Mental Health Awareness Month #3

Scientific studies have repeatedly shown that stress can in fact contribute to mental illnesses.  Job related stress can affect you emotionally and mentally.  Luckily, there are steps that you can take to limit stress.

Get enough sleep. Not only can stress and worry cause a lack of sleep but, it can also leave you vulnerable to even more stress.  When you are well-rested, it is much easier to keep an emotional balance, which is key to dealing with job and workplace related stress.

Prioritize and organize.  Leave early in the morning.  5-10 minutes can make the difference between frantically hurrying to your desk and having time to slowly ease into your day.  Running late will only increase your stress levels.  Break projects and tasks into small steps.  If a project seems to be overwhelming, make a step-by-step plan.  Focus on one small task at a time, rather than taking on everything at once.

Does your mental health affect your relationships?

All mental health professionals will tell you the answer is a ABSOLUTELY!

Your mental state contributes immensely  to your ability to form close bonds with others.  Many people with mental health problems lack the skills needed to create or sustain vital relationships, whether it be with a spouse, family members or friends.

Try not to be concerned about the small things. People with mental illness (particularly depression) often focus on their faults.  Seek to look at the big picture, including the things that you are doing well.

Express yourself.  Express your feelings; I cannot stress this enough!  Keeping your feelings inside (Whether good or bad) if never a great idea.  Talk it out, release your thoughts, worries, and concerns.  Holding your emotions will eventually cause bad feelings to accumulate and further damage your mental state.  This can be done in a respectfully way.

 

Advertisements

Mental Health Awareness Month, #2

Depression is one of the most common mental health problems today.  While medications can be effective in helping you feel better, there are other things that you can do to ease depression.

Do not sleep too often.  Staying in bed or taking naps throughout the day will only worsen depression and make it much harder to cope with.  Try your hardest to wake up at the same time each morning and go to sleep at the same time every night.  This may be difficult, but it will become easier once you get into a routine.

Eat well.  A healthy and balanced diet will not only help the way you feel, but will also improve your thought patterns.  Eat regularly and aim to eat 3 balanced meals each day.  Quality food is vital in order for your mind and body to work properly.

Be kind to yourself.  Treat yourself to things that are calming and improve your mood.  Scented candles, bubble baths, and tranquil environment can help you feel better.  Find relaxing activities that help you unwind.  Listening to music or reading are a few examples.  Allowing yourself even just 15 minutes of downtime can make all the difference.

Practice self-acceptance.  Do not let others define you.  Accept yourself for who you are; not who others would like you to be.  There is not a single person in this world that is perfect, everyone possesses good qualities as well as bad qualities.  Many different qualities, including personality, background, and character make us who we are.  Everyone in this world has something to offer, and everyone is entitled to respect.

An Exceptional Person in So Many Ways

Katrina is a friendly and outgoing 20 year young athlete participating in Special Olympics sports such as: volleyball, track, bowling, basketball, and softball.   She’s an active camper with Camp Re-creation and in her free time she enjoys hanging out with her friends, going to movies, and watching Aaron Rodgers play football for the Green Bay Packers, Katrina’s favorite team. Katrina credits much of her support and encouragement to be more outgoing to her involvement with Special Olympics in Dickinson. She shares they are “like a second family to me.” When a person first meets Katrina, you will be greeted with a warm smile and might not notice when Katrina turns to stand face to face with you, so she can read your lips to better understand your words. Don’t be alarmed when she might ask you to “please speak up”, so she can hear the conversation more clearly, as Katrina has a hearing impairment, which might go unnoticed at times.

Katrina was only 3 months old when she got sick and began to lose her hearing. At 1 year of age, Katrina’s parents were told she was going to be deaf.  Katrina, her parents, and her brothers learned sign language together. This is a skill that Katrina and her family will always have.

In April of 2016 Katrina received her first cochlear implant and shared it has been, “helpful, but scary at the same time, since I have been without hearing for 19 years.” Katrina’s initial reaction when her cochlear implant was turned on was, “my mom sounds like Mickey Mouse!” Katrina is working with her doctor in Bismarck making plans to receive her second cochlear implant.

A few of the barriers Katrina has overcome and is most proud of are: living independently in her own apartment, having fair opportunities at work, using assistive technology such as: bed shaker alarm clock, doorbell light and motion detector, a cell phone that will light up and vibrate when it rings, and having a NOAH weather radio that lights up when there is an alert. Katrina would like to see more teachers who are trained to work with children who are deaf or have hearing loss, in the schools. This was an ongoing challenge for Katrina as she graduated out of elementary school and into junior high and high school.

