Summit ESC's Wellness Program
In This Issue...
- Step Challenge Results
- January Focus- Mental Health and Stress Management
- Mental Health Issues- Breaking the Stigma
- Stress Management Tips
- Healthy Recipes
Summit ESC staff participated in a team step challenge. The teams were made up of each classroom and/or office. Each team member logged steps each week during the challenge through Google Forms. The steps were averaged to make it fair to smaller teams. The challenge took place from October 29th through December 7th. The overall winner was Run for Your Life with 628,726 steps...Congratulations!
Run for Your Life donated the winning prize to the second place team, WES Steppers who had 412,931 steps.
The Wellness Committee thanks everyone who participated in the step challenge. Hopefully it got you moving more and thinking about being active... and maybe even created some team bonding!
January Focus- Mental Health and Stress Management
Ten Things You Can Do for Your Mental Health
1. Value yourself:
Treat yourself with kindness and respect, and avoid self-criticism. Make time for your hobbies and favorite projects, or broaden your horizons. Do a daily crossword puzzle, plant a garden, take dance lessons, learn to play an instrument or become fluent in another language.
2. Take care of your body:
Taking care of yourself physically can improve your mental health. Be sure to:
- Eat nutritious meals
- Avoid cigarettes -- see Tobacco Cessation Help
- Drink plenty of water
- Exercise to help decrease depression and anxiety and improve mood
- Get enough sleep. Researchers believe that lack of sleep contributes to a high rate of depression.
3. Surround yourself with positive people:
People with strong family or social connections are generally healthier than those who lack a support network. Make plans with supportive family members and friends, or seek out activities where you can meet new people, such as a club, class or support group.
4. Give of yourself:
Volunteer your time and energy to help someone else. You'll feel good about doing something tangible to help someone in need — and it's a great way to meet new people.
5. Learn how to deal with stress:
Like it or not, stress is a part of life. Practice good coping skills: Try
One-Minute Stress Strategies
, do Tai Chi, exercise, take a nature walk, play with your pet or try journaling as a stress reducer. Also, remember to smile and see the humor in life. Research shows that laughter can boost your immune system, ease pain, relax your body and reduce stress.
6. Quiet your mind:
and/or prayer. Relaxation exercises and prayer can improve your state of mind and outlook on life. In fact, research shows that meditation may help you feel calm and enhance the effects of therapy.
7. Set realistic goals:
Decide what you want to achieve academically, professionally and personally, and write down the steps you need to realize your goals. Aim high, but be realistic and don't over-schedule. You'll enjoy a tremendous sense of accomplishment and self-worth as you progress toward your goal.
can help you develop goals and stay on track.
8. Break up the monotony:
Although our routines make us more efficient and enhance our feelings of security and safety, a little change of pace can perk up a tedious schedule. Alter your jogging route, plan a road-trip, take a walk in a different park, hang some new pictures or try a new restaurant.
9. Avoid alcohol and other drugs:
Keep alcohol use to a minimum and avoid other drugs. Sometimes people use alcohol and other drugs to "self-medicate" but in reality, alcohol and other drugs only aggravate problems.
10. Get help when you need it:
Seeking help is a sign of strength — not a weakness. And it is important to remember that treatment is effective. People who get appropriate care can recover from mental illness and addiction and lead full, rewarding lives. See
Resources for Stress and Mental Health
for campus and community resources. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
*Adapted from the National Mental Health Association/National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare
Mental Health Issues- Breaking the Stigma
If you have a mental health problem, you may worry about what other people will think of you. In many cases, no one can even tell if you are struggling with symptoms. But sometimes the fear that someone can tell is enough to cause concern. Mental health problems can include
obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
You have a say in how others see you. The way you act and treat others can help influence people's attitudes toward you and toward mental health problems.
People sometimes have negative views about things they don't understand, such as mental health problems. Some people may believe things about mental health problems that aren't true. Other people may have good intentions but still feel uncomfortable when they find out you have a mental health problem. This can make people treat you and your family differently. This is called stigma-when others judge you because you have a personal quality, trait, or condition. Because of stigma, others may look down on you.
Stigma occurs when others:
- Don't understand the mental health problem or think it's a laughing matter.
- Don't realize that a mental health problem is an illness that can be treated.
- Think that a mental health problem is "your own fault" or that you can "get over it."
- Are afraid they might someday have a mental health problem themselves.
- Are nervous around you.
You may feel shame or guilt about having a mental health problem. You may not want an employer or even your friends to know. This is called "self-stigma," and it can keep you from getting treatment or finding work.
Breaking the Stigma
Respecting yourself is an important part of your recovery. Try to remember that there's nothing to feel ashamed of. The problem is with your brain, not with you. You can reach goals that are important to you even if you have a mental health problem.
Your attitude and actions can influence what others think. Be honest with people, and show them who you really are. When you help people understand your mental health problem, they are more likely to get past their negative views.
Here are some ways you can help others better understand mental health problems;
- Let them know that your mental health problem is a medical issue that can be treated.
- Talk about your recovery. This will help them understand the challenges you face.
- Show them your strengths and talents. Don't let your mental health problem keep you from going after things you want to do.
- Remember that "you are the message." You can show how you want to be treated by the way you act. Treating yourself with respect can set an example for everyone.
- Accept that you may need breaks during activities. Your symptoms may make it harder to focus on things for a long time.
- Work with your family and doctor to set goals you can reach. Let them know what changes you want to make in your life.
For most people, work is an important part of their lives and identities. Having a job helps you feel better about yourself and your future. It gives you a chance to connect with others. Work also provides needed income, and it gives you a chance to learn and grow as a person.
