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Celebrating 70 Years of Mental Health Awareness Month: “Seizing the Awkward,” 2019

may is mental health awareness month

Awareness

How is Mental Health Awareness Month celebrated? Since 1949, May has been deemed “Mental Health Awareness Month,” raising awareness among millions of people through media, screenings, and local events. Whether you deal with depression, anxiety, PTSD, or whatever else might be challenging you, this is your month, and in a good way!

This year, Mental Health America (MHA) is doubling down on last year’s Mental Health Awareness Month of #4Mind4Body, and taking it to the next level. They plan on showcasing such topics as spirituality, humor, work-life balance, social connections, recreation, and animal companionship, all as ways to raise interest and awareness around mental health and overall wellness for individuals.

Each year millions of Americans (about one in five) live with mental illness, as do their families, and everything mental illness brings with it. Through fighting stigma, providing support, educating the public, and advocating for public policies that in support of those with mental illness, a significant impact can be made for better.

During Mental Health Month, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) will be running its own awareness campaign, known as WhyCare?.  What is the WhyCare campaign about? NAMI states that it is an “opportunity to share the importance of care in our relationships to others, in mental health treatment and services, and in support and education to millions of people, families, caregivers, and loved ones affected by mental illness.” According to NAMI, demonstration of how and why we care helps bring more awareness to pertinent issues by showing participant actions and connections to others. Furthermore, NAMI submits that caring has the power to make a significant impact on all those affected by mental health conditions.

 

Highlights from MHA’s upcoming Mental Health Awareness Month Celebration

Celebrate mental health awareness month by loving those who need love

Let’s walk through just a few highlights of what MHA will be showcasing during May 2019, from their downloadable toolkit.

Download the full MHA Toolkit here.

Spirituality & Religion

 Don’t let anyone convince you that religion is always a taboo subject for discussion. Whether you meditate, practice yoga, or attend church, being mindful of the health of your soul is critical aspect of caring for yourself. It can even improve physical and mental health while you’re at it.

  • 29 percent of individuals polled are both spiritual and religious.
  • 18 percent are spiritual but not religious.
  • 31 percent are neither spiritual or religious.
  • 22 percent are religious, but not spiritual.
  • In people born with heart diseases, being religious or spiritual led to healthier behaviors, better quality of life, and higher life satisfaction.
  • Having a sense of meaning, purpose, or connection to something larger than oneself is associated with positive mental health outcomes in people receiving cancer treatment.
  • One study found that people who attended religious services monthly showed a 22 percent lower risk of depression.
  • Spiritual and religious beliefs related to meaning, peace, and faith were associated with reduced suicide risk and better mental health in people getting dialysis treatments.May is a month to take care of you and others with mental health struggles

 

 

 

 

 

 

Humor

Having a healthy sense of humor in regard to day-to-day life can lift your mood and help people to better cope with and overcome di­fficult times. Don’t be afraid to learn to laugh about your difficulties and struggles; just because you can learn to lighten a situation by laughing about it doesn’t mean you’re not handling it seriously, nor does it make it any less real or valid.

Eight interesting facts about laughter:

  • It stimulates your muscles, heart, and lungs.
  • It decreases the levels of stress hormones.
  • It increases activity in your brain’s “reward system” areas.
  • It releases endorphins (your body’s natural pain blockers).
  • It promotes anxiety relief and a better overall mood.
  • It strengthens your immune system.
  • It reduces burnout in all areas of life.
  • It helps you interact better with others.

Work-life balance is important in managing your mental healthWork-life Balance

 Work teaches you values like patience, persistence, and character. It allows you to provide for yourself and your family as you serve a purpose in your community. When it takes over your life, however, it can be detrimental to your health. Better work-life balance is in order.

