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May Is Mental Health Awareness Month!

It’s May, Mental Health Month, and the weather is finally turning nice. It might seem like a good time for spring cleaning – but not for your windows or your closet. You may have cobwebs and dust bunnies hiding in places you don’t even know about and they may be affecting your mental health.

 

Centerstone Solutions is sharing these 31 tips to boost your mental health:

Ways to Boost Your Mental Health

 

1. Track gratitude and achievement with a journal. Include 3 things you were grateful for and 3 things you were able to accomplish each day. Try the free apps – Happier or Attitudes of Gratitude Journal or make your own journal using one of these tutorials.

 

2. Start your day with a cup of coffee. Coffee consumption is linked to lower rates of depression. If you can’t drink coffee because of the caffeine, try another good-for-you drink like green tea.

 

3. Set up a getaway. It could be camping with friends or a trip to the tropics. The act of planning a vacation and having something to look forward to can boost your overall happiness for up to 8 weeks!

 

4. Work your strengths. Do something you’re good at to build self-confidence, then tackle a tougher task.

 

5. Keep it cool for a good night’s sleep. The optimal temperature for sleep is between 60˚ and 67˚ Fahrenheit.

 

6. “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” -Martin Luther King Jr. Think of something in your life you want to improve and figure out what you can do to take a step in the right direction.

 

7. Experiment with a new recipe, write a poem, paint or try a Pinterest project. Creative expression and overall well-being are linked.

 

8. Show some love to someone in your life. Close, quality relationships are key for a happy, healthy life.

 

9. Boost brainpower by treating yourself to a couple of pieces of dark chocolate every few days. The flavanoids, caffeine, and theobromine in chocolate are thought to work together to improve alertness and mental skills.

 

10. “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” -Maya Angelou. If you have personal experience with mental illness or recovery, share on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr with #mentalillnessfeelslike.

 

11. Sometimes, we don’t need to add new activities to get more pleasure. We just need to soak up the joy in the ones we’ve already got. Trying to be optimistic doesn’t mean ignoring the uglier sides of life. It just means focusing on the positive as much as possible.

 

12. Feeling anxious? Take a trip down memory lane and do some coloring for about 20 minutes to help you clear your mind. Pick a design that’s geometric and a little complicated for the best effect. Check out hundreds of free printable coloring pages at https://www.justcolor.net/

 

13. Take time to laugh. Hang out with a funny friend, watch a comedy or check out cute videos online. Laughter helps reduce anxiety.

 

14. Go off the grid. Leave your smartphone at home for a day and disconnect from constant emails, alerts, and other interruptions. Spend time doing something fun with someone face-to-face.

 

15. Dance around while you do your housework. Not only will you get chores done, but dancing reduces levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), and increases endorphins (the body’s “feel-good” chemicals).

 

16. Go ahead and yawn. Studies suggest that yawning helps cool the brain and improves alertness and mental efficiency.

 

17. Relax in a warm bath once a week. Try adding Epsom salts to soothe aches and pains and help boost magnesium levels, which can be depleted by stress.

 

18. Has something been bothering you? Let it all out…on paper. Writing about upsetting experiences can reduce symptoms of depression.

 

19. Spend some time with a furry friend. Time with animals lowers the stress hormone – cortisol and boosts oxytocin – which stimulates feelings of happiness. If you don’t have a pet, hang out with a friend who does or volunteer at a shelter.

 

20. “What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when you bring what is within out into the world, miracles happen.” – Henry David Thoreau. Practice mindfulness by staying “in the present.”

 

21. Be a tourist in your own town. Oftentimes people only explore attractions on trips, but you may be surprised what cool things are in your own backyard.

 

22. Try prepping your lunches or picking out your clothes for the work week. You’ll save some time in the mornings and have a sense of control about the week ahead.

 

23. Work some omega-3 fatty acids into your diet–they are linked to decreased rates of depression and schizophrenia among their many benefits. Fish oil supplements work, but eating your omega-3s in foods like wild salmon, flaxseeds or walnuts also helps build healthy gut bacteria.