Because of stigma about mental health problems, some employers may have concerns about hiring you. This can make it harder for you to get the job you want. Think about the benefits and harms of telling an employer if you have PTSD. If you need special accommodations, then you probably need to tell your employer. For example, if you need to leave in the middle of the day for an appointment. Ask for advice and support from your mental health care team. They can help you see the benefits or downsides of talking about your problem with an employer.
If you have a job already, you may feel stressed or nervous at work. Or you may be worn out or tired. Getting treatment for your symptoms will help improve your ability to work.
Most communities have resources, such as local job services, that can help you find a job and be successful at it. Community services include:
- Job skills training. This includes help with preparing for interviews, preparing resumes, and learning other skills needed to find work.
- Education about tax incentive programs. This may help you get extra money.
- On-the-job training placement. This helps you gain work experience.
Many cities have a local job service, employment office, or state health and welfare office. These organizations can help you get work or find a place to live. You can find information about these services in the phone book or on the Internet. Your doctor or a local church also may be able to connect you with services that can help. Your doctor may refer you to a social worker or case manager who can help you find a place to live. You may be able to find the training and support you need to get and keep a job. You may also find programs through your mental health care team.
, which is common with some mental health problems, may make your life harder. If you have this problem, talk to your doctor about getting drug or alcohol treatment.
If you sometimes lose your temper or harm others, talk with people about it. Your health care team and family can help you. Drug and alcohol use may also lead to actions that can harm you or others and/or result in jail time, so avoid them.
If you or your loved one is in jail and has a mental health problem, make sure the staff members know about the problem. They may have services that can help. Support may also be available when you or your loved one is released from jail.
People with mental health problems are also more likely to be victims of crime. Ask a trusted family member, friend, or health professional to help you if you are a victim of a crime.
People with mental health problems have the same rights as other citizens. For example, you have the right to vote and to take part in legal agreements, such as marriage, divorce, and business ventures. Most states and many health care groups have a bill of rights for people with mental health problems. These rights include the right to privacy (or confidentiality) with respect to your illness and treatment plan and the right to treatment that places the fewest possible restrictions on your lifestyle.
People with mental health problems sometimes have symptoms that make decision making hard. It's good to prepare legal documents to help in case this happens. It's best to do this when you have few or no symptoms.
- An advance directive tells your wishes for treatment when you have severe symptoms.
- A durable power of attorney for health care says who will be in charge of making decisions when you are not able to make them for yourself. This document can be very helpful if your symptoms become so bad that you need someone you trust to make treatment decisions for you.
- A power of attorney lets you choose someone to help you deal with money if your symptoms keep you from doing this on your own. Find someone you trust to co-sign financial documents, such as credit card applications or mortgages, to protect yourself financially while you are having symptoms. (Cigna.com)
Stress Management Tips
Whatever your goals are for the new year, you should know that true health requires a holistic approach. One that looks at all factors in your life that may be influencing your health, addressing the intimate connection between the body, the mind and the soul. While nutrition and exercise are the focal point for most people, there is one area that is often overlooked and may be the most powerful—stress management. Learning how to manage stress is the most beneficial thing you can do for your health. Why? Stress impacts all areas of your health.
Psychologist Deborah Rozman, Ph.D., President of the
, says, "Often we don't realize how chronic stress affects us. This kind of relentless tension causes cortisol levels to increase. Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, can cause excess oil production leading to skin breakouts, and increased cortisol has been linked to more weight around the belly area. It can also interrupt our ability to sleep well and can cause insomnia."
Below are a few key areas negatively affected by stress:
- Metabolism (your thyroid)
- Skin quality and elasticity
- Where you store body fat and how much you store
- Performance and recovery when exercising
- Energy levels
- Immune system
- Mental/Emotional health
It is important to note that while stress comes in many forms, your body treats all stress the same. A stressful thought triggers the same
response as when you are getting chased by a lion. It is impossible to reduce all stress and that is not the goal, instead, try the following:
Controllable vs. Uncontrollable Stress:
Manage the stress you can control so that the stress you can't control is not as damaging. Modern life is stressful, on many levels, but we do in fact have control over much of this stress. Controllable stressors include the quality of the food you eat and the amount of exercise you get. Uncontrollable stressors might include where you live, the weather, having to work and make money. Be cautious not to let controllable stressors impact your health. For example, over-training and under-eating is a major stressor.
Your Biggest Stressor:
While there are a variety stressors in life, there is usually one that is the biggest and is usually playing over and over in your head like a commercial. Do something to address this stressor, whether it be a person, a job, money, where you live, a health problem, the way you look, etc. While you may not be able to eliminate it completely, chances are you can take some steps to make it less consuming.
Pick Your Activity
: It is critical that you begin incorporating some stress management activity each day. The best activity is the activity that works best for you. We are all different. Some people will enjoy meditation, others will enjoy movement based practices like Tai Chi or yoga, others will want to do something more creative like painting or drawing, others will enjoy just sitting in the park and daydreaming, others will enjoy
based stress reduction programs. Find what works best for you and begin incorporating this activity on a regular basis-ideally 15 minutes a day. It is important to note that the effects are cumulative, so once you start, it is a good idea to stick with it as you will see more and more of an impact. Consider starting with a 30-day challenge for yourself. You might even want to put this slot on your calendar like a meeting. Below is a list of activities to consider.
Stress Management Activities:
Drawing, coloring, painting
Playing an instrument
Learning a new language
Walking / Hiking
Time in nature
Sitting in the park
Sauna and massage