growth through adversity

It is safe to say that many are living in a time characterized by uncertainty, doubt, and for some, fear of their future and wellbeing. These hard feelings create a noticeable tone in our society that is hard to ignore for any age. With bare store shelves, emphasis put on social distancing, shelter in place for some, closing of schools, lack of routine, and economic hardships the feelings of “normalcy” have been shaken for many around the world. This puts us all feeling in a vulnerable place. With vulnerability though, comes the opportunity for growth!! Hope is not lost.

Here are some practical tips on how to grow through times of uncertainty and vulnerability. 

  • Do not run from feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. These feelings come from a place of protection. Notice them, be mindful of them, do not judge them. There is no right or wrong way to feel during a time of crisis. Focus on safety in the current moment. Take things day by day, moment to moment if needed. 
  • Get plenty of sleep. Research shows sleep helps to revitalize and recharge the body, mind and spirit. This can be anywhere from 6-8 hours for adults and 9-12 for children/adolescents. 
  • Participate in physical activity daily.  Research shows there is a strong connection between exercise and mental health wellbeing. This can include:
    • Taking a walk while phoning a friend. 
    • Playing outside with a child or pet. 
    • Taking advantage of a free Yoga or exercise fitness
    • video on Youtube. 
    • Spending time in the yard 
    • The possibilities are endless. The important part is to get moving. 
  • Read a book or watch a show you have been wanting to watch. Discover something new! Stimulating your mind is a great way to create feelings of positivity and growth. There are many free online resources currently for diving into something new. 
  • Practice social distancing but still work to maintain positive social relationships. Connect via phone or other means of technology with at least one positive social connection a day.  It is easy for the introvert in all of us to literally social distance and retreat within. Although tempting, according to Mindwise.org, “Friendships offer a number of mental health benefits, such as increased feelings of belonging, purpose, increased levels of happiness, reduced levels of stress, improved self-worth and confidence.” 
  • Help out a friend or neighbor in need. Focusing on the needs of others facilitates feelings of happiness and a sense of purpose outside of ourselves. This can be offering to pick up groceries for an elderly neighbor, checking to see if mail needs to be picked up/animals walked, offering words of encouragement to a friend who may be affected by illness. We are at a time like no other to come together as communities and look outward to where help may be needed.  In the neighborhood where I live, many neighbors agreed to paint colorful rainbows to put in our windows for others to see as they got out for walks and fresh air. Such a small act that created smiles for so many. 
  • Do not be ashamed or fearful of reaching out for professional counseling support. Seeking extra support during times of adversity is a sign of proactive strength, not weakness. We at Georgia HOPE are here to help you navigate through the hard parts.  #HOPEisHere    

And remember: 

“Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny” – C.S Lewis.

Parenting Tip: Substance Use Prevention During COVID-19

Anyone else feeling the stress of homeschooling right now? I know I’m not alone in that! What about stressors of having to work from home with kids there, losing a job, not having access to valuable resources, worrying about medical issues? 

Many parents, guardians and adolescents are facing a big change in their lives right now…being stuck at home – unable to go to work, school, attend social gatherings or be out in the community. Not only have our days changed but big life events have been cancelled and futures are uncertain. What might be some negative things that you and your teen experience during the COVID-19 quarantine and social distancing guidelines that have disrupted normal routines? Fear, Stress, Boredom/Freedom (lack of supervision), Loss, Trauma. 

So why is it important that we take careful thought and action during this adjustment period? Because when any of the above negative thoughts, emotions or situations occur, it can lead to substance use problems.

Let’s start with the basics: why do people begin using drugs or alcohol?

  • To feel good – most abused drugs produce intense feelings of pleasure (stimulants produce “highs” followed by feelings of power, self-confidence and increased energy: opiates produce euphoria followed by feelings of relaxation and satisfaction) 
  • To feel better – to lessen feelings of pain (injury or chronic medical condition) and distress (social anxiety, stress, and depression)
  • To do better – pressure to chemically enhance or improve their cognitive or athletic performance 
  • Curiosity and “because others are doing it” – engage in risky behavior to impress friends and express freedom from guardians or social rules (strong influence of peer pressures where adolescents are particularly vulnerable) 

* Children and adolescents are at a vulnerable age as early use increases the chances of developing an addiction

How can we effectively cope with these unique stressors to protect our teens from substance use?

As I provide some education about the risk and protective factors for substance use and associated resources, know that risk and protective factors associated with substance use are common across multiple mental health disorders (anxiety, depression, etc.). 

Here are the main risk factors for early substance use as well as some tips, resources and interventions for these risks:

  • Lack of parental supervision – This often leads kids to hang out with older individuals and to be exposed to more dangerous environments. Here’s a helpful resource on the power of parental supervision
  • Academic problems – Online tutoring: keep them learning.
  • Undiagnosed mental health problems – If you suspect your child is dealing with mental health issues, please contact a mental health professional. Georgia HOPE would love to help!
  • Peer pressure/peer substance use – Talk with your child about peer pressure and know their friends. Here’s a great resource around content preventing substance use in teens.
  • Drug availability – A child’s first experience with substances is usually in the home, so safely dispose of prescription medicines.  Here’s a resource on safely disposing your prescription medicines.  
  • Poverty – Find a free and reduced-price prosocial activities for children.
  • Peer rejection – Ask your child if they are being bullied; ensure that they are having ongoing positive social interactions.
  • Child abuse or neglect – Take care of your own mental health as parental mental health and substance use issues are the number one reason for child welfare reports.
  • Genetic predisposition and parental exposure – If your family has a history of substance use, talk to your child about predisposition and the probability of addiction from experimentation 
  • Trauma – If your child has experienced something traumatic, ensure they can process it with a mental health therapist.

