recovery blog post

September is National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month. If you have a friend or family member in recovery, it’s great to find ways to show your support.

Everyone’s recovery journey is different, but having support from loved ones is helpful for anyone in recovery. Here’s some ways you can show support:

  1. Accept them without judgment – Many recovering addicts feel judged by their families and friends, so you should avoid criticism and negativity as much as possible. Instead, express love for your loved one and praise their decision to maintain sobriety. Be accepting of the person and don’t place judgment.
  2. Learn more about recovery – Seek out reputable recovery resources to learn more about the individual’s specific issues and ways to promote recovery.
  3. Create a substance-free environment – One of the biggest predictors of long-term recovery is whether or not users live in drug-free environments. Loved ones can protect a recovering addict’s surroundings by removing any drug paraphernalia and alcohol while encouraging them to stay away from places that might tempt them to relapse.
  4. Actively listen – Not all recovering addicts want to talk but if they do, take the time to listen and pay attention to what they’re saying.
  5. Encourage healthy habits – Cooking food, exercising and playing games are all positive, substance-free activities that recovering addicts can do with their loved ones.
  6. Suggest joining a support group – In support groups, recovering addicts can interact with other recovering addicts while receiving encouragement. Support them by helping them find courage to go to a support group. You can suggest it and even volunteer to go along with them.
  7. Say you want to help – Sometimes a person in recovery will ask you directly for help but most of the time they may be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help. But just hearing you tell them “I’m here for you and here to help,” is the best support someone can get. Make a clear, simple statement to the recovering addict that you want to help and you support them in this process.
  8. Don’t take things personally – The recovering addict may be making their recovery a top priority instead of you. Counseling sessions may take up their time instead of nights out with you. This is a necessary part of their process as they focus on getting better. In time, this strengthens any friendships or partnerships.
  9. Don’t rehash the past – You may have been hurt by the recovery addicts’ substance abuse but it’s time to move forward from past like they are trying to do. Not letting go of what happened while they were under the influence of substances prevents the necessary growth for everyone to recover. It may be helpful for you to get your own therapy to find peace and understanding.
  10. Don’t give up – The journey of recovery can be long and challenging. Be patient and don’t give up. Keep moving forward.

As always, HOPE is here.

Georgia HOPE specializes in providing quality mental health and recovery services for in the state of Georgia. To learn more, enroll, or refer someone to us, contact us below:

speaking of HOPE
https://youtu.be/Bgq7_kJi9uE

September is National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month.

Recovery Month:

  • promotes the message that recovery from substance abuse in all its forms is possible
  • highlights the benefits of substance abuse treatment
  • encourages citizens to take action to help expand and improve the availability of effective substance abuse treatment for those in need
  • honors the contributions of treatment providers

Resources

HOPE is Here.

Georgia HOPE specializes in providing quality mental health services for children, adults, individuals and families in the state of Georgia. To learn more, enroll, or refer someone to us, contact us below:

new normal

When COVID-19 became a reality, life as we knew it changed. Our routines and ability to predict what would happen next were drastically altered.

Stress and anxiety is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. We are living in an uncertain time where stress is common. It is nearly impossible to go through one day without hearing alarming information on the news about not only COVID-19 but national security concerns and disasters. We are reminded often that the days are filled with less peace and calm and more destruction and illnesses.

Through all of this, stress and anxiety management has become vital for individuals and families. HOPE is here. We’ve put together some coping skills to practice for minimizing the mental consequences of everything going on in the world and maximizing the recovery of this exposure.

Here’s 8 Tips for Managing Anxiety during the “New Normal”

It’s normal to have difficulty managing your feelings during this time. Because everyone experiences stress and anxiety differently, don’t compare yourself with others around you or judge other people’s reactions and emotions. Here are some tips for coping:

1. Talk about it. By talking with others, trusted friends and family or professionals, about the event, you can relieve stress and realize that others share your experience and feelings.

2. Take care of yourself. Get as much rest and exercise as possible. Try to continue any religious practices or centering activities.

3. Take one thing at a time. Getting things back to normal can seem impossible. Break the job up into doable tasks. Complete that task first and then move on to the next one. Completing each task will give you a sense of accomplishment and make things seem less overwhelming.

4. Help others if you’re able to. Help prepare meals for others. Volunteer to help clean up or rebuild your community. Donate to a local food bank. Helping others can give you a sense of purpose in a situation that feels beyond control.

5. Avoid drugs and excessive drinking. Drugs and alcohol may seem to help you feel better, but in the long run, they generally create additional problems that compound the stress and anxiety you’re already feeling.

