How to Support Someone Struggling with Anxiety and Depression

Knowing that someone you love is struggling with mental health is not easy. It takes a lot out of someone to deal with their own illness and ask for help, but it also takes a lot out of their loved ones to support them. It takes time, energy and one’s own mental health to provide support to a loved one struggling with mental health. So how can you safely and correctly support a loved one without jeopardizing your own mental health?

Understand exactly what they are struggling with

What does anxiety or depression typically look like for them? Anxiety and depression manifests differently in everyone who has it, so it is crucial to gear your support towards the specific person and their specific illness. What are their symptoms? What happens on a bad day for them? What happens on a good day? No matter how much research you do on anxiety/depression and how it presents, no one knows their illness better than them. Don’t be afraid to ask them what their illness is like for them specifically. This will let them know that you are committed to supporting them and will allow them to feel comfortable seeking support from you.

Ask what type of support they need

Anxiety and depression can have both emotional and physical effects on someone struggling with the illnesses. So, ask them what type of support they need – emotional or physical?

Emotional support: For some struggling with anxiety and depression, they need to be able to feel like they can talk about what they are feeling safely without being judged. Provide that emotional space for them to talk about their illness. When they need emotional support, ask them if they need advice, or if they just need a listening ear.It makes all the difference in the world to someone struggling with anxiety/depression to know that whoever they are talking to knows what they need out of the conversation and, in turn, helps them feel comfortable talking about it openly.

Physical support: Anxiety and depression can also manifest itself physically. They could be neglecting their hygiene, their physical space, their eating and exercise habits, etc. Look and see if you notice anything that may have been neglected and encourage them to take care of it, and even help them if they need it. If they have been neglecting their immediate surroundings, offer to help them clean up. If they have been neglecting eating, help them cook a healthy meal and sit down to eat it with them. If they haven’t been out of the house in a few days, encourage them to take a walk or just step outside to get the mail. Even the smallest movement can make a big difference.

Don’t make them feel embarrassed or ashamed for struggling

No one likes admitting that they have a mental illness. It is difficult in itself to know you have an illness but admitting it to others takes a different type of strength. So, if a loved one comes to you and tells you that they are struggling with anxiety/depression, be mindful of your language. Avoid telling them things like “Everyone feels that way,” “It could be worse,” or “We’ve all been there.” Phrases like this minimize the importance of their illness and contribute to harmful personal stigma surrounding mental health. Instead, use phrases such as “Thank you for opening up to me,” “How can I support you?” and “I am here for you when you need me.” These phrases let them know that you heard them and that you will not judge them for asking for help.

Take care of your own mental health

It can be triggering to some people to hear that a loved one is struggling with their mental health. So, as important as it is to support them in their own recovery, it is also important to know your own limits and what your mental health can take. Let your own support system know when you are struggling and don’t be afraid to set your own boundaries. Participate in your own forms of self-care and recognize that your mental health is just as important as everyone else’s.

Know that you are doing enough

Progress in mental health does not happen overnight, and it is a rollercoaster – full of ups and downs, twists and turns, and just when you think it’s coming to a stop, it flings you backwards. You have to be patient and understand that however you are supporting them, you are doing enough and they just appreciate having someone there for them who will love them and support them unconditionally as they navigate their mental health. It can be difficult to stay positive when you are not seeing any progress, but over time you will start to notice the little things. Believe in them and believe in yourself that you are doing the right thing.

When in doubt, if you notice that someone you love is struggling with their mental health, ask them what they need. If it is more than you feel you can handle, offer to help them find professional resources, and continue to support them through that journey.

This blog was written by Kayla Pray, a clinician at Community Reach Center.

A Peer Support Specialist's Journey to Recovery

In January of 2017, for the first time in my life, I experienced complete peace. The depression and anxiety I had lived with my entire life seemed to have finally dissipated, and I felt a connection to the universe that was euphoric.

This change sounds positive, but the events that occurred as a result of this transition soon became catastrophic. Within weeks I would choose to disconnect from consensus reality, and I would be involuntarily placed into my first psychiatric facility.

