Taking Time for Yourself During the Summer

Summer is warm and exciting, with plenty of fun activities to participate in. But summer activities and jobs can get overwhelming. Year-round jobs during the summer (while everyone else is sunbathing) can get pretty overwhelming and depressing, too.
Therefore, it’s just as important as ever to take your occasional mental health days, or to set aside some time for you to relax by yourself, or with others.
 
Here are some of the ways I like to spend my own mental health days:
 
1.) Coffee and a good book. 
 
 
Don’t underestimate the power of an extra cup of iced coffee or tea to accompany that new young-adult, romance or science-fiction novel, while sitting near a window, or outside if possible. I recently read We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, one of my favorite childhood authors, and it helped distract me from everything that usually stresses me out during the work week.
 
2.) A date with your laptop or TV.
 
Let your mind relax while you watch a movie in bed, or binge-watch a couple of the new “Orange is the New Black” episodes.
 
3.) Explore your town or city.
 
As someone who has been living in Washington, D.C. for the past year, I can honestly tell you that I have barely explored any of it. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that many of us live places where there are areas we have yet to venture out to. Take a break and explore your surroundings. Take it all in and let your mind wander. 
 
4.) Petsmart trip.
 
 
 
If you don’t have a pet of your own, consider relaxing by going to Petsmart. Look at all of the cute little kittens or the weird looking birds and guinea pigs. Also, studies show that watching fish swim in fish tanks can help relieve stress and anxiety. 
 
5.) Youtube pet videos.
 
If you can’t go to Petsmart, take a look at some of these online cat and dog videos that are sure to make you smile.
 
6.) Take a break from social media.
 
Uninstall Facebook and Twitter (if you can) from your phone for a day. Sometimes social media stresses us out more than we can tell. Social media is great, but it’s important to maintain your mental health while using social media 
 
7.) Listen to instrumental music.
 

 
I love listening to rock, country and pop music. However, I have come to realize that sometimes lyrics can stress me out. When I really need to calm down and relax I turn to my favorite pianist, Yiruma. I also enjoy listening to the Scottish instrumental band Mogwai
 
8.) Go for a swim.
 
 
 
 If you live in an apartment complex with a pool, or if you live near a pool, take a swim every now and then. Swimming can help clear your mind.
 
9.) Redecorate.  
 
Sometimes, all you really need is a change of scenery. Move around some furniture in your home or hang up a few new pictures and interior decorations here and there. Need help? Check out Apartmenttherapy.com, which is one of my favorite redecorating blogsCurrently, this article about temporary and removable adhesives is my favorite.
 
10.)  Try a cold shower or a warm bubble bath. 
 
We often get caught up in the hustle and bustle of rushing to get ready for work on time and rarely ever take that time to relax. If you get a moment later in the day, try a cold shower (you know—for when it’s INSANELY hot outside and your commute home involved walking) or a warm bubble bath (because when was the last time you actually took a bath? What about one with bubbles?) with a book to read or music to listen to. 
 
11.)  Window shop! 
 

 
Whether it’s the book store down the block, or the consignment shop two streets over (or maybe you have returned to take another look at the fish in Petsmart), window shopping is a nice (and free) way to get your mind off of daily stressors.
 
12.) Creative expression.
 
Have a few hours to relax in between jobs or obligations? Try a quick and easy outlet like creative writing, sketching, journaling, painting or singing. Personally, I tend to prefer writing or painting to help express myself. This article is one of my favorite guides to painting for stress relief. 
 
13.) Go on a road trip. 
 
If you have a car and gas money to spare, road trips can be really fun and are great for taking your mind off of work. It doesn’t have to be long, either. Maybe you live two hours away from the beach, or three hours from the mountains. Pick a friend or family member, your favorite CD and hit the road! Driving down country roads with the windows down, while listening to “Carry On Wayward Son” by Kansas never fails to make me happy. 
 
14.) Go kayaking or canoeing.
 
If you don’t have a canoe or kayak (I don’t have either), you can still take part in this activity. There are many businesses along rivers in cities and towns that let you rent a canoe or kayak for an hour. I like to kayak on the Potomac on Saturday mornings when I’ve had a really bad week. The wind and the smell of the fresh, river water helps me relax. Plus, it’s a great work out. It can be a little expensive ranging from $15-$20 an hour, so I only do it occasionally.
 