Katrina’s mom, Jennifer, is on the Board for Hands and Voices ND which is a non-profit agency that works with families and individuals who have hearing loss or challenges. Hands and Voices ND also provides mentoring and support services to families who have a newly diagnosed member who is experiencing hearing loss or is without hearing.

Katrina shared that “overall, her school has been supportive” and she will graduate in May 2018 and plans to enter the workforce full time. Katrina would like to work with children in a preschool or daycare setting. Katrina would like everyone to know that “You can do anything you put your mind to.”  Thanks Katrina for the excellent advice.

Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I am going to give you a few ideas on how to protect your mental health, which is extremely important for us to do with all the changes and challenges that we see around us daily.  I will add a few new ideas throughout the month, so come back and check it out.

  1. In order to maintain both your mental and emotional health, it is vital to stay aware of your own needs and feelings. Never allow your stress and emotions to build up. Attempt to maintain a good balance between your normal responsibilities and the things that you enjoy.  Do things that positively impact others.  Being useful to others and being valued for what you can help build self-esteem.  Practice self-discipline as self-discipline leads to a sense of happiness and accomplishment, which can help you overcome feelings of helplessness and other negative thoughts.
  2. Depression is one of the most common mental health problems today. Statics show that this affects approximately 1.5 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year. While medications can be effective in helping you feel better, there are other things you can do to ease Depression.
  • Do not sleep too often. Staying in bed or taking naps throughout the day will only worsen depression and make it much harder to cope with. Try your hardest to wake up at the same time each morning and go to sleep at the same time every night. This may be difficult, but it will become easier once you get into a routine.
  • Eat well. A healthy and balanced diet will not only help the way you feel, but will also improve your thought patterns. Eat regularly and aim to eat 3 balanced meals each day. Quality food is vital in order for your mind and body to work properly.
  • Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself to things that are calming and improve your mood. Scented candles, bubble baths, and tranquil environment can help you feel better. Find relaxing activities that help you unwind. Listening to music or reading are a few examples. Allowing yourself even just 15 minutes of downtime can make all the difference.
  • Practice self-acceptance. Do NOT let others define you. Accept yourself for who you are; not who others would like you to be. There is not a single person in this world that is perfect, everyone possesses good qualities as well as bad qualities. Many different qualities, including personality, background, character and sexuality make us who we are. Everyone in this world has something to offer, and everyone is entitled to respect. If any two of us were alike, one of us would be unnecessary.                                                                                                                            More on this to come….

Engage at Every Age

By Lance Robertson, ACL Administrator and Assistant Secretary for Aging

May is Older Americans Month, a time when we recognize the contributions of older Americans and think about how we as Americans work together to support and value people over age 65. Our theme this year for Older Americans Month is “Engage at Every Age.”

According to our just-released 2017 Profile of Older Americans, one in seven Americans are 65 or older, and just two years from now, this fast-growing segment of the population will number more than 56 million people. In this increasingly diverse and vital group are treasured family members, expert craftspeople, skilled professionals, seasoned adventurers, and wise advisors. They are our connections to history, and our guides for the future.

Research suggests that seniors who are socially engaged also are healthier, mentally and physically. That’s why ACL is committed to supporting older adults with the tools and services they need to continue to engage in their communities throughout their lives. Through the national Aging Network, which includes thousands of agencies and organizations in every state, and with the help of advocates and partners from both the public and private sectors, ACL is working to connect older Americans and their families to the systems of services and supports available to help them remain healthy, live independently, prevent abuse and neglect, and support caregivers. We’re also working together to expand employment opportunities for older adults who wish to work.

Of course, the experience of aging—whether you’re doing it yourself or accompanying a loved one or neighbor on that journey—is very personal. Everyone goes through the process a little differently, with different joys, reflections, challenges, and accomplishments.

And the ways we choose to engage are very personal, too. People engage to help others, by volunteering at their church, mentoring younger people, or helping to raise grandchildren, for example. They engage to stay healthy – maybe they learn to dance or to better manage chronic diseases. They engage to age in place – taking action to modify their homes with things like safety bars in the shower.

Everyone has their own story. And telling those stories is an outstanding way to engage with other people. It’s how we pass wisdom to others, get to know each other, learn about the past and advocate for a brighter future. Everyone – young and old alike – enjoys hearing a good story.  And there are lots of important stories to tell about older Americans.