What happened? How did I go from being an international award-winning photographer, business owner, performer, mother and faithful companion, to a person who was observed as “talking to walls” and labeled as someone needing to be “committed”? The full answer lies within my history, but simply stated – I had enough of feeling worthless and I was deeply misunderstood.

I desperately wanted to cure my feelings of emptiness, self-doubt and heartache. In 2016, I reverted to my younger ways of dealing with these emotions. This came in the form of spiritual practices. For years, I had shut down all paths of spirituality because I had been emotionally damaged by religion. Still, as much damage is there, there is a part of me that will always want there to be validity behind certain aspects of what I was taught.

To try and heal, I started to open up doors of spirituality that felt comfortable to me. This is when my emotions began to shift. I started feeling more whole. I started feeling worthy. I started to feel “happy”. Then something happened. The spiritual paths I turned to, opened my mind in a different way. I started having sensory experiences that I attributed to my newfound spirituality. I began hearing voices and seeing people others could not. I began to engage more and more with this euphoric reality I found. Soon, I would feel my place was with the voices I was hearing. A few of these voices were God, Jesus, Buddha and a spirit I believed to be my “twin flame”. I had very little desire to be in this reality. In a state of complete euphoria, I wanted to die. I wanted to be with the voices who loved me unconditionally.

The voices promised me everything I had ever wanted. They said the right things to make me feel purpose, unconditional love, self-assurance, acceptance and peace. The voices also told me I would need to prove myself to them before I could be with them. I became like a puppet to the voices I was hearing. I began to do everything they told me to do.

Under their command, I wandered the neighborhood. I went into a house uninvited. I threw out my cell phone, threw away my keys, abandoned my car, went missing for three days and so much more. My loved ones were terrified, and to say this caused my family trauma would be an extreme understatement.

I was not acting like myself, but I had never felt better. I had no desire to go back to the way things were, so I continued in this pattern of accepting the voices without using my critical thinking. I thought if I just proved myself to the voices, they would take me. It wasn’t until I landed in my second mental facility that I came to the conclusion that my physical reality was not going to match my mental reality. I started to see a change needed to take place.

I decided the best way to change my physical reality was to disconnect from my voices. This was incredibly difficult for me. I knew it meant I would be giving up my peace. I knew it meant I would feel anxiety and depression again. Still, I didn’t want to continue living in mental facilities, and I knew that was what my future held.

In my hospital room, I had a conversation with the voices. I told them I needed to let them go because engaging with them was not safe for me. The voices replied, “we will always be with you, and it’s okay for you to let go.” After that, voices remained relatively silent for the following year.

During that year, I worked very hard on honoring my needs. I recognized on some level that the only “being” who could take care of me was myself. I began to self-advocate for things I had pushed aside, and I started working on projects that highlighted my strengths. I decided I would not be a puppet to anyone or anything ever again. I would be my own puppet master. I made this quite literal when I chose to start a puppet show and puppet blog that would tell my story under my own terms.

The first year of recovery was difficult. I lost the peace and self-acceptance I once had. The most difficult part was I changed my connection with God. I went from believing I was hearing his voice to stripping myself away from his presence. Still, I felt I had to make this transition in order to be safe and live a full life again.

Further into recovery, I started paying attention to my feelings, thoughts and body. I began to interact with my body as if each part of me was its own individual self with its own unique needs. This introduced me to IFS (Internal Family Systems) therapy. Finding IFS ended up being crucial for my interaction with my feelings, emotions and eventually, new voices.

IFS gave me a safe way to interact with myself. This brought new voices to the surface. These voices felt different than those before. These voices felt like parts of me, rather than outsiders. They didn’t fall under the banner of spirituality, but instead, they were unique portions of myself. Once they began to surface, I realized that any voice I had ever heard was trying to tell me something. Usually metaphorically (although I didn’t recognize them as metaphorical in the beginning), but sometimes directly. This idea and process has allowed me to reintroduce voices in a safe way.