 

24. Practice forgiveness – even if it’s just forgiving that person who cut you off during your commute. People who forgive have better mental health and report being more satisfied with their lives.

 

25. “What appears to be calamities are often the sources of fortune.” – Disraeli. Try to find the silver lining in something kind of cruddy that happened recently.

 

26. Feeling stressed? Smile. It may not be the easiest thing to do, but smiling can help to lower your heart rate and calm you down.

 

27. Send a thank you note – not for a material item, but to let someone know why you appreciate them. Written expressions of gratitude are linked to increased happiness.

 

28. Do something with friends and family – have a cookout, go to a park, or play a game. People are 12 times more likely to feel happy on days that they spend 6-7 hours with friends and family.

 

29. Take 30 minutes to go for a walk in nature – it could be a stroll through a park or a hike in the woods. Research shows that being in nature can increase energy levels, reduce depression and boost well-being.

 

30. Do your best to enjoy 15 minutes of sunshine, and apply sunscreen. Sunlight synthesizes Vitamin D, which experts believe is a mood elevator.

 

31. “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” -Albert Einstein Try something outside of your comfort zone to make room for adventure and excitement in your life.

 

Take time to explore who God is, how much He loves you and the peace He offers. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11). Developing a meaningful relationship with your creator and the lover of your soul will provide you with great strength when facing challenges. Spend time reading the Bible, and praying.

Mental Health Educational Resource Materials

We all experience times where we may not feel like we are functioning at our best. Whether you aren’t feeling quite like yourself, facing new challenges, trying to balance the demands of work and home or maybe life just isn’t as you planned. Or maybe you notice someone in your household is experiencing some of these issues.

 

Centerstone Solutions provides educational resources on many topics. If you see a topic that may be impacting you or someone in your household, take some time to learn more. If you recognize yourself or someone in your household as you review the topics, contact Centerstone Solutions. The EAP can help you or someone close to you identify issues that may be impacting one’s life and find strategies that will make a difference.

Educational Topics

 

  • Anxiety

  • Alcohol Use

  • Changing Workplace

  • Depression

  • Drug Use

  • Parent/Child Issues

  • Stress

 

Take a mental health screening – Taking a mental health screening is one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine whether you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition. If you are experiencing symptoms, contact the EAP to be connected with a professional who can help you address concerns.

Take the Mental Health Screening https://screening.mentalhealthamerica.net/screening-tools)

Anxiety

The Symptoms of Anxiety Aren’t “All in Your Head”

 

Man standing in front of city skyline People tend to think of anxiety as purely a “mental” or “emotional” problem. But anxiety can affect both the body and mind. Therefore, persistent anxiety can produce a variety of emotional and physical symptoms.

 

When to Seek Professional Help:

A few of these symptoms now and then are normal, but the greater the number and frequency of symptoms, the more likely you are suffering from debilitating anxiety.

 

Common physical symptoms of persistent anxiety include:

 

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Headaches

  • Shakiness

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Chest pain

  • Muscle aches and pains

  • Stomach upset or pain

 

Common emotional symptoms of persistent anxiety include:

 

  • Irritability

  • Depressive symptoms like feeling sad or “down”

  • Tension

  • Excessive worrying

  • Difficulty falling asleep

  • Fatigue

  • Difficulty concentrating

 

If Centerstone Solutions is your EAP and you or someone you love is suffering from symptoms of anxiety, please call us at (800) 766-0068 for a free, confidential evaluation.

 

Alcoholism and Alcohol Use

Americans spend over $60 billion dollars a year on one drug alone. That’s $7 million dollars per hour. You won’t find the U.S. Coast Guard intercepting it. This drug may even be hiding in the back of your refrigerator. Liquor, beer and wine contain alcohol – our society’s favorite “DRUG.”

 

Only in the last 20 years has alcohol been considered a drug like cocaine and marijuana. Drugs act on the human body and have predictable effects. The main reason people use drugs is simple. It makes the user feel good for a short time.

 

Over two thirds of the adult population in America drinks occasionally. Half of junior high school children have tried alcoholic beverages.

