Black, Indigenous, People of Color Mental Health Awareness Month

“Once my loved ones accepted the diagnosis, healing began for the entire family, but it took too long. It took years. Can’t we, as a nation, begin to speed up that process? We need a national campaign to destigmatize mental illness, especially one targeted toward African Americans…It’s not shameful to have a mental illness. Get treatment. Recovery is possible.” -Bebe Moore Campbell 

The month of July is Black, Indigenous, People of Color Mental Health Awareness Month (BIPOC MHAM). For this month, we want to honor Bebe Moore Campbell who made this all happen.

Bebe Moore Campbell (1950-2006) was a Black American author, co-founder of NAMI Urban Los Angeles, a national spokesperson, a journalist, teacher, and a mental health advocate who was passionate about learning, researching, and sharing the mental health needs of the Black community and underrepresented communities. At age 56, she passed away due to having brain cancer. To recognize her legacy and honor her, The U.S. House of Representatives designated July as “Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.”

For this month, we also encourage you to participate in the BIPOC MHAM. It serves to shed a light on the health disparities, bring awareness to mental illnesses, and stress the need to improve access to mental health treatment within underrepresented communities, such as Black/African Americans.

For many centuries, BIPOC individuals have experienced trauma in all aspects of their lives. BIPOC individuals are less likely to have access to health services and receive care. There are also more likely to receive poor quality health services and to end health services prematurely.

We must #TakeCareDePaul by working with one another to dismantle systems that perpetuate discrimination, work against health equity, and places blame on BIPOC communities. Learn more at mhanational. org/july.

How Can You Support?

  • Research about the health disparities in Black, Indigenous and POC communities
  • Spread awareness about the health disparities in Black, Indigenous and POC communities with your friends and family
  • Enhance public awareness of mental health and mental illness in BIPOC communities
  • Support BIPOC communities who do not have access to health care
    • Use and/or share Mental Health America’s Tools 2 Thrive, which is located in their toolkit, that serves to help better equip BIPOC communities to address their mental health.

Also, follow @HealthyDePaul and @OMSSdepaul on Instagram for more education and resources for this month.

For additional education and resources, please feel free to check out Mental Health America’s 2020 Campaign for BIPOC MHAM.  #BIPOCmentalhealthmonth

Take Care DePaul!

We Need Love + Healthy Relationships Right Now

If I had to state one thing that I took for granted before this pandemic is hanging out with my friends and family. As an individual who is pretty involved on DePaul’s campus and a high honor roll student, I realized that I put my health first and then school involvement second and then hanging out with my friends’ part last. Now, that I have been quarantined for over 3 months, I have been doing so much reflection on how I can walk out this pandemic as “New Christine”.

Now that I am living back at home with family, I realized how much I missed spending time with them. The other day, I tried to reflect back on the last time I physically hung out with someone (not including work, school, or club activities/events), and to be completely transparent with you it is hard to even recall. But I am not writing this to complain, I am writing here to encourage you to use this time to spend some time with the individuals that you live with during this pandemic.

What are some things to do? I have written and have done plenty.

1. Host weekly check-ins with housemates (Photo by Daria Shevtsova)

Many things are happening in this world and it can be a lot to digest. But I encourage you to check-in with housemates, have one day to just check-in about your feelings and work, school. We need one another especially going through these tough times.

2. Play some board games and/or puzzles together (Photo by cottonbro)

Whip out those old board games and puzzles that are hidden or purchase some games and play with your housemates.

3. Create a book club (Photo by Burst)

Purchase a book that you all are interested in reading and create a book club! Invite other friends and family virtually and meet weekly to reflect on a chapter.

4. Create a YouTube channel together (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio)

Become YouTube famous with your housemates! What are some things that your family can do to virtually to help other families?

5. Get those old instruments out and start a family band (Photo by nappy)

Get musical with your housemates and make some songs with one another. Make an album and/or prepare for a virtual concert. For those who do not have musical talent, I encourage you to teach yourself or take online lessons on how to play an instrument with one another.

6. Have Movie Nights (photo by JESHOOTS.com)

Pop some popcorn and have weekly movie nights with your housemates. Then after you watch the movie, reflect and rate the movie with one another.

7. Download TikTok, make a quarantined themed video and go viral (Google)

Have some fun with your family by making a TikTok video with your family. TikTok enhances your presentation skills, acting skills, and dancing skills!

