Everyone has an opinion about what is going on in the world these days. Our elected leaders, scientists, medical professionals, our partners, our neighbors, the guy pumping gas next to us, the lady in line in front of us at Walgreen’s. Everyone. So it’s no surprise that not everyone’s opinions line up.
We don’t all have to agree on everything, but we do need to share this world together. So how do we manage when people – especially friends and those close to us – have differing opinions about COVID, masks, closures, politics, etc?
I recently spoke with MEL Magazine about this very thing. Here are a couple of excerpts:
Want to check out the entire article? Check it out here:
UGH! Enough of the onslaught of news, “news” and on-line conversations already. It’s too much. Keeping abreast of the latest goings-on and government orders are one thing, spending hours in deep-dive mode on your phone or tablet is another.
I recently wrote an article over at Health eCareers in which I offered real, do-able strategies for decreasing media and screen time. After all, it’s rarely as easy as saying “I’m just going to look at my phone less.” Yea right. Here’s one idea:
One tip I didn’t write about in the article:
Make use of the tools that are already on your phone! For iphone users, go to Settings –> Screen Time –> Then play around with Downtime, App Limits and Communication Limits options. You can also watch your Daily Activity on the Screen Time page. Monitoring this is one way to keep yourself honest.
Check out the entire article, with ideas for managing both social and traditional media here:
We discussed some strategies for coping with the inevitable anxiety that we are all feeling these days. Hint: be generous with the grace you and giving to yourself and others! We are all doing the best we can.
Colorado is consistently ranked in the top 10 states in terms of deaths by suicide
Suicidal crises and thoughts are often brief in nature – meaning folks often don’t plan their suicide for long periods of time. It is often an impulsive decision
Because of the impulsive nature of many of these decisions, it becomes important to “put time and space between a suicidal person and means” by which they can harm themselves (i.e., a gun)
It’s OK to ask a loved one directly if they are thinking about suicide. This WILL NOT make them more likely to attempt suicide, instead it will give them an opportunity to share feelings that can be hard to express.
This video offers important information about how to own guns, while also being mindful of the health and safety of those in our families. Check out this awesome resource:
I was recently interviewed for an article about deflection over at Forge. While inspired by political events, like debates, the article offers so much more than the same old commentary about how politicians just say what they want to say and don’t answer the darn questions!
For example, the author describes different types of deflection used in various communications. Check out some of the excerpts from the article:
The Pivot: You recognize the question, then immediately pivot away from it, using a response like, “I understand what you’re saying, but I think the more important point is…” Then shift into the subject you really want to be talking about.
The Spin: “Instead of saying you’re leaving because your job makes you feel like a cog in the wheel, or because your voice isn’t heard, turn it into a positive: ‘That’s exactly why I’m here—because your company offers me a seat at the table and an opportunity to make real change.’
The Attack: It was 1984, and then-73-year-old Ronald Reagan was facing questions about his age in his campaign against a younger opponent. “At the debate against Walter Mondale, when they asked, Reagan said, ‘I won’t make age an issue, or exploit my opponent’s youth and inexperience,’” Bratt says. “It became this really famous deflection.”
Another take away? Deflection can be used in some really positive ways (think: steering the conversation away from politics when talking with a neighbor at the bus stop). But, using it too much can backfire.
Are you a fan of New Year’s Resolutions? It seems like they have fallen out of favor in the last few years. Instead, folks seem to be making “life/relationship/parenting/etc goals.” Perhaps that’s the same thing as making a list of resolutions, but sounds better and more do-able? Who knows.
No matter what you call it, it can be useful to slow down this time of year and spend some time thinking about 2019. How did it go? What did you do? What didn’t you do? Like a State of Your Life recap. I’m thinking about things like:
How are you using social media?
How do you feel about the words and actions you engage in everyday?
What’s the state of the relationships in your life?
How’s your self confidence? Overall mental health?
What do you do with your free time?
Are you taking care of your body in the way you’d like to?
Is your work life where you’d like it to be?
You get the idea.
Once you think through the State of Your Life, what are you hoping for in 2020? Are there things you’d like to do differently? Try picking one area and start making some small changes. Not sure where to start? Call an expert, read a book, or listen to a podcast for help.
I was reading an article recently about Farm Stress, and the overall mental health crisis that is going on within our country’s farming communities. The pain and suffering is real, and very upsetting.
While I am not a farmer or rancher, I can try to understand the extreme conditions of the job: It’s physically dangerous, unpredictable because of weather, crop prices, and international relationships. Farmers are also making up a smaller and smaller portion of our population (less than 2%), and tend to be more geographically spread out than in years past. All of these factors – and others – combine to create a pressure-cooker of stress.
People are taking notice, however, and working hard to help those who are suffering. I discovered some wonderful resources through North Dakota State University. Here’s one:
For more information on farm stress and how to cope, check out this article:
After reading the last few posts about alcohol, drugs, and addiction; do you think you know someone who is struggling with some or all of these behaviors and symptoms? Watching someone you care about abuse substances can be painful. And it can also lead us to feel helpless in knowing how to help them. Obviously, we cannot force someone to abstain from use and become sober. Likewise, we cannot force them into treatment against their will. What we can do, however, is offer support, knowledge, and resources around addiction treatment.
