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:

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

What is Compassion Fatigue?

Second-hand shock or secondary stress caused by helping others who have suffered trauma or have significant emotional distress. It is often caused by empathy and can imitate symptoms of Post Traumatic stress disorder.

What isn’t Compassion Fatigue?

Fake or made up; “ALL IN YOUR HEAD”

Compassion fatigue is caused by empathy. It is the natural consequence of stress resulting from caring for and helping traumatized or suffering people.

Some other terms you should know…

Vicarious Trauma: Negative transformation in the helper that results from empathic engagement with traumatized individuals, which leads to a reduced sense of spirituality, meaning and hope.

Secondary Traumatic Stress: Individuals become traumatized not by experiencing a traumatic event, but by hearing about it. Can cause symptoms of PTSD including intrusive images, hyper-arousal, distressing emotions, and functional impairment.

Who Experiences Compassion Fatigue?

  • Emergency Workers
  • Nurses
  • Physicians
  • Hospice Staff
  • First Responders
  • Journalists
  • Clergy
  • Social Service Workers
  • Family Members

Who is most at risk? Those who…

  • have a personal history of trauma
  • extend themselves beyond good boundaries of self-care or professional conduct
  • have high caseloads of domestic violence, trauma survivors, sexually/physically abused children
  • have little experience as a social worker
  • have had too much experience as a social worker
  • are experiencing too many negative outcomes

What are symptoms of compassion fatigue?

  • You are falling asleep in meetings, appointments, or sessions.
  • You are dreading an activity you normally enjoy.
  • People keep telling you that you seem “moody”.
  • You cancel appointments more than you keep them.
  • You have a headache….almost daily.
  • There is never enough sleep to be had.
  • Your body aches more than usual.
  • You find yourself becoming emotional with clients, coworkers, or family
    members (empathy turns to sympathy)
  • You hate your job!
  • You are considering that you may not be good at what you do!!

Other symptoms may include:

  • Grief
  • Panic attacks
  • Resentment
  • Memory problems
  • Nightmares
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Apathy
  • Isolation
  • Poor hygiene

Breaking the Cycle

  • Meditate…breathe!!! Deep breathing can promote physical and emotional wellness by decreasing stress and increasing immune system.
  • Creativity is key! Find ways to use your creativity and do something you like. Hobbies can be helpful such as hiking, planting, cooking, or even coloring!
  • Everyone needs to vent! Find a person to vent to that you trust and are comfortable being emotionally vulnerable with.

Addressing Compassion Fatigue

Awareness

  • What types of cases contribute to your stress level increasing your
    vulnerability to compassion fatigue?
  • Take a look at the symptoms of compassion fatigue. Are you aware
    of any of the listed issues or contributing factors in your workday? If
    so, you could be at risk of compassion fatigue.
  • Take a screening inventory: www.proqol.org (Professional quality of
    life information, including compassion fatigue/burnout Professional
    Quality of Life Scale self-test)

Practical Steps: Day to day routines that help break the cycle of
compassion fatigue

  • Sleep adequately…your brain needs a break too. According to studies on Healthguide.org, average adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
  • Eat three balanced meals a day. Balanced nutrition increases energy and levels of concentration.
  • Establish a routine at home and at work and stick with that routine. Consistency helps to create stability.
  • Ask for help when you need it. Express your needs verbally and take positive steps towards changing your environment.
  • Educate yourself on compassion fatigue: http://www.proqol.org/ProQol_Test.html

Keep Balance in Your Life

  • List one mini-escape or diversion that worked well to restore and renew you
  • List one thing that brings you joy
  • Name 3 things you feel grateful for today
  • Think of something that has brought you a sense of joy (Make your top ten list)
  • Who do you love that you can reach out to today? (Call them!)
  • What made you laugh today? (Share it!)
  • Have quiet alone time in a calm, beautiful place- a safe retreat where you feel renewed
  • Have an awareness of what restores and replenishes you.
  • Find ways to acknowledge loss and grief
  • Stay clear with commitment to career goals or your personal mission
  • Know how to focus on what you can control
  • Look at situations as entertaining challenges and opportunities, not problems or stresses

