Mental health: How to tap into good online internet habits

Therapist Benjamin Dungan holds “Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction is Hijacking Our Kids – and How to Break the Trance,” by Nicholas Kardaras. Sign up for his upcoming presentation on internet habits.

 

Online video screens are kind of like windows – as glass rectangles we look through to see the world outside. However, internet screens are not like windows overlooking calming vistas but are more like windows on a fast-moving train. The scenes can change from serene to jarring at a moment’s notice.

Furthermore, online viewers can engage in limitless information, activities and games. Sometimes the hours go by, the days go by, and the engagement becomes compulsive. This behavior is sometimes described as internet addiction.

While excessive internet use has not been recognized as a disorder by the World Health Organization or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), discussion of these conditions and use of the term Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) abounds. Many of us are faced with keeping our online habits in check.

 

Adding it up

So, just how much time do we spend online?

The Digital 2019 report by HootSuite and We Are Social reports consumers in the U.S. are online an average of 6 hours and 31 minutes each day.

Secondly, how much time is too much time?

The short answer is that it depends on how that time is being spent and how it relates to a person’s overall lifestyle balance. This where it gets extremely complicated because for the most part our sources for learning, work, entertainment and recreation are together in one place – on the internet.

 

Compulsivity and addiction

Compulsive behavior can be identified when someone is always looking forward to getting back online, as well as being online constantly. Being compulsive is not uncommon in various ways and can often be corrected with habit improvement efforts. 

With substance use disorders, addictive behaviors include a condition when a person gives up or significantly reduces social, occupational or recreational activities due of substance use. Likewise, it’s easy to see how this parallel to the word “addiction” can be made when a person’s lifestyle and responsibilities unravel due to an excessive amount of time spent on the internet.

 

Taking action

Setting limits is a key component to improving habits. As parents, this might involve technically limiting the capability of computers for children in the home or having the internet connection shut down at specified times. For adults, better habits simply involve a self-accountability effort.

To get a grip on level of use, it may help to:

  • Track the amount of time you are online.
  • Schedule the times of day when you are online and off.
  • Take a digital detox break now and then. Have a friend unplug with you.
  • Don’t use your smartphone when you are lying in bed.
  • Just “let go” in general. Release the urge to keep up with all email and posts instantaneously.

 

Join us for a webcast to learn more

Community Reach Therapist Benjamin Dungan will present “How to Develop Healthy Internet Habits,” online at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 27. He will be be available to answer questions from viewers after the presentation. To sign up, please visit the Community Reach Center Facebook link or register to participate via Zoom.

Dungan will explore recent statistics, neurological impacts of internet use, physical and sleep impacts, mental health impacts and signs of problematic use. He will cover how to use internet technology in healthy ways, and he will provide sources to look to if you or a loved one needs to consider professional help. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor who has experience working with children and adults in a variety of therapy, hospital, community and school settings. He developed an interest in helping those with addictions such as substances, food and technology.

Remember the presentation is free. Please join us.

Always here for you

If you want to speak to someone about mental health, please reach out to us at Community Reach Center, a nonprofit mental health center with numerous outpatient offices in north metro Denver, visit www.communityreachcenter.org or call the free Warm Line at 303-280-6602. Also, remember the Behavioral Health Urgent Care (BHUC) center, 2551 W. 84th Ave., in Westminster is open 24 hours. Call 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255.

Older adults: How to navigate life transitions

Our lives go through several major transitions over time, including school, work, family life and more. Older adults encounter some impactful life transitions as well: Becoming empty-nesters, retirement, moving or downsizing, health changes, and personal loss are all common life transitions. Some easier to handle than others.

Life changes are sometimes difficult. This can be caused by our fears around change: fear of the loss of control, of losing our independence, fear that life won’t be the same and even a fear of the unknown. Fear of change is a top reason for the resistance to change. It might be helpful to know there are ways to better manage the transitions – even the difficult ones – by addressing these fears.

How to manage your fears

What can we do about fear? Experts tell us there are six ways to manage your fears.

