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JReisingerGuest Column...
Half Full? 

     Ever wonder how it is that some of those around you see the glass half full while others see it half empty? How do you see the glass? How would your friends or co-workers say you see it? What your perception of a situation is rests solely with you. Often we tend to want to blame others for our misfortunes or our sad feelings but the truth be told, we are the only ones who have control over our own perceptions and feelings.
     To give you an example, I recently had the opportunity to work with a small team of people in a company of about 50 employees. This small team went to work every day in the same office at the same building, with the same people, doing the same kind of work. The team was made up of only three people, a team leader and two team members. When they arrived to work one Monday morning the team leader announced, to the surprise of everyone, that she was resigning and moving on to a new opportunity. Immediately, the first remaining team member got angry and expressed her feelings to many others in the office, while the second remaining team member doubled down and silently went about her work.
     The second team member went home that evening, gave the situation some thought and began to channel her concerns about the upcoming workload toward a workable solution. Her plan included solutions such as hiring extra help, cutting out non-essential work and asking for help from others in the company. The next day, the two co-workers arrived to the office. The negative team member was found at the coffee station complaining to anyone who would listen about how awful their situation was and how her work and home life were “ruined”. The other team member arrived with a plan, took it to the company’s leader, and asked for help.
     As you might guess, the team leader moved on and the first team member lost respect from many others in the company. Her poor attitude and negative outlook were difficult to be around. The second team member, while a little nervous to present her solutions and ask for help, ended up leading the small group to a successful outcome.
     As this situation reminds us, there are just two things in life: what happens to us and how we respond to the things that happen to us. How do you see the glass?

~ Joni Reisinger, Guest Columnist

JMcCasslin

Therapist’s Corner…
”13 Reasons Why” Controversy

     Almost six months ago, Netflix released  "13 Reasons Why." Thus ensued a big controversy. Would the show spark an epidemic of suicides or would it be the start of open conversations about suicide? Is it a real-to-life example of suicide, and what people go through? (P.S., the answer is “No.”)
     The show wanted to increase conversations and awareness about suicide, and in this aspect, it was successful. However, it had a negative side effect. Internet search engines recorded an increase in "how to commit suicide" or "how to kill yourself" searches.
     The show is a fantasy. Suicide DOES NOT work like the show depicts. There’s no magical "If I kill myself, others will realize they were wrong and change." In fact, studies show people prefer to ignore suicides. They'll talk about it if they must, or out of shock, but they rarely change.
     The show simplifies suicide. Suicide isn't depression. It isn't trauma. It isn't pain. It can be a mix of any of these and so many other factors.
     The show externalizes the factors that lead up to the suicide. She was bullied. She was raped. It hints at the mental anguish, depression, anxiety, guilt, etc., that she experiences, but the focus is still on OTHERS' BEHAVIORS and REVENGE. I'm not saying these behaviors didn't take a toll on her. They were traumatic events, and trauma increases the likelihood of a suicide attempt.
     There's no focus on positive, appropriate, and life-like mental health. Where's the counseling? Where's the coping skills? OK, she talks to a school counselor for, what, 30 seconds, and gets blown off? That's NOT the usual reaction of a school counselor. She doesn't confide in her friends, her parents, etc.
     The show promotes a "be nice or else" fear. What if someone asks your daughter/son out on a date and they are afraid to say "No" because that person may kill themselves? What if they say something mean - because that happens in life - and that person threatens to kill themselves? How do they handle a boss or getting fired? Suicide is not a tool for revenge, as the show seems to promote.
     It can be triggering for some people. Yes, "how to kill myself" searches increased. Some people predict suicides will show a spike.
     It romanticizes or glamorizes suicide. There is a line of thought that the support groups, foundations, etc., that pop up after a suicide will put out the message "Look, if I commit suicide, people will remember me because a foundation will be made in my name. It will help people to change. They will be better off because I've committed suicide." The show made it look as though the main character got revenge on everyone who hurt her.
     I know I'm behind with this article. I know there's a lot of information out there about how to talk with the youth in your life if you choose to let your child watch the series (see some great references below). I know there are youth out there who watch this and don't talk to adults about the show, suicide, friends - or anything, for that matter. I know there are those who don't need to watch this series to relate; suicide is on their mind because of their own negative and traumatic experiences and mental anguish, or because of a family member or friend who has attempted or completed suicide.
     I hear Netflix is looking at another "13 Reasons Why" season. The finale leaves us hanging (pun not intended). They have a new series about another controversial subject - eating disorders - called "To the Bone