The Focus is on Balance During National Work and Family Month in October

The U.S. Senate passed a resolution in 2003 declaring October to be National Work and Family Month. That designation was later reaffirmed by both houses of Congress. The purpose of the resolution is to communicate the importance of flexible work policies that are healthier for workers and their families and to celebrate progress in that direction. As a leading provider of mental health services in the Denver area, Community Reach Center knows how important work-life balance can be and what a positive impact the right balance can have on a person’s well-being.

The Many Benefits of Work-Life Balance

When the idea of work-life balance first gained momentum in the U.S. in the 1980s, many employers thought of it simply as people wanting more time away from the office and felt that it was a concept that would only benefit employees and their families. Since that time, however, it has become clear that greater workplace flexibility is good for workers and their employers. Some of the many benefits include:

  • Improved health and well-being. People who enjoy a good work-life balance have more time and energy for addressing and maintaining good physical, mental and emotional health.
  • Better personal relationships. Having the freedom to organize their work-day in a way that allows them to attend important events they might otherwise have missed improves connectivity with loved ones.
  • Increased work productivity. People who are overworked and experiencing burnout are far less productive than those who are rested, refreshed and ready to tackle their objectives.
  • Lower stress level, absenteeism and medical costs. Employees who frequently or continually work long hours with minimal opportunity to “disconnect” have higher stress levels, which leads to missing work more frequently and higher medical costs for stress-related ailments.
  • Improved brand perception. Employers with policies that respect work-life balance are looked upon more favorably by prospective customers and potential employees.

Ways to Create Better Work-Life Balance

Whether you are an employer considering changes to your work policies or an employee advocating for better work-life balance, here are some ways that better balance can be achieved:

  • Flexible work hours. For some employees, a mid-morning start time would be much better than 8 or 9 a.m. due to family commitments. For others, working from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. is ideal. A little flexibility can go a long way toward helping people achieve the right work-home rhythm.
  • Working from home. Whether a company allows people to work from home every day, occasionally on an as-needed basis or somewhere in between, having a telework policy can be good for employers and their staff members.
  • More time off. Many companies find that when they give employees more time off, there is not the expected drop off in productivity. Instead, the combination of greater focus before scheduled time away and a higher energy level upon return compensates for the decrease in hours worked.
  • Defined boundaries. Laptops and smartphones are wonderful things. However, having them can mean that an employee is never truly “away” from the office. Setting clear policies on how and when employees can be contacted outside the standard work-day can help people get more rest and relaxation when they are off the clock.
  • Family-friendly work events. There are many ways to combine work time and family time such as allowing employees to bring their families on required working retreats.

Mental Health Services: Getting Help When Life is out of Balance

During National Work and Family Month, or any time that life gets stressful, Community Reach Center, your mental health services provider, can help manage mental health challenges. Learn more about our services at communityreachcenter.org or by calling us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

Moderation rules alcohol consumption for good health

Drinking alcohol is part of everyday life in many circles.

Occasional happy hours and watching sports with friends often involve having a few alcoholic beverages. Holidays typically include special dinners with wine and so forth.  And enjoying alcohol with meals and beer while watching TV can be commonplace as well.

The U.S. Government dietary guidelines notes that alcohol can be consumed in moderation – defined as one drink a day for woman and two drinks a day for men.  But depending on which study is viewed, even so-called modest drinking can be suspect.

For example, a study of brain scans by researchers in a BMJ (British Medical Journal) report noted that moderate drinking over 30-plus years was associated with degeneration and shrinking of the hippocampus, a region of the brain involved in memory and navigation as well as degeneration of the brain’s white matter.

On the other hand, some information suggests potential benefits, such as references to links of moderate red wine consumption to fewer heart attacks. There seems to be indications that antioxidants in red wine, such as flavonoids and a substance called resveratrol, have heart-healthy benefits. However, encouraging people to drink for this reason is not universally accepted, especially without research about prevalence of alcoholism in a person’s family.

Some benchmarks, keeping count

With an understanding that there are varied points of view on alcohol consumption, for purposes of this article, we will look at the topic in the Mental Health First Aid teaching manual, which is used to teach 8-hour Mental Health First Aid courses. The course is often offered by mental health clinics and mental health services.