6. Ask for help if you need it. If your anxiety is so strong it gets in the way of your daily life, talk with someone. Don’t try to go it alone. This is especially important for people who had existing mental health problems or those who’ve survived past trauma. You could also join a support group. Don’t try to go it alone. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.

7. Follow public health guidelines from reputable sources. The degree and rate of reopening seems to vary across the country, so stay informed when restrictions are reinstated and up to date. But check the sources as well. There’s a lot of misleading information out there causing more stress and anxiety than needed.

8. Be your own cheerleader and don’t compare yourself to others. Facing your anxiety is hard work. We all have things that scare us or stress us out and because of this, we shouldn’t compare yourself with others. If you are working hard to overcome your anxiety, you deserve to congratulate yourself and be your own cheerleader. The work of re-entering the world after an unprecedented months-long lockdown is work. If you are trying to overcome your anxiety, then you deserve to congratulate yourself for you hard work.

HOPE is Here.

Georgia HOPE specializes in providing quality mental health services for children, adults, individuals and families in the state of Georgia. To learn more, enroll, or refer someone to us, contact us below:

virtual learning

There’s a new urgency to explore online educational tools and best practices because of the coronavirus pandemic for virtual learning. This is a “new normal” for everyone and really there’s nothing about all of this virtual schooling during a pandemic crisis that is “normal.” We’ve put together 6 helpful tips to help engage your kids with virtual, online learning.

6 tips to help engage kids with virtual learning:

1. Setting Up a Good Routine is Key

Without the same need to get ready for a normal school day, and with everyone being home all the time (for the most part), it’s all too easy to let go what used to be normal routines. But having a routine is helpful for kids. Come up with a routine and stick to it, including a time for going to bed and getting up in the morning, breakfast, snack time and other meals, free play, outdoor activities, etc. The daily routine doesn’t have to be the same as it was during the pre-COVID school year, but it needs to be regular and you have to stick to it. This is really important for kids of all ages.

2. Setting up Devices & Space for Virtual Learning

Your child needs a computer or type of laptop / good tablet for virtual leaning. A phone isn’t the right tool for online learning. If providing a computer / good tablet is an issue for your family, contact your school because the school district is responsible for ensuring students who need equipment get it. But there is also the matter of internet access. Not every household has a reliable internet connection available. Again, if this is an issue for your household, contact your school to see what’s possible. There have been a lot of creative workarounds to these issues, so it’s likely a solution can be found.

As for the “space” where learning will take place. Put a little design effort into creating the right virtual education site in your home. Lying in bed or on the couch with a laptop or tablet is not sustainable or productive. Your child needs to sit comfortably and upright in a supportive chair with their device in front of them. We’ve seen some pretty creative ideas like the ones below of creating virtual learning “pods” in the home. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3. Creating Online Safety 

Kids at home with virtual learning are spending a lot of time on the internet. This puts them at even greater risk or all kinds of online problems, including cyber bullying and harassment, sexual predation and exposure to pornography,  fraud and identity theft, or getting hacked. As parents, you should have access to all their different online accounts, meaning you have their login credentials and can go in and actively monitor who they’re connected with and what kinds of interactions they are having online. Talk to them about why this is important and how they should always immediately come to you for anything.

4. Maintaining Focus & Motivation 

Kids may be feeling “down” during this “new normal” of virtual learning. Kids miss being with other kids and their friends, school, sports, etc. It may be hard to feel motivated for online learning and to focus with all of these feelings and changes. Plus there’s even more distractions at home and online learning. 

You can help your kids maintain focus and motivation during online learning hours by once again creating a routine, monitoring cellphone and technology usage outside of online learning, and promoting positive attitudes around the house as much as possible.

5. Creating Interaction 

For creating interaction, you can set up virtual playdates or online group homework or study-buddy sessions. Set up playdates outside at the park with small groups. Peer interaction is a valuable benefit some finding ways to incorporate that weekly is important. 

6. Monitoring  Online Learning

Nothing about all of this virtual schooling during a pandemic crisis is normal for anyone. The most important thing you can do is monitor how your kids are doing with this new form of education. Observe them. See how engaged they are. Are they taking notes? Are they asking questions? Are they sad? Are they angry? Are they just zoning out? Identify the hang-ups and challenges and then think about what you can do to help them through those. It’s not normal and everyone has a little more stress right now. It’s important to be flexible and forgiving, and as always HOPE is here.