Eight facts about work in the United States:

  • People surveyed who feel they have good work-life balance are more satisfied with their jobs and their lives, and experience fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Working overtime increases the likelihood of having symptoms of depression, especially in men.
  • Of adults employed full time in the U.S., nearly 40 percent reported working at least 50 hours per week, and 18% work 60 hours or more.
  • Over 75 percent of Americans surveyed are afraid of getting punished for taking a day off­ to attend to their mental health.
  • More than two-thirds of those surveyed have had their sleep negatively aff­ected by workplace issues.
  • Those who work in manufacturing, retail, and food/beverage jobs were most likely to report that work stress “always or often” impacts their personal relationships.
  • More than half of those surveyed say that they do unhealthy things (e.g. drinking, overworking, drug use, lashing out at others) to cope with workplace stress.
  • Poor work-life balance increases the risk for health conditions like sleep problems, digestive disorders, and mental health problems. This is especially true for people who work longer shifts or on nights and weekends.

Whatever you do for Mental Health Awareness Month, remember that it’s a time to both show and receive emotional support in regard to coping with mental health challenges.

DO YOU DO ANYTHING UNIQUE FOR MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH? WE’D LOVE TO HEAR ABOUT IT! LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW!

Are you struggling with depression and/or anxiety? Both are treatable, and their treatment usually leads to an improved sense of overall wellness and better sleep. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

 

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A Surefire Remedy for Your Depression: 7 Things to look forward to in 2019

7 things to look forward to in 2019!

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

Things to look forward to in 2019.  Depression is known to be so emotionally draining in part due to the fact that those who suffer from it feel permanently and chronically “stuck,” with nothing new to look forward to on the horizon. Sound familiar?

The late comedian George Burns once quipped that his secret to feeling young was to “have something to look forward to when he woke up every morning.” If you’ve been dealing with the holiday blues, or if you deal with mental illness issues like anxiety and/or depression regularly, perhaps you’ve been thinking that now that the holidays are over, that it’s January 2019, and that there’s nothing but grey days in store for the next couple of months. But think again.

It’s interesting to hear so many people diss on a year that’s coming to a close, without thinking about all the great things that happened. Think of all the people you know who have grumbled something along the lines of, “Wow, 2018 was terrible. I can’t wait for the new year!”

Remember that it’s always better to be grateful than to be a critic. Here are just a few of the great milestones we saw in 2018:

What’s to Look Forward to?

To help you keep some “big picture” perspective for the new year, from tech, science, movies, social change, the following are some things we can all look forward to in 2019.

  1. The world is (most likely) not going to end. Hey, there’s a break! A few years ago it was predicted that an asteroid was going to pass by the Earth in 2019 with a minor chance of crashing into us (which would have been nothing short of utterly catastrophic). NASA, however, has officially declared that such a collision with earth will not occur and that the asteroid will not fly by as closely as initially predicted. In fact, it will pass by us over 2.5 million miles farther away. Sorry, YouTube conspiracy-mongers.
  2. Five eclipses. Remember the 2017 eclipse that went all across North America? South America and South Asia will now have a turn at amazing eclipse views. July 2, 2019, will show us a complete solar eclipse over southern Chile and Argentina, as well as over parts of the South Pacific. On December 26, the day after Christmas, another total eclipse will head across the Arabian Peninsula and then over areas of South Asia. All in all, the world will enjoy five eclipses in 2019, some solar and some lunar.
  3. 2019 Women’s World Cup. The FIFA Women’s World Cup, will take place in June through July 2019 in France, whose men’s team happened to win the 2018 World Cup. The U.S. Women’s National Team returns as the event’s reigning champions from the 2015 World Cup in Canada. Not a soccer fan, but prefer rugby instead? The Men’s Rugby World Cup is set to happen in Japan in September.
  4. A world printed in 3D. 3D printing hit the stage as just a seemingly nerdy passing fad. 2019 is anticipated to be the year 3D printing really takes off. Think 3D bioprinting for medicine/healthcare, more precise, sophisticated 3D industrial metal printing which has the capacity to revolutionize manufacturing and more user-friendly 3D printing for hobbyists. Xerox is getting into 3D printing, developing a home 3D printer this year.
  5. A $100 million Fortnite gaming tournament. If you’ve never heard of the game called Fortnite, here is a great way to become better acquainted. There is a large Epic Games Fortnite tournament coming in 2019 with a winner’s pot of $100 million. Anyone with a gaming console, lots of attitude, and skills can join in. Qualifying brackets have already begun, but qualifications will go on through the better part of the year before the big tournament begins.
  6. Lots of highly anticipated movies! Get ready for the blockbusters you’ve been waiting for at the theaters, including “Avengers: Endgame,” “Captain Marvel,” “Joker,” “The Lion King,” “Aladdin,” “Dumbo,” “Frozen 2,” and of course, “Star Wars: Episode IX.”
  7. New Star Wars park at Disneyland and Disney World. Speaking of being strong with the Force,both Disney theme parks are opening the highly anticipated new Star Wars-themed areas of their parks in the fall of 2019. “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” will include 14 acres of all kinds of exciting activities, rides, and restaurants Star Wars fans of all ages. We’ll get a first in-person glimpse at the Star Wars galaxy’s planet Batuu, along with enough galactic riff-raff to make George Lucas himself proud.

