Alcohol Awareness Month: Let's Talk!

When it comes to alcohol use,  you may not hear about a lot of conversations about the topic among families and friends. 

But that's probably not quite accurate. According to a reccent Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) blog post, the use of alcohol among adolescents and young adults has been on the decline for the past ten years. There have also been similar declines in binge drinking and heavy drinking among this age group. Clearly, something must be working right!

But the news isn't all good among young people. SAMHSA reports an uptick in past-month use (a.k.a., current) drinking among 16 - 20 year olds. Because this includes college students, the efforts to prevent drinking among this age group are increasing. Town hall meetings are among the most widely used tactics to reach them - and they are doing things in places where they are held. The report indicates that in 2014, 83 percent of Town Hall meeting participants reported gaining new knowledge to help them prevent underage alcohol use.

There's still a lot to do, but it's good news that prevention efforts are paying off for teens. For more information, visit the SAMHSA website.

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Mindfulness: Being in the Moment

Posted on: March 31, 2017
Tags: Emotional wellbeing, Mental health, Stress, Depression, Brain, Mindfulness,

Psychologist Jay Dixit says, “we live in a world of distraction” and too often “we let the present slip away, allowing time to rush past unobserved and unseized, and squandering the precious seconds of our lives as we worry about the future and ruminate about the past.” Practicing “mindfulness” is a way to reduce stress and lead a more satisfying life.  Mindfulness means intentionally focusing on the present, experiencing the moment as it is without judgment.

Achieving a state of mindfulness takes some practice, but is worth the effort.  Studies show mindfulness has a host of health benefits, including: reducing stress, boosting the immune system, lowering blood pressure, and reducing the risk of heart disease, substance abuse and mental illness.  People feel happier, more secure, and are more accepting of themselves. Mindfulness helps people feel more connected to others, more accepting of differences, less aggressive, and more in control.   To “live mindfully”, Dixit offers these suggestions:

  • Don’t think too hard.  Focus less on what is going on in your mind and more on what is going around you- see yourself as part of something “bigger”.
  • Savor the present.  Don’t worry about the future or dwell on the past- experience what is happening right now and use all 5 senses to get the full effect.
  • Breathe.  Simple breathing can increase the time between emotional impulse and action so you can respond thoughtfully.
  • Lose track of time.  Experience what you are doing now instead of waiting for what will happen. Learn to “flow” from one moment to the next.
  • Accept feelings - it’s ok to feel the way you feel in this moment. Don’t avoid what is unpleasant or difficult. Accepting the feeling does not dictate what you do next.
  • Try to see the familiar with fresh eyes. When we think we already know, we don’t pay attention. Life passes by without registering- Ellen Langer calls this “mindlessness”.

Lastly, “Don’t do something- Just sit there.”  A Buddhist monk describes mindfulness perfectly in this caption from a cartoon in The New Yorker magazine -“Nothing happens next. This is it.”

 

(Adapted from :https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200811/the-art-now-six-steps-living-in-the-moment)

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Anxious, Concerned and in Crisis? Good Listeners are a Call Away

Everyone experiences anxiety or depression now and again. Things happen - breakups, failing a test or not getting a promotion at work, for example - that just make us feel down in the dumps.

It's when those feelings last longer and you don't feel like you're bouncing back that should set off an alarm. There are times when the feelings just hang on and it feels like you're just not going to move forward.

But help is close at hand. The Crisis Hotline that serves residents of Warren and Clinton Counties has trained staff on hand 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide you with some tips, information, and a really good ear to listen to you.

In an interview with the crisis line's assistant director, he said people call for any number of reasons. There are some standouts, though: they are in crisis, or they are looking for information, or even a little of both. You can watch that interview to get a look inside the hotline and what it's like to call.

Think about what might make you call, or think about what you've seen in others that might give you pause to think about suggesting they do so. The ultimate goal is to help you or your friend get through whatever it is that's causing that depressed or anxious feeling to stay with them. Find out what you can do to help, and make a difference!

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