Healthy Boundaries

  • Practicing the art of self-management. “No” is a complete sentence.
  • Developing a healthy support system: people who contribute to your self esteem, people who listen well, people who care
  • Organizing your life so you become proactive as opposed to reactive
  • Reserving your life energy for worthy causes. Choose your battles.
  • Living a balanced life: Sing, dance, sit with silence

Mindfulness and Meditation

  • Developing attention to the present moment and context
  • Attunement – Demonstrating awareness and acceptance of unpleasant or painful emotions, building the capacity to tolerate such emotions in oneself.
  • Egalitarianism – Reminding professionals and staff that they do not hold all of the answers to questions that clients face in the aftermath of a traumatic loss.

Build Connections

  • Talk out your stress- process your thoughts and reactions with someone else (coworker, therapist, clergy, friend, family, supervisor)
  • Build a positive support system that supports you, not fuels your stress
  • Pets accept whatever affection you are able to give them without asking for more. Blood pressure and heart rate decrease when interacting with animals

Don’t give up! You are in the helping profession because you are a helper. Don’t give up on your purpose but find a way to achieve balance. #HOPEisHere

 

When traumatization occurs due to experiences of racism it is sometimes referred to as racial trauma. Racial trauma can result from acts and experiences of racism such as workplace discrimination or hate crimes.  It can also be the result of an accumulation of many less overt occurrences, such as, everyday discrimination and micro-aggressions. Regardless of whether these racial acts are overt or not, they are traumatic to the victim of these experiences.

Watching the news right now can be overwhelming for both children and adults. The world can feel like a very unstable and unsafe place.

Understanding how to cope with traumatic racial events is important for mental health and overall wellness.

Understanding how to talk to your family and children about what is going on in the world is important for mental health and overall wellness.

Here’s some resources we’ve put together for both adults and kids:

Resources for Adults & Kids:

Resources for kids that celebrate diversity:

For cultural diversity:

How diversity makes us stronger:

Books with Protagonists of Color

A 2018 study by the School Library Journal showed that 50% of all characters in children’s books were white. 27% were animals. Populating your child’s bookcase with books featuring people of color as protagonists is an important step in combating the narrative of white domination. Here are a few of our favorites!

Preschool

  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. A classic tale of joy and discovery in fresh snow.
  • The Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena. Nana shows her grandson the city as they travel by bus.
  • I Am Enough by Grace Byers. The main character celebrates herself in this poetic picture book.

Grades K-2

  • Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall. Jabari is scared to jump from the high diving board. This book helps kids understand how to confront and deal with fear.
  • Princess Hair by Sharee Miller. A beautiful, joyous celebration of all girls’ hairstyles and hair textures.
  • The Katie Woo series by Fran Manushkin. Early rider chapter books featuring a stylish and spunky heroine in relatable adventures.

Grades 3-6

  • The Birchbark House series by Louise Erdich follows an Ojibwe family through Minnesota in the mid-late 1800s.
  • The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon. A sweet story of friendship and adventure. 
  • Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis. A Newberry-Medal winning novel about an orphan’s search for home.

Grades 6 and up

  • Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred D Taylor
  • For Black Girls Like Me by Mariama J. Lockington. A black girl in a white family finds her voice.
  • Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan. An award-winning piece of historical fiction that tells the story of a Mexican migrant farmworker in the 1930s.

Podcasts

  • About Race with Reni Eddo-Lodge  (4.8 stars)
  • The Diversity Gap  (5 stars)
  • What Matters  (5 stars)
  • POD Save the People  (5 stars with 6.7K ratings)
  • You’re Pretty for a Podcast

Apps

  • The Safe Place – on Google play and in the App Store    Minority Mental Health app
  • Liberate Meditation – on Google play and in the App Store   #1 meditation app for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color community

A Raw and Authentic Story

Join us as Jesaira L Glover, MA, APC, NCC, CPC, shares her story, “I Am Not My Hair”, a raw and authentic sharing from a member of the black community. Glover focuses on the physical and emotional effects of those suffering from Racial Trauma or Race-Based Traumatic Stress in today’s society:

How can Georgia HOPE help? 