  • You can embrace them, recognize that fear heightens your awareness and gets your adrenaline going.
  • You can take an immediate leap. One way to manage your fears is to just dive in and go for it.
  • Getting real: Remember that fear is rarely based in reality, it’s mostly made up of the stories we tell ourselves.
  • Another way is to cultivate acceptance. Accept that bumps and roadblocks are part of the journey and they will happen.
  • You can face your fear head on.
  • Lastly, remember that your fears aren’t really that scary.

Manage change

Another way to ease life transitions is by becoming better at managing change. How do you manage change? First, understand that if you initiated the change, it becomes a positive act, which can make it easier for you to adapt to the new environment. You might even look forward to the challenges and rewards that come from your change. However, if you’re the object of the change, and it is happening to you without your decision, your reaction may be less positive. You could be experiencing less control, more unknowns about the outcome.

So, you can better manage transitions by trying to anticipate changes and prepare for them, even for the ones like moving, or giving up driving, etc. Anticipating what might be coming and taking steps to prepare could include communicating with family members around what you want to happen, or planning for eventualities like transportation, downsizing, even how you might anticipate and plan for health changes or other major events.

Having the “survivor mindset” can also make you better at adapting to change. This includes having a deep sense of strength in self, taking stock, evaluating what you have and what you need to navigate through the transition. Committing to re-assess as you go will enable you  to adapt and adjust to situational events along the way. Survivors also admit to themselves and others that it isn’t easy, they communicate and ask for (and accept) help and support as needed. This is easier to do if you have support systems (friends, family, caregivers) already in place and active. Overall, preparing yourself for changes to come and communicating with friends and family can really improve your ability to manage changes, even ones that are difficult.

Focus on self-care

Another thing to keep in mind when dealing with change is to take good care of yourself. Keep up your normal routine as best you can, which includes getting adequate sleep and exercise, eating at regular times in normal amounts, and continuing everyday activities and appointments. Keep things simple, participate in activities you enjoy. Being gentle and kind with yourself as you experience the feelings and emotions that come up with adapting to change can really assist in getting through this time of transition. Take time for yourself, nurture your spirit.

Along with good self-care and being gentle with yourself, try to keep your expectations manageable: be realistic about what you can and cannot do. This is a time to pace yourself and organize your time. It might be helpful to make a list and prioritize activities that need to happen throughout the time of change.

Adapting to the changes

Here are three final tips for adapting to change:

  • Let go of the past. Find or create new ways to celebrate in your new environment. Start new traditions to honor things important to you, and mark successes in your transition with new celebrations.
  • Allow yourself to feel the feelings that come up for you along the way. Change isn’t always easy, and there might be times of sadness, loneliness and grieving the loss of the way things were. All these feelings are normal.
  • As you move through a transitional time, having a positive attitude is a way to better manage situations. A focus on what you do have, rather than what you don’t have is a positive way to adapt and manage change, even the changes you didn’t choose yourself.

The only constant in life really is change. As your life transitions, know that your attitude is the key to making a difficult transition more manageable.

Some good reading

Here are a few books on life transitions:

“Making Sense of Life’s Changes” by William Bridges

Pivot: The Art and Science of Reinventing Your Career and Life” by Adam Markel

“The New Old Me,” by Meredith Maran

“Third Calling,” by Dr. Richard Bergstrom and Leona Bergstrom

Here for you

If you want to speak to someone about mental health, please reach out to us at Community Reach Center, a nonprofit mental health center with numerous outpatient offices in north metro Denver, visit www.communityreachcenter.org or call the free Warm Line at 303-280-6602. Also, remember the Behavioral Health Urgent Care (BHUC) center, 2551 W. 84th Ave., in Westminster is open 24 hours. Call 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255.

Our experts

This column is written by Wellness and Care Coordinator Nicole Hartog and Program Manager James Kuemmerle with the Senior Reach program at Community Reach Center. If you have any questions about where to turn for help for older adults, please reach out to the Senior Reach team at Community Reach Center at 303-853-3657. The Senior Reach provides treatment for depression and trauma, as well as many other mental disorders. As always, we are here to enhance the health of our community. Mental wellness for everyone is our goal.

