global disease burden within the next 20 years. Recent figures show that, worldwide, 450 million people suffer from mental health problems, including depressive disorders, bipolar affective disorder (manic depression), schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s and other dementias, obsessive compulsive disorder and panic disorder.

Mental illnesses represent four of the 10 leading causes of disability worldwide and affect more than 25 per cent of people at some point in their lives. At any one time, about 10 per cent of the adult population is suffering from a mental or behavioral problem. In practical terms, one in four families are affected by a member with a psychological or behavioral problem.

The majority of the people are aware of the connection between diet and obesity or diet and coronary heart disease. Similarly, anyone who has ever smoked, drank alcohol, tea or coffee, or eaten chocolate knows that such products can improve one’s mood, at least a little and at least temporarily. However, what seems to be less common is an understanding that some foods can have a long-lasting influence on general mood and mental wellbeing because of the impact they have on the structure and function of the brain.

Medical researchers now say that the evidence linking diet with mental health is undeniable. As well as its impact on feelings of mood and general wellbeing, it demonstrates a contributory role in the prevention and treatment of specific mental health problems such as ADHD, depression, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s.

The implications are far-reaching, both in scope and depth, for a wide range of stakeholders. As policy-makers choose to incorporate the evidence into health and education guidelines, practitioners become more equipped to offer therapeutic treatments that take into account the complexities of mental health problems.

Certainly nutritional influences can be considered among a range of care options offered to those seeking to improve their mental health. Most importantly, perhaps, individuals can be educated to become more aware of the association between their diet and their mental health, enabling them to incorporate important dietary changes alongside their range of other care options.

Mood Food

A poor diet can make you feel anxious and fearful, depressed, tired all the time and even suicidal, according to researchers at Roehampton University in the United Kingdom. But while everyone knows eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, lean protein, and wholegrain foods will enhance health, there’s some special foods you should eat if you want to feel happier.

To boost levels of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that can be low in people suffering from depression, you need poultry, sardines, salmon, fresh tuna, nuts and seeds. Turkey and chicken are also good because they contain mood-enhancing tryptophan, an essential amino acid that is converted into serotonin.

But what about chocolate, which many people swear by as an instant mood lifter? On one hand, chocolate does contain a naturally occurring substance called phenylethylamine that can enhance endorphin levels and act as a natural antidepressant. On the other, it can be addictive i.e. if you don’t have it you’ll feel miserable and it contains lots of simple sugar, which in large quantities is bad for your health.

Happiness Tip:  Put turkey, chicken, fish, nuts, seeds and complex carbohydrates in your grocery trolley. Try making oatmeal cookies for snacks, or turkey on rye with cranberry sauce and snowpea sprouts for lunch. Buy some dark, organic chocolate and have a small amount as a treat. Switch coffee for a herbal tea like green, ginger or berry.

Eat ‘real’ food wherever possible and you WILL feel happier.

What to Plant this Month

Director's Introduction

As the summer draws near in the Southern Hemisphere, now is the time to set up a vegetable garden or if you’ve already done so, start planting the following range of vegetables so the abundance of summer crops can be yours to enjoy.

It’s now time to plant asparagus, beans, beetroot, asian greens, capsicums, carrots, celery, chives, choko, cucumber, all herbs (seeds and cuttings), leeks, lettuce, parsnips, peas, potatoes (last crop), pumpkins, radish, rhubarb, rockmelons, watermelons, silverbeet, spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and grey, yellow and green zucchinis.

Planting your own food keeps you in touch with natural cycles, and if grown organically, keeps you healthier and less reliant upon food grown by industrial means.

Caring at The Sanctuary Byron Bay

Director's Introduction

Carers are an integral part of the Sanctuary team and are in constant liaison with the Clinical Director and the Therapeutic Team. We are the first person to greet the clients in the morning and the last person to wish them pleasant dreams.  We stay close to our clients at all times whilst remaining sensitive to their need for quiet time and private moments. Each client is usually assigned three or more carers during their stay.

