mental health

Enjoying Vacation Comes Down to a Science

Skipping or putting a vacation on hold may feel ideal at the moment. But ultimately, that is far from the truth.

Not only are vacations fun – but they can benefit your mind, body and soul.

Recognizing the Value of a Vacation

Have you ever felt guilty about taking a vacation? 

Have you ever felt like there isn’t much of a point or that your time would better be spent working? 

Vacations are far from a waste of time. They can improve mental health, boost job performance, and increase creativity.

A great vacation doesn’t have to be long or expensive by any means. Taking a mini weekend staycation at a friend’s house or local hotel can deliver all the benefits and then some.

Mixing Things Up

Even if you thrive on routine, mixing things up for even a few days can help increase motivation, energy and creativity.

When we do the same thing day in and day out – the activities we typically love can start to feel less exciting.

Taking a week off of television can help you enjoy it that much more down the line. 

You know what they say – absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Professional athletes schedule recovery days to let their muscles rest.

We need to do the same thing with our minds!

Above, we listed television as an example. But the activity you’d like to take a break from may be different.

What do you feel you need a break from?

Choose the Vacation Best For You

Our dream vacation may be different from yours, as we all have our own interests.

Some may enjoy a vacation full of back-to-back activities, while others may enjoy a few days sitting by the pool reading a book. At the end of the day, all that matters is your happiness and ability to enjoy yourself.

Most of us declutter our homes pretty often – taking vacations can help declutter our minds from stress. What are you waiting for? There is no time like the present to start planning your next adventure! 

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Letting Go Of Resentments

It’s not uncommon to disagree with the people we love – even our romantic partners. 

But when the past starts to impact the future, it may be time to make some changes.

Decoding Our Resentments

Instead of pushing any feelings of resentment aside, we can try and realize what they’re trying to tell us. 

Doing so can help us work through them, accept them and move forward in a healthy way. All feelings have a purpose and something to teach us. 

Express Your Needs 

If you ever feel like you’re not having your needs met – it’s time to speak up!

Open communication and honesty is a two-way street.

Once you start opening up, your partner likely will as well, which in turn can strengthen your relationship. 

Write And Share

Sometimes the best way to get our thoughts out is to put them down on paper. 

What are your resentments? 

Where do you think they come from? 

What makes you think about them? 

Is there anything your partner can do to help? 

Oftentimes journaling can help us decode feelings we didn’t even know we had! 

If you catch any new feelings pop up alongside your journaling journey, you can share them with your partner. 

Every new conversation can help strengthen your bond and open up new doors.

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Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

A promotion or graduation are milestones that should be celebrated!

But sometimes, it can feel like we don’t deserve recognition, or we haven’t earned our success.

When those emotions take over, it can feel like our success is due to luck, not skill or talent. 

If you ever feel that way, you may be experiencing imposter syndrome, which is more common than you think.

Even though you may not always believe it, you have so much to be proud of.

Every milestone you’ve achieved in life is due to your talent and hard work. Celebrating your success shouldn’t be something we avoid. It should be something we embrace. 

Create A Brag Box

Have a college acceptance letter hidden in your junk drawer or a thank you note folded up in your purse?

Go collect those items and place them in a special box!

Looking at the physical content of past achievements can help remind you just how special you are.

The next time you catch yourself doubting your abilities, you can look back on your collection and celebrate yourself. 

Stop Comparing Yourself

“Don’t be busy chasing what other people have.” – Marshall Goldsmith

All people are different, and all have their own journey. 

It may feel like your peers are ahead of you in certain avenues – but what you see is not always factual. 

Most of us tend to discuss and spotlight the high points of our success. 

We can never know for sure the full story of how our peers got from point A to point B.

Open Up 

Surrounding ourselves and opening up to loved ones can help us in many avenues of life. 

The longer we keep negative emotions bottled up inside us, the more intense they tend to feel. Sharing our fears and doubts with loved ones can help us look at them in new ways.

Who knows – your friend may be feeling the exact same way you are.

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Social Media Day

June 30th is Social Media Day – which is a time when we can recognize both the positive and negative impact it has made on our world. 

This day was first launched by Mashable on June 30, 2010, and it was meant to show how social media has been used all across the world to connect us.