15.)  Rant. 
 
Find someone willing to listen to what you have going on in your life—your best friend, your mother, your significant other, your dog, the Internet…and just rant. The rant could be about annoying coworkers or your detail-oriented boss, but they don’t have to be. Rant about the weather. Rant about climate change and social justice issues. Rant about how silly you think it is that a museum in Kentucky decided to keep a sinkhole as a tourist attraction. Just rant For me, I am constantly ranting to myself about these subjects in my head, but since I’m not letting any of that anger out verbally, it just bottles up. After getting all of those rambling, raging thoughts out of your head, the weight on your shoulders starts to feel a little lighter, and it really does help. 

Guest Blogger:

Rain Freeman, Summer Communications Intern

@_RainFreeman

Mental Health Association of Montgomery County

The Other Side of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Treatment

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that is triggered by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, and it does not discriminate.

A year after the Boston Marathon bombing, it has come out that more than 10% of the children who witnessed the event are likely to exhibit symptoms of PTSD.

There are three types of PTSD symptoms: re-experiencing, avoidance, and hyperarousal.
Common symptoms under these three categories are:

· Flashbacks, recurrent and persistent distressing thoughts and effort to ignore or suppress such thoughts
· Difficulty falling or staying asleep and/or recurrent distressing dreams/nightmares
· Avoiding places, objects or events that may remind a victim of the trauma
· Guilt, depression, mental numbness and worry
· Loss of interest in activities once enjoyable
· Difficulty concentrating and memory difficulties
· Hyper vigilance, irritability or outburst of anger

In addition to the children of Boston, the victims of Hurricane Sandy are suffering from the mental and emotional repercussions of such a traumatic event.

Other well-known victims of PTSD include veterans and active duty military members. One in three American troops returning from overseas experience PTSD, but less than 40% will ever receive help.

Victims of sexual assault are even more likely to suffer from this common mental condition. Almost 31% of sexual assault survivors develop PTSD at some point in their life, and 11% of those survivors are still experiencing symptoms of PTSD.

Anyone can experience a traumatic event and at least 70% of Americans do. Twenty percent of those who experience such events develop PTSD as a result.

Nancy Brisebois-Good LCPC, NCC is a licensed bilingual mental health therapist with the N*COMMON program at the Mental Health Association of Montgomery County. She works with newly arrived French-speaking, multicultural clients, who have mostly come from countries in West Africa, and are in the U.S seeking political asylum. Many of her clients suffer from PTSD, as a result of severe trauma and torture.

“Some of my clients have lost their families and everything they owned and they are here because they are being persecuted in their country,” says Brisebois-Good.

These clients frequently suffer from nightmares, insomnia and constant fear. The triggers are sometimes hard to distinguish.

“Sometimes there’s no trigger at all because they are constantly thinking about their trauma,” says Brisebois-Good. “A slight noise can lead them to be jumpy and scared.”

When it comes to treating these issues, Brisebois-Good is one of many who prefer Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is a method of treatment that addresses dysfunctional emotions and thoughts and the impact of these thoughts and feelings on a person’s behavior.

Another method of treatment used by Brisebois-Good is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBTI) which involves that the client filling out a sleep journal. Later on, the therapist can look at the journal to see what is most likely causing the insomnia and decide from there how it should be treated.
Exposure, Relaxation, & Rescripting Therapy (ERRT) is a cognitive behavioral treatment for trauma-related nightmares also used by Brisebois-Good.

Most of Brisebois-Good’s clients have nightmares. By using ERRT, the client is able to (if they agree to do so) relive and discuss their nightmares with their therapist, where they feel safe.

When they do so, they discuss disturbing details of their nightmares. ERRT helps to re-script these details by supplying clients with the tools to empower themselves.

Brisebois-Good described a scenario where a client might have a nightmare about someone violently chasing them. She would tell them to imagine what they would do if they had all the superpowers in the world, and then she would ask them what they would do next.

“And that’s when you start to see them smiling,” says Brisebois- Good.

Over time, the clients are able to use ERRT techniques to create a more positive outcome in their nightmares. Soon, Brisebois-Good says, they are able to feel more assertive and confident while awake as well.

