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Keeping tabs of your mental health during the holidays

The Holiday season brings with it so many amazing opportunities for both sharing memories and making memorable moments with our friends and families. While this season is known for gift-giving and celebrations, let’s also use these get-togethers as a time to reconnect on a personal level. Although the overall atmosphere may be brimming with happiness and joy, let’s make sure we take the time to engage on a meaningful level to those who may appear to be struggling. While for many of us the Holiday season is a time of peace and hope, for others, this season brings heightened levels of anxiety and mental pain.

         

Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to present on suicide awareness throughout our communities by using the QPR philosophy (Question, Persuade, Refer). The best part about these training sessions is that they don’t necessarily focus on the subject of suicide but rather on the subject of hope. Even more recently, I have had the honor to partner with the Center for Suicide Awareness in providing Resiliency Courses to our First responders. While suicide prevention techniques are critical at the time of crisis, so too is resiliency training, as it builds the skills necessary to navigate through adversity.  It’s no secret that our society as a whole is struggling to a greater extent with mental wellness than ever before in our nation’s history. This isn’t because our nation has not experienced adversity before, nor is it because we as individuals haven’t struggled. The missing component is that we have lost a great deal of our connection to each other as human beings. We live in an age where the ability to communicate has never been greater, yet meaningful communication has decreased. We have substituted the experience of conversation, which incorporates vital verbal and non-verbal expressions, with short texts and emojis. We base friendships on the likes of a social media post or the frequency by which our Snap Chats are shared. What we need is to get back to the basics. We need to listen, not with the anticipation of responding and giving our opinions, but rather listening to understand. We need to return to the concept that disagreement and respect are not exclusive of each other but inclusive. Those of us who have a few miles behind us need to take the time to share our stories with those less traveled so they can understand that what they are experiencing in today’s world is no better or worse than times of our past. It is up to us to plant the seeds of Hope.

         

Attending to the mental needs of our family and friends does not take a degree, certificate, or even an office. It can happen sitting on a park bench, a truck tailgate or a bale of hay. Anyone of us can provide hope to another at a critical moment. Many times that may be all they need; Hope. At times, our providing Hope may just be the bridge that holds them over until we can get them to a greater level of care. Just as we would provide physical first aid when we see the need, our ability to intervene when someone needs immediate emotional of mental support is vital to their ultimate success in recovery. The first step is having the courage and compassion to step out of our comfort zone and have those crucial conversations. We need to normalize talking about mental health, and especially to discuss feelings of suicide. We need to move beyond conversations about football scores, or politics, to conversations about each other’s experiences, the setbacks, the victories, the pain, and the joy. A key component to this sharing is our ability to be vulnerable to each other and recognize that in some way, shape, or form, we are all broken, and the best journey is a shared journey.

         

If you are interested in exploring these topics, I am always willing to provide this training to any group, big or small young and old alike. You can reach me at: (920)255-1100

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