I talk and interact with the voices differently. I do not believe everything they say, and I try to get at the “why” they are communicating. Typically, the voices are trying to tell me I am not taking care of my needs in some way. Often, I have to regulate between the voices, because some voices want things that are not currently beneficial for us as an entire system (or as me as a whole). Still, I make sure they are known they are being heard, and I offer them compromises as I’m able.

Interacting with the voices in this way has given me back some of the comfort I lost. I have redefined their presence in my life. They are not here to prepare me for my afterlife, but rather to help me in this life.

Hearing voices was never the problem. The problem was that I didn’t love myself, and I was desperately seeking peace. I didn’t know how to find that. Therefore, my behaviors, what I was experiencing, and being misunderstood by others, led me to be institutionalized. Although being institutionalized was awful, good did emerge from it. I was given a diagnosis that helped me accept aspects of my former life. This time also taught me to pay attention to my needs, and to be more understanding.

My tools for self-help are much more refined now. I recognize what I need to do for my mental health, and I understand that I have purpose and place in this reality. The process of learning to love myself is on-going, but it’s a process I am willing to work on. All the voices coming from me agree to this process, and they are happy to finally be heard.

My life looks different than it once did. My experiences have not changed who I am, but they have enhanced who I am. I am still an international award-winning photographer, business owner, performer, mom and companion… but now, I am also a voice hearer. I am a puppeteer and speaker for mental health. I am a Peer Support Specialist who helps others on their journeys of healing and recovery. Most importantly, I am someone who is taking charge of her own life. I no longer want to escape my life, but I want to engage in it.

For decades I have been plagued by the idea that “I am not good enough”. Now, I think that it’s not that I’m not good enough, but it’s that I am actually too good for what the world has led me to believe.

This was written by Anginet, a Peer Support Specialist at Community Reach Center.

Colorado Spirit Program: Meeting the Community Where They Are At

Colorado Spirit is a program at Community Reach Center that was created to provide support for the many feelings associated with the Covid-19 pandemic. Through community-based outreach and psychoeducational services, the Colorado Spirit team's mission is to empower Adams County residents. Colorado Spirit has the flexibility to meet the community where they are in dealing with the pandemic, including at local food banks.

The Adams County Food Bank has been our second home every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for the last three months. As crisis counselors, we saw the food bank as an opportunity to connect and give back to the community we work for. Additionally, it is a high-populated area with high volumes of people seeking assistance, so we wanted to be available to those in need of Covid-19 resources as well.

What I didn't foresee happening was the development of friendships and partnerships with other organizations that strengthen Community Reach Center's network. Showing up every week, we are able to assist individuals out front waiting in line to make sure their needs are met. This is done in many ways, but one unique and special attribute we have brought is our ability to speak and understand Spanish. There have been countless times where that ability to communicate has come in handy in terms of understanding an individual’s needs. I am often praised for my ability to lift heavy things and grab things in high places, I pride myself in going out of my way to help with these tasks because there are a lot of older individuals volunteering.

We have become an important and pivotal piece in regard to the logistics of how things run and operate. The volunteers now feel like friends, they share stories with us, they confide in us and they ask us for help. We talk to them like friends when they want to talk as friends, but we also have the ability to talk to them as crisis counselors when they have something more serious they want to talk with us about. We are able to recognize and flip the switch at a moment’s notice.

We have given out thousands of fliers at this point, putting them in the weekly and monthly carts as they head out to their recipients. In turn, those fliers have turned into referrals and calls from individuals that are interested in what Colorado Spirit can offer them, or occasionally a thank you for what the Adams County Food Bank has done for them.

The Adams County Food Bank has provided us the opportunity to showcase our skills as crisis counselors while also allowing us to deepen relationships within the county we serve.

If you need support or want to learn more about the program, you can call (303) 853-3579 or go to https://www.communityreachcenter.org/colorado-spirit/.

This blog was written by Crisis Counselor James Sheehan with the Colorado Spirit Program.