According to the manual: “At risk drinking for men is more than four drinks per day and no more than 14 drinks per week and for women is no more than 3 drinks per day and no more than 7 per week.” Furthermore, it advises being knowledgeable about types of alcoholic drinks and amounts. A 25-ounce bottle of wine is considered five drinks, because five ounces of wine is one drink. A 22-ounce bottle of beer is considered two drinks, and 3 ounces of liquor that is considered 40 percent is 2 drinks. And beware, when drinks are topped off now and then, the ounce count can be significantly higher than realized.

Along with this information, the manual warns that 75 percent of people who develop substance use disorder (SUD) do so by age 27, and notes that alcohol use disorders are almost three times as common as drug use disorders. With this information in mind, it is a good idea to monitor alcohol levels as one begins to enter the adult world of drinking and, of course, at any age when drinking habits become elevated.

When is help needed

When the ability to function appropriately and carry on life’s responsibilities lapses, it may be time for intervention. The Rapid Alcohol Problems Screen (RAPS4) is one common screening measure.

The screen consists of four questions:

  • During the last year, have you had a feeling of guilt or remorse after drinking?
  • During the last year, has a friend or family member ever told you about things you said or did while drinking that you could not remember?
  • During the last year, have you failed to do what was normally expected from you because of drinking?
  • Do you sometimes take a drink in the morning when you first get up?

A yes to at least one of these questions suggest that alcohol consumption has become harmful to the person’s physical and mental health.

With treatment there are many options, such as individual and group counseling, inpatient and residential treatment, intensive outpatient treatment, partial hospital programs, case or care management, MAT (Medication Assisted Treatment), IRT (Intensive Residential Treatment), recovery support services, 12-step fellowship and peer supports. And keep in mind, it sometimes takes more than one attempt for those experiencing alcoholism to secure a road to recovery.

Moderation mode

Practice moderation, but also know that for some people abstinence from alcohol is the path to a healthful lifestyle. If you have a substance use disorder (SUD) or mental health concern about yourself or one of your loved ones, we are glad to consult with you. To get more information about our metro Denver mental health centers visit communityreachcenter.org or call 303-853-3500. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

Watching for suicide warning signs

 

If you notice someone struggling, it’s important to be aware of suicide warning signs. As it happens, showing concern and suggesting a friend or loved one talk to a mental health professional can sometimes be all that is necessary for someone to secure the help they need.

Professional help is very important because suicide can be an outcome of treatable mental health disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia nervosa.

Oftentimes stress and health issues can converge to make a person feel overwhelmed and hopeless. When people feel this way for extended periods of time it can cause depression, which is often associated with suicide. Let’s consider some suicide warning signs.  

Some warning signs

A change in behavior can be triggered by a loss or a painful event. The intensity of a grieving process usually subsides over time, but when it does not, there is cause for concern. Regardless of the triggers, there are a variety of warning signs listed in the Mental Health First Aid manual. They include when someone is:

  • Threatening to hurt or kill himself or herself
  • Looking for ways to kill himself or herself, seeking access to pills, weapons, or other means.
  • Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide.
  • Expressing hopelessness.
  • Feeling rage or anger, seeking revenge.
  • Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking.
  • Feeling trapped, like there was no way out.
  • Increasing alcohol or drug use.
  • Withdrawing from friends, family or society
  • Experiencing anxiety or agitation, being unable to sleep, or sleeping all the time.
  • Undergoing dramatic changes in mood.
  • Feeling no reason for living, no sense of purpose in life.

The Mental Health First Aid manual notes that people may have one or many of these signs and may show signs that are not listed.

Health and environmental factors

Health factors have a significant impact. Extended serious physical health conditions including pain and traumatic brain injury can contribute to depression. The loss of the ability to engage in activities a person enjoyed prior to becoming ill can be difficult.  Health problems related to substance-use disorders contribute to stress and suicidal ideation.

Environmental factors should be considered with warning signs. Eventualities, such divorce, financial challenges or other losses, all contribute to stress. Prolonged stress from relationships, unemployment and harassment can all contribute to the development of depression. And any environment where basic needs are not being met can contribute to stress and depression, which can lead to thoughts of suicide.

Reducing stress

Finding ways to reduce stress is key to good mental health overall. If you are concerned about someone you know, encourage them to do things that are pleasurable from reading to gardening. Eat healthful well-balanced diets. Exercise. In fact, exercising with a partner is often very effective.