 

Fathers and mental health measures

Father’s Day is a great reminder of the importance of a mentally healthy dad. A father who makes his mental health a priority is more present with his children, happier at home and a more supportive partner.

Many dads can struggle with mental health issues like depression. The mood disorder can appear with the birth of a new child or emerge later in life. Fortunately, depression is treatable. With the proper help and support, dads can find even more enjoyment in parenting while learning to cope with their feelings of depression or even anxiety.

Statistics

According to a study published in 2015, two in five new dads reported concern about their mental health. Lack of sleep, changes in relationships and lifestyle, and new responsibilities were most often the cause. With ample opportunities for mothers to seek help for mental health issues postpartum, men are sometimes left with fewer resources. Stigma also can be a factor, preventing many men from speaking up and seeking help.

When a dad’s mental illness is untreated, the whole family can suffer. If a man is concerned that he may be struggling with depression, it is important for him to talk about it with his partner and doctor.

Take steps

Acknowledging that there is a problem is a crucial first step. Exercise, eating well, and taking a little time to pursue a hobby can also be helpful. Therapy and medication may be necessary. Finding an effective treatment that works for each person is important.

As a dad’s health improves, so will the health of the family. Dads who are more in tune with their own feelings can help their children do the same. Research shows that when fathers are able to handle their emotions, children have improved social skills and emotional intelligence.

A healthy relationship between the father and child is important too. A study at the University of Maryland School of Medicine concluded that children with fathers actively engaged in their lives learn better, have higher self-esteem, and are less prone to depression than those who don’t.

Take time to acknowledge the dads in your life and be on the watch for any symptoms of depression. Remember a healthy dad helps to make a healthy family.

Here for you

If you want to speak to someone about mental health, please reach out to us at Community Reach Center, a nonprofit mental health center with numerous outpatient offices in north metro Denver, visit www.communityreachcenter.org or call the free Warm Line at 303-280-6602. Also, remember the Behavioral Health Urgent Care (BHUC) center, 2551 W. 84th Ave., in Westminster is open 24 hours. Call 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255.

Our experts

This column is written by Wellness and Care Coordinator Nicole Hartog and Program Manager James Kuemmerle with the Senior Reach program at Community Reach Center. If you have any questions about where to turn for help for older adults, please reach out to the Senior Reach team at Community Reach Center at 303-853-3657. The Senior Reach provides treatment for depression and trauma, as well as many other mental disorders. As always, we are here to enhance the health of our community. Mental wellness for everyone is our goal.

 

 

Manage information overload, minimize stress

The news stream has been a 24/7 stream of updates and information about the COVID-19 pandemic and more recently updates on protests following the death of George Floyd. If all this information has you feeling overwhelmed, depressed, unable to focus, helpless or fearful, please know you’re not alone.

So, how can we be more intentional with managing all that information and the stress and anxiety it may be creating in our day?

Here’s a five-step plan that might help you better manage the information overload.

Step by step

First, identify the sources. How are you receiving information and news throughout the day, by radio, TV news, social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.,) or from friends and family? Take an inventory of how many ways you are exposed to news and information.

Secondly, start filtering the information you’re receiving. What news outlets do you find a best fit for you? Do you prefer to listen to news on the radio, or a podcast, or is it better for you to watch a local or national news station? Is social media helping or hindering your feelings about information overload?

Some people avoid watching the news because the graphics and videos can be startling and prefer to read an article or just listen to a newscast. Here is a good link from Forbes that is one way to choose news sources. Take time to decide the best format and sources that give you the information you need to make good decisions without becoming overwhelmed or overloaded.

Habits and actions

Next, set up a scheduled time to review information. Perhaps you only watch the news at lunch, follow social media for an hour each morning or listen to newscasts before dinner. Creating some structure on how and when you access information updates can help you stay well informed without the news taking over your entire day.

Pay attention to how you feel after that scheduled time. Was it too much, or are you wanting more information? Adjust until you reach a balance that works for you.