Navigating the world of addiction recovery and treatment is tricky, so by becoming informed yourself, you can aide your friend or family member in understanding where to go to get help when they’re ready.
Luckily, there are a wide range of treatment options available for those wanting to achieve and maintain sobriety. Many experts in addiction treatment recommend that folks have more than one resource or treatment modality on board for the best chance of success. Here are the options:
Detoxification: “Detox” is a service offered by some addiction treatment and hospital facilities. A stay in detox typically lasts three to seven days and is intended to help you safely withdraw from drugs or alcohol with professional medical help. At the end of the stay, patients are referred on to other, longer-term treatment facilities or programs.
Inpatient Treatment: Residential/live-in treatment for addiction is the most intensive option for treatment of alcohol and/or drug addiction. Inpatient treatment can last anywhere from several days to one month or longer. While participating in residential treatment, you can expect to receive: individual psychotherapy, group psychotherapy, psychiatric/medication services and possibly family psychotherapy in one place.
Intensive Outpatient: Intensive outpatient treatment is a form of addiction treatment in which you continue to live at home while attending treatment sessions three to four days per week, two to four hours at a time. The idea behind intensive outpatient treatment is that you learn to live a sober lifestyle, while also going to school, maintaining employment, taking care of family members - whatever you normally do in life. Intensive outpatient treatment usually includes psycho-educational and psychotherapy groups, family therapy groups, and individual psychotherapy.
Individual Psychotherapy: For people wanting to achieve and maintain sobriety, individual psychotherapy is often recommended. Working one-on-one with a licensed mental health professional can allow you to explore, in a more individual way, your substance abuse and family history. These individual sessions also allow the mental health provider to assess for any underlying mental health disorders (anxiety, depression, etc) that may have been either exacerbated or masked by your substance use.
Group Support: Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is the most well-known example of group support available to alcoholics. AA is a free, peer-led support group that has been around since 1939. AA’s 12-step program has been used for a long time, by many people and is very well established all across the world - making it easy to access for most people. Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is a very similar program that is specifically for people who struggle with drug (heroine, prescription painkillers, cocaine, etc) addiction. There are many other free, peer-led support groups in most communities across the country. For more information about what is available in your area, try asking your physician, mental health care provider, faith community, employer, or school.
Medication-Assisted Treatment: Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) programs combine medications and supplements, together with psycho-education to help you achieve and maintain sobriety. Naltrexone, Acamprosate and Disulfiram are some of the medications that are often used to help ease the discomforts of withdrawal symptoms, as well as decrease cravings 8.
If you need assistance immediately, you can always call 9-1-1, or go directly to your nearest emergency room.
With the prevalence of alcohol and drug abuse so high, it stands to reason that most of us will know someone, at some point in our lives, that we suspect is struggling with addiction. So how do you know if your loved one (or you) might have an addiction? Here are some signs of problem use:
Drinking more or longer than you meant to (“I was going to stop drinking by 8pm, but before I knew it, it was midnight and I still had a drink in my hand.”)
You tried to get sober, but it only lasted a few hours or days
You have engaged in risky behavior while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol more than once (for example: driving while impaired, engaging in risky sexual behavior, etc)
You need to use more and more of the substance to feel the same effects (this is also known as tolerance)
You continue to use alcohol or drugs, even though you know it is making another physical condition worse (for example: continuing to vape/smoke cigarettes even though you have lung cancer).
You spend a lot of time using drugs or alcohol, thinking about using, preparing to use, and recovering from your use
You experience conflicts with family, friends, and co-workers over your drug and/or alcohol use, but you continue to use at the same rate anyway
You used to enjoy other things (movies, football, skiing) but you rarely – or never – engage in those activities anymore because your alcohol and drug use takes up so much of your time
You experience symptoms of withdrawal (nausea, hallucinations, tremors) when you stop using your substance(s) of choice
You have gotten in trouble with the law more than once or twice because of your use
Identifying signs and signals of alcohol and drug use and abuse is difficult. Whether we are trying to assess ourselves or someone else, it can be a tricky process that involves honesty and candor. It’s important to remember that only a mental health, substance abuse, or health care professional can accurately and thoroughly complete the diagnostic process.
Problematic use of drugs and alcohol can impact just about all areas of your life and functioning. There are obvious risks of over-using drugs and alcohol that are associated with:
Disruptions in education
Difficulty maintaining employments
Legal troubles/encounters with the criminal justice system
Drug and alcohol use can also cause many physical and mental health problems, including:
Changes in appetite
Changes in blood pressure
Change in mood
Additionally, when you spend much of your time impaired by alcohol or drugs, it can effect your ability to make healthy, sound decisions. Impulsivity and poor decision making are common when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These poor decisions can lead to other health-related problems such as:
HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and other communicable diseases
Being at higher risk for trauma or violence
Lastly, drug and alcohol abuse is costly! In fact, it is estimated that alcohol and illicit drug use cost the United States about 160 million dollars each year in lost work productivity, health care costs associated with addiction, and crime.