Georgia HOPE specializes in providing quality mental health services for children, adults, individuals and families in the state of Georgia. To learn more, enroll, or refer someone to us, contact us below:

 

 

Anxiety can take place in many forms for children whether it is social anxiety, separation anxiety, or general anxieties. When childhood anxiety is heightened, it’s natural for parents and caregivers to go into protection mode. The best thing for parents and caregivers to do is to help their children learn to manage anxiety.

Here’s 6 Ways to Help Your Child Learn to Manage Their Anxiety:

1. Set Clear Expectations.

It’s important to have similar expectations for anxious children that you have for non-anxious children but it can be helpful to go at a little slower pace and make some accommodations. While you’re one child may want to attend every birthday party, your anxious child may want to avoid big birthday parties.  Setting clear expectations and helping your child create appropriate benchmarks like going to smaller birthday parties or birthday parties without big triggers like a bounce house or swimming pool. This will help create expectations and teach your child that she/he can work through anxious feelings and manage their anxiety with baby steps without completely missing out. 

2. Let Your Child Worry.

Don’t just say to your child “Don’t Worry!” or “Relax!” This doesn’t help them stop to worry. Instead, provide a listening here and allow your child to vent to you and brainstorm solutions together. 

3. Don’t Avoid the Anxiety.

Just like telling your child not to worry won’t make those anxious thoughts disappear, avoiding triggers of anxiety won’t help your child learn to cope. If your child becomes anxious around water for example, keeping your child completely away from pools, lakes, the ocean, the bath, etc will only validate the anxious thought. It sends the message that water in fact is danger. It’s better to help desensitize the triggers by taking small steps. Try looking at pictures of the ocean and talking about what triggers the feeling of anxiety. Next, go to a park with a pond and take a way around it. Finally, visit a pool or sit in the bath together with some toys to know that it’s okay. By taking small steps, kids can learn to work through their anxiety and find ways to cope.  

4. Help Them Build a Way to Cope.

One thing that helps anxious kids is having a list of ways to cope to use in a moment of anxiety. Here’s some examples you can practice together: 

  • Deep breathing
  • Stress ball
  • Write it out
  • Talking it out 
  • Counting to 10 

5. Get Back to Basics.

Your anxious child doesn’t need to play every sport and attend every birthday party, but they do need the basic health and social needs like:

  • Good sleep
  • Healthy meals & plenty of water
  • Downtime to decompress
  • Outdoor free play
  • Daily exercise (taking a walk, riding bikes, playing at the park, etc.)

6. Empathize Often.

Anxiety is tough for anyone, especially young kids. When kids feel overwhelmed by anxious thoughts, they can struggle to do everyday things like go to school or band practice. Anxiety in children can even cause them to avoid fun things like playdates with friends. It’s important to empathize and provide emotional support to your child. This normalizes what they are experiencing and helps them understand that they aren’t alone, and you will be there with them through it.

Reminder: Take Care of Yourself Too.

Parenting an anxious child can be emotionally draining and all-consuming. Between interrupted sleep and constant worries, child anxiety can take a toll on the parents and caregivers. Make sure to prioritize your own health needs so that you have the energy you need to help your child through this difficult time.

HOPE is Here.

As a reminder, you never have to suffer alone. There are resources available for you.

Georgia HOPE specializes in providing quality mental health services for children, adults, individuals and families in the state of Georgia. To learn more, enroll, or refer someone to us, contact us below:

Other Resources Available: 

  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Georgia Crisis & Access Line: 1-800-715-4225
  • GMHCN Warm Line: 888-945-1414
  • CARES: 844-326-5400, Call or Text 8:30AM-11:00PM for Substance Use Crisis Text Line: 741-741

#HOPEisHere

 

depression support

If your spouse, significant other, or partner suffers with depression, you may feel helpless, but there are ways you can support them and you are not alone.

The mood in major depression is often described as sad, hopeless, discouraged, or feeling down, but it can also include persistent anger. Family members notice that depressed people seem not to care about finding joy anymore.

It can be difficult to know how to help a depressed partner, but your support is important. You can’t cure your partner’s depression, but you can help you partner along the road to recovery.

Learn about Depression

An important first step in helping your partner is to understand that mental health and depression is a real thing. Symptoms of depression can vary, and can change over time. The best way to understand how your partner experiences depression is to ask open-ended questions and use empathic listening.