8. Have zoom, skype, facetime family calls (Photo by Anna Shvets)

Video call some of your family friends and check-in on one another. You can also play some virtual games.

9. Write letters (yes, actual letters with paper and pen) to people outside the home (Photo by bongkarn thanyakij)

Let’s get back to writing letters to our family and friends who live outside the home. Make someone’s day together.

10. Make some baked goods, have a baking contest or a cooking contest or just cook together (Photo by August de Richelieu)

Make a meal together or have a cooking contest. This can teach you how to strengthen your cooking skills but also learn a new recipe. Another idea is to take turns with cooking.

11. Write a play staring your friends or family everyone can perform their part via a video call (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio)

Create something powerful like a movie or a play with one another and then perform it virtually with people outside the home.

 

The list continues and I bet there are other activities that are not listed that you and your family have done before, that’s great! These are just some things that I do in my home and I wanted to share it with YOU. Why? Because it has helped with strengthening my relationship with my parents and we are getting a lot closer than ever.

Take Care DePaul by sharing it with your friend so that they can have healthy relationships with their housemates. Why does this matter? Because what we need is LOVE right now and love is a required substance to healthy relationships.

I encourage you to get creative and try some of these things so that you can walk out of this COVID-19 with healthy relationships AND newly developed skills and talents. Do not let COVID-19 take you out. Take COVID-19 out together because we are all in this together.

 

Wellness Wednesday – Brain Fuel! Mindfulness and Success During Online Finals

Hello DePaul Family,

Today, we held our last Wellness Wednesday session via Zoom. Wellness Wednesday was started in a response to a primarily virtual campus due to Covid-19. Never could we have guessed that on top of having to adjust to online classes and exams, our students would also be faced with increased levels of stress, fear, and increased social unrest due to the nationwide outrage against Minneapolis PD in their killing of George Floyd along with the countless numbers of Black lives that have been lost to police brutality. DePaul has announced a plan to formulate some sort of university standard for faculty regarding final exams, but as of right now students should plan to take their exams as originally scheduled.

Today’s Wellness Wednesday revolved around how to succeed in the already stressful finals period with the increased difficulties of an online format and the distress resulting from the current environment. The main points that HPW wants to hit on are reducing stress from finals, tips and tricks to succeeding in the online format, and ways to practice mindfulness to manage stress of both our academics and our mental health. The link for the recorded session can be found at

https://depaul.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=4d08a046-fff7-4bd2-8e99-abcf01317be3

 

Tips for coping with finals:

  1. Schedule a time to focus on studying! By designating a specific time, you can push yourself to study for that allotted time without making excuses to not study.
  2. Make sure you’re eating and sleeping enough.
  3. Don’t forget to figure in personal time. It is important to maintain a balance between school work and taking care of yourself so that your brain can rest!

https://psychcentral.com/blog/7-tips-for-coping-with-finals/

Taking online exams:

  1. Prepare ahead of time! Make sure you understand the test format and procedure.
  2. Check your computer! Make sure you have the write tech to run the exam – we cannot assume that professors will accept technological issues as an excuse and be understanding, unfortunately.
  3. Try to carve out a quiet place where you can focus to take the exam – it can be difficult, especially if you are home with your family but do your best to let others know that you need to focus.
  4. Keep an eye on the clock during the exam. Because it is a different format than you are probably used to, you may move through the exam at a different pace.
  5. Make sure you don’t leave the test page! Opening a new tab or even refreshing the page may interfere with your exam.

Tips for Taking Online Exams

Practicing mindfulness:

There are many ways to incorporate mindfulness in your daily life, and it is an especially useful practice during a time such as now due to the benefits of decreasing stress and improving mental focus (both useful during finals week). Try to practice your mindful breathing – focusing on inhaling and exhaling for a certain period of time. You can also practice a walking meditation, and focus on your steps as you move around.

As always, the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness is available for 1:1 support if you need resources, or just want someone to talk to. University Counseling Services and the Center for Students with Disabilities are also available to support students and the Dean of Students Office will be available to approve accommodations related to attendance or course work negatively impacted by current events. Please take care of yourself as we move through these uncertain times.

How to Help Someone with Anxiety or Depression During COVID-19

How to Help Someone with Anxiety or Depression During COVID-19

Article Posted on Mental Health First Aid By Rubina Kapil on March 20, 2020

 

 If you or someone you care about feels overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression or anxiety, or like you want to harm yourself or others call 911.