Over the years, social media has become a form of communication and has been a platform that family, friends, and peers have used. Whether they share posts, photos, and videos about their lives. 

It has been a useful tool where we can share opinions with others, stay informed about news or trending topics, and keep up to date with one another. And teens as well as younger kids are increasingly participating on social media platforms.

For teens, social media can have the same benefits of connection, community involvement, finding like-minded people, and enhancing creativity through sharing art or music.  As most teens will tell you, they feel left out if they cannot participate in this arena with their friends. 

However, it is also important to acknowledge how social media can affect mental health and wellbeing and to be aware of some of the dangers.  This includes self-esteem issues, anxiety, depression, cyberbullying, social media addiction, and low-quality sleep. It can also result in feeling left out or feeling inadequate.  Very few people, teens or adults, put their worst life moments out for all to see.  We share the highlights.  And constantly viewing people’s good times can lead us to forget that these posts are just one facet of life, that also has sadness, pain, and stress.  It can create an unrealistic expectation for what their everyday life should be like.

We can help children and teens to understand the issues associated with social media and to approach it with an understanding of how it works behind the scenes.  Teaching our kids positive social media use is an important skill.  But if anyone has ever tried to have these conversations with their children, you quite likely were met with defensiveness, anger or denial.  Social media and connection to friends become so powerful that they do not want to hear anything negative or are scared you will take it away.

Psychology Today had a recent article by Sophia Choukas-Bradley Ph.D. that offered some suggestions for starting the conversation with your child.  Read her full suggestions here

Don’t lecture–it puts them immediately on the defensive and they may just tune you out.  

Ask open-ended questions.  Use the questions to find out more about what they like about social media.  Let them be the experts and help them explore their thoughts through open-ended follow-up questions.

Practice active listening, instead of proving your own point.  You aren’t really listening if you are planning what you will say next and your child will feel that.

Validate their feelings, don’t dismiss their concerns.  Don’t reassure them or discount their feelings.  They feel them even if it doesn’t make sense to you.  Try reflecting back on what they said in slightly different words.  Validating their feelings will help make them feel safe to open up more. 

Keep talking, don’t give up.  Sometimes the talks will go well, but they won’t always go smoothly.  Addressing these issues is an ever-evolving process.

Another idea is to watch movies or documentaries about social media and then discuss it with your kids. 

The Social Dilemma A shocking look at the inner workings of social media companies as well as the algorithms they use to keep us engaged and scrolling.

Screened Out  The film addresses tech addiction in the modern age. Filmmaker Jon Hyatt and his family take the viewer on a journey through the life-changing effects of screen addiction, how the tech industry hooked global consumers and its impact on our lives. See the trailer here

For more resources, check out the links below. 

Just How Harmful Is Social Media? Our Experts Weigh-In

The Evolution of Social Media: How Did It Begin, and Where Could It Go Next?

The Power of Social Media

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PTSD Awareness Month

By: Betsy Pownall

June is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month. PTSD is a complex disorder caused by witnessing or experiencing trauma.

While PTSD was recognized as an official mental health disorder in 1980, it has been part of being human since time began. PTSD has been called many names such as “shell shock” during WWI and “combat fatigue” in WWII. 

However, PTSD does not just affect veterans. It can occur in anyone regardless of age, ethnicity, nationality, culture, or socio-economic status. 

Statistics:

PTSD affects 3.5% of U.S. adults every year. 

One in 11 people will be diagnosed with it in their lifetime. 

Women are twice as likely as men to have PTSD. 

U.S. Latinos, African-Americans and Native Americans are disproportionately affected and have higher rates of PTSD than non-Latino whites. 

The U.S. military is highly affected by PTSD. 

Veterans deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan have an 11-20% risk to develop PTSD while veterans of the Vietnam War face a 30% risk of developing PTSD. 

Causes: 

PTSD has a variety of causes and affects individuals differently. It may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a terrorist act/war/active combat, natural disaster, serious accident, rape/sexual assault or who have been threatened with death, sexual violence or serious injury. 

A diagnosis of trauma usually requires a person to have direct exposure to a traumatic event, but it can also be indirect exposure. It can also occur as a result of repeated exposure to traumatic events. 