Depression can include the following symptoms:

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, or hopelessness
  • Changes in appetite (including weight gain or loss)
  • Sleep disturbance (sleeping too much or too little)
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
  • Fatigue (even small tasks can require extra time)
  • Anxiety or agitation
  • Anger outbursts
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt (including ruminating on past events)
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
  • Frequent thoughts of death, including suicidal thoughts
  • Unexplained physical symptoms

Supporting Your Partner

You can facilitate improvement and recovery by providing support and encouragement. Here are some tips that might help:

  • Encourage treatment.
  • Show positive reinforcement of healthy behavior, rather than criticizing irrational fear, avoidance, or rituals.
  • Measure progress on the basis of individual improvement, not against some absolute standard.
  • Help set specific goals that are realistic and can be approached one step at a time.
  • Don’t assume you know what your partner needs. Ask how you can help. Listen carefully to the response.
  • Acknowledge that you don’t understand the experience of depression or anxiety.
  • Understand that knowing when to be patient and when to push can be challenging. Achieving a proper balance often requires trial and error.

Recovery requires hard work on the part of the person with depression and patience on the part of the partner and family. It may seem like a slow process, but the rewards are well worth it.

Here are more helpful ways to support your partner suffering from depression: 

Be there for them.

You don’t have all the answers, and that’s okay, but what you can do is sit and listen and simply show up for them. You can hold your partner’s hand, offer hugs, and be present. You can respond with encouraging statements:

  • “I am here for you.”
  • “We will get through this together.”

Encourage treatment.

All too often, people feel that they just have to just snap out of it or they will just get better on their own, but depression usually doesn’t improve without professional treatment. You can help your partner by encouraging treatment and being there during appointments.

Help your partner consider getting treatment by doing the following:

  • Express your concern.
  • Express your willingness to help, including making and preparing for appointments.
  • Discuss what you’ve learned about depression.
  • Talk about treatment options, including mental therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. 
  • Help your partner stick with treatment. Whenever possible, drive to appointments together and sit in the car or waiting room. 

Create a supportive home environment.

It’s important to remember that your partner’s depression isn’t your fault and you can’t fix it. But you can help them by providing as much helpful support as possible. Changes in lifestyle can help make a difference during the treatment and recovery process. Because depression can interfere with a person’s energy and affect both sleep and appetite, you can help by:

  • Focus on healthy eating. Get your partner involved in planning and cooking healthy meals together to encourage better food choices.
  • Exercise together. Daily exercise can boost your mood. Plan a daily walk or bike ride to inspire getting back to exercise.
  • Make plans together and try and enjoy fun things you both love to do together like renting a new movie, playing a board game, or  going on a hike.  
  • Give positive reinforcement. Be sure to point out strengths and areas of improvement to help your partner see progress. 
  • Help focus on small goals and acknowledge daily achievements. 

Know the warning signs of suicide

The risk of suicide is always elevated during major depressive disorder. It’s important to know the red flags and get immediate medical assistance:

  • Talking about suicide
  • Getting a means to attempt suicide, such as purchasing a gun or stockpiling pills
  • Extreme mood swings – very high one day and deeply discouraged the next
  • Social withdrawal
  • Preoccupied with thoughts of death
  • Noticeable changes in normal daily routines
  • Feeling overwhelmed with hopelessness
  • Engaging in risky or self-destructive behavior, including drug or alcohol abuse or reckless driving
  • Giving away belongings
  • Saying goodbye
  • Getting affairs in order
  • Developing personality changes

Remember to help yourself as well. 

Caring for a partner with depression can be emotionally draining.  It’s important to practice self-care and increase your own support during this time. It is extremely important (and not selfish) for partners of those with a depression to take care of themselves. These tips will help you cope:

  • Don’t give up your own life and interests. Engage in your outside interests and hobbies for a break from the stresses of your daily life. 
  • Maintain a support system. Having friends and family to confide in ways your partner cannot is important for your overall emotion well being. 
  • Seek professional help for yourself, if needed. The recovery process can be stressful for partners of those struggling with mental health illnesses. Your well-being is just as important as your partner’s. If you need someone to talk to, or if you think you may be suffering from symptoms of anxiety or depression, contact your doctor or consider visiting a mental health professional or joining a community group.  

HOPE is Here.

As a reminder, you never have to suffer alone. There are resources available for you.

Georgia HOPE specializes in providing quality mental health services for individuals, families and couples in the state of Georgia. To learn more, enroll, refer someone, or start services with us, contact us below:

Other Resources Available: 

  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Georgia Crisis & Access Line: 1-800-715-4225
  • GMHCN Warm Line: 888-945-1414
  • CARES: 844-326-5400, Call or Text 8:30AM-11:00PM for Substance Use Crisis Text Line: 741-741

#HOPEisHere

self care

For young adults, self-care isn’t always a priority. The pressures of school and/or starting a job can make basic self-care seem more like a luxury than a necessity. But making a commitment to incorporate self-care practices into your daily routine can create a positive difference not just now, but for the rest of your life.