If you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, mental illness, drug and alcohol addictions, an eating disorder, or just want to talk to a professional right now with everything going on, you don’t have to go through this alone. Georgia HOPE has virtual, online, programs, so that you can get the support you need.

We are currently providing Mental Health and Substance Use services throughout the state of Georgia via TeleMental Health. We offer self-pay options as well as insurance coverage.

If you, or someone you know, are interested in services, you can submit a referral online to us to start the first steps or call us at 706-279-0405.

If you’re interested in learning more about our services, please contact us here.

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

mental health

Did you know May is Mental Health Awareness Month? Due to COVID-19, it’s easy to feel a little down. Weddings are postponed, graduation parties are cancelled, smiles are covered by masks, and a hug is frowned upon. Our mental health is at as high of risk as our physical health during this pandemic, so we’re sharing some tips to focus on your mental well-being.

Here are some excellent ways to take care of your mental health this week!

  1. Prioritize your sleep.  Proper sleep helps regulate chemicals in your brain and allows your brain to rest and your immune system to recharge.   You may find it helpful to shut down all electronics an hour before bed, and spend some time reading or listening to music or background noise to wind down.
  2. Eat well. Mineral deficiencies can contribute to low moods.  Several studies show a connection between the Mediterranean approach (which is high in omega-3, vitamin B, vitamin D, healthy fats, and antioxidants) and mental health.  It includes mood boosting foods such as fatty fish rich in Omega 3 (salmon or tuna), nuts (cashews, walnuts, and almonds), legumes, and leafy greens (brussels sprouts, spinach, or kale).
  3. Avoid drugs and excessive use of alcohol. Drugs and alcohol are depressants. Avoid using these substances for your overall mental and physical health and well being.
  4. Get in the sun. Sunlight synthesizes vitamin D, which releases endorphins and serotonin.  Remember the sunscreen and spend 30 minutes outside every day.
  5. Do something you enjoy for no other reason than it makes you feel good. Sing along to the radio, play with your pet, watch a favorite tv show, start on a backyard project. 
  6. Connect with others. Face to face is not always possible, but social distancing is more about physical distance.  Maintaining connection with friends and family is still important to avoid feeling the loneliness and isolation.   Fortunately, we are in a time where we can reach out with FaceTime, Snapchat, a text, or a call.   You could also try sending a card or a letter to let someone know you’re thinking about them.  
  7. Do something for others. Helping others increases your sense of value and sense of community.   While there are some organizations needing volunteers right now, this could also be something as simple as holding the door for someone or giving a compliment.  
  8. Focus on the positive. How you think often affects how you feel.  At this current time many of us feel stressed, anxious and scared.  One way to manage these thoughts is to focus on what you can control – washing your hands, practicing social distancing, avoiding unnecessary trips out.  Try writing something you are grateful for each day.   It could be something overall like family or health, or it could be something specific to that day like your son set the table for dinner or you enjoyed the scented candle you lit.   You could also add one thing you accomplished that day.  These little gratitudes and accomplishments add up over time.  
  9. Activity and exercise.  This does not have to look like working out in the gym or on a Peloton.   Even walking through your neighborhood or in the woods or following along with a yoga video on YouTube can help lower your stress levels and increase endorphins.
  10. Manage your stress. Make a list of the situations that increase your stress response and identify ways that will help you cope when stress and anxiety symptoms escalate.  
  11. Remember to take a break.  If you need to step away from the mess in the kitchen, the work emails, or the online schooling assignment, do it.   Try an easy breathing exercise (take 10 breaths, in for the count of 4, hold for the count of 4, and exhale for the count of 4).  Listen to a favorite song.  Stretch.  If prayer is important to you, make time for it now.  Listen to a short, guided meditation on the phone apps Calm or Headspace.   Just a few minutes away can give you a new perspective for the task at hand.
  12. Laugh and smile.  We’ve heard laughter is good for the soul, but according to several studies, science has shown that smiling can lift your mood, lower stress, lower your blood pressure, and boost your immune system.   So, watch a comedy, check out cute animal videos online, or listen to funny podcasts.  
  13. Ask for help.  If things get to be too much for you, ask for help.   No one has this whole thing figured out.   Ask your partner to wash and fold that load of laundry.   Ask your kids to help with the dinner.   Call a friend and tell them you need to talk.  Ask your boss to prioritize your workload.   