Several other techniques are used in these therapy sessions, such as narrative therapy, Gestalt, and relaxation techniques.

“Sharing their experience in a safe environment allows the clients to process the trauma,” says Brisebois-Good. “Learning tools from all these modalities, provides them the knowledge and psycho-education necessary to be able to live in a more functional and comfortable way.”

PTSD can often seem and feel very debilitating, but with treatment, recovery is possible.

If you think yourself or a loved one may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, the most important measure to be taken is to offer emotional support.

For additional help:
National Center for PTSD: 1-802-296-6300
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE
Suicide Prevention Lifelines: 1-800-273-TALK, 1-800-SUICIDE
MHA Military/Vet Resource Line: 1-301-738-7176

Guest Blogger:

Rain Freeman, Summer Communications Intern

@_RainFreeman

Rain Freeman

Mental Health Association of Montgomery County

Mindful Eating and Your Mental Health

Hello Beautiful Blissful Readers! Katie here all the way from The Wellness Wonderland! I thought I’d drop by to share a secret from wonderland to make food tastier. The secret is quite simple: awareness.

Since we all lead such busy and stressful lives, lunch is commonly eaten while working at a desk and breakfast is usually taken on the go. Sometimes we don’t even realize we’re fueling our bodies.

Office worker eating at deskEating in a stressful state is directly linked to digestive problems. I’ve found in my own personal journey, this process served me well when it comes to food addiction, emotional eating, and eating disorder recovery.
 When we are eating when we’re not hungry and we’re not present with our food we are simply using food as a coping mechanism to not have to feel a feeling we’ve avoiding. Humans use many coping mechanisms from drugs to shopping to sex to food to avoid feeling. When first starting to make a change just bring awareness to why you are eating when you’re not hungry. You don’t even have to stop just bring awareness of knowing what it is you’re avoiding doing or feeling and why you’re choosing to eat instead. Then see if you can use that awareness to use this tools. Eat your food, sitting down, calm, and present instead of standing in the kitchen, fridge door open, right out of the container, quickly so no one sees. Put it on a plate for gosh sakes, enjoy it and don’t judge yourself with your mind just be aware of what’s going on mentally. That is the first step to changing it.

While not every meal has to be eaten this way, aim for once a day. Here are the eating awareness guidelines. Download them and hang them on your fridge or in your eating area to remind you to tune in and mindfully feed your body – it will allow you to truly enjoy your food. (Download the pdf here: 2EnlightenedEating-Final)

- Remain seated.

- Refrain from conversation while chewing.

- Place your utensil down between each bite. Wait until food is completely chewed & swallowed before picking up your utensil your next bite.

- Refrain from external distractions, including reading, watching TV, listening to music, phone, etc.

- Put no more than two handfuls of food on your plate at a time. Finish eating your two handfuls, then wait 3-5 minutes before taking more food.

- Wait until food is completely digested (2-6 hours) before your next meal or snack.

Bon Appetit!

 

Guest Blogger:katieheadshot (1)

Katie Dalebout

Wellness Wonderland

Stress-Less and Plan Your Wedding With Finesse

image001Although you’ve been planning your big day since age 6, the task becomes a heck of a lot more daunting when it actually arrives. Between uncooperative bridesmaids, overeager moms and aunts, and the fact that you just can’t seem to find that right shade of cerulean for your gift bags, your stress meter is maxed out! First of all, exhale. Whooo. Ok, good. Now take a look at these tips to help you plan your wedding with finesse instead of stress.

 

Meditate

Take a moment to clear your mind of all of your worries and just focus on your breathing for a few minutes. Sit in a quiet part of your home and focus on taking deep breaths, write down your thoughts in a journal, take a bath – anything that gives you calming time to yourself to clear your mind and reflect.

 

Get Physical

Although you’re busy, don’t let your workout routine fall to the wayside, as it can be a huge outlet to relieve wedding planning stress. Exercise relieves those bottled up emotions, improves your mood and gives you energy to tackle wedding tasks.

 

Stay Focused on What’s Important

There are hundreds of details to attend to when planning a wedding, but keep the bigger picture in mind. It’s unlikely that your guests will come up to you at the end of the night and say, “I absolutely loved the design on the handle of my fork, it made this wedding unforgettable.”