It’s easy to think that self-care is just about getting your hair done, bubble baths or pedicures (while those are good!). It’s also about creating sustainable habits that can be incorporated daily into your schedule to boost your mental health and overall well being.

Here are 5 self-care practices to incorporate into your life daily:

1. Sleep, Nutrition & Exercise

In the midst of our busy routines, it’s easy to lose touch with what we need on the most basic level in physical self-care. Sleep, nutrition, and exercise are essential to your health and wellness. Are you getting enough sleep and nourishing your body? If not, look at ways to adjust your schedule and improve your eating habits.

Even more, moving your body, exercising, physical activity for just 20 minutes a day benefits not only your physical health but mental health as well. In fact, exercise increases the body’s production of endorphins, what tells your brain to “feel good.”

2. Mindfulness & Relaxation

Learning to slow down and appreciate each moment, and relax at times is a game changer to your mental health. It helps recharge you mental batteries.

Here are ways you can incorporate mindfulness and relaxation self-care practices into your daily routine:

  1. Breathing: Before you brush your teeth in the morning and at night, take three slow, deep breaths. You can also do this at other moments of your day too!
  2. Activating your senses: While you’re walking to class, waiting at the bus stop, or walking from your car to your job, observe and savor what’s around you. Additionally, pay attention to the way the air feels, what you see nearby and in the distance, and the sounds you hear. Tune in to what is beautiful and interesting in your environment.
  3. Journaling: Write down 5 things you’re grateful for every single day. Don’t like to journal? Say those 5 things you’re grateful for out loud to yourself everyday. Examples: your health, your friends, your family, your job, your school, your dog, your legs to walk, your eyes to see, etc!

3. Help

While independence is important for young adults, reaching out for help is just as essential. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Be willing to let go of what you think you “should” do on your own. Give yourself permission to ask for and receive the help you need—whether it’s a shoulder to cry on, help with studying or homework, or just someone to vent to.

4. Connection

Self-care includes spending time with people you trust who listen to you, care about you, and make you feel good about yourself. Therefore, create your own support network, including family, close friends, like-minded peers, and/or mentors. Practice active listening, speaking the truth in a respectful manner and authentic connection to those around you.

5. Self-compassion

It’s hard to not compare ourselves to others in the digital age of social media and technology. But being kind to yourself goes a long way when it comes to your overall positivity and mental health. Show yourself self-compassion and self-love daily. Write down a motivating note to yourself and hang it on your mirror. You got this!

For more self-care tips, click here.

HOPE is here.

Georgia HOPE is currently providing Mental Health and Substance Use services throughout the state of Georgia online and in-person. If you, or someone you know, are interested in services, you can enroll today or refer someone with a simple form. If you need more information or would like to speak to someone directly, please contact us here.

We are all in this together. Stay well! #HOPEisHere

selfcare

When you’re busy and overwhelmed, it’s easy to put yourself last. However, there’s no rule that says you must carry the weight of the world on your shoulders—in fact, in these moments, it’s important to take a step back, be kind to and take care of yourself.

Why Self-Care Matters

It’s so important to make sure you take good care of your body, mind, and soul every day, not just when you get sick. Learning how to eat right, reduce stress, exercise regularly, and take a time-out when you need it are touchstones of self-care and can help you stay healthy, happy, and mentally strong.

Why Do We Often Fail at Self-Care?

Practicing self-care isn’t always easy. Most of us are busy, place the need’s of our families first, have stressful jobs, or are too consumed with technology to make time for ourselves. Me-time is usually last on the agenda. Worse, we can sometimes feel guilty about taking the time required to take care of ourselves (parent guilt is a real thing). So getting started with self-care can be challenging. 

How Do You Engage in Self-Care?

There are many things you can do to engage in self-care and self-care looks different for everyone. The goal is to figure out which self-care strategies work best for you, learn how to use these strategies, and implement them in your regular routine so you can boost your well-being not only today but forever.

Here are 18 ways to get started with your self-care.

1. Get enough sleep.

Sleep can have a huge effect on how you feel both emotionally and physically. Not getting enough can even cause major health issues. It seems simple enough and, yet, 40 percent of Americans get less than seven hours of sleep a night, according to a 2013 Gallup poll. Healthy adults should average seven to nine hours of shut-eye per night.

2. Move your body daily as part of your self-care routine. 

Getting in at least 30 minutes of some kind of exercise—whether it’s a work out or just stroll outside—is just as good for your mental health as it is your physical. You don’t have to do it all at once either take three 10-minute strolls if you can’t do a full half hour. The most important thing is to create a routine that works for you.