When accessing news information, the next step is to decide whether to act on it. This step can really help with feelings of being overwhelmed. When you are watching the news or reading a news article that has a call-to-action (donate to a food bank, for example) decide in that moment to act on it or not. Then let it go. Perhaps you read an article about connecting with family during this time of social distancing. Take action on it right away, call the friend or family member on your mind. This action can help you feel a little more in control in this unsettling time.

Set your boundaries

Lastly, turn it off. Try to not take in news first thing in the morning or the last thing before bed. Give yourself some space to start and end the day without the bombardment of local, national, and world news that can be emotionally upsetting.

Columnist David Brooks in a column titled, “The Stem and the Flower,” warned of spending too much time consuming politics in particular and wrote, “I figure that unless you are in the business of politics, covering it or columnizing about it, politics should take up maybe a tenth corner of a good citizen’s mind. The rest should be philosophy, friendship, romance, family, culture and fun.”

In other words, be informed about matters of importance, but don’t let the news cycle take over your day. Set your limits and see how this improves your overall well-being.

We are here for you

Of course, some people are more adept at dealing with information overload than others, but if you have been struggling, you can improve how you deal with it. If you want to speak to someone about the feelings you are experiencing, please reach out to us at Community Reach Center, a nonprofit mental health center with numerous outpatient offices in north metro Denver, visit www.communityreachcenter.org or call the free Warm Line at 303-280-6602.. Also, remember the Behavioral Health Urgent Care (BHUC) center, 2551 W. 84th Ave., in Westminster is open 24 hours. Call 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255.

Our experts

This column is written by Wellness and Care Coordinator Nicole Hartog and Program Manager James Kuemmerle with the Senior Reach program at Community Reach Center. If you have any questions about where to turn for help for older adults, please reach out to the Senior Reach team at Community Reach Center at 303-853-3657. The Senior Reach provides treatment for depression and trauma, as well as many other mental disorders.
As always, we are here to enhance the health of our community. Mental wellness for everyone is our goal.

Ring in Mother's Day with gratitude for care

Anyone know what day of the year sees more phone traffic than any other?

That’s right, Mother’s Day, which this year falls on Sunday, May 10, in the United States. Phone calls typically rise by as much as 37 percent, as dutiful sons and daughters across the country get on the phone to convey something of the gratitude, love, and appreciation they feel for the person who brought them into the world.

There is a reason we celebrate Mother’s Day in May. This special day has its origins in the early Christian festival known as “Mothering Sunday.” Celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent, this was a time for the faithful to come home and attend a special service at the “mother church” in the town where they were raised.

In our country

The Mother’s Day we observe in the United States grew out of Mothering Sunday. It was the special project of a woman from West Virginia who had lost her own mother a few years before.

In May of 1908, Anna Jarvis organized the first official Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of the month to recognize the many sacrifices mothers make for their children.

For years, she campaigned to make it an official holiday and in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother’s Day, a national holiday to be celebrated on the second Sunday of May.

Placing the apostrophe

A frequently overlooked fact about Mother’s Day is the apostrophe placement. If all mothers are honored on this day, why not write it plural, Mothers’ Day?

Anna Jarvis made a specific point of naming it with the singular Mother’s in order “for each family to honor its own mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world.” That makes sense.

It is not the idea of motherhood that we honor on Mother’s Day, but the actual moms who played such an important role in the upbringing and care of each of us.

Moms and mental health

It is perhaps a fitting coincidence that May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which was started in the United States in 1949 by the Mental Health America organization (then known as the National Association for Mental Health). Parenting has become more of a team effort through the years, but mothers are often the primary caregivers, and nothing needs caring like the appearance of a mental health problem in someone you love. At Community Reach Center, we very much appreciate the roles mothers play in good mental health practices, such as self-care and seeking assistance when needed. 

This coming Sunday I will be honoring my own mother, Rose, as well as Christine, the mother of my son and my lovely wife of 25 years. And especially for this year we would like to declare this Sunday “Mothers’ Day” (notice the placement of the apostrophe) in honor of all moms and female caregivers.