You can also contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text MHFA to 741741 to talk to a Crisis Text Line counselor.

 

Feeling anxiety or depression is a common reaction in times of uncertainty or when there’s a perception of danger, and the COVID-19 situation certainly qualifies as such a time. This is something new and worrying that we are all facing together.

That’s why we encourage you to use tips from Mental Health First Aid to support those around you who might be feeling overwhelmed, stressed, anxious or depressed. With these tips, you can #BeTheDifference for your loved ones while physical distancing and help them through this challenging time.

Use these tips from the MHFA curriculum to help someone with anxiety or depression during COVID-19:

  1. Assess for risk of suicide or harm.Identify if they’re experiencing a crisis such as a panic attack or suicidal thoughts, and address that first. It’s OK to do the assessment over the phone, text or social media. If the person’s life is in immediate danger, call 911.
  2. Listen nonjudgmentally.If the person isn’t in a crisis, ask how they’re feeling and how long they’ve been feeling that way. Pay attention and show you care.
  3. Give reassurance and information. Your support can have a huge impact on the person. Reassure them that it is appropriate to experience fear, sadness or anxiety during situations like this. Remind them that help is available, and you’ll be there for them along the way.
  4. Encourage appropriate professional help. Offer to help them find a professional for support, such as a primary care physician, mental health professional, psychiatrist or certified peer specialist. Behavioral health care providers can provide services by phone and/or secure videoconferencing, so they will be able to maintain physical distancing.
  5. Encourage self-help and other support strategies. Self-help strategies and reaching out for support from family, friends, faith communities and others who have experienced depression or anxiety (peer supporters) can make a difference.

There are other self-care strategies that can help manage symptoms of anxiety or depression, as well as self-care strategies that can help you manage your own mental health during this time. We encourage you to take a few minutes every day to focus on your mental health needs, connect with loved ones, and find support using technology. Thank you for choosing to #BeTheDifference with Mental Health First Aid.

Coping with COVID Away from Home

When I first left my home country to come to the United States I was not sure what exactly to expect. I was about to start a new chapter in my life. I was both nervous and excited, a feeling that somehow reminded me of Jonas in Lois Lowry’s The Giver, but I wasn’t afraid. Home, the Commonwealth of Dominica, was only a plane ride away, I had nothing to fear and was enjoying the opportunity given to me. I was so happy when I started university at DePaul, I finally had an idea of the direction of my life, what I wanted to do, granted I had to keep editing bits and pieces here and there. I was content. This isn’t to say that it was without ups and downs, even though I was happy in Chicago, I still missed home. 

Continue reading

Wellness Wednesday – Going into Summer with Body Positivity

Hello and welcome back to HPW’s blog! & Happy Wellness Wednesday! In today’s Wellness Wednesday we talked about Going into Summer with Body Positivity. A lot of us tend to feel pressure going into summer to achieve the ‘perfect beach body’ just in time, and the pressure has been heightened lately with all of the body image messaging that has come with COVID-19… Click here to watch our Wellness Wednesday video, or read on to learn more!

What exactly is body positivity?

Body positivity is about working towards a world where everyone can live in their bodies as they please while receiving the same respect, representation, and opportunities as everyone else. It is about respecting your own body, but also about being kind and empathetic toward other bodies.

It is also important to note that often times certain individuals are left out of the conversation around body positivity. For instance, while people within the body positivity community have to deal with gender equality and size equality, people of color have to deal with this as well as race equality and colorism. It is so important to include all bodies in this conversation, regardless of color, and give voices to those who are not always represented.

“I hope that one day in the future, the community and those outside of the body positive movement will see us as a collective and not marginalize within a group that is already in itself, pretty marginalized. There are so many different experiences, opinions, thoughts, and perspectives and everyone deserves to be heard and represented, not just the thoughts and experiences of those with privilege.” – STEPHANIE YEBOAH

Body Image During COVID-19

The concept of body image is constantly shifting due to society and the expectations that society sets, and our current predicament most definitely has an effect on our perceptions of what we should strive for in our bodies. Currently in the media, we are seeing a lot of influencers talking about how to protect yourself from gaining the “COVID-15” and how to make the most of your time in quarantine by achieving the “perfect body.” This type of messaging is toxic for multiple reasons (see blog post on “Body Image and Quarantine – Fighting Against the Productivity Myth” for some of them), and with all of this conditioning coming from society, it is often times hard to know what is right for us individually. As a culture, we tend to jump from extreme to extreme, rather than allowing individuals to discover what works for them personally. (Read on – towards the end we provide some tips as to how you might counter this societal conditioning!)

