Winter is upon us and those longer hours of darkness coupled with the colder temperatures can make many people experience those “winter blues.” I have become much more aware of the signs of mental health issues since becoming a facilitator for Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and Trauma-Informed Care trainings, and also co-facilitating a youth mental health awareness program called Your Thoughts Matter.
We all know someone who is providing care for someone else. They may be caring for an older parent, a disabled adult child, or a spouse suffering from a traumatic injury or chronic illness. Even parents raising children are considered caregivers. Caregivers give of themselves without expecting anything in return, and they rarely think of themselves first.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. This is the perfect time to discuss something that hits very close to home for me.
We traditionally celebrate Older Americans Month (OAM) each May. OAM is a time to acknowledge the contributions of past and current older persons in our country, in particular those who defended our country. Every President since Kennedy has issued a formal proclamation during or before the month of May asking that the entire nation pay tribute in some way to older persons in their communities. OAM is celebrated across the country through ceremonies, events, fairs, and other activities.
Winter is upon us and those longer hours of darkness coupled with the colder temperatures can make many people experience those “winter blues.” Add the complications of COVID like continued distancing from others and the mental fatigue experienced by the longevity of the pandemic, and I’m afraid we are going to see more people experiencing those blues this season.
Natural disasters, such as the recent tornadoes, wildfires, and floods along with other traumatic events like mass shootings and even the pandemic can be devastating for everyone. For children, just watching the news and listening to parents talk can make life’s events seem like they are out of control. This would be magnified for children who experienced direct loss and may need help understanding what happened to their world. Most children look to adults for guidance and understanding on how to react and deal with life’s events.
In a previous article I emphasized how ongoing stress can cause negative physical and mental effects on the body and how practicing self-care or stress management techniques can reduce or maybe prevent those negative effects from happening. Many strategies were suggested, but how do we make the time to do them? There are many ways to stay on track and help you stay accountable.
“If you don’t make time for your wellness, you will be forced to make time for your illness.”
This was an anonymous quote that I recently reshared on Facebook since it truly resonated with me. I had been experiencing months of heavy stress and was not making the time for self-care – and was starting to physically feel the negative effects.
On Friday, July 23, 2021, the Olympic Games begin in Tokyo, Japan. There are 11,091 athletes estimated or expected to compete. My image of an athlete is an individual who is passionate, dedicated, determined, goal orientated, healthy, confident, motivated, and much more. Being prepared for the Olympics doesn’t happen overnight. These athletes had to have such a positive and strong mindset to be motivated to train during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us are not Olympic athletes, but may struggle with being motivated at times.
In the last article I shared with you many characteristics of people who manage well during difficult times. I would like to highlight several more for you in this article. Again, when faced with adversity, resilient people:
The World Health Organization identifies stress as the global health epidemic of the 21st Century – and that was BEFORE the current pandemic! Everyone experiences stress and sometimes it can be perceived as positive by helping to motivate us to get things accomplished. However, if we accumulate stress and do not manage it effectively, it can become chronic and result in negative effects on our minds and bodies.