So, there you have just a taste of what there is to be excited about coming your way next year. Which brings us back to George Burns. Another piece of sage advice he left behind for us involves an old saying, “Life begins at 40.” George Burns’ take? “…That’s silly. Life begins every morning you wake up.” Here’s wishing you a great 2019!

Concerned about your own depression and/or anxiety? Both are treatable and manageable. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

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8 Ways to Keep Family Members From Ruining Your Holidays

avoid family drama during the holidays

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

You can avoid family conflict during the holidays (or at least minimize it).  Avoiding family drama during the Christmas/holiday season can be a bit of an art, but it is certainly something you can manage. And well.

Imagine: One person (or one person’s wife) ends up resentfully doing most of the organizing, cooking, and work, while another relative imbibes too much and blurts out a dark secret, and then another relative’s child throws an unbearable tantrum. Any single one of these occurrences, not to mention a combination of several, can be all it takes to ruin yet another annual family holiday gathering.

The holidays tend to be stressful for just about anyone. Combine this stress with the fact that some individuals can be thoughtless, inconsiderate, nitpicky, irritating, and sometimes outright spiteful. Worse, many such individuals (yes, including your own family members) never own their own behavior, and really don’t care how hurtful, problematic, or careless with the feelings of others they may be. It is always “someone else’s fault.”

Holiday stress + wanton emotionally reckless behavior. It makes quite the combination, and it’s enough to make everyone else hate the holidays, hate getting the family together and wish they could fast forward the clock past New Year’s.

 

What Drives it All?

What are some of the dynamics that create an atmosphere ripe for familial holiday conflict? Let’s look at a few:

  • “Short fuses.”A family member (or members) is prone to angry outbursts that are typically disproportionate to the situation or to the initial trigger (“I said NO PECANS!! Why can’t you do ANYTHING right???”).
  • Opinionated individuals tend to be extremely rigid in their thinking, suspicious without reason, unwilling to concede anything, or seemingly just defiant and argumentative for the sake of it (“I know what I’m talking about, and if you don’t agree with me, you’re an idiot!”).
  • Attention hogs. You know him or her. The family member who needs to be the center of attention at all times, who sometimes acts out when offended at feeling left out of any conversations, outings, events, or what have you.
  • The buzzkills. Then there are the family members around whom you feel ever physically and emotionally drained, or worse yet, you feel agitated, anxious, unsettled, or upset.
  • The martyrs. A relative who loves to play the victim, or who feels entitled to receive special treatment. Vindication for perceived injustices and having unreasonable demands met are the sought-after prize for these individuals. All at the expense of others, of course. (“One day you’ll be sorry when I’m gone!”)
  • The wound collectors. Fixates on past offenses, slights, mistakes/flaws of others, and is ever ready to bring them back up at the drop of a hat. No forgiveness or forgetting. No peace.
  • Irresponsible speech and behavior. A family member who always seems to irritate or hurt others’ feelings, as if the negligent perpetrator feels no obligation whatsoever to “turn on the filter” (“I tell it like it is!”).
  • The never-ending family feud. Not nearly as fun as the game show, family feuds among your relatives may be brief outbursts that last a few minutes, or that maybe go on for hours, days, even weeks and months with minimal effort (or even desire) to reconcile or end them.
  • Feelings of unhappiness, of being emotionally drained, edginess, lack of fulfillment, worthlessness, etc. You “walk on eggshells,” around the family get-together, constantly on your toes to avoid the next incident that will embarrass you or leave you feeling hurt.