5 Ways to Overcome the Stigma Surrounding Mental Health

One in five adults in the United States suffer from at least one diagnosed mental health issue every year (Source: National Institute for Mental Health). That’s about 52 million individuals. To put that into perspective, imagine you and your four closest family members or friends are all sitting together around a table. Statistically, one of you will be struggling with at least one mental health issue, whether that be depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD or any number of diagnosable mental health issues. But how many times a year do you have a conversation about mental health with those four people? Your answer is probably zero. Why is that?

There are three categories of mental health stigma. Each one contributes to the barrier between you and your discussion about mental health. So, let’s talk about how to reduce that barrier and overcome each stigma in order to better talk about mental health with not only your loved ones, but also yourself.

Public Stigma

Public stigma surrounding mental health is the negative attitudes or perceptions that the general public has about mental health. The common public belief about mental health is that “people with mental issues are dangerous, incompetent, to blame for their disorder [and] unpredictable” (Source: American Psychiatric Association). 

What can affect public stigma? Movies and television shows like Criminal Minds, Mindhunter, the 2019 film version of the Joker, etc., are all forms of media that represent individuals with mental illness who turn violent. These individuals and their mental health are portrayed in a way that fuels the prejudice and stereotypes the public already believes about mental health – they are dangerous, incompetent and unpredictable.

Personal Stigma

Personal stigma is the negative attitudes or perceptions that an individual has about their own mental health. Individuals with their own prejudices about mental health that are fueled by public stigma believe they are “dangerous, incompetent, [and] to blame [for their condition]” (APA).

What can affect personal stigma? The public perception of mental health is the baseline for how people think about their own mental health. If they are commonly in contact with these negative perceptions and harmful stereotypes about mental health, it is more likely that they are going to turn that stigma towards themselves. In addition, how those in their direct circle talk about mental health can contribute to their beliefs about mental health.

Institutional Stigma

Institutional stigma is how the general public’s belief about mental health affects the system. The government and private organizations may intentionally or unintentionally alter laws and opportunities that directly or indirectly affect those with mental illness based on the prejudices and stereotypes of individuals with mental health (APA).

Again, institutional stigma stems from the public’s beliefs about mental health and how those with mental health are perceived to be dangerous, incompetent, and unpredictable. There are several areas where mental health stigma is purposefully embodied in laws and other institutions – the “insanity defense” in the legal system, mental health coverage not being included in most health care insurance plans, no formal mental health education in schools.

So how can you and your four closest family members or friends reduce the stigma surrounding mental health? Here are five ways to do so:

  1. Acknowledge the harmful effects of stigma

    Common effects fueled by stigma include low self-esteem, difficulty with social relationships, difficulty at work and school and decreased likelihood to seek help at a crucial time. By recognizing the harmful effects that negative stereotypes and prejudices towards mental health affect the public’s perception of mental health, you can easily identify ways to flip the script and change your attitudes and actions towards mental health.

  2. Educate yourself on the topic of mental health

    Learn what mental health disorders look like in real life. What are common symptoms of depression? Anxiety? OCD? What do you look for in yourself? What do you look for in others? Knowing what these disorders look like outside of media portrayals is crucial to understanding the symptoms and what to look for, which makes it easier to know when it is time to get help. Utilize resources like the APA website and local community mental health centers to get an idea.

  3. Educate others on the topic of mental health

    Once you have a decent understanding of mental health yourself, use the opportunity to talk about it openly with others. If you notice a close friend is showing signs of a depressive episode, talk to them about what you have observed and let them know why it is important that they seek help. If you hear classmates or co-workers talking about mental health in a demeaning, stigmatized way, speak up and let them know what the reality is. Don’t be afraid to correct others and push the idea that mental health does not equal dangerousness and incompetence.