3. Eat right for self-care. 

The food we eat has the potential to either keep us healthy or contribute to weight gain, but it can also keep our minds working and alert. Some of the best self-care foods include fatty fish, blueberries, nuts, green leafy veggies, and broccoli.

4. Say no to others, and say yes to your self-care. 

Learning to say no is really hard. Many of us feel obligated to say yes when someone asks for that dinner date. However, if you’re already stressed or overworked, saying yes to everyone can lead to burnout, anxiety, and irritability. It may take a little practice, but once you learn how to politely say no, you’ll start to feel more self-confident, and you’ll have more time for your self-care and prioritizing what matters.

5. Take a self-care break by getting outside. 

Spending time outside can help you reduce stress, lower your blood pressure, and be more mindful. Studies have even shown that getting outside can help reduce fatigue, making it a great way to overcome symptoms of depression or burnout. Getting outside can also help you sleep better at night, especially if you do some physical activity, like gardening, hiking, or walking while you are outside.

6. Let a pet help you with your self-care.  

From giving unconditional love to providing companionship, pets can be hugely beneficial for our self-care. Dogs especially can help reduce stress and feelings of anxiety and can even lower blood pressure. In fact, many people who suffer from disorders like PTSD have benefited from working daily with animals, which is why service dogs have become so helpful for these individuals.

7. Take care of yourself by getting organized. 

If you feel unorganized at home or in your work space, your life can often feel organized at times. Getting organized allows you to take better care of yourself. A small change, like keeping a planner or a calendar on the fridge, can help you write down all your responsibilities and appointments, while at the same time keeping your life a bit more organized.

8. Make a menu for the week / Cook at home to care for yourself.

Many people don’t take the time to make themselves meals due to the time it takes but making a healthy meal for yourself and family is not only beneficial for your health but also gives you some quality family time. Even if it’s only once a week, consider making a healthy meal for yourself or your whole family. You could even look into a meal delivery service or meal kit that can help you get started. Meal prepping / making a menu for the week is also helpful so you have a plan in place, can get the items needed ahead of time, and don’t feel stressed daily wondering what’s for dinner.

9. Read a book.

We tend to turn to our phones or TV for entertainment, scrolling through news feeds that can contribute to our stress and anxiety rather than helping it. Instead, consider reading a book. You might be amazed at the difference it can make when you slow down instead of always looking at your phone. Not only can it help improve your mood, but it can also help you to stay more present and mindful.

10. Schedule your self-care time.

It can be hard for us all to find extra time. But it’s extremely important to plan regular self-care time. Schedule a time in your day whether it’s in the morning before everyone gets up, at night, on your lunch break, or right when you get home from work for your self-care time.

11. Write down five things every day that you’re thankful for.

No matter how bad your day is, we all have something to be grateful for – a house, car, health, family, job, dog, etc. Focusing on what you’re grateful for can help put things into perspective—and not put so much emphasis on the stress you might be dealing with.

12. Have a mini dance party.

Our lives are so busy and scheduled these days that it’s important to remember to have some fun! Have a dance party with your kids in the living room. Plan a pizza, popcorn and movie night with your kids at home. Do something fun.

13. Take five minutes to decompress every day.

It’s important to take time to just breathe. Just closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing for 5 minutes is a great form of self-care and relaxation.

14. Confront your negativity—on paper.

Journaling is a great way of self-care. Writing down the self-doubt, negative talk and combatting that of what you know to be true and what you’re capable of helps acknowledge the negative while not letting it overtake the positives in your life.

15. Have a family dinner.

Having a set meal time for family dinner whether you sit with your family, spouse, partner or alone to just enjoy your meal (not in front of a TV or with your phone) is a great way to connect with your loved ones and yourself.

16. Detox from technology and work.

Especially since COVID-19 and more work being from the home, it’s hard to disconnect from work and technology. It’s important to set boundaries around work emails, phone calls and texts. Set up work hours even if you’re working from home. Limit your screen time – your phone can also help with this through setting up screen time daily limits.

17. Enjoy breakfast.

Most days breakfast is on the run or often skipped, right? So take a day like a weekend to make breakfast and enjoy it with your family or yourself. If you have a big day coming up or a big meeting or interview, wake up a little early and fuel your body with healthy nutrients to start your day – even a piece of toast with peanut butter and banana is better than nothing!