The feeling of love shared between you and your fiancée on your big day is the memory that will last, not the pattern on the silverware. Spend some quality time with your spouse-to-be, or whatever it is you need to do to remind you why you’re going through this in the first place!

 

Designate a Wedding Day Contact

Give someone the authority to make last-minute decisions. Even if you have a maid of honor, make sure that you have explicitly communicated this authority. Issues with the caterer or seating arrangement 30 minutes before the ceremony should be the last thing you’re worrying about on your big day.

 

Take Care of Yourself

In the pursuit of an unforgettable day, don’t ignore your own needs. Make sure that you’re still eating well, getting enough sleep and most importantly doing the things that you enjoy and that make you happy.

 

Your life is not a movie…

… and neither is your wedding. Be realistic.

 

These tips won’t alleviate all your stress, but they will help; and when you’re planning a wedding, all you need is some really good help. Think of us as your virtual bridesmaid J.

 

Don’t know where to start? Still need more ideas? Bridal showcases are a great place to start your wedding planning; luckily, they occur year round. The next showcase, The Washington Wedding Experience, will be at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, VA on Sunday, April 13th. For more information, click here!

 

 

Guest Blogger:

Halley Henry, Communications Intern

Mental Health Association of Montgomery County

 

Maintain Your Mental Health As A Social Media User

Do this. Open your search engine. Start typing in “social media makes me.”  What are the top search results that you see?

Here’s what I saw:

social media makes me lonely

How many happy days have been destroyed by Facebook posts about your ex and the new girl/guy? How many relaxing nights alone at home have been ruined by Instagram pics of friends out on the town, having a great time while you’re downing pints of Ben and Jerry’s in your zebra onesie?

Social media is an incredible tool. It has the power to reconnect us with friends we haven’t seen since we were kids, to share good news with millions of people worldwide in seconds, to even make dreams come true. But it also has the power to control our lives and our moods – if we let it. Like any powerful tool, use it wisely we must.

 

use it wisely

 

I’ll share a few tips on maintaining positive mental health as a social media user found around the web, as well as a few tips I’ve picked up from friends’ experiences and from some of my own.

 

Is your social media use cutting into the real-life things that make you happy?

  • Talk to your friends – Make sure you’re connecting with your friends in person, or at least via phone or video chat. Constant liking, sharing and commenting can make it seem like we’re always connected to friends. Social networks are no substitute for having actual, meaningful conversations.  Meet up for a cup of coffee or give a friend a call who you haven’t spoken to in a while.
  • Set Time Limits – Set boundaries for yourself so you don’t end up checking your accounts continuously throughout the day.
  • Be in the present – Scrolling through your feeds all day means that you miss out on the greatness happening right in front of you.
  • Remember that Facebook friends DO NOT equal real friends – Your roommate has more than 1,000 friends on Facebook. You have 250. That means she’s more loved than you, right? It’s easy to get sucked into this way of thinking, but there’s no way she can call on those 1,000 people to vent at the end of a long day. Think about the real people that you can depend on in your life. Those are the friends who count.

Are you trying to keep up with the Joneses?

  • Keep in mind that people share selectively – When checking your social media updates, it seems like everyone’s getting engaged, everyone’s getting promotions, everyone’s doing something exciting. Remember – people only choose to share those spectacular moments in life. No one shares about being short on rent or getting into a fight with their spouse.
  • Don’t use social media to seek validationIt feels good when people like your posts and pictures. It’s tempting, but don’t utilize your social media accounts to seek validation. When you share a picture of yourself that you think is cute or a post you think is hilarious, your lack of likes can be a blow to your self-confidence and a serious downer. Don’t give your networks that power over you. Self-confidence and true happiness comes from within, not from some acquaintance of yours giving their stamp of approval on your outfit.

Do you need a social media vacation?

  • Delete social media apps from your phone – Has that 4 inch screen growing out of the palm of your hand taken over your life? (Side note – that much hunching over your phone cannot be good for your neck or posture.) Consider removing social media apps from your cell phone to limit your access to your accounts and cut down on the time you spend posting and perusing feeds.
  • Remind yourself why you’re using each social media platform. There are a million social media applications available. Do you really need to be on all of them!?