  4. Be mindful of your language

    Don’t throw around vocabulary associated with mental health haphazardly. Meaning, don’t use the word “depressed” when you are just having a bad day. Don’t use the word “anxiety” when you are nervous about a test or a presentation. Don’t use “OCD” when you like to keep your room tidy. Throwing around words and phrases meant to define mental health only contribute to the stereotypes and prejudices towards mental health and makes it difficult for people struggling with these disorders to feel comfortable speaking up and seeking help.

  5. Openly discuss your experience with mental health

    Given that one in five individuals struggle with some sort of mental illness, make it a habit to openly talk about your own experience with mental health, if that is something you are comfortable with. Talking about mental health creates a domino effect – once one person speaks out and acknowledges their mental health, another person follows, and then another, and then another. Knowing that someone else is struggling with something similar makes it easier for others to recognize that they may also be struggling. People find comfort in knowing that they are not alone.

So, the next time you are sitting around a table with your family or friends, think about the fact that at that very moment, one of you may very well be struggling with mental health, and don’t be afraid to start up a conversation.

This blog was written by Kayla Pray, Residential Clinician at Community Reach Center.

Learn About the Role of Sleep in Mental Health

Man enjoying good sleepEvery year, researchers discover new links between sleep and health, and it's become apparent that sleep is something that everybody needs to take seriously. There are a number of health complications that can arise as a result of disturbed sleep, a lack of sleep, and a slew of other factors. At our mental health clinic, we emphasize that restful sleep is essential to good mental and emotional health. 

 

Physical and Mental Health Risks of Sleep Deprivation

Everyone experiences occasional sleeplessness. However, people who fail to get seven to nine hours of sleep on a regular basis and consequently have an ongoing “sleep deficit” are at a higher risk for a number of medical problems including:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack

Sleep difficulties can also cause or worsen mental and emotional health issues. This includes:

  • Decreased ability to think clearly
  • Memory problems
  • Decreased reaction time (which is especially problematic when driving a motor vehicle or operating machinery)
  • Increased symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Strained personal and professional relationships

 

Sleep and ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that is closely linked to sleep. While the relationship is not fully understood, most experts agree that there is a connection. The National Sleep Foundation quotes multiple studies in pointing out that in children in particular:

  • Children who have ADHD have higher rates of daytime sleepiness than children without ADHD
  • About 50 percent of children with ADHD exhibit signs of sleep-disordered breathing as compared to just 22 percent of children without the disease
  • Periodic leg movement syndrome and restless legs syndrome are common in kids with ADHD

Making matters worse is the fact that while adults tend to get lethargic when they don’t get enough sleep, children often compensate for feelings of daytime sleepiness by being more active. Consequently, sleep disorders and ADHD may both mask and magnify one another, making it more challenging to assess and treat either condition. However, treatment can be effective, and it is critical as both conditions can lead to other health problems.

 

10 Tips for Better Sleep

Whether sleep issues are causing you to have health concerns or simply impacting your quality of life, there are steps you can take to get more restful sleep. They include:

  1. Sticking to a regular sleep/wake schedule, even on weekends
  2. Avoiding long or irregular daytime naps
  3. Increasing exposure to sunlight or bright light during the day
  4. Reducing caffeine consumption later in the day
  5. Sleeping in a room that is comfortably cool, dark and quiet
  6. Avoiding late meals and minimizing water intake in the evening
  7. Reducing “screen time” as bedtime approaches
  8. Practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing, visualization, taking a hot bath or shower, meditating or reading a book just before going to bed
  9. Getting regular exercise, but not in the evening
  10. Being evaluated for physical or mental health concerns that may be affecting your sleep

 

Helping Clients Understand and Improve Their Sleep

At Community Reach Center, we know how valuable it is to get restful sleep on a regular basis. Our counselors also understand that sleep, mental health and physical health are intertwined and can help you address the challenges you face. Learn more about our services at communityreachcenter.org or call us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We have mental health centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

Mental Health Center Emphasizes Importance of Physical and Mental Health

Life is made up of many components, and two of the most critical aspects are physical and mental health. It is challenging to have a healthy and balanced life without both. Focus on one at the expense of the other can be detrimental to one’s wellbeing. However, as we tell people at our Denver mental health center, with a little time and effort, you can improve both essential components.