Society’s Perpetuation of Body Image Messaging and Unequal Harm of Certain Individuals

On top of this, as we touched on with the definition of body positivity above, often times the messaging that society sends out about body image tends to harm certain individuals in an unequal way. The messages about body image that society sends out often lead to the exclusion and marginalization of certain groups and people. The movement targets specific populations – such as white females – but not everyone, making it seems like it’s only a problem for some populations when in reality people of all different walks of life struggle with body image.

Indeed, the body positivity movement itself often times ends up neglecting to fulfill the original goals of the movement. The same companies that profit off of body positive advertising can be found selling products that shame certain bodies. Companies are still given incentives to use conventionally attractive bodies, even if they’re more ‘curvy’ now.

All of this messaging can start to take a toll. What do disorders related to body image look like? Some examples are:

  • Body dysmorphia disorder
  • Gender dysphoria
  • *It is important to recognize the differences between dysmorphia and dysphoria because they are very different experiences, but both relate to body image
  • Eating disorders
    • Anorexia nervosa
    • Bulimia nervosa
    • Binge eating disorder
    • Eating disorder not otherwise specified

Eating disorders are more common than you might think… Approximately 8 million people in the U.S. have anorexia, bulimia, or a related eating disorder. Unfortunately, over 70% of sufferers will not seek treatment due to stigma or lack of education, diagnosis, or access to care. But up to 80% of people who are able to seek and complete treatment will recover or improve significantly. It is important to recognize that eating disorders are often comorbid with other mental illnesses, such as OCD, depression, and anxiety. Often times people going through tough times develop eating disorders as they find their food/body to be the only thing they can control in their life at the moment. Eating disorders do not live in a vacuum – there are many different reasons as to why an eating disorder might develop.

What factors contribute to such a large number of the population experiencing an eating disorder?

  • Biological factors: Having a close relative with an eating disorder or mental illness; history of dieting; female sex; Type 1 diabetes (insulin dependent); negative energy balance (caloric intake is less than energy expenditure)
  • Psychological: Perfectionism; personal history of an anxiety disorder; body image dissatisfaction; feeling like there’s only one right way to do things (strict rule following)
  • Social: Size and weight prejudice; appearance-based bullying; small social networks/isolation; acculturation of racial/ethnic minority groups (the challenges that stem from the merging of cultures, such as when Westernization occurs); LGBTQ+

If you or someone you love is suffering from a body image related disorder, there are many resources that might be of help! What can we do to help ourselves and others who are having trouble with body image? Self-care and resources:

  • Intuitive eating – Intuitive eating is about trusting your inner wisdom to make choices around foods that feel good for your body, without judgement and without influence from diet culture. Intuitive eating is learning to reclaim that inner voice that tells you what is right and wrong for your body. When we filter out the noise and influence that diet culture presents to us as false truths, we can then truly listen to what our body wants and needs from the food we eat.
  • Intuitive movement – Intuitive movement is the practice of connecting and listening to your body to figure out how it feels and what type of movement it needs in a given day. Similar to intuitive eating, intuitive movement asks us to ask ourselves “What does my body need today?” rather than, “What should I be doing or eating according to others?”
  • Caring for our bodies in a holistic way can include nourishing them with good foods, asking ourselves what we need to thrive and using positive talk towards ourselves.
  • The mind body connection is huge. When we ask ourselves what we need, we begin to change the chatter in our mind and truly listen to our bodies and their needs in a holistic way. When we praise our bodies instead of ridiculing them, we can start to truly appreciate ourselves and begin the process of self-love.
  • Resources at DePaul:
    • HPW (contact info can be found at the end of this post)
    • University Counseling Services (Lincoln Park (773) 325-7779 & Loop (312) 362- 6923)
  • Community resources:
    • thebodypositive.org
    • National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance
    • National Eating Disorders Awareness Hotline (1-800-931-2237)
    • Chicago Eating Recovery Center
    • The Renfrew Center of Chicago

Remember, the journey towards body positivity is not something that happens overnight – it takes work, and setbacks do occur, and that is okay. If you ever would like to talk with someone confidentially, we have resources at the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness. If you’re looking for some guidance to further resources, we can help with this as well. Call us at 773-325-7129, or complete the online intake form on our website (https://offices.depaul.edu/student-affairs/about/departments/Pages/hpw.aspx) to schedule your one on one with one of our professional staff members. Take care of yourself, take care of each other, take care DePaul!