 

Most people think of themselves as social drinkers, but there is a fine line between social and problem drinking. Eventually, problem drinkers do and say things that hurt and endanger others at home and at work.

 

There is no reliable way to predict who will become alcohol dependent. It is a disease much like diabetes, a lifelong condition, that can be put on hold with proper treatment.

 

Here are some of the signs of alcoholism to look for:

 

  • The drinker begins to carry or be near a supply

  • The drinker may drink alone

  • Blackouts may occur (Periods of time are not remembered)

  • He/she drinks more and faster than others

  • Drinking causes serious problem (D.U.I.s, absenteeism, accidents, abusive outbursts, inappropriate behavior)

  • The drinker denies/rationalizes obvious problems

 

If Centerstone Solutions is your EAP you or someone you know has one or more of these symptoms, we can help. Left alone, alcohol use will become worse. Before that happens, please call us at (800) 766-0068. It’s free, confidential and effective.

 

Changes in the workplace

It is important to be physically and emotionally healthy to be productive at work. We owe it to ourselves and our families to keep ourselves fit to tackle the challenges at work.

 

Here is a checklist that can help you decide if you have issues at work that could cause problems for you.

 

Do you agree with any of the following?

 

  • I am having problems getting along with my co-workers.

  • I can’t talk to my boss without getting upset.

  • I dread going to work in the morning.

  • I am afraid I will be fired from my job.

  • Sometimes I can’t concentrate at work because of the problems I have at home.

  • I have missed work and have been late for work a lot this year and that’s not like me. I never miss work.

  • The long hours at work are getting to me. I’m tired all the time.

 

If you agreed with one or more of the above statements, you may need help. If Centerstone Solutions is your EAP, call us at (800) 766-0068 for a free, confidential evaluation.

 

Depression

During any six month period, nine million American adults suffer from depressive illness. Depression causes emotional suffering not only for those with depression, but also for those who care about them.

 

Clinical depression is intense and longer lasting than “the downs” you feel from time to time. Clinical depression can be chronic with mild to severe symptoms. A seriously depressed person can cross the line into psychosis or become suicidal if not treated.

 

Depression is treatable. Counseling can be helpful in assisting you through hard times like a broken relationship, death of a friend, or loss of a job. It may also help to make lifestyle changes such as increasing exercise, reducing or eliminating caffeine and nicotine use and maintaining a healthful diet.

 

In more serious depressions, medications called antidepressants can be extremely helpful in relieving the symptoms of depression. Most professionals agree that counseling is important, along with medication, to help you put your life back together.

 

A depressive illness is not a sign of weakness or something that can be wished away. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or even years.

 

Some of the most common symptoms of depression are:

 

  • Uncontrollable crying or irritability

  • Ongoing sad, nervous, or empty mood

  • Feelings of hopelessness

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in normally interesting, pleasurable activities

  • Sleeping too much or too little

  • Increase or decrease in appetite

  • Ongoing thoughts of death or suicide

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Decreased energy or fatigue

  • Physical problems that aren’t responding to treatment such as headaches, nausea, or chronic pain

 

If Centerstone Solutions is your EAP and you or someone you love is suffering from symptoms of depression, please call us at (800) 766-0068 for a free, confidential evaluation.

 

Drug Use

 

Chances are that substance use will touch your life and the lives of your spouse, parent, child, or a friend. Over 22 million people have tried cocaine and 5,000 will try it for the first time every day. One in four Americans has tried marijuana; about 16-20 million people are frequent users of pot. There are millions of Americans who use prescription and over the counter drugs and millions of individuals who use more than one drug at a time.

 

It is difficult to know who will become dependent on drugs, but it is easy to see the effect of drug use in the workplace. Drugs affect employees’ judgment, performance, and safety levels. This affects all employees, drug users or not.

 

How do you know if you or someone you care about is chemically dependent? A dependent person can’t stop using drugs or alcohol. This use hurts the user and all those around him or her. Take this assessment. The more times that you find yourself answering “yes,” the more likely that you have a problem.

 

Answer “Yes” or “No” to the Following Questions:

 

  • Do you use drugs to deal with stress or to escape from problems?