If you’re struggling with a mental health condition, you might feel alone. No one in your inner social circle has dealt with this problem, at least to your knowledge. Is something wrong with me? you might think. Why can’t I just be normal? Should thoughts like these ever pop into your mind, remember: Conditions like these are fairly common, and luckily, it’s easy to treat many of them. Below are a handful of illustrative statistics regarding mental health in America:

1 in 5: This is the number of Americans who experience a mental health problem each year.
9.8 million: This is the number of American adults who have a serious mental health disorder. This translates to roughly one in 25 adults.
6.9%: This is the number of adults with major depression in the U.S.
18.1%: This is the number of adults with anxiety disorders in the U.S.
No. 1: Across the world, depression is the leading cause of disability.
2 to 1: Women are twice as likely to experience major depression as men.

The following are results from the annual Stress in America survey conducted by the APA:

74%: The number of adults who said they had a physical or emotional symptom due to stress in the previous month.
91%: The number of Gen Zers (ages 15 to 21) who said they had a physical or emotional symptom due to stress in the previous month.
1 in 5: The number of adults who don’t feel as though they do enough to manage their stress.
64%: The number of adults who feel stressed by work.
63%: The number of adults who feel stress because of health concerns.
64%: The number of adults who feel stress due to money.
48%: The number of adults who feel stress due to the state of the economy.

Resource: www.success.com  

So remember, if you feel like you’re struggling with some mental health issues – you are not alone. And you shouldn’t have to suffer alone!

If you are currently receiving mental health or substance use services stay the course. Due to COVID-19, the federal government has expanded access to Teletherapy through video chat, Telehealth, and Telephonic appointments.

Georgia HOPE is currently providing Mental Health and Substance Use services throughout the state of Georgia via TeleMental Health. If you, or someone you know, are interested in services, you can submit a referral online to us or call 706-279-0405.

If you’re interested in learning more about our services, please contact us here.

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

covid19

If the news about the COVID-19 situation has you feeling stressed out, you are not alone. But there are steps you can take to lower your stress, reduce anxiety and help you stay healthy in these uncertain times.

Tips for Coping during COVID-19 and Creating a Sense of Calmness during Times of Anxiety:

Calm Your Body and Mind – When you notice that you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious, try deep breathing or counting your breath down from 10. Practice mindfulness. Turn your thoughts into a bigger perspective view. When a vaccine is found and this has died down, how do you want to have used this time? Focus on the things you can control, like washing your hands and social distancing. Buy food and supplies as normal. Don’t overbuy remembering that others need things too – just get enough for you and your family to get through a few weeks at a time.

Prioritize Self-Care – There are a lot of things you can do to help keep you physically and mentally healthy:

  • Journaling
  • Exercising
  • Healthy Eating
  • Meditating
  • Reading
  • Crafting
  • Listening to music
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Practicing gratitude

Consume a Healthy Dose of Media – Try to minimize your time with the media – just get the facts you need to stay informed and safe. Being connected 24/7 is hard on our mental health. We suggest to just check the news or reputable news outlet websites just once daily.

Reach Out to Others – Share kindness, care, compassion and love with one another whether it is a family member, friend, neighbor or stranger while still practicing social distance. In difficult times like these, using your support network – can be very helpful. Just make sure to reach out to people who are supportive and not those who will increase your stress. And be sure to talk about things other than COVID-19! Jump on a Zoom call with friends and do trivia, FaceTime a family member, mail a card to a distant relative, use this time to stay connected even though a part.

Seek Professional Counseling / Licensed Therapy Services – If you find that anxiety is interfering with your daily functioning or causing increased distress, it’s important to know that you can reach out to a mental health professional. We must learn to overcome the stigma placed on seeking help for mental health issues. Never suffer in silence. There are always options for you, even during social isolation – there’s Teletherapy services available and Teledoc appointments you can make with doctors.

If you live in Georgia, Georgia HOPE is here for you, you can always reach out to us at (706) 279-0405 or https://gahope.org/make-a-referral/rsd-referral/.

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.

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!