Reaching out

Colorado Crisis Services introduces its website as a place to go “when you are not sure where to go” and provides excellent resources. Also consider visiting Community Reach Center if you are interested in learning more about risk factors for suicide and how to intervene, sign up for a Mental Health First Aid course. If you have a mental health concern about yourself or a loved one, we are glad to consult with you. To get more information about our metro Denver mental health centers visit communityreachcenter.org or call 303-853-3500. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. It is an observation that draws attention to what a pervasive problem suicide is. It also highlights the fact that there are behavioral health resources available from places like Community Reach Center’s crisis center in Denver for people who are considering ending their life and for family members and friends of people who are at risk of attempting suicide or who have completed suicide.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:

  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • Nearly 45,000 Americans die by suicide each year
  • For every person that dies by suicide, there are another 25 who attempt suicide
  • Suicide costs the U.S. $69 billion annually

However, there are things that loved ones can do to help prevent suicide. First and foremost, it is important to recognize the indicators that some is at risk.

Signs a Person May be Considering Suicide

While not everyone who attempts or completes suicide exhibits observable behaviors before they take action, many people do. These behaviors may include:

  • Talking frequently or passionately about death, dying, self-harm or suicide
  • Attempting to obtain the means of suicide such as firearms or other weapons, drugs, chemicals, rope, etc.
  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Withdrawal from family and friends, and avoiding activities previously enjoyed
  • Expressing feelings of self-hatred or guilt
  • Reckless actions, such as abusing drugs or alcohol, driving carelessly, etc.
  • Getting affairs in order such as selling or giving away possessions
  • Saying goodbye to loved ones as if they won’t be seen again
  • Demonstrating sudden calmness as they come to terms with the action they are about to take 

It is important to treat any of these behaviors as issues that should be addressed and not a “phase” that the person is going through.

The Right Response is to Take Action

If you have any suspicion that someone is considering suicide, the right response is to take action. If it turns out you have misunderstood their behavior, you can apologize and move on. However, if you are correct, your intervention may save their life.

It is a common belief that talking with someone who is considering suicide may cause them to move forward with their attempt. However, providing an opportunity to talk about what has them on the brink of ending their life can help relieve some of the pressure they are feeling and give them a chance to consider alternative actions including getting help from a crisis center in Denver like Community Reach Center.

When talking with someone you think is at risk of attempting suicide, keep these tips in mind:

  • Be honest. Don’t try to hide the fact that you are worried about them attempting suicide. It is important that you be truthful about your fears for them.
  • Take them seriously. If a person says that they “just can’t go on,” you should take them at their word and not be dismissive about their situation.
  • Be understanding even if you can’t relate. It may be that suicide is something that would never cross your mind. However, what matters is that it appears to be on theirs.
  • Be a good listener. Generally what people in crisis need is not advice but an opportunity to express themselves. 
  • Provide hope. The mental health conditions that lead people to consider suicide are treatable and a better life is possible.
  • Promise support. In many cases, simply knowing that they have someone who will stand by them as they seek treatment can make all the difference.

If at any point before, during or after a conversation you feel a suicide attempt is imminent, seek help immediately. Transport the person to a hospital or mental health center if they will allow it and you are able to do so. If not, call 911, prevent access to any means of suicide, and stay with the person until help arrives.

How to Talk with Suicide Loss Survivors

Like a person who is at risk of attempting suicide, suicide loss survivors also need the support of loved ones. Here some recommendations on how to talk with them:

  • Avoid saying “I know what you’re going through.” Even if you are a suicide loss survivor yourself, you can’t fully understand their situation.
  • Don’t imply or assign blame to them or to anyone.
  • Know that just being there for them can be helpful, even if a few words are spoken.
  • Don’t ask questions about how the person died.
  • Offer whatever assistance you are able to provide.
  • Don’t make statements that minimize the pain of the situation like, “He’s in a better place.”
  • Don’t place value judgments on the act, such as saying it is selfish, a sign of weakness, etc.
  • Be patient with them.
  • Check in often.

Assistance is Available

Talking with a behavioral health counselor can help a person keep from getting to the point where he or she is considering suicide. Learn about our crisis center in Denver at communityreachcenter.org or contact us by phone at 303-853-3500 to learn more about our services. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

 

Staying on track with medication

Job one when taking medication is to read the label and remember the advice of your physician or whomever wrote the prescription. Overlooking instructions for other matters — such as a minor repair around the house – often doesn’t present the health risk associated with taking medications. When it comes to taking pills or dosages of medications, it is simply crucial to take as directed.