Strategies for Staying Physically Healthy

Taking care of your body delivers a range of benefits, from fewer aches and pains to reduced risk of disease, to an increased energy level. Below are five things you can do to treat your body right.

  • Get regular aerobic physical activity. Some people have a negative opinion of “exercise” for one reason or another. However, you don’t have to run five miles a day or do hours of yoga or Pilates every week to improve your physical health. Just taking a brisk 20-minute walk daily can make a difference.
  • Eat a balanced diet. What and how much you eat has a major impact on your health. Fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish and whole grains are good for you. Sugar, processed foods and refined carbohydrates are not. And, all foods should be consumed in moderation.
  • Stay hydrated. Not only does your body need water to function properly, but staying hydrated can also boost your metabolism and help you maintain a healthy weight.
  • Quit (or don’t start) smoking. It’s not easy to quit smoking, but there are counseling programs and medication that can help. If quitting cold-turkey feels impossible, start small by smoking one less cigarette a day.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Being tired isn’t the only consequence of getting inadequate sleep. Sleep deprivation can cause everything from cognitive impairment to hormone problems and weight gain.

Tips for Maintaining Good Mental Health

Most people know that there are actions you can take to improve your physical health. However, many are surprised to learn that the same is true of mental health. Too often we assume that our mood and outlook on life simply fluctuate and there is nothing we can do about it. On the contrary, there are many steps you can take to help achieve and maintain a state of wellbeing. Some of the most effective are listed below.

  • Practice living “in the moment.” In our busy lives, it is easy to think about anything other than what we are doing in the present. It can be a tremendous stress reliever to learn to practice “mindfulness.” That means when you are washing your hands, focus on the simple pleasures of washing your hands, like the coolness of the water running through your fingers and the smell of the soap, When taking a bite of a sandwich, focus on the freshness of the ingredients and how the flavors blend together. Learning mindfulness requires some work to make this a habit, but the payoff is significant.
  • Create and maintain positive relationships. The connections we have with our family members, friends, coworkers and others in our life are crucial to our mental health. It is important to invest time and effort in ensuring they stay strong.
  • Keep track of what you’re grateful for. Even in the toughest of times, there are things we can be thankful for. Making a mental note of them (or better yet, recording them in a gratitude journal) on a regular basis can keep you focused on the positive.
  • Do something nice for someone. Even the smallest acts of kindness can deliver big mental and emotional benefits, both to the recipient and to you.
  • Think positive thoughts about yourself. How you think about yourself affects how you feel about yourself, and that affects your sense of confidence and overall perspective within the world. Reminding yourself regularly that you have many positive qualities and avoiding comparison to others, helps build a solid foundation for your mental and emotional health.

Important Resources from a Denver Mental Health Clinic

The strategies above can be very useful, but when you need expert insight into mental health challenges, our team at Community Reach Center can help. Visit communityreachcenter.org or call us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for more information 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.

What are risk factors of anxiety disorders?

Anxiety is caused mostly by perceived threats in the environment, but some people are more likely to react than others, we are informed in the Mental Health First Aid manual that accompanies our Mental Health First Aid courses at Community Reach Center.

According to the MHFA research, those more at risk include those who:

  • Have a sensitive nature and tend to see the world as threatening.
  • Have a history of anxiety in childhood or adolescence, including marked shyness.
  • Are female
  • Abuse alcohol
  • Have a traumatic experience

And the risks are increased by:

  • Difficult childhood
  • Family background that involves poverty or a lack of skills
  • Family history of anxiety disorders
  • Parental alcohol problems
  • Separation and divorce

Anxiety problems can also result from:

  • Medical conditions
  • Side effects to certain drugs
  • Intoxication with alcohol, cocaine, sedatives, and anti-anxiety medications.