Let’s take it upon ourselves to overcome the challenges of COVID-19 and social distancing and find a way to express appreciation on Mother’s Day – even if it’s just on the phone, in a card or a drive-by wave while throwing kisses.

Thank you for your caring, and Happy Mothers’ Day to all of you!

Here for you

This column was contributed by Program Manager James Kuemmerle with assistance by Wellness and Care Coordinator Nicole Hartog with the Senior Reach program at Community Reach Center. If you have any questions about where to turn for help for older adults, please reach out to the Senior Reach team at Community Reach Center at 303-853-3657. The Senior Reach provides treatment for depression and trauma, as well as many other mental disorders. Please don’t hesitate to seek assistance. Also, remember the Behavioral Health Urgent Care (BHUC) center, 2551 W. 84th Ave., in Westminster is open 24 hours.

To learn more about Community Reach Center, a nonprofit mental health center with numerous outpatient offices in north metro Denver, visit www.communityreachcenter.org or call 303-853-3500. Community Reach Center provides comprehensive behavioral health services for all ages at locations in Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City, Brighton and Broomfield. As always, we are here to enhance the health of our community. Mental wellness for everyone is our goal.

Maintaining recovery through COVID-19

In the treatment community, it’s said that social isolation is addiction’s worst enemy. Those struggling with substance use disorder may be at heightened risk for relapse during Colorado’s stay-at-home order that has closed gyms, recreation centers, libraries and other facilities that many rely upon as healthy social outlets to safeguard their sobriety.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, social media has provided a steady stream of memes about people soothing their fear and anxiety with alcohol, intending to lighten our mood. No one would argue that we could not all use a lift right now.  However, for people in recovery – particularly those early in their recovery journey – the message could be perceived as a hall pass to use during this unprecedented period, like a “loophole” in the 12-steps. 

Balance

Maintaining healthy life balance is a no-brainer. We all know what we’re supposed to be doing right now. A disciplined balance between work and social activities, between online entertainment and physical exercise, between healthy food and treats. We know. The state’s stay-at-home order has knocked the guide rails off our daily routines, altering the rhythm of our weekly schedules and making life balance difficult. Difficult but doable.

It’s time to be intentional about what we eat, when we move our bodies, how frequently we connect with friends and family, when we go to bed and when we wake up. Tapping into available resources designed to support recovery, coupled with intentional self-care strategies, will help people to maintain recovery during this trying time.

Resources

With some willingness to try an untried strategy, there’s a wide range of resources readily available to support anyone seeking sobriety. Online Intergroup offers virtual AA meetings in more than a dozen languages. Take advantage of this extra time to shop around for good podcasts focused on supporting sobriety, like The Bubble Hour and The ODATT Chat Podcast. Search for free guided workouts on YouTube – there’s a zillion of them. 

Here for you

Community Reach Center’s Behavioral Health Urgent Care is open 24/7 for anyone who is concerned about having a relapse and wants to talk to a therapist immediately. No appointment is necessary. Walk-in services continue to be provided at Community Reach Center locations in Thornton and Brighton for new clients. Visit www.CommunityReachCenter.org for more information or call 303-853-3500.

At Community Reach Center, we believe that no one should be defined by a diagnosis, and no one should be judged for their struggle. We’ve got you.

Listening is key to helping others with grief

Life-changing events can happen at any age. This includes things such as the death of a loved one, newly diagnosed health problems and job loss. As people age, these events become more common.
Grief is a normal, healthy response to loss. Over time it can take a toll on emotional and mental health. It can even lead to depression. If you’re a caregiver or if you spend time with an older adult, you can expand your capacity to support them by helping your loved one cope with loss.