Xoxo,

HPW <3

 

How Do I Know Someone is Experiencing Anxiety or Depression?

How Do I Know Someone is Experiencing Anxiety or Depression?

Article posted by Mental Health First Aid By Rubina Kapil on March 20, 2020

 

If you or someone you care about feels overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression or anxiety, or like you want to harm yourself or others call 911.

You can also contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text MHFA to 741741 to talk to a Crisis Text Line counselor.

 

We know that these days of COVID-19 are difficult and can bring feelings of anxiety or depression. Practicing physical distancing from your loved ones, hearing constantly changing news on every channel, and not knowing what will happen is scary.

That’s why it is important that you use information from the Mental Health First Aid curriculum to not only take care of your own mental health, but also support those around you who might be experiencing anxiety or depression. When people describe their anxiety, they may use terms such as anxious, stressed, freaking out, panicky, wound upnervouson edgeworriedtenseoverwhelmed or hassled.

Anxiety can vary in severity from mild uneasiness to a terrifying panic attack. Anxiety can also vary in how long it lasts — from a few moments to many years.

Although everyday anxiety is an unpleasant state, it can be quite useful in helping a person avoid dangerous situations and motivating them to solve everyday problems. An anxiety disorder differs from everyday anxiety in the following ways:

  1. It is more severe.
  2. It is persistent.
  3. It interferes with the person’s activities, studies, and family and social relationships.
  4. If not treated, it continues to cause real pain and distress, and it can lead to poor academic performance, impaired social functioning and other negative outcomes.

Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of physical and emotional problems, such as irritability. A person’s pain may be invisible to you while it is still interfering with functioning.

If you or someone you know is experiencing intense worry or sadness about current or future events, and it is disrupting their ability to cope with everyday life, there is support available.

There are self-help strategies and treatments that can be effective with anxiety or depression. There are also behavioral health care providers who can provide services by phone and/or secure videoconferencing, so they will be able to maintain physical distancing. If you don’t know where to start, reach out to your primary care physician.

Thank you for choosing to #BeTheDifference with Mental Health First Aid. Together, we can get through this difficult time and support our loved ones along the way.

Wellness Wednesday- Mental Illness and Recovery

Last week, we talked about mental health and why it is important.  This week we are expanding more on mental health by talking about the prevalence of mental health disorders, the stigma that surrounds these disorders, and what we can all do to support the mental health needs of ourselves and others! 

Let’s begin by looking at a few numbers.  The National Institute of Mental Health has found that nearly 1 in 5 American adults live with a mental illness.  However, 7.7 billion adults have both mental health disorders and substance use disorders, which is known as Co-Occurring Disorders (National Institute on Drug Abuse) Shockingly enough, the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that only 9.1% of those with co-occurring disorders have received treatment for both disorders and 52.5% have not received any treatment at all.                                                                                                                

        

 

While mental illness is not uncommon, there is still stigma surrounding these disorders.  There are many factors that contribute to mental health stigma.  Let’s examine a few: 

Language: Simply put, the language we use has an impact.  The words we say and the way we use these words reflect our ideals and beliefs.  Therefore, if we use stigmatizing language (such as the words “crazy” or “psycho”) as insults, it generally implies that those that struggle with mental health are not good people, when that is clearly not the case.   

Lack of awareness and education: Not only does lack of education make it hard to recognize when one might need help, but it also helps contribute to the misconceptions that surround those with mental illness and substance use disorders. 

The idea of “normal”: With the lack of accurate representation of mental health and substance use disorders in the media, it can create the illusion that it is not normal to struggle with mental health.  However, the statistics that have been presented previously in this post show that struggling with mental health is not uncommon.   

With all these factors that keep the stigma going, there is one thing we can all do to help erase this stigma- be active bystanders.  Being an active bystander can look like many different things.  It could look like politely correcting a friend after they used stigmatizing language.  Or it could look like educating yourself by listening to what those that have mental health struggles have to say and believe it.  Or it could simply be not judging someone who you suspect is struggling with substance use.  Different people have different levels of comfortability and different ways of interacting with others, so it is okay to do whatever it is you need to do to be an active bystander.  The best thing you can do is something.  