 

We love social media – it’s what allows us to connect with you! Just make sure your mental health isn’t being negatively affected while using it.  

 

And follow us, we promote positivity, won’t spam your feeds and share really great articles on mental health and wellness.

 Pinterest | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr

 

Guest Blogger:

Jasmine Berry, Communication, Education & Advocacy Coordinator

Mental Health Association of Montgomery County

BREAKING NEWS: Spring Fever Outbreak Hits Hard

breaking news photo

“It’s spring fever.  That is what the name of it is.  And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”  ~Mark Twain

Are you finding you:

  • Would rather go to the park than your 8am social studies class or board meeting
  • Often daydream about laying in the shade under a palm tree
  • Envy your friends on Facebook who post about their Spring Break adventures
  • Recognize that the only difference in your daily routine is the type of sandwich you packed for lunch

If you said “yes” to any of the above symptoms, you may have Spring Fever. Around this time of year, many of us are struck by an unexplainable desire to avoid routine. We long for change, adventure, renewal, and growth. Often we are unsure about what it is that we really want or need, but one thing is for sure…we want it and our minds will remain restless until we find it.

When Spring Fever strikes, it hits hard and does not discriminate by race, age, or gender. You may see it among high school and college seniors who long for the end of their four year strife towards graduation, as well as among office professionals who have sheltered themselves in their cubicles against the bitter chill of winter.

Fortunately, if you happen to catch Spring Fever, there are a few home remedies that may bring relief and sooth your mind:

  • Vacation: Going on a vacation can give you a break from normal routine and allow you to spend time with family and friends. Thus, it is a great way to get rid of the Spring Fever bug. However, vacationing for some may be difficult because of deadlines at work or financial restraints. If you are unable to journey far from home or take several days off of work, stay the weekend at a bed and breakfast in a nearby town or pack a picnic and spend a day in the park with your family.
  • Start a new project: A sense of accomplishment can help relax a restless mind. So now is the perfect time to begin a new project, or perhaps finish an old one. Did you see a craft on the internet that you wanted to recreate? Have you always wanted to try knitting? Is the motorcycle you started working on last fall still sitting in the garage? Crossing something off your “to do” list or doing something that makes you happy and feel accomplished can give a huge boost to your mental wellness.
  • Get Outside: Usually during the winter months we have an undeniable urge to snuggle up in a blanket and drink hot chocolate every night. Now that the weather is getting warmer, there is no excuse to continue hibernating indoors.  Maybe you love riding your bike, hiking, fishing, or playing Frisbee? Getting back into warm-weather habits can break the cycle of cold-weather routine.

If you have had Spring Fever and want to share your own remedy, we would love to hear it. 

What to Do With the Holiday Blues

The season is a time full of joy, parties, and family gatherings. However, many times unwanted stress and depression can creep into our holiday cheer. Nonetheless, there are a variety of simple things you can do that may help lift your spirit.

What Causes Holiday Blues?
Many factors can cause the “holiday blues”: stress, fatigue, unrealistic expectations, over-commercialization, financial constraints, and the inability to be with one’s family and friends. The demands of shopping, parties, family reunions, and house guests also contribute to feelings of tension. People who do not become depressed may develop other stress responses, such as: headaches, excessive drinking, over-eating, and difficulty sleeping. Even more people experience post-holiday let down after January 1st. This can result from disappointments during the preceding months compounded with the excess fatigue and stress.

Coping with Stress and Depression During the Holidays

  • Keep expectations for the holiday season manageable. Try to set realistic goals for yourself. Pace yourself. Organize your time. Make a list and prioritize the important activities. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do. Do not put entire focus on just one day (i.e., Christmas) remember it is a season of holiday sentiment and activities can be spread out (time-wise) to lessen stress and increase enjoyment.
  • Remember the holiday season does not banish reasons for feeling sad or lonely; there is room for these feelings to be present, even if one chooses not to express them. Everyone experiences feelings of being overwhelmed and it is good to recognize your limits. Pay attention to your feelings and feel free to express them when wanted.
  • Leave “yesteryear” in the past and look toward the future. Life brings changes. Each season is different and can be enjoyed in its own way. Don’t set yourself up in comparing today with the “good ol’ days.”
  • Do something for someone else. Try volunteering some time to help others.
  • Enjoy activities that are free, such as driving around to look at holiday decorations; going window shopping without buying; making a snowperson with children, enjoy street carolers.
  • Be aware that excessive drinking will only increase your feelings of depression.
  • Try something new. Celebrate the holidays in a new way.
  • Spend time with supportive and caring people. Reach out and make new friends or contact someone you have not heard from for awhile.
  • Save time for yourself! Recharge your batteries! Let others share responsibility of activities.