I encourage Americans young and old – and, best of all, young with old! – to take a moment this month to share your stories. By sharing the stories of aging and older Americans, we celebrate our triumphs, share our wisdom, advocate for each other, and build stronger communities for all of us.

One easy way you can share your story is through the Older Americans Month Selfie Challenge. Show us how you “Engage at Every Age” by posting a selfie (or groupie) of you participating in activities that improve your well-being using the hashtag #OAM18. Looking for other ideas? The Older Americans Month website can help!

However best works for you, at whatever age you are, I hope you will find at least one new way to engage during Older Americans Month this year, and that you will continue to engage – at every age – throughout life!

What one woman on the spectrum hopes for during World Autism Month

Over the past ten years, I have spread the message of autism awareness and acceptance. I was diagnosed with autism at two years old, so World Autism Month is extremely important to me. As a self-advocate, since I speak all year round, my wish is that we will reach a point where everyone in the whole world will spread autism awareness, acceptance and inclusion, not just during the month of April, but each and every day. Over the years, I have spoken to both children as well as adults, and I am always amazed how the very young understand the struggles of being on the autism spectrum, and are willing to accept others just as they are, yet as children grow older, they seem to be already set in their misconceptions of this disability. Although you would think that the older you get, the more understanding you have about those with autism, I have found that adults seem to have the hardest time. Understanding both the struggles and abilities of those on the autism spectrum takes a great amount of effort, listening, being open-minded, and thinking outside the box. That is something that adults have a difficult time doing with many things.

So maybe, in order for everyone, including adults, to truly embrace autism, and understand what makes people with autism unique, we need to be more like children, ready to learn more about autism, and be more caring towards those with disabilities. I am finishing up my senior year as a vocal music major in college, and I will be entering the real world, where I know I will face unimaginable obstacles.  Although it will be a long and difficult struggle, I hope that each and every barrier I break through will inspire others on the spectrum that they can achieve anything.  I don’t know where my future will lead me, but I know that every April, I will use World Autism Month to bring awareness and change perceptions of autism, one song at a time, and I will continue my efforts each and every day.

As I tell the many classrooms of third graders, “acceptance and inclusion is a beautiful thing, and don’t be so quick to make a judgment; be a friend instead”. May this Autism Awareness Month make us all more like little children, and be more open, both in mind and in action, to those with disabilities.

 

Taken from Autismspeaks.org

Myths about Autism are Bad for Business

 

TRUTH

As an organization that works diligently to find meaningful careers for adults on the autism spectrum, Mind Shift often has to dispel myths and misconceptions about the diagnosis.  This is an important part of our mission.  If we are going to change the world of work, we need to address those incorrect ideas that can get in the way of an organization hiring individuals on the spectrum.

Below are 7 more myths regarding Autism Spectrum Disorder:

1.      Individuals with autism don’t feel emotion.  Actually, individuals with autism just express their emotions in different ways.

2.     Individuals with autism don’t understand other people’s emotions.  The truth is that people with autism often have difficulty interpreting facial cues, tone of voice, and body language, which makes understanding how somebody is feeling in the moment especially difficult.

3.     People with autism are antisocial and don’t want friends.  Because of the difficulty interpreting emotional cues, and higher than average anxiety, people on the spectrum may avoid social situations and come across as aloof.  The truth is people on the spectrum want to have meaningful and deep interpersonal connections just like anybody else.

4.     Autism is caused by bad parenting.  This is absolutely untrue.  In the 50’s, autism was said to be caused by mothers who were cold and unemotional.  This has been proven FALSE!

5.     Autism is a mental illness.  This is not true.  Autism is a neurological condition.  People on the spectrum process information differently, but it is not an “illness.”

6.     Autism is curable.  Actually, there is no known cause for autism, and there is no known “cure.”  That being said, should we be trying to “cure” it in the first place?  Autism offers a unique way of seeing the world.  And those with autism should be valued because of this perspective.

7.     People with autism are all alike.  Absolutely not true!  There’s a saying: If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.  No two people are alike, and that goes for people with autism too!

It’s important that myths such as these are dispelled, especially since some of these inaccuracies might prevent great businesses from hiring individuals on the spectrum, even when those individuals might be the most qualified fit for roles that need to be filled.

Mind Shift will continue to speak honestly about autism and autism employment.  And we will continue to advocate for adults with autism.  If you want to learn more about autism, and about leveraging the strengths of individuals on the spectrum, reach out to Mind Shift.  We work with some unique, talented, and amazing people who are ready to work with you.

–Post from Blog–Mind Shift