How crucial can it be?

A recent study by the National Consumers League reported about three of every four Americans do not always take their medications as directed. The report links nonadherence to medicine-related hospitalizations and nearly 125,000 deaths each year. Keep in mind that sometimes people cannot afford a medication or have other significant challenges that are contributing factors beyond forgetting to take a daily pill now and then.

Be in the know

Ask for a printout regarding use of your medication. It’s always good to have the instructions in print to refer to along the way because there may be a lot of details to remember. Be alert to instructions about taking medication with meals and plan accordingly. Further it’s always wise to remember the name of each medication, and your experience with it, for future reference.

Tips for good habits

Choose a memory device or habit that works to keep on track. It may take a try or two to find a method that ensures you take dosages consistently. Here are a few options:

  • Purchase a seven-day pillbox. They come in all colors and sizes, and in monthly versions.
  • Set an alarm, which can be a traditional alarm clock or a smart phone or a watch, to alert you when it is time to have a dose.
  • Pair taking a dose with another activity, such as brushing your teeth. Or perhaps establish your dosage habit before or after a specific meal each day. Or perhaps another healthful habit, such as drinking glasses of water at certain times of the day, can be linked with medication dosages.
  • Team up with your significant other or someone else who takes medications. Keep track together and help each other.
  • Simply find what works for you. Perhaps that means placing X’s on the calendar in the kitchen and bypassing all electronic options. Finding a method that works is so important to stay on track, especially with multiple prescriptions with various dosage intervals.

Find the right balance

Staying on track can help to better assess how well a medication is working and help the physician gain a clear sense of any adjustments that need to be made. And it’s a good idea to write notes about how you feel along the way to share with your physician. If the cost of a medication is a barrier, please talk to your doctor and ask if there are generic options or other approaches to consider.

Sometimes medication and therapy go together in the mental health treatments we provide, so we strongly support consumers finding the best way to succeed in taking medication as directed. If you have a mental health concern about yourself or one of your loved ones, we are glad to consult with you. To get more information about our metro Denver mental health centers visit communityreachcenter.org or call 303-853-3500. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

 

How to be supportive of someone going through a substance use disorder

Life is usually tougher for someone trying to face an addiction who does not have a support system of friends, relatives and others. In the absence of social support, it’s common for them to feel like they are alone and isolated in their struggle with alcohol or drug addiction.

We know that people in treatment for SUD have professional support, but knowledgeable support from people who are close to them is crucial as well. There is sometimes a tendency for friends or family to back away from that person in treatment – especially when you have limited understanding of addictions – but there are a few ways you can help.

Substance use disorder defined

First it is helpful to have some background on SUDs. Substance use disorders occur when the recurrent use of alcohol or drugs causes significant impairment, such as health problems and failure to cover responsibilities at work, school or home.  A diagnosis of mild, moderate or severe to indicate the level of severity is made by a clinician.

Oftentimes a person will have a dual diagnosis, also called co-occurrence, which involves experiencing a substance use disorder and mental illness simultaneously. In turn, integrated care is required to help the individual overcome physical addictions and negative habits, to address mental illness and end cycles of returning to drugs to cope.

How you can help

Treatment for SUD could mean treatment in an outpatient facility, in which family interaction continues, or an inpatient facility, in which the consumer is sometimes separated from family for some amount of time, with visitations scheduled along the way. If family counseling is offered to you, it is a good way to gain skills and the right frame of mind to help. Please take part if this is offered. Whether it’s inpatient or outpatient treatment, the consumer usually eventually returns to a familiar setting, and that is when you should be ready to help.

Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Overcome stigma: Stigma involves judgmental negative attitudes about mental health and drug/alcohol addiction. It’s important to reverse negative perspectives and recognize that mental health disorders and SUDs are treatable. Equipped with a little knowledge and guidance, you can be an important support for your loved one on the road to recovery.
  • Take time to find the right words and perspectives to discuss addiction. For example, rather than saying someone is an alcoholic, better to say they are experiencing an alcohol use disorder and on the road to recovery.
  • Focus on day-to-day health. Help set new daily habits if it seems appropriate. New activities and focus on diet and exercise are good steps.
  • Be aware of the surrounding culture, behaviors and cycles. Help your loved one make good choices. Friends who act like nothing is wrong and ignore a problem can make it harder to break the cycle. Time with acquaintances who do not have a supportive perspective should be limited with sensitivity but assertiveness.
  • Take advantage of support groups: Attend Al Anon or Nar Anon meetings. These programs provide support to the families and friends of those addicted to alcohol or drugs and those with loved ones on the road to recovery. These support groups are very important in helping reduce the fatigue that care-taking can cause.
  • Take time to read. Keep learning. There is a wealth of evidenced-based material online from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and countless other sources.
  • Trust your caring instincts: The fact that it is more important to show that you genuinely care than to say precisely the right thing every moment is a word of encouragement offered in Mental Health First Aid. Just show the person you care and ask how you can help them in their recovery.

  Helping someone overcome a SUD is a weighty task but can be made easier with gained knowledge. If you are concerned that you or someone you know is struggling with SUD, know that Community Reach Center, your north Denver metro mental health center, is here to help. Visit communityreachcenter.org or contact us by phone at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday to learn more about our services. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

How to Care for Your Mental Health in Retirement

Mature man sitting at desk

Most people who have full-time careers look forward to the day that they can retire. Reaching that milestone is certainly an accomplishment and something to be celebrated. However, the transition into retirement is a major life change, and like any change, it can present mental and emotional challenges. At our mental health clinic, we encourage those approaching retirement age to give some thought to steps they can take to stay happy, healthy and well-adjusted as they advance into this new phase of life.

Tips for Making the Move Into Retirement

For most people, the number one concern as their chosen retirement date approaches is whether they will have enough money to take care of their physical needs after they stop working. That is an important determination to make. However, it is also crucial to think about how you will address your mental and emotional needs. Below are 10 proven tips for increasing overall well-being in retirement.

  1. Decide what you want out of retirement. Do you want to travel extensively? Spend most of your time with family? Start a second career? Having a goal can keep you challenged and focused, and both are good for your mental health.
  2. Do the math. As noted above, there should be more to retirement than simple survival. If you can, be sure you have the funds you need to support an enjoyable lifestyle.
  3. Confirm your plans with your partner, if you have one. Happiness starts at home. If your partner isn’t on board with your approach to retirement, it can be a stressful situation.
  4. Pick your retirement date and stick to it. Whether out of a sense of obligation to keep working or a fear of what comes next, it’s easy to put your retirement on hold indefinitely. Unfortunately, doing so may leave you feeling frustrated and unfulfilled.
  5. Tend to your physical health. Do your best to stay healthy. Medical concerns – especially about conditions that could have been avoided – can adversely affect your mental health.
  6. Consider part-time employment or volunteer work. Having endless days with no obligations may sound like a dream come true. However, most people find that they are happier when they have some recurring items on their calendar and are making a contribution to society in some form. A sense of purpose is key to happiness.
  7. Stay connected with old friends and ideally make some new ones. The love and support you feel when you spend time with people you care about is good for your mental health. Making new acquaintances is also good for your wellbeing and provides some variety.
  8. Maintain a schedule. Even if you aren’t working or volunteering, it is a good idea to stick to a schedule to some degree. Committing to tasks like gardening every other morning for an hour and walking the dog daily in the afternoon provides a healthful lifestyle.
  9. Spend time with family regularly. If you live near your children or grandchildren, make time to see them on a regular basis. Even if you or they only have time for short visits, maintaining those relationships is very important.
  10. Pursue a new hobby or interest. Learning new things takes on a whole new feeling when you aren’t pressed for time and can relax and immerse yourself in the activity.

Putting the Shine on Your Golden Years

Even though you’ve stopped working, a happy, healthful life does require some work. Make a plan for how you will care for your mental health after retirement and you will get much more enjoyment out of the next chapter of your life.

If you are facing mental health challenges before or after you retire, you can connect with our mental health clinic at communityreachcenter.org or contact us by phone at 303-853-3500 to learn more about our services, and please have a look at our array of Senior Reach services located on our website. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

Denver Mental Health Services Provider’s Strategies for Improving Self-Confidence

Woman Smiling

Self-confidence or self-esteem can be defined as trust in your own abilities, judgment and personal qualities. As we tell people who use our Denver mental health services, while self-confidence feels good in general, there are many other benefits from having appropriate self-esteem, including:

  • Fewer feelings of guilt, shame or worthlessness
  • Stronger relationships built on a foundation of equality
  • Greater ability to deal with adversity
  • Lower stress level
  • Increased assertiveness in getting what you want and need in life

While it takes time and commitment for a person who is lacking in self-confidence to develop more of it, the end result is worth the effort.