Path to improved well being

Understand the grieving process:
• There are common physical and emotional symptoms of grief. The grief and loss process is different for everyone. There is no “right” way to grieve. Each loss is different, too. Allow your loved one the time and space to grieve his or her own way.
• Listening is the most important thing you can do for a loved one. If you don’t know what to say, just listening to them makes a big impact. Your loved one may need to express his or her feelings. The daily act of processing loss can be overwhelming. Small tasks may seem exhausting. That‘s why an offer to help makes such an important difference. Don’t wait for your loved one to ask for help. Offer to do things like make dinner, pick up groceries or a prescription, do laundry or clean.

Things to consider

The symptoms of grief and the symptoms of depression are similar. It’s normal for a person to feel sad after a loss. That is temporary. Your loved one may be depressed if:
• He or she doesn’t feel better as time passes.
• His or her emotions get in the way of daily life.
• He or she no longer takes pleasure in the things they used to love doing.
• He or she mentions or has thoughts of suicide.
What you can do to help a loved one who has depression:
• Don’t be afraid to remember the person who passed in fond conversations. This may help your loved one feel less alone.
• Avoid saying “I know how you feel” or he or she is “in a better place.” This minimizes your loved one’s feelings. Instead, say things like, “I know this must be difficult,” or “You don’t have to be so strong.” This helps draw out your loved one’s feelings.
• Just sit with your loved one. This can be comforting, even if he or she doesn’t want to talk.
If you notice any of these signs, you can contact the Senior Reach program for assistance. Therapists on the team can help treat the depression so your loved one can start to feel better.

Here for you

This column was contributed by Wellness and Care Coordinator Nicole Hartog and Program Manager James Kuemmerle with the Senior Reach program at Community Reach Center. It is important for people experiencing mental health conditions and their loved ones to know that mental illness is treatable. If you have any questions about where to turn for help for older adults, please reach out to the Senior Reach team at Community Reach Center at 303-853-3657. The Senior Reach provides treatment for depression and trauma, as well as many other mental disorders. Please don’t hesitate to seek assistance.

Around the clock

Also, remember the Behavioral Health Urgent Care (BHUC) center, 2551 W. 84th Ave., in Westminster is open 24 hours. To learn more about Community Reach Center, a nonprofit mental health center with numerous outpatient offices in north metro Denver, visit www.communityreachcenter.org or call 303-853-3500. Community Reach Center provides comprehensive behavioral health services for all ages at locations in Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City, Brighton and Broomfield. As always, we are here to enhance the health of our community. Mental wellness for everyone is our goal.

Stress, crisis and trauma

All people have a different capability to cope with and regulate events that overwhelm us.  Think of the wide range of expression of emotions you’ve already witnessed during the COVID-19 epidemic. Stress of all kinds can create a self-defined crisis that invokes reactions like anxiety, depression, isolation and exhaustion. However, not all stressful or crisis events are traumas.

One way in which a trauma differs is the continued impact on a person’s ability to self-regulate and the symptoms that they experience such as flashbacks, hypervigilance and feelings of detachment.

By clinical terms, a trauma is any event in which a person experienced a threat to their life, serious injury or significant violence. Initial reactions to traumas are much the same as to a stressful or crisis event.

COVID-19 impact

The coming of the COVID-19 surely raises the types of stressors that contribute to trauma. The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) notes that stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include:

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Worsening of mental health conditions
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs

Don’t hesitate, take quick action

If you or someone you know is feeling great stress due to COVID-19, whether you would consider it a “crisis” or something lesser, remember Community Reach Center operates the Behavioral Health Urgent Care (BHUC) center at 2551 W. 84th Ave. in Westminster. It is open 24/7.

The BHUC team is comprised of trained mental health professionals available 24/7 to help individuals of all ages who are experiencing: thoughts of suicide, depression, overwhelming feelings of stress, anxiety, feelings of harming oneself or someone else, an increase in drug and alcohol use and family crises.

People may also call 1-844-493-TALK (8255), or text TALK to 38255 to speak with a trained professional at Colorado Crisis Services.

At home, show you care

There is an old expression that charity begins at home. One way to interpret the saying is to care for your family first. Take care of those close to you. Help them cope with stress and from there branch out and look for opportunities to make your community stronger.