There are many types of anxiety disorders, among them is GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder), in the which main symptoms involve being overwhelmed, unfounded anxiety and worry about things that may go wrong or one’s inability to cope accompanied by multiple physical and psychological symptoms more days than not for six months. Numerous other anxiety disorders with similar symptoms can be described, but the things to consider are the general symptoms and whether to seek professional advice if needed. And it is importance to remember that anxiety untreated can develop into a range of adverse outcomes later in life.

At Community Reach Center, we are always glad to answer your questions. As was noted in an blog last week, mental health is an important part of your overall health and should have high priority.  If you would like professional advice for you or someone you care for, call 303-853-3500.

Understanding and Navigating Conflict While Maintaining Your Mental Health

Understanding Conflict

Conflict is involved in most facets of our everyday lives and can really pack a negative punch on our mental wellness if we don’t know how to manage it well. It’s paramount to learn and implement effective coping skills to manage conflict.

In general, our bodies have a physical response to conflict. Poor management can lead to higher production of the stress hormone cortisol and can cause hardening of the arteries, leading to increased risk of heart attacks as well as high blood pressure.

Each of the following scenarios stirs anger inside of us. But, how we choose to approach each situation can impact our mental health.

You’ve had a long day and still need to pick up groceries before heading home, but the grocery store parking lot is packed. Finally, you see a spot and put your signal on. Some other grocery shopper speeds up and swerves into YOUR spot just as you approach. 

Your son saunters through the door at midnight. You know because you waited up for him. His curfew was hours before, and you know he hasn’t done his homework yet either. You’re exhausted and frustrated.

Your boss has been piling work on you for days, yet your co-worker seems to not be receiving any extra projects. She leaves for an hour long lunch each day as you work through the day, trying to get everything done. Today, she smiles and tells you to work faster and perhaps you could join her for lunch.

 

When conflict arises, try some of these conflict resolution approaches:
Active listening

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who is focused on something else? You don’t ‘feel’ heard. Make good eye contact. Also, to fully understand where the other party in the conflict situation is coming from, listen before speaking, and try not to be assembling a retort in your head while they’re talking.

Let’s go back to the curfew scenario. Before yelling at your son for coming through the door hours late, ask him if he has a reason why and actively listen to what he has to say. He may or may not have a good excuse, but giving him the benefit of the doubt before immediately expressing your frustrations may help diffuse the tension.  

Elevate your EQ

Your emotional quotient (EQ) is like your IQ for understanding and effectively using emotion. When we try to understand why we feel how we do and appropriately display our emotions, it’s easier to get through conflict successfully.

Utilize Empathy

Sometimes, we get so caught up in how we’re feeling, we forget the other party’s needs and emotions. Truly try to put yourself in their shoes, and you may find yourself empathetic to their cause. Finding middle ground will have less roadblocks when you attempt to be empathetic to others.

You know that rude grocery shopper that stole your parking spot? Maybe he had a child at home with a high fever and needed to get to the store ASAP to get medicine. Thinking about why he may have needed the spot just as badly as you might make you feel a little less angry.

Know Your Limitations

Conflict can escalate easily and quickly. Discern when to walk away, and/or when to call in a professional. Take a few deep breaths, assess, and remove yourself from the situation if need be. There are many local and online resources to help you mediate a situation. 

When your work colleague smiles at you and tells you to work faster, despite not understanding or caring about your workload, you might feel the need to quip back with an unkind response. Instead of acting in the moment, take a walk and ask yourself how to best approach this situation. You don’t have to ignore it altogether (in fact, that’s not a great strategy), but think about the communication type that will be effective, yet respectful.

Keep in mind, conflict isn’t called ‘peace.’ It can be a challenge. But don’t feel too bad about struggling through it--t’s natural to be frustrated. But, don’t give up. Your mental health will thank you for your diligence.

 

RESOURCES:

http://www.kdheks.gov/hcf/healthquest/download/resource_downloads/conflictresolution.pdf

http://www.edcc.edu/counseling/documents/Conflict.pdf

http://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/conflict-resolution.html