11 Tactics for Taking on Your Insecurities

The key to improving your self-confidence is taking action. That action may be physical or mental, but the goal is to continually move in a more positive direction. Below are some tactics you can use to elevate your self-esteem.

  1. Think positively about yourself. One aspect of having a more favorable opinion of yourself is to listen for negative self-talk and when you hear it, immediately counteract it with positive mental statements about the fact that you are a unique person with many positive qualities who deserves to be happy and respected.
  2. Practice good personal hygiene. While putting effort into looking “presentable” can create a positive impression of you in others, the real reason to do it is that it creates a positive impression of you in you.
  3. Exercise regularly. Whether it is a brisk walk or a vigorous workout, elevating your heart rate releases “feel good” hormones that can have a positive impact on your mood and outlook. 
  4. Eat a healthy diet. Fueling your body properly helps give you the physical energy you need to be confident.
  5. Get adequate sleep. Sleep deprivation can have a negative impact on your health in general and your emotional health in particular.
  6. Improve your posture. Poor posture can be an external sign of internal feelings of fear and submissiveness. Standing or sitting up straight with your chin up and shoulders back communicates a more upbeat message to yourself and others.
  7. Use stress reduction practices. It is more difficult to be self-assured when you are experiencing stress. Use techniques such as meditation, yoga or prayer to manage and reduce your stress.
  8. Pursue hobbies you enjoy. Taking time out from your daily obligations to indulge an interest makes a statement to yourself that you deserve enjoyment.
  9. Prepare for life’s challenges. One of the biggest threats to your self-confidence can be the fear that you are not up to a particular task. The best way to eliminate that fear is to do all you can to prepare yourself for it. Researching the topic, role-playing the conversation or doing other prep work can make a big difference in your belief that you can handle the situation.
  10. Practice gratitude. The more you recognize the good things in your life, the more you start to see that you are deserving of them.
  11. Be kind. Observing yourself being thoughtful on a regular basis confirms that you are a good person with much to offer your friends, family and community.

Perhaps most importantly, have realistic expectations for change. If you have suffered from a lack of self-confidence for years (or decades), reshaping your self-image will take time. Be patient with yourself and know that there will be setbacks along the way. However, if you are persistent in your efforts, there is no question that you can be a more confident person in the future than you are today.

Helping You See Yourself in a More Positive Light

Developing the ability to consistently face the world with confidence can be life-changing. If you need help with increasing your self-esteem, we’re a leading Denver mental health services provider, and we’re here to help. Visit communityreachcenter.org or contact us by phone at 303-853-3500 to learn more about our services. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

Apps Apt to Fill Some Needs

Self-help apps continue to pop up everywhere with seemingly one for every occasion. They can help you remember to drink a glass of water when you wake up in the morning. They can help you learn basic meditation techniques or help to monitor vitals. They can do so many things.

Bookstores have wonderful self-help sections, but we have to admit a simple search to find a silent partner app at your fingertips offers convenience. They are available 24/7 to boot.

In our Mental Health First Aid course we provide at Community Reach Center, one of the five ALGEE action steps is to “Encourage self-help and support strategies.” Using a self-help app is one of the things you can do to help yourself or someone else. However, self-help is no substitute for therapy. So please be aware of the limitations of digital apps and the advantages or professional help, which may include specific treatments and prescriptions.

A few picks

So let’s tap into some apps.

As we mentioned last January, Garmin is an excellent fitness app. It sets health and exercise goals. When this app is paired with a smartphone, you can have your vital signs at your fingertips. As the saying goes “healthy body, healthy mind,” so please consider this one among the fitness options.

Here are a few other well-known apps to consider:

  • Pacifica helps with anxiety by tracking the user’s daily activities, providing relaxation techniques and setting goals to promote calmness.
  • Breath2Relax takes the user through breathing exercises for stress management. The exercises are intended to be beneficial for mind and body.
  • Happify targets stress and anxiety. This perky app focuses on positive thinking and setting goals.
  • Headspace is another popular app that helps with lack of concentration, stress, anxiety, memorization and relationships. It uses a variety of approaches to instill overall wellness.
  • Twenty-Four Hours A Day app is based on the book of the same name and offers more than 350 meditations with the intention to make it easier for people in recovery from addiction to find solace.