  • Have you been unsuccessful at trying to stop using your drug?

  • Have you been arrested because of your drug use?

  • Do you have trouble having fun at social gatherings when you can’t use alcohol or drugs?

  • Have your family, friends, or employer ever said that your use was a problem?

  • Do you do things under the influence that you would not normally do?

  • Have you ever thought that you might have a problem with drugs?

 

If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, you may have a chemical dependency problem.

 

A variety of programs exist to help individuals gain control over self-destructive patterns of chemical dependency. These programs range from self-help groups, to outpatient educational groups, to intensive outpatient programs, to residential programs. Family support is helpful throughout the recovery process. Many programs require that family members or those who hold a significant place in your life attend programs with you. Sometimes it is hard to decide for yourself which program is best suited for you. A trained professional can help you reach the program that is best for you.

 

If Centerstone Solutions is your EAP contact us at (800) 766-0068. It’s free, confidential, and effective. The professionals at Centerstone Solutions can help you find the most appropriate and cost-effective treatment available.

 

Parent / Child Issues

 

Almost all parents want to do what they can to help their children grow into healthy, happy, responsible adults. Parenting is one of life’s most important and difficult tasks, yet we receive little formal training or education to prepare us. Having a positive self-image and self-confidence can influence the quality of your child’s life. If your child feels good about self and confident in abilities, she/he will tend to feel good about others as well.

 

When children have low self-esteem, or are troubled in other ways, they may have difficulty communicating their distress to adults. How can you tell if your child is experiencing stresses that are pushing coping skills to the limits? Be sensitive to the following signals from your child:

 

  • Any change in sleep habits such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, nightmares, or wanting to sleep more than usual

  • Frequent irritability, negative attitude about many things

  • Overreacting to small daily frustration with crying or anger

  • Sad expression, never or seldom laughing or smiling when with playmates

  • Withdrawing from friends, family; not wanting to attend activities previously enjoyed

  • Increase in physical aggressiveness with peers, adults, or animals

  • Loss of appetite or overeating in ways not typical of the child

  • Behavior problems in school, falling grades

  • Frequent physical complaints (stomach aches, head aches) for which the doctor finds no medical cause

 

If Centerstone Solutions is your EAP and you observe any of the above behaviors, you and your child may benefit from a consultation with an EAP professional. They can assist you in developing an appropriate plan of action for you and your child. Please call Centerstone Solutions at (800) 766-0068 for a free, confidential evaluation.

 

Stress

 

Fifty years ago, the term “stress” was not a typical topic of conversation. Today, “stress” has become a household word. We talk about stress at work or stress in our families, as if we know what the term means. Yet, stress is a very misunderstood concept.

 

One popular myth is that stress is “all in your head.” In fact, stress may begin with our attitudes, but the end result is purely physical. Our body tells us we are under stress long before our head understands what is happening. We find ourselves eating too much or too little; our sleep is disturbed; our heart races; our blood pressure increases. Regardless of the source, it all adds up to the same thing – stress.

 

How is health is affected? Stress actually lowers our body’s natural resistance to common viruses. Also, stress (in combination with other health risk factors such as high cholesterol, hypertension, being overweight, smoking, and drinking) can increase the risk for coronary heart disease. This is serious business!

 

Stress also interferes with our ability to function. High levels of stress affect our concentration at work. Have you ever wished you could accomplish more but your mind was “elsewhere?” Chances are stress was the culprit.

 

Remember, if you don’t learn to manage the stress you have, the stress you have will manage you.

 

Here is a simple checklist to assess when your stress levels are too high:

 

  • Irritability and frequent signs of anger

  • Obsessive worrying that interferes with job performance

  • Sleep disturbances caused by concern over minor problems

  • Fluctuations in weight caused by erratic eating habits

  • Frequent or prolonged minor illnesses causing you to use more sick days than you would like

  • Overuse of alcohol or drugs to relax

 

If you have any of these symptoms, your stress levels may be dangerously high. If Centerstone Solutions is your EAP, please call us at (800) 766-0068 for professional, confidential consultation.

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