Can Environment Be a Factor?
Recent studies show that some people suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) which results from fewer hours of sunlight as the days grow shorter during the winter months. Phototherapy, a treatment involving a few hours of exposure to intense light, is effective in relieving depressive symptoms in patients with SAD.

Other studies on the benefits of phototherapy found that exposure to early morning sunlight was effective in relieving seasonal depression. Recent findings, however, suggest that patients respond equally well to phototherapy whether it is scheduled in the early afternoon. This has practical applications for antidepressant treatment since it allows the use of phototherapy in the workplace as well as the home.

Remember to lean on your support systems and seek help if you need it. There is always assistance available.  For Montgomery County Maryland, MHA hotline (301-738-CALL) is available 24 hours a day.

 For More Information:
Mental Health Association

1000 Twinbrook Parkway
Rockville, MD  20851
Phone 301/424-0656
Fax 301/7381030
www.mhamc.org
info@mhamc.org

Avoid Thanksgiving Day Stress

Thanksgiving can be one of the most fun and fulfilling holidays of the season, but it can also be filled with stress. Here are some tips to reduce that stress, and make the most of Turkey Day!

1. If There is Still Time, Make this Year a Thanksgiving Potluck

One of the most stressful parts of Thanksgiving is the dinner—Thanksgiving’s focal point. If you are hosting the family dinner, you often have several dishes to prepare–mashed potatoes for Susie, Sweet potatoes for Maria, yams for Trey. This year, be forthcoming about what you need each guest to contribute in order to ease your own workload.

2.  Recognize Your limits

Because the holidays are best spent with family, the “responsibility” to make time for everyone can easily cause unwarranted stress. Limit your holidays to as few family visits as possible.  Consider hosting holiday parties at “off” times in the year or around the holidays but not on actual holiday days.

3. Assign Seating

We all have those certain relatives that never get along. This year, don’t leave your seating assignments to chance. You can make simple nametags and make sure that certain individuals sit as far away from each other as possible. This will help everyone at the dinner table enjoy the meal better and save you from having to play referee during the conversation.

4. Prioritize Your Cleaning

In preparation for the holiday, we all want our house to be spotless for our guests. Clean the clutter before anything else. Your goal is to clean the areas that are most likely to be used and noticed by your guests.

5. Prepare Ahead of Time

Thanksgiving Day is the busiest time of the holiday. A long to-do list can cause a great amount of stress. Therefore, try to do as much as possible the day before (Today). Certain tasks can be done ahead of the Holiday to save you time: set the table; bake dessert; make a plan for Thanksgiving Day concerning what foods need to go in the oven first, which can be microwaved, and what can be cooked together without losing flavor.

6. Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is especially important during the holiday season, because we get so worn down during the day with extra duties. Take note of the fact that you’re performing double or even triple duty. Sleep lets us recover from our hard work, is essential to maintaining an even keel when things get rough, and helps gives us needed energy to get through the holidays!

7. Stay Healthier

Holiday stress can weaken your immune system. Getting enough sleep (see above) is one important tip, others  include drinking a glass of orange juice each day, washing your hands as often as possible, and covering your mouth up when going outside into cold weather. Taking a walk (dress warmly if you live in a cold environment) can help you clear your mind, reduce stress, and help you get exercise.

8.  Help Others, If You Can

The holidays can be both a joyous and stressful time, we hope these tips will help.  Let’s also remember that the holidays can be an even harder time for those who are facing economic challenges (maybe donate warm clothes or toys), those who are isolated and lonely (maybe visit an elderly neighbor or double a recipe and bring one tray to the staff at a local hospital) and those who are missing family at this time of year (offer to help friends to send a care-package to a deployed military family member).  Helping others will brighten their holidays and make you feel good too!