18. Pamper Yourself

Whether you enjoy a hot bubble bath, wearing a face mask, doing your nails, or taking a long shower. It’s always good to spend time to pamper yourself. That doesn’t mean you have to schedule a full day at the spa, it just means spending a 10-15 minutes relaxing and doing something that feels pampering to you. And men, don’t be scared of this as well! A nice hot, epsom salt bath after a long day can do any body wonders!

Did you know August is National Wellness Month?

National Wellness Month focuses on self-care, managing stress and promoting healthy routines. Create wholesome habits in your lifestyle all month long and see how much better you feel!

Research has shown self-care helps manage stress and promotes happiness. Whether you challenge yourself to a new yoga pose or try a different bedtime routine, make a small change and impact your health in positive ways. We hope the above tips help!

HOPE is Here

Georgia HOPE is currently providing Mental Health and Substance Use services throughout the state of Georgia online and in-person. If you, or someone you know, are interested in services, you can enroll today or refer someone with a simple form. If you need more information or would like to speak to someone directly, please contact us here.

We are all in this together. Stay well! #HOPEisHere

covid blog

COVID-19 as a Trauma/Stress Event

This event has been experienced on a spectrum of “it doesn’t seem like it will impact us” to feeling overwhelmed, frozen or irritated, and not knowing what may happen next.

  • Previous Trauma (i.e. abuse, neglect, violence) can be exacerbated
  • Typical Stressors (i.e. falling behind in school, financial stress/food, regular schoolwork/tests, home stress) can all get worse during the pandemic
  • New Stressors (i.e. wearing a mask, washing hands, worrying about getting sick) surface

How We Might be Feeling Now

We may find ourselves feeling more agitated, easily annoyed or frustrated. Being in lockdown and having a worldwide presence of Covid-19 has left us feeling threatened. We can’t flee the danger so we may be revving up to fight or flat and begin to shut down.

Now things are changing again as we go back to school. Possible feelings for children, teachers and parents about returning to school:

  • Anxious or nervous
  • Afraid of the unknown
  • Reluctant to return
  • Poor sleep
  • Physically not feeing well (tummy or headaches)
  • Poor concentration and distractibility
  • Regression
  • Mood swings

How Can Schools in 2020 Be Trauma Sensitive?

  • There are many things educator, staff, parents and counselors can do to support children who have experienced trauma and help them to cope better at school.
  • Social connectedness – the biggest buffer in times of stress and distress. We can stay physically distant but emotionally close
  • Self-care – helping children learn to do this through modeling and education
  • A safe, predictable, supportive and consistent environment – create this in your environment. You can be the most important contribution for the child’s ability to learn to trust the world again, and enhance their capacity for resiliency
  • Checking in with students when they arrive in your classroom
  • Not expecting “calm” as this would be unrealistic of the children and ourselves. Be realistic about what will be achieved as many of us are in survival mode.
  • Be the thermostat, not the thermometer, for your classroom. Set the tone for your class and not let the class set your tone.

We Need to Put Our Own Oxygen Masks On First

Think of what the flight attendants say on a plane. They remind adult to put their own oxygen masks on before helping children or others around them.

Self-care needs to be a priority. We are no use to those around us if we are “unconscious”

What might self-care look like?

  • Doing an activity you like
  • Taking care of your physical and mental health

Other Ideas

  • Try and find ways to incorporate the whole brain throughout the day (rational thinking, emotions, and decision making)
  • Help regulate yourself and your students by encouraging reading, playing boardgames or learning opportunities
  • Help regulate yourself and your students by creating something or connecting with someone special in your life
  • Help regulate yourself and your students by moving your body around and doing exercise, body breaks or stretching

Ways to Minimize Covid-19’s Imprint in Our Lives

  • Predictability – try to have a routine and things to look forward to
  • Get Moving – feeling trapped increases our fight response
  • Connection – isolation is unnatural for humans. Reach out to friends, family or counselors
  • Numbing Out – often we try to numb out to keep safe, but we need to feel safe for our bodies to heal. Try becoming aware of yourself with loving kindness and compassion
  • Sense of Future – it can feel like this is will last forever. Try breathing or mindfulness to help get a sense of time
  • Sense of Safety – find ways to feel safe again. Listen to music, have private time and reach out if you are unsafe at home

Use of Zones of Regulation

The Zones of Regulation is a framework designed to foster self-regulation and emotional control (Kuypers). It is an effective way of identifying how we are feeling and functioning. It can also be used as a way to check-in with children and ourselves. We need to be in our green zone to in order to learn effectively. It is helpful to identify what we can do to support ourselves depending which zones we find ourselves in.

What are the Zones of Regulation?