Symptoms and Diagnosis of PTSD – Individual Differences: 

Trauma affects people in different ways with varying severity. 

Some people seem to be more protected, or resilient when exposed to trauma while others may be more vulnerable to the effects of trauma. 

Different trauma creates different triggers; it is impossible to know how a severe traumatic event will affect an individual. 

Recovering from trauma is a highly personalized process. 

You have the power to help people with PTSD, even if you are not a mental health professional. 

  • Get familiar with local resources just in case a friend or loved one needs support
  • Listen to the issues and concerns of those affected by PTSD 
  • Read about PTSD to better understand it.

Resources:

The Trauma Healing Project 

VA Benefits 

Local Trauma-Informed Care Resources  

PTSD: National Center for PTSD 

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)  

Books: 

There are a lot of good books on trauma. 

Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence – From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror, by Judith Herman, M.D.

My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending our Hearts and Bodies, by Resmaa Menakem

The Politics of Trauma: Somatics, Healing, and Social Justice, by Staci Haines

When They Call You a Terrorist: a Black Lives Matter Memoir, by Patrisse Cullors and asha bandele

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Older Americans Months

By: Christina Bein – LCSW 

What does aging mean to you? How does your family talk about it? What does your community say about it? 

In the media, it seems like aging is stereotypically frowned upon. Oh wait, don’t frown because that might cause wrinkles. 

There’s a mainstream obsession with preventing aging that takes away from the beauty that marks a long-lived experience. 

The Administration for Community Living ( acl.gov) is taking a path this year in celebrating Older Americans Month with the theme of recognizing how older adults can age well in place. This takes a look at how older Americans can still engage in participating in their community and living independently for as long as possible. 

EasterSeals Oregon is a local non-profit organization that is celebrating Older Americans Month and offers suggestions of socializing with neighbors, taking a virtual course to learn something new, or offering to teach others about a known skill. 

The emphasis is on seeing the value of building community.

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Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

The current events of the world can create feelings of stress for many children. That, paired with the recent history of isolation and a loss of support systems, such as in-person school, has resulted in all kids feeling an increased sense of stress in their lives.  Helping kids deal with the stressors of uncertainty will help them be more successful in managing challenging times ahead.

Big Life Journal has some helpful resources to help kids deal with stress, including printable guides and worksheets. Some ideas for helping kids deal with stress include:

  • Re-frame stress–Stress can lead to growth if children understand that stressful situations will not last forever. These situations represent challenges to overcome and lessons to learn.  Seek to understand your child’s stress rather than dismiss it
  • Shift from a fixed to a growth mindset–it’s not fixed, it can be improved, and you do have the power to influence the situation.
  • Stop catastrophic thinking–do not dismiss their worry. Their concerns are very real to them and there have been a lot of reasons to worry recently.  But help them put words to their fears and focus on what they can control
  • Practice Problem solving–listen, discuss the positives and negatives of a situation, brainstorm solutions
  • Try stress management techniques, such as meditation, mindfulness, deep breathing, or yoga exercises for kids.

Although many kids may experience stress, there are also many kids experiencing a higher level of mental health issues.  On May 7th we can observe Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. The purpose of this awareness day is to increase public awareness about the needs of children with serious mental illness, provide information on evidence-based practices, and encourage those who need help to seek treatment.

According to the World Health Organization:

  • One in six U.S. children ages 6-17 has a treatable mental health disorder such as depression, anxiety problems or ADHD.‍
  • Half of all mental health conditions start at 14 years of age, but most cases are undetected and untreated.
  • The consequences of not addressing adolescent mental health conditions extend to adulthood, impairing both physical and mental health and limiting opportunities to lead fulfilling lives as adults.

It is important to have conversations with your children, to recognize when their mental health issues are more than just expected stress responses, and to get them help. Early intervention can have positive results that benefit them for the rest of their life. Therapy can have a significant impact on a child. And more severe issues can be addressed through a consult with your mental health provider as well as a doctor or psychiatrist if needed. Teaching our kids that it is okay to not be okay sometimes, is an important first step in them feeling like they can ask for help when they are struggling.  Taking care of a child’s mental health is as important as their physical health. We can create a safe space for our children, so they can feel good about themselves. 