For people who may need even more support, encourage them to call a local hotline just to talk, to get information about services or to get help with a crisis.  MHA runs the Montgomery County Hotline (here in Montgomery County, MD) at (301) 738 –CALL (2255).  Folks can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK

Bravely Step Through Depression and Anxiety

Stepping through depression and anxiety takes bravery. Often it is a quiet courage that many do not see. Affirmations are one simple way to bravely step through depression and anxiety. For myself personally, whenever negative thoughts come up, I look for a positive affirmation to “reframe” them. I know what you’re more than likely thinking, “what’s the use of saying these if they’re not true. I feel like a fake saying them.” I can relate to this, because far too many times I have thought the same thing. With anything, it takes practice. Believe me, over time it becomes like second nature, and there are times you need a gentle reminder.

 

What are Negative Thoughts that Bombard a Depressed Mind?

One of the symptoms of depression is to be bombarded with negative thoughts and emotions. All too often statements such as these are what may fill your thoughts:

• I will never feel better.
• I feel desperate and helpless.
• I am pathetic and weak.

With anxiety negative thoughts are sometimes slightly different:

• I feel like I’m dying.
• I am frozen with fear and panic.
• I want this to end NOW.
 

Bravely Step Through Depression and Anxiety by Reframing

Depression:
I will never feel better
REFRAME: I am taking the baby steps I need for my healing.
 
I feel desperate and helpless.
REFRAME: I am resilient and hope filled.
 
I am pathetic and weak.
REFRAME: I am becoming resilient accepting vulnerable and empowered (brave).
 
Anxiety:
I feel like I’m dying.
REFRAME: I am safe and this too shall pass.
 
I am frozen with fear and panic.
REFRAME: I am bravely aware, and accept that this too shall pass.
 
I want this to end NOW.
REFRAME: I am accepting of this moment with love and grace, this too shall pass.
 

You will notice with each of the anxiety reframes, I have used the statement “this too shall pass”. It’s important to remember that an anxiety attack doesn’t last forever, even though it feels like it in the moment. It will pass, and each time it does, you have bravely gotten through.

With both depression and anxiety, it is so important not to discard or fight the emotions and/or thoughts that come up. Personally, I don’t believe there are any negative or positive emotions – they are all emotions, we are human beings designed to feel. The negative and positive; which I prefer to recognize as healthy and unhealthy, depends on how we choose to respond.

Beginning with simple “reframe” affirmations is one way to bravely step through depression and anxiety with baby steps.

You are loved. You are not alone.

 

My Mental Health Day Thanks:

Lee Horbachewski, SimpLee Serene; Speaker and Advocate
http://simpleeserene.com/
 

 For help finding treatment, support groups, medication information, help paying for your medications, contact Mental Health Association of Montgomery County at 301-424-0656. If you or someone you know is in crisis now, seek help immediately. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24 hour crisis center or dial 911 for immediate assistance.

Happy Father’s Day

GRAMPS & I BEING GOOFY

I will always remember my Gramps for doing the impossible. Now in his 80’s, he is more of an inspiration than ever. At Christmas, he will climb a nine foot ladder to hang lights on the trim of the roof. During the summer after a day of driving into the woods, he will kneel for hours pitching the camping tent so my grandma and I will have a warm place to sleep. He gets up at 5am for his morning strolls and he breaks out the old gas grill when I come to visit. The men like this in each of our lives far outdo those with capes, masks, and fancy gadgets. They will always be our true superheroes.

Today we celebrate Father’s Day! We recognize these men—whether a father, grandfather, uncle, brother or caretaker—that have had a positive influence on our lives. They have given us guidance, lifted our spirits, and helped us through those childhood woes —molding us into the individuals we are today. No matter who the man may be in your life, today is the day to say “thank you.”  

Fatherhood is an exceptional responsibility. To all the dedicated caregivers out there: remember to take a minute for yourself today—relax, take a breath, and mosey in the beautiful sunshine. It’s going to be a beautiful weekend and you deserve it!

 

My Mental Helath Day Thanks:
Autumn Orme, Communications and Development Coordinator
Mental Health Association of Montgomery ounty
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