Here are the main protective factors and some tips, resources and interventions to build these protective factors:

  • Parent-child attachment – Foster a strong relationship with your child.
  • Commitment to school – Make education and learning a priority (help them with their new way of doing school at home, go on virtual vacations like visiting a museum from home with a free virtual tour). Here’s a resource of an out of school toolkit.
  • Family values – Have family meetings and create family values together.
  • Expectations of future career – Tell your child about the skills and talents they have and help them grow an utilize those abilities.
  • Positive peer group – Provide opportunities for them to create friendships with other families that hold similar values as your own.
  • Positive self-esteem and good mental health – Speak life, hope and kindness in your home and to your children. Help them learn positive coping mechanisms. Here’s a resource on how to talk with your teen.
  • Extra-curricular/prosocial activities – Assist in building character, talents, interests, positive peer groups and prosocial behaviors.
  • Positive parenting: Here is a good outline for positive parenting practices to prevent youth drug use:
    1. Relationship: Meet basic needs and develop close relationship.
    2. Role model: Be a good role model when it comes to drinking, taking medicine and handling stress.
    3. Know your child: Know your child’s risk level and know your child’s friends.
    4. Monitor, supervise and set boundaries: Remember that you are the parent and not the friend.
    5. Talk to them: Have ongoing conversations and provide information about drugs and alcohol

Hot Topics

  1. Social Distancing: I’ve heard from a lot of parents who are struggling to force their teen or young adult to quarantine and practice social distancing. Here is a great resource to help with your teen understand social distancing:  https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_to_help_teens_shelter_in_place.
  2. Vaping: There is currently an adolescent vaping trend that can impact peer groups. Smoking drugs increases addictive potential as it enters the brain in seconds producing a powerful rush of pleasure.
  3. COVID-19 and Substance Use: Substance use takes a negative toll on your health and weakened immune systems are more likely to contract and have complications from disease, including COVID-19. Social practices connected with drug use increase exposure to infections pathogens, including COVID-19P. Inhaling smoke of any kind can be damaging to your lungs and COVID-19 is a respiratory disease which impairs breathing.

Georgia HOPE is here for you and your family during, always. Whether it’s providing tips through our blog and social media channels or online family therapy. If there is anything we can do to help you and your family, please feel free to reach out to us! HOPE is here.

HOPE is here.

compassion's place in healing

Have you ever heard the phrase, “It’s better to give than to receive”?   As a child, I thought my mom was just making something up. How can anything be better than receiving a gift? 

Well, science now backs up this quote. Research shows that practicing compassion actually stimulates emotional and physical healing!  When we are able to focus on, not only compassion for others, but also self-compassion, we can observe healing and resiliency thriving.  What better time than now to practice the art of compassion as our nation and communities face this pandemic.  

I won’t get too “sciency” but look at this quote from an article written by Amanda Tust in the Yoga Journal:   “The vagus nerve activates two key systems in the body that impact how you feel: the parasympathetic nervous system (a.k.a. what’s activated when you’re in rest-and-digest mode) and the sympathetic nervous system (your fight-flight-freeze mechanism). Compassion practices help you more readily turn on your parasympathetic nervous system. You become calmer and more relaxed, and your brain functions at its best. Your blood pressure and heart rate go down, and your immune system gets more robust. On the flip side, when the sympathetic nervous system is engaged, blood pressure and heart rate increase. Your brain isn’t as sharp as usual, and stress hormones (like cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine) as well as inflammatory proteins (which are associated with the onset of disease) are released into the bloodstream.”   Isn’t our body so amazing??  

With our new norm of social distancing and self-isolation, how can we utilize the practice of compassion (with ourselves and others) to enhance our own emotional and physical healing? 

  • Find ways to stay connected with family and friends.  Use technology (text, phone call, FaceTime, social media) to send a kind message to a loved one, do a check in with someone you might be concerned about or you feel just needs a little support, keep your social media posts positive and upbeat, have a virtual game night with family and friends and the list could go on and on. 
  • When you do have to venture out to get groceries or other necessary trips, be mindful of respecting and caring for others.  Follow the guidelines set out by the CDC and protect yourself and others from potential exposure. Be patient with others even when they may not be doing the same.  You never know what that other person maybe going through or what kind of stress, fear and anxiety they maybe facing. Your kind word, smile or patience with them could really turn their day around.  Look past the rough exterior and see the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life.  
  • According to a recent article on mindful.org, a 2010 study shows that compassion / kindness is contagious!  One act of compassion can multiply THREE times!! Can we commit to at least one act of kindness per day? 
  • Be kind to yourself!  Celebrate imperfection and view failure as an opportunity to learn and grow.   Offer grace to yourself and others during this difficult time in our country and world, and not just now, but every, single day. 
let's commit to at least one act of kindness per day

Yesterday, the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, made the following quote: 

“If ever there is a time to practice humanity – the time is now. The time is now to show kindness, to show some compassion to people.”  