Nonetheless use caution

If you are unsure of an app or feel uncomfortable about what it asks of you, check into it. Groups like ClinicalTrials.gov have been testing and assessing more and more apps, according to an article titled “Mental Health: There’s an App for That,” in Scientific American magazine.

Knowing what you need

We know that sometimes a person is not quite ready to talk to a therapist or professional about their challenges, perhaps due to stigma or other reasons. Consequently, trying a few apps can amount to the first steps in a worthwhile direction, and the use of an app can help you think about how professional help may meet your needs or perhaps lead to a support group.

Please remember we encourage anyone experiencing significant depression and anxiety to visit a mental health center to seek a therapist. At Community Reach Center, our goal is to enhance the health of OUR community. If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, contact us online at communityreachcenter.org or by phone at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday to learn more about our treatment programs. We also provide family counseling. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

 

Social Media and Mental Health: Tips on Setting Boundaries

Woman typing on computer

Social media platforms can be helpful for keeping in touch with family and friends. Seeing photos and videos of events you couldn’t attend or major life changes can make you feel more connected and up to date. However, social media use, especially excessive use, has its negative side as well. At our mental health center in the Denver area, we encourage the people we work with to set safe and healthy boundaries regarding the use of social media.

How Social Media can Hurt Your Mental Health

For all its positive benefits, social media can cause harm if not used properly. For example, social media use can:

  • Be addictive. For some people, social media use reaches a level where it has many of the characteristics of addiction, including that they are mentally preoccupied with it, they forego other life experiences to use it, they hide or downplay their use, and they use it to produce a mood alteration that they crave.
  • Decrease truly social behavior. While a person may have a large number of “friends” on social media, the hours required to maintain those online relationships will often cut into the amount of time spent with people in real-life settings.
  • Promote comparison. Frequently or continually comparing yourself to others is unhealthy. However, getting updates on all the fun things that your social media connections are doing tends to encourage that kind of behavior and the inevitable envy and jealousy.
  • Increase sadness and depression. There is growing evidence that social media use, which we believe will make us happy, can actually increase sadness, anxiety and depression.

5 Strategies for Setting Social Media Boundaries

Even when the intent of a social media platform is positive, excessive use can have a negative impact on mental health. Below are some ways to set boundaries.

  1. Give yourself permission to unplug. Checking social media can start to feel like a requirement. However, the reality is you have the right and the ability to choose when and how often you use it (or whether you use it at all). Simply acknowledging that fact can be very empowering.
  2. Set time limits. What’s a reasonable amount of time to spend on social media each day? Two hours? An hour? Thirty minutes? You have to decide. But once you choose a time limit, commit to sticking to it. Not only does that help you today, it also gives you a good baseline if you choose to cut back on social media at some point in the future.
  3. Cut ties with negative people and organizations. If interacting with or reading posts from a person or group doesn’t make you happy, but instead makes your blood boil, cut ties with them. It may feel good to vent after being fired up by their statements, but in the long term, that relationship is doing more harm than good for your mental health.
  4. Only contribute in a positive way. Lashing out at others or promoting negative thoughts or ideas do not just harm the target of your posts, it hurts you as well. The age-old advice that “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” is very relevant with social media. Even if you are speaking out against something, you can do so in a positive way by offering alternatives rather than criticism. And sometimes prefacing with something like “I have another perspective” can prevent discussions from becoming adversarial.
  5. Provide and seek clarity in your communications. Social media doesn’t offer the physical cues we typically use to understand people. Consequently, a message where no offense was intended can easily be misinterpreted, and a negative reply can then create an escalation of tension that didn’t have to occur. Be as clear as you can in your communications, and if you feel a comment directed at you was negative in some way, politely ask for clarification. A question such as, “I took your comment to mean this… Did I have that right?” can help keep a conversation from spiraling into negativity.

Making Your Mental Health a Priority

The key to proper social media use is continually assessing how it is affecting your mental and emotional health. If your interactions are not encouraging and uplifting, you need to make a change. To learn more about our mental health center, visit communityreachcenter.org or contact us by phone at 303-853-3500. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.