That means just tuning into what those around you need, whether it involves cooking for them, taking over some chores, or facilitating conversation with others over the phone or social media. Encourage others to unwind and perhaps not watch news all day long.

Just do your best. Simple. And keep in mind this comforting note in the Mental Health First Aid USA manual which reads “When talking to a person who has experienced a traumatic event, it is more important to be genuinely caring than to say the right things.” Like so many other activities, Mental Health First Aid courses have been canceled due to social distancing practices, but please watch for these opportunities later in the year to take a free class and learn more about all aspects of mental health.

Recognize resilience and prevention

Most people have various levels of resilience on their sides. Young people face many challenges when going through their teens, but they tend to have good resilience to bounce back as they are growing and developing.

Further, there are ways to increase resilience through positive thinking and positive self-talk. Just as training the physical body to be stronger helps to prepare for life’s eventualities, there are ways to become more mentally fit for all the challenges life brings our way.

Want to learn more?

A special webcast presentation titled “Understanding the Impacts of Trauma on Wellness” by Community Reach Center Clinical Senior Manager Jaime Brewer, MA, LPC, will be April 23.

Brewer has worked in the behavioral health field since 2010. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Colorado College and her master’s degree in International Disaster Psychology from the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Professional Psychology. She is also a board member and secretary for the Crisis Residential Association.

Her presentation will cover the types of trauma – “without going too deep,” she notes – and how trauma affects the brain. She will also give special emphasis on techniques to gain resilience. To register for her 3:30-5 p.m. Thursday, April 23, webcast, please go to the following Eventbrite link and click on register.

Here for you

It is vitally important for people experiencing mental health conditions and their loved ones to know mental illness is treatable. Please don’t hesitate to seek assistance. Remember the Behavioral Health Urgent Care (BHUC) center, 2551 W. 84th Ave., in Westminster is open 24 hours. And to learn more about Community Reach Center, a nonprofit mental health center with numerous outpatient offices in north metro Denver, visit www.communityreachcenter.org or call 303-853-3500. If you have any questions about where to turn for help for older adults, please call the Senior Reach team at Community Reach Center at 303-853-3657. Community Reach Center provides comprehensive behavioral health services for all ages at locations in Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City, Brighton and Broomfield. As always, we are here to enhance the health of our community. Mental wellness for everyone is our goal.

How older adults can cope with COVID-19

We are certainly in unsettling times. Often, it is difficult to find reliable information. This is a quick informational blog about how to keep yourself safe and how to reach out for assistance. The Senior Reach program continues to operate, accept new referrals, and continues to work with older adults in our community. We are currently utilizing a Telehealth model to continue our work.

Older adults, 65 years and older, are at higher risk for severe illness. COVID-19 is a new disease, and we are learning more about it every day.

What you can do

If you have a serious underlying medical condition:

  • Stay home if possible.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Avoid close contact (6 feet, which is about two arm lengths) with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Avoid all cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
  • Call your healthcare professional if you have concerns about COVID-19 and your underlying condition or if you are sick.
  • For more information on steps you can take to protect yourself, see CDC’s How to Protect Yourself

Stress and coping

Older people are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 which may result in increased stress during a crisis.

Fear and anxiety about the COVID-19 pandemic can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions.

Things you can do to support yourself:

  • Go outside for a little while: Enjoy the health benefits of sunlight, especially morning sun, look around and stretch a little. Stay home but get a little sun.
  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories and social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting. Instead play different games on the cell phone or table.
  • Enjoy your kitchen: See what you have in your pantry, make a recipe with whatever you find. Discard items that have expired. Research cooking ideas on Pinterest.
  • Body basics: Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to make a point to do activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
  • Find a project: Make your own hand sanitizer or make protective masks as a sewing project or make a project with other items around the house. Find something that works within the scope of your home.
  • Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.
  • If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others, then please call right away.