Carers at the Sanctuary Byron Bay are non-judgmental and empathic companions with a wide range of life experience and life skills.  The one thing that we all have in common is a deep understanding of the healing and recovery process.  We understand the detoxification process and the challenges that inevitably arise. While the program fully supports each individual client to go where they need to go, recognising each client is unique, we nevertheless work within specific boundaries to ensure that even as we function as companions with whom clients, in absolute confidentiality, share a lot of their in-depth journeys, our focus remains on their needs and not our own.

Carers are carefully matched with clients based on a wide range of factors including: culture; age; gender; particular addictions or issues; life-experience; and most importantly the level of care required. For example, for the first week of intensive withdrawal, clients are assigned only qualified registered nurses as Carers.

We are not therapists yet we often become sounding boards as the clients unravel and try to make sense of their addictions and or negative behavioural patterns. We are great listeners and are trained to identify key issues that our therapists may find useful in understanding the overall clinical picture.

As clients have limited access to their normal social networks, a Carer can become someone to share a cup of tea with, a light chit-chat, a good laugh and a joke, what’s happening in the world, perhaps a tear, a rising realisation or ‘ah-ha’ moment but mostly we are there as professional support workers, 24 hours a day, cultivating a sense of safety, trust and nurturing.

The role of a Carer can have its challenges – as with most caring professions it’s not always easy to watch people in pain and in self-harming patterns. Yet the rewards outweigh the challenges. New clients cannot imagine the life changing journey that they are about to embark upon – but through repeated experience, we as carers can – and in those crucial early days of recovery, we can hold the hope for our clients even when they cannot.  So on first meeting a client I imagine them at the end of the program. I see them in 4 to 6 weeks time and I have a little smile. It’s my favourite part of the job, sharing their journey and being witness to what can only be described as a courageous and miraculous transformation.  To be a part of a team that facilitates the process of a client literally regaining and reclaiming their life back is satisfying beyond compare. In a nutshell … that is why I Care.

Paul Pritchard – Carer at the Sanctuary Byron Bay

Practical Steps for Dealing with Anxiety

Director's Introduction

Focus on your breathing – anxiety is usually accompanied by a rapid, deep breathing which compounds agitation. To calm yourself, breathe in through your nose slowly and evenly to a count of five. Then breathe out, lengthening your exhale slowly to a count of seven.  The key is to prolong your in and out breath in a slow and controlled fashion with the out breath being slightly longer.  Relax your muscles as you breathe and repeat this pattern for at least five cycles.

Conduct a body scan – notice which part of your body feels relaxed and which parts feel tense.  Feel your way into the relaxed parts, comparing how it feels to the parts that are tense. Note the difference. Initiate a full body relaxation sequence. Tense and release every part of your body from bottom to top. Begin by tensing up your toes, holding the tension for three counts then releasing for three counts. Remember from the body scan exercise, what it feels like to be relaxed and to be tense.  Progress the tension/relaxation sequence up your body slowly until every part of your body has experienced tightening up and letting go.

Stay in the moment – anxiety is often about anticipating a fearful future.  Ask yourself “Is it really likely to happen?”  “Is it happening now?” “Has it happened before?” “What is evidence that the worst is going to happen?” Focus on where you are and go for a walk and notice how you feel after ten minutes.

Take control of your self talk – notice that anxiety is often accompanied by a specific range of thoughts about oneself that are usually negative, fearful and critical – “I can’t cope”, “I’m too weak”, “I’m going to fail” etc.  If you are unaccustomed to witnessing your thoughts, they may be mistaken for being facts, yet thoughts can be actively challenged and replaced.  Start thinking instead, “I am strong enough”, “I will cope”, “I am calm”.  Gently replacing negative thoughts with a patient, moderate and reassuring voice is a skill that requires practice, but is a skill that anyone can learn and practice.

Make yourself comfortable – sit on something comfortable – a soft cushion, a rug or a supportive chair. Be neither too warm nor too cold and ensure your senses are nurtured. Sit somewhere with a beautiful or inspiring view – in a garden, by the sea, in a park.  Listen to something relaxing – soft music, a gentle stream or birdsong.  Try to ensure your surroundings smell pleasant – light scented oils or candles or sit amidst blooming scented flowers.

Jane Williams, Clinical Director