Before we provide you with some resources, let’s take a moment to see what DePaul community members in recovery have to say about mental health, substance use, and recovery: 

 

As you can see, recovery and mental health take a bit of effort, but this effort is worth it.  It can be especially helpful to know that you are not alone in dealing with mental health struggles.  If you are looking for more support, here are some great places to get you started: 

DePaul Resources: 

  • Office of Health Promotion and Wellness 

https://offices.depaul.edu/student-affairs/about/departments/Pages/hpw.aspx 

  • Collegiate Recovery Community 

https://offices.depaul.edu/student-affairs/support-services/health-wellness/Pages/substance-abuse-recovery.aspx 

  • University Counseling Services 

https://offices.depaul.edu/student-affairs/about/departments/Pages/ucs.aspx 

  • Center for Students with Disabilities 

https://offices.depaul.edu/student-affairs/about/departments/Pages/csd.aspx 

  • Dean of Students 

https://offices.depaul.edu/student-affairs/about/departments/Pages/dos.aspx 

  • Office of Multicultural Student Success 

https://offices.depaul.edu/student-affairs/about/departments/Pages/omss.aspx 

  • Adult, Veteran, and Commuter Student Affairs 

https://offices.depaul.edu/student-affairs/about/departments/Pages/adult-veteran-commuter-student-services.aspx  

Other Resources: 

  • Hope For The Day  

https://www.hftd.org/ 

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration  

https://www.samhsa.gov/  

  • National Alliance on Mental Illness 

https://www.nami.org/Home  

  • National Institute of Mental Health 

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml 

  • National Institute on Drug Abuse 

https://www.drugabuse.gov/  

In case you missed it, here is the link to our Wellness Wednesday discussion: https://depaul.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=a46778f5-9335-4c32-a6e9-abc3010ea3a9

Take care!

Social Media Cleanse During COVID-19

Hello everybody! Let’s talk COVID-19 x Social Media. Here I will be discussing social media usage during COVID-19 and what I noticed when I cut down on my social media usage for a few days. As COVID-19 continues, it has become obvious that a lot of us are spending more time on our phones and laptops (even TVs) than we used to before. Some of us are perfectly fine with this, and it is working well as a means of keeping in touch and up to date, and others are frustrated with how much time is currently spent on the screen. I fall into the latter category. Because some of my screen time (like work and school initiatives) is non-variable, I decided to change the one aspect of it that is variable for me: my usage for personal purposes, a lot of which involves social media. Keep reading for my personal tips around why cutting down on usage can be helpful as well as how you might go about approaching this!

(Keep in mind, this is not for everybody right now – many of us are far away from loved ones and find social media to be a great tool in helping keep us connected. Many of us tend to use social media as a news source. And for some of us, social media usage and technology usage is simply a means of coping right now – and that is perfectly okay if it’s working for you. If this is the case for you, maybe sometime in the future would be more feasible for a cleanse like this. Or maybe you do a half cleanse now… still use certain platforms but not others, or just use platforms less than you usually would. OR maybe now is the perfect time for a cleanse because you’re sick of all of the screen time. Do what is best for you personally! The following are some ideas that worked for me.)

If you are currently a student like me, not only are you now taking four (or more) online classes, you might also be doing remote work for a job as well. For me, the combination of four different online classes, a remote job in which I engage in 5/7 days of the week, the online search for a job for after graduation, and any personal technology usage outside of these things really adds up! It feels as though my whole life could be lived on the screen right now if I let it get to that place. Which is why I wanted to write this post… and why I took a cleanse from social media for a few days.

 

 

 

 

 