Here for you

This column was contributed by Wellness and Care Coordinator Nicole Hartog and Program Manager James Kuemmerle with the Senior Reach program at Community Reach Center. It is important for people experiencing mental health conditions and their loved ones to know that mental illness is treatable, and there is no shame in seeking assistance. If you have any questions about where to turn for help for older adults, please reach out to the Senior Reach team at Community Reach Center at 303-853-3657. We provide treatment for depression and trauma, as well as many other mental disorders. Community Reach Center provides comprehensive behavioral health services for all ages at locations in Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City, Brighton and Broomfield.

Reduce procrastination to improve wellness

Enjoyable activities can be the spice of life, but what must be done when they become excessive and interfere with our productivity? We’ll have to look in the mirror and take the initiative to reduce behaviors leading to procrastination.

Procrastination is often regarded as a time management problem. However, psychologists like Tim Pychyl at Carleton University attest that procrastination has more to do with emotional regulation than time management. This stance conflicts with popular understandings of procrastination, leading us to re-evaluate our perspective on this behavior.

Why do we procrastinate?

Procrastination is often caused by emotional dissatisfaction associated with working on productive tasks, such as school assignments or work-related tasks.

Emotional dissatisfaction associated with productivity often leads to engaging in distractive activities like watching TV, playing video games, or surfing the internet and social media.

Procrastinating by engaging in distractive activities provides short-term mental satisfaction but can be detrimental to long-term wellness.

Impacts on wellness

Procrastination has been found to contribute to the following mental health problems:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

As time is spent procrastinating, stress and anxiety levels increase due to worrying about completing a task at hand, especially as deadlines approach.

Procrastination may also lead to depression because stress and anxiety are known to exacerbate symptoms of depression.

The following physical health problems have been associated with chronic procrastination:

  • Hypertension
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Chronic illness

Physical health consequences attributed with chronic procrastination are largely due to the physical impacts of anxiety. For instance, anxiety hinders functioning of the cardiovascular system, immune system and central nervous system, leading to physical health consequences.

Poor health habits are also common in people who experience immense stress and anxiety, therefore contributing to physical health consequences.

Reducing procrastination

While there are no cheat codes to conquer procrastination indefinitely. However, some useful tips can be used to significantly reduce this behavior.

A notable tip for reducing procrastination is to ask yourself the following questions:

  • “What tasks need to be completed to promote my wellness?”
  • “What actions will benefit my future wellness and success?”
  • “How will I feel if I do not complete a task on time?”

Such questions provide insight on what needs to be prioritized, as well as taking wellness into consideration.

Another useful tip to reduce procrastination is by giving yourself incentive to complete a task through rewarding yourself with an enjoyable activity after you’ve completed it. You can tell yourself, when I finish my assignment, I will watch that awesome new movie everyone’s been raving about or beat the next level in my favorite video game. Whatever the reward is, ensure it will give you strong incentive to complete your task.

Also, no exceptions. Enjoyable activities make it harder to be productive because transitioning from a pleasurable activity to a productive task is difficult.

Taking breaks

If you feel overwhelmed while completing a task, take a break. Do something that is not distractive, time consuming or mentally taxing, such as:

  • Take a short walk
  • Eat a healthy snack
  • Engage in mindfulness meditation

Such activities will promote mental clarity and enhance productivity when returning to your task.

Final thoughts

Procrastination is a prevalent behavior in society. Statistics estimate around 80 to 95 percent of college students procrastinate academic work. Further, about 20 percent of adults in the U.S. are chronic procrastinators. However, through knowing the impacts of procrastination on wellness and tips to reduce this behavior, you can save yourself the unnecessary stress by completing your tasks ahead of time. What are you waiting for? Now is the time to tackle those productive tasks and overcome procrastination.   

Establishing good habits as well as finding ways to cope with mental health issues can be challenging. If you or a loved one has a mental health concern, we are happy to consult with you at Community Reach Center. 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, Broomfield and Brighton.

This blog was contributed by Brice Pernicka, a Westgate Community School student who is also an intern at Community Reach Center. The Grants, Public Relations and Marketing team extends a big thank you and high praise to Brice who exceeded expectations in writing exceptional blogs and handling at wide variety of tasks during his internship. We enjoyed the past six months he has worked with our team and predict great success in his future.