Follow the resources below for more:

Virtual Events For Parents & Caring Adults 

What’s in the Guide for Parents: Caring for Kids with Mental Illness

Helping Children Cope 

Need Help? | Kids Help Phone 

Youth Mental Health | Mental Health America

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Women’s Health Month

Women’s Health Month is observed throughout the month of May and is an awareness event that recognizes the different physical and mental concerns experienced by women and people who were assigned female at birth. From menopause to cervical cancer to childbirth, this is an important opportunity to raise awareness through educational campaigns with the goal being to empower people to prioritize their health.

Women’s health concerns can get discounted.  But 75% of new parents (especially moms) experience sleep deprivation, 23% of people that get their period need time off of work due to period-related issues, and menopause can cause significant symptoms for many women with the decreased estrogen levels also causing an increase in health risks.  Women can be a positive support to each other as they navigate these challenging health experiences.

During this month, we can also put our health and the health of women in our lives first. Whether we go in for a check-up or reach out to a friend in a time of need. 

For more resources, check out the links below:

Women’s Health Resources

Seven Facts To Know About Women’s Health | CDC

Featured Resources | National Women’s Health Network

WebMD Menopause Guide

Book: The Monopause Manifesto by Dr. Jen Gunter

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Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental illness is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling, behavior or mood.  It can significantly impact the activities of daily living and may also affect the ability to relate to others.  Mental illness is no one’s fault or the result of weakness.  It is the result of a confluence of factors including genetics, brain structure, biochemical processes (such as how your body produces or is able to use dopamine), environment and lifestyle influences (high stress, trauma experiences).   Mental health conditions are very common and nothing to be ashamed of.  According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 

  • 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year
  • 1 in 20 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year
  • 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year
  • 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24

Unfortunately in many communities, the stigma of having a mental illness persists and discourages people from getting treatment because they are ashamed. The stigma around mental illness and treatment prevents 40% of people from reaching out and can create serious barriers to finding a diagnosis or treatment. 

At Vista, we view going to therapy as a general self-care task that everyone can benefit from, similar to getting a massage or going to the doctor to make sure your body stays healthy.  As there is a strong correlation between mental health and physical health, working on your mental health can benefit you in more than one way.  For example, people with serious mental illness are nearly twice as likely to develop cardiovascular and metabolic diseases than the general population.

During May, we recognize Mental Health Awareness Month. It is a time to bring awareness to mental health issues and help to decrease the stigma around mental illness and treatment in our communities. 

Mental Health Awareness Month was first established in 1949 to highlight the importance of mental wellness and effective treatments that help people live full lives.

To reduce the stigma and emphasize the importance of treatment and recovery, we can educate ourselves about mental health and mental disorders. Being aware of our actions towards others allows us to place ourselves in someone else’s shoes.

This month’s goal is to provide a foundation for knowledge about mental health and give those the resources needed to seek help. 

Check out more resources below:

People Seeking Help | CDC Mental Health Resources

People Matter, Words Matter

Help For Mental Illnesses | National Institute of Mental Health

We All Have Mental Health | YouTube

Talk About Mental Health

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Teaching Your Child How To Handle Conflict

As a parent, it’s important to remember that your child will likely disagree with their friends from time to time, and it’s a normal part of life and friendship. 

Helping them navigate through arguments can give them the guidance to move past these disagreements. 

Showing children how to establish their boundaries and communication with their friends is something that can help today and in the future. 

Find Balance

We only want the best for our children, so it may be tempting to want to step in when they are fighting with a friend.

However, stepping in right away isn’t always the best solution. 

Giving them the opportunity to talk it out on their own can teach them very valuable problem-solving skills. 

What you can do, is offer them support, advice and comfort.

Grow As We Go

Fights are often personal for the people in them – meaning that your child and their friends might be fighting about something unique to their friendship. 

As they grow, you can assess what the situation calls for and how to brainstorm ideas to hopfully resolve it. 

Conflict Resolution 

It’s never too early to start teaching your children healthy conflict resolution skills. 

Of course, you will always be there for them, but eventually, they will reach a certain age where they can handle most situations independently.

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