For my cleanse, I decided to remove Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and TikTok (we all know how encaptivating this one is nowadays) from my phone. For me, it had to be all of these apps, as I wanted to do a full cleanse, and these are the social media apps that I gravitate towards the most on a daily (sometimes even hourly – oops) basis. Initially, I kept the apps fully deleted, but one day in I decided to redownload them, simply turn off all notifications and badges for each of them, and keep them in a folder on the last ‘page’ of my phone where I wouldn’t be as tempted to click on them. The only reason I redownloaded the apps was so that I could check in once or twice a day to stay connected, but still remain mostly off of these apps. I made this decision because I realized that right now – during COVID – it is extremely hard to be completely disconnected from social media as a lot of our interaction with loved ones occurs over social media at this moment in time. Basically, I noticed that I did not want to be completely disconnected from this outlet, as there are many positive aspects to it as well, so I adjusted my cleanse. A big tip of mine: Feel free to adjust at any time if you need to! This is all about what serves YOU best.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being flexible in this way is important, in my mind, as it leaves more room for ‘process improvement,’ so to speak. I am also a big proponent of the idea of balance in life, so having no access at all to the apps felt a bit extreme to me. Keeping my apps on my phone – just more tucked away – also allowed me to practice having self-control, as I still had access and was forced to make the conscious decision to avoid engaging. Knowing the apps were there in the back of my phone was tempting at some points in time, but I knew I needed to hold out and stay true to my commitment to take a break because of all of the positive aspects that were coming with it. And each time I chose to live in the moment versus go on my social media apps, I felt accomplished.

Let’s now talk about what I noticed by doing this cleanse. And afterwards I’ll provide some tips for those who are interested in trying this as well. Remember, this is not an exhaustive list – there are so many benefits to decreasing screen time/time on social media, and they show differently for everyone.

  • One of the first things that I noticed was an overall increase in wellbeing. By this I mean that I simply just felt better – overall! There could be many reasons as to why this was the case, but I think the things that I am about to mention next were a big part of it.
  • One of these things was that I noticed I felt (and probably was) a lot more in the moment. I really felt present! I felt engaged in life and in interactions with others and myself. I’d go as far as to say that going off of my social media actually increased the mindfulness that I had moving through my days. And we know that there are so many different benefits to mindfulness! The biggest benefit that I see in mindfulness is that you are literally taking back time that is otherwise lost to being the opposite of mindful about life. When you are mindful, you are fully living in every moment and taking it all in completely.
  • Another interesting thing that I noticed was that I started choosing to partake in activities that I might not have otherwise gravitated towards as much before taking a break from social media. I actually felt myself getting more creative in my pursuit of entertainment/stimulation. For instance, I started playing more board games and card games with my family. And I started using the app Duolingo to re-teach myself Spanish. It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested in doing these types of activities before, but it was just so easy to hop on my phone (social media) that I often times wouldn’t even consider trying something else. In this way, I believe that the cleanse actually helped me to expand my mind in a way and increase my creativity as it relates to choosing new and fun activities to engage in. Now, even though I am not on a hiatus from social media anymore, I still choose to participate in these activities that I picked up during my break, and I’m so happy that I have this newfound appreciation for them.
  • Another interesting thing that I noticed had to do with the amount of time I felt I had in a day. Time is something that many of us seem to have a bit of a love/hate relationship with. Many of us feel that in this fast-paced day and age we live in we never have enough time to truly live! I think that often times we genuinely believe we have zero free time in any given day – and for some of us with super busy schedules this might be true at times – but think about the number that is your screen time (this number can usually be found in the settings app of a smartphone) and how much time this takes out of a 24-hour day. Say your screen time each day is 4 hours (out of 24). That is 1/6th of your day lost to staring at a screen versus participating in life outside of the screen. Imagine if you even just cut that number in half and had an extra hour or two to do what you wanted with each day – that’d be so much more time to actually live!

Are you looking to do a cleanse yourself but simply don’t know where to get started? Here are some tips that I found to be helpful in staying true to the commitment to a cleanse:

  • One thing that I found helpful – this I mentioned earlier too – was to put the social media apps in a folder on the last ‘page’ of my phone so that they weren’t as easily accessible; they were ‘out of sight out of mind’ so to speak.
  • Turning off notifications and badges was also so helpful! I cannot emphasize this enough. This made all the difference for me. In the past, it was so easy to feel tempted to go on social media anytime and all the time because there were constantly notifications reminding me that something new was happening. Those little red badges would constantly tell me that I had a new message on Instagram or picture to see on Snapchat. By turning off my notifications and badges I was able to cut down on my usage a lot as I didn’t see everything constantly popping up on my lock screen and, subsequently, wasn’t always automatically checking it – it became a conscious decision to go on an app, and I got to see any updates when I made this decision. I realized that a lot of these updates were not nearly as ‘time sensitive’ as I had labeled them as before and that a lot of them could wait until the end of the day.
  • A caveat here: I think that often times our social media usage can become quite “autopiloted” versus conscious, and so one easy way to cut down on social media usage is to simply become more aware of our usage – this means both being aware of when you are and aren’t going on as well as being aware of whether or not you’re doing so consciously. For some, keeping a journal might even be of value! You could simply log whenever you are going on, for how long, why you decided to go on, and what you were doing in order to become more mindful of your usage (if anything).
  • If you feel comfortable doing so, making an announcement online to others that you will be cutting off/down your usage can be really helpful – this serves as an accountability check. This could be as simple as making an Instagram story (or any other equivalent) that says something along the lines of, “Taking a break from social media for a few days [or weeks if you choose] – if you need to contact me, shoot me a text instead.” Putting out a message like this can also save you from the stressful thought that perhaps others will think you’re ignoring them, or the stress that you might miss an important message from a loved one. (You can also just reach out to the individuals who would be most likely to contact you and just let them know to reach out via a phone call or text message instead.)
  • Making an announcement to friends and family that you tend to see on a regular basis can also be quite helpful (& is something you could do instead of making one online if you don’t feel as comfortable doing that) – these people can help check you if they see you spending a lot of time on your phone!

Well, that is all I have for now. I hope that at least one of these tips and tricks rings true with you! If now is a time that you would like to do a cleanse as well – just remember, we all have different needs… do what’s right for you and adjust when needed! Balance in life is important.

xoxo,

Lauren at HPW

 

 

 

How to Support a Loved One Going Through a Tough Time During COVID-19

How to Support a Loved One Going Through a Tough Time During COVID-19

Article Posted on Mental Health First Aid By Rubina Kapil on March 20, 2020

 

If you or someone you care about feels overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression or anxiety, or like you want to harm yourself or others call 911.

You can also contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text MHFA to 741741 to talk to a Crisis Text Line counselor.

 

Isolation from friends and family, job loss and death are challenges we’re all facing during these days of COVID-19. You are not alone. COVID-19 is affecting families across the world. We encourage you to stay connected with your loved ones while practicing physical distancing. It’s important that you support one other during this difficult time, especially if your loved one may be facing a mental health concern.

Use tips from the MHFA curriculum to reach out to someone who might need you.

  1. Treat the person with respect and dignity. Listen nonjudgmentally, and respect the person’s privacy and confidentiality.
  2. Offer consistent emotional support and understanding. In difficult times, we all need additional love and understanding. Remember to be empathetic, compassionate and patient.
  3. Have realistic expectationsAccept the person as they are. Tough times can make it harder than usual to do everyday activities like cleaning the house, paying bills or feeding the dog. Be gentle with your loved ones.
  4. Give the person hopeRemind your loved one that with time and treatment, they will feel better and there is hope for a more positive future.
  5. Provide practical help. Offer help with overwhelming tasks, but be careful not to take over or encourage dependency. For example, offer to bring groceries over.
  6. Offer information. Provide information and resources for additional support, including self-help strategies and professional help.

Several tips for what not to do are:

  1. Avoid telling someone to “snap out of it” or to “get over it.”
  2. Avoid adopting an overinvolved or overprotective attitude toward someone who is depressed.
  3. Avoid using a patronizing tone of voice or a facial expression that shows an extreme look of concern.
  4. Avoid ignoring, disagreeing with or dismissing the person’s feelings by attempting to say something positive like, “You don’t seem that bad to me.”

Many health professionals believe self-help strategies can be helpful when you’re feeling depressed or anxious. It is a good idea to discuss the appropriateness of specific strategies with a mental health professional. Some strategies include:

  1. Self-help books based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).Researchers have sought to develop a CBT-based guided self-help intervention that may prove useful for adults with intellectual disability in addition to depression or other mental health challenges for which CBT has been shown to be helpful.
  2. Computerized therapy.Self-help treatment programs delivered over the internet or on a computer; some are available free of charge.
  3. Relaxation training.Teaching a person to relax voluntarily by tensing and relaxing muscle groups; some programs are available for free online.
  4. Complementary therapies. Scientific studies of complementary therapies such as acupuncture, meditation, mindfulness, yoga, exercise and dietary supplements have shown that these therapies do make a difference for depression.

If you’re still not sure what to do, reach out to your primary care physician. This person can help you with determining the best next steps for mental health support strategies, resources or treatments. Thank you for choosing to #BeTheDifference for yourself and your loved ones during this difficult time.