Let’s practice some love and compassion today!

way to wellness

When you think of wellness what comes to mind?

The common misconception of wellness is that it’s a goal achieved over time. However, wellness can be incorporated into your daily routine today! While setting a goal to lose 15 lbs or run a marathon is amazing, that’s not wellness. That’s a long term goal as part of your daily wellness routine.

At Georgia HOPE, we want to help you achieve good health and meaningful living and overall wellness, and that starts with our providers as well! 

We launched an internal #WayToWellness Daily Wellness Challenge amongst our providers and team, and think this daily wellness challenge is great for anyone!

Here’s 14 Ways to Kick Start Your Daily Wellness Routine 

  1. Drink 32oz of water today

    Drinking water helps energize your muscles, hydrates your skin, and just makes you feel better! Our tip is find a reusable water bottle or cup that you love and label the oz on the side to track your water intake! 
  2. Call 1 person you love (or text)

    – Since social isolation is needed to help the spread of COVID-19, it’s extra important to stay connected to your loved ones. Pick up the phone and Facetime, call or text a relative to just say hello and you’re thinking about them.  Not only will you make their day, you’ll feel better after it as well.
  3. Take a 20 minute walk

    Fresh air and moving your body does the mind wonders. Take a walk whether it’s down the driveway and back a few times, or if you can’t go outside just take a few laps around your home. Moving your body keeps is essential for your overall health, even if it’s just a quick 20 minute walk! 
  4. Journal for 15 minutes 

    Writing down your feelings is a great way to let things out that you may not feel comfortable saying out loud. With the COVID-19 crisis, it’s normal to feel angry, frustrated, sad or anxious, but writing down how you feel and a few things you’re grateful for is a great way to manage those feelings. 
  5. Have your favorite cup of coffee/tea 

    Whether you’re a coffee drinker or tea drinker, sometimes a sip of your favorite coffee or tea is like a nice warm hug in a mug! Grab your favorite mug and make your favorite coffee or tea to enjoy, take a sip, sit back and smile!
  6. Take a hot bath or shower –

    Starting the day with a nice hot shower or ending the day with a nice relaxing hot bath is a great way to practice #selfcare and to reset your mind to either conquer the day or get a good night’s sleep. 
  7. Take a power nap

    Now that most of us are working from home, whether you work full time or parent full time or do a little of both, taking a 15 minute power nap will help reset your mind and give you the energy to take on the remainder of your day. 
  8. Read a chapter in a (non-work) book

    With more down time at home, it’s a perfect time to pick up a book to read at night. Turn off the news, turn off your phone and settle into your favorite book.
  9. Get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep

    We know this one is easier said than done if you’re a parent or have a busy work schedule, but sleep and rest is essential to your overall wellness. Focus on going to bed earlier, try a new bedtime routine to relax such as reading or meditating, whatever it takes to get you to relax and fall asleep a little earlier to get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep. 
  10. Take two 15 minute breaks today

    With most of us working from home right now, it can make it hard to create boundaries of balancing work and home life when you technically never leave the office, so setting times for daily breaks beyond just normal lunch break is essential to keeping you mentally fresh.
  11. Listen to your favorite song or album 

    Music is a great way to relax or motivate (depending on the song choice and preference)! Whether your favorite song pumps you up to do a quick workout or knock out that work project or your favorite album helps you relax, use this time to get back to some music! Maybe even share some favorite songs or albums with your kids!
  12. Bring a healthy lunch to work (or make a healthy lunch at home) 

     If you’re still going into work / the office or if you’re working from home, making a healthy meal for lunch is a great way to keep you feeling ready to take on the rest of your day and not sluggish like an unhealthy lunch will make you.
  13. Hug someone 

    Giving a hug is a great way to share some love and feel some love. During the COVID-19 crisis, this may be a little harder if you live at home by yourself to hug someone, but if you have a pet give your pet a big hug, and if you don’t have a pet, wrap your arms around yourself and give yourself a big hug!
  14. Express your gratitude to 2 people 

    Whether it’s a family member, friend, or colleague, tell 2 people you’re thankful for them today. Showing gratitude to someone is a great way to feel gratitude yourself. 

Wellness is something you can start now! You can start it today. Follow the challenge above one day at a time and slowly incorporate wellness into your daily routine. Once your wellness challenge is completed, see how you feel. If you’re ready, incorporate a few of these wellness items into your daily routine or create a new challenge of your own! Maybe you can start a wellness challenge with your family at home or with your own colleagues or friends. The main idea here is to know that wellness doesn’t have to be a hard goal to achieve. It’s something you can start doing today and now. 

We’d love to see how you incorporate wellness into your daily routine! Tag us and #WayToWellness. 

Be Well!