Blue Zone (rest area)

  • Sad, sick, tired, board, moving slowly
  • To support myself: talk to your friends and maybe they can cheer you up

Green Zone (go)

  • Happy, calm, feeling okay, focused, ready to learn
  • To support myself: keep having a positive mindset

Yellow Zone (slow)

  • Frustrated, worried, silly/wiggly, excited, loss of some control
  • To support myself: try not to worry and go talk to someone to get it off your chest

Red Zone (stop)

  • Mad/angry, mean, terrified, hitting/yelling, out of control
  • To support myself: walk around or get a drink

For more resources on recognizing and preventing child abuse, neglect and mental health symptoms in a virtual classroom, click here.

If you have questions or would like to enroll in our services or make a referral:

#HOPEisHere

Content Developed by:

  • Christine Clark, MAMFT, LPC, NCC
  • Anna Fortune, LPC, CPCS

This school year may look a little different with virtual classrooms and online learning.
It’s important more than ever for teachers & staff to be able to recognize and prevent child abuse, neglect, and mental health symptoms of their students through a virtual classroom.

Here’s our top tips including downloadable flyers to share with teachers & staff.

Recognizing and Preventing Child Abuse & Neglect in a Virtual Classroom

Set a Safe Environment

  • Have rules about where students and teachers can video conference from
  • Teachers and students should be appropriately dressed
  • Classroom technology rules stay the same – no taking pictures or videos of the of classmates or instructors

Physical Indicators

  • Visible bruises
  • Unexplained illness or injuries
  • Parents use harsh physical discipline
  • Child absent from virtual classroom and missing most of their work
  • Personal hygiene and/or surroundings are not taken care of
  • Parent or child is abusing drugs or alcohol

Characteristics of Abuse

  • Sudden change in behavior
  • Lacking adult supervision
  • Not receiving help for physical/medial problems
  • Seeming frightened when someone enters the room
  • Overly quiet not participating in class discussion, atypical for the child
  • Overly compliant, passive or withdrawn
  • Parent displays little concern for child
  • Parent denies existence or solely blames child for problems at home or school
  • Parent demands unrealistic expectations the child cannot achieve
  • Negative relationship between parent and child

Regularly Engage with Children and Their Caregivers

  • Make clear how you can be contacted and when you plan to connect
  • Ensure the ability to have private conversations with children and families when needed

Ask Questions and Be Curious

  • Talk regularly to children and their caregivers.
  • Ask specific questions
  • Notice any changes in the way the child or adult responds to questions
  • Ask if there is any need of support and work with them on finding support

Observe the Environment

  • Monitor the environment closely during video chats for changes in behaviors as well as any sounds heard during virtual contact (i.e. yelling in the background)
  • Observe and document any bruises or marks you observe during virtual contacts
  • Ask who is in the home and pay attention to the environment and who may be listening to the call

Recognizing Mental Health Symptoms in a Virtual Classroom

Did you know?

  • 1 in 5 children have a mental health condition.
  • Half of all lifetime mental health conditions begin by age 14.
  • 70-80% of children who have mental health conditions never receive treatment.

How to Monitor Student Mental Health During Covid-19

  1. Trust your instincts – if you think something is off, act on that thought in whatever way is available to you: talk to your administrator, school counselor, or reach out directly to the parent or student if the school policy allows
  2. Use the standard metrics – attendance, completing work, performance on assessments. Also look for eye contact, body language, ability to focus, and vocal tone or speech patterns
  3. Be intentional – ask a few simple questions each time you post an assignment, lead a virtual class or have a video conference: how is everyone feeling? Is there anything on your mind? Is anyone stressed out over Covid-19? How about your parents and siblings, are they stressed?
  4. Communicate, communicate, communicate – when you find out what’s going on, you can offer the appropriate support. If you don’t make contact, you are less likely to understand how you can best support the student
  5. Assume good will – remember that we’re living through a pandemic, so you are cautioned from assuming the worst. Be patient so everyone has a chance to get their bearings.

Downloadable Flyers to Share to Teachers & Staff

If you have questions or would like to enroll/ make a referral:

#HOPEisHere

References:

  • Trauma Sensitive Schools by C Hennessy (social worker) 2020
  • https://cancouncil.org/teachers-how-to-detect-prevent-child-abuse-neglect-in-a-virtual-classroom/
  • https://mainedoenews.net/2020/04/15/priority-notice-spotting-signs-of-child-abuse-and-neglect-during-the-covid-19-emergency-an-updated-guide-for-educational-professionals-and-others-who-care-for-maine-children/
  • https://evolvetreatment.com/blog/monitor-mental-health-covid-19/