The first thing you should do is recognize that none of this is your imagination. Such individuals may act reasonably one day, but that doesn’t mean you should simply ignore such flagrantly bad habits and behaviors, especially when they hurt you or others. These people need help and should seek out a professional who can help them become more aware of their behavior and manage it better. Meanwhile, you still have to protect yourself. Remember, such incidents can serve as a trigger to set off your own mental illness.

Mind your own boundaries

Here are some suggestions regarding what you can do when dealing with such bad behavior from family members and to help avoid family drama during Christmas break or any other time of year:

  1. This is no time for therapy. Remember that family time at the holidays is not the time for a therapy session. That is for professionals to handle in private at another appropriate time. Don’t let your holiday cheer be robbed by going for the bait and ending up being drawn into drama that you don’t want.
  2. Set boundaries. Without being too exacting, determine ahead of time what you will and won’t tolerate. You may have to separate yourself from the group or not attend at all if things start to head south. Do not ease up on your boundaries until inconsiderate behaviors change (e.g., if dinner is scheduled at 6, then start at 6. Latecomers will just be late. No attention hogs, no dramatic entrances, no shows of dominance, etc.). You are under no obligation whatsoever to be victimized.
  3. See reality for what it is. Words matter little if there is no action behind it to back it up. Don’t just write off hurtful behaviors.
  4. Taboo topics. Get a consensus upfront regarding what everyone else is willing to discuss and not discuss (e.g., religion, politics). These discussions can tend to bring out the worst in people.
  5. Taboo behaviors. Some individuals revert to coping mechanisms/behaviors such as binge drinking in order to create a divide in the group, antagonize, or irritate others, and such antics should be squelched beforehand. You can set the rules in your house, but if you and your family are elsewhere, don’t join into the discord.
  6. Call for help if you need to. If someone gets violent or draws a weapon (especially after drinking/drugging), don’t even hesitate to call the police.
  7. Safety is not a guarantee. Just because you are with family does not mean you are emotionally/physically/psychologically safe. Watch out for yourself and avoid/avert anything or anyone who might do you harm.
  8. Plan on having a good time together! Don’t give an audience to someone in the group who insists on hijacking the rest of the group and “holding them hostage.” Don’t give something unsavory a life by giving it your attention. Focus on creating positive memories together with your loved ones.

Awkward and unhappy family moments do happen, even with the best intentions, so don’t feel like you’ve failed if a family holiday get-together goes awry. Be polite, be loving, but be firm in taking care of yourself.

Holidays with the family got you down? It may not be just a case of the “holiday blues.” Depression and anxiety are treatable and manageable. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about family dysfunction or other mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

Attachment and Psychopathology Workshop

We are excited to announce that we are co-sponsoring “Attachment and Psychopathology” a three-day continuing education training February 18-20, 2019.

This unique training focuses on the development, prevention and treatment of psychological disorder. It weaves together theory, human development, assessment, case examples and treatment applications to reframe maladaptive behavior in terms of strategies for self-protection. The course covers development from infancy to adulthood, emphasizing the process of adaptation and developmental pathways that carry risk for psychopathology.

Not only is this training of particular importance to the clinical community, but Solara staff members have a personal connection to the event. This event is being held in honor of Benjamin Inouye, a fellow clinician who passed unexpectedly this year. Ben was a dearly loved and respected member of the San Diego therapy community, and we feel privileged that Solara is able to support Ben’s passion for prevention of adult psychopathology.

To register for this event please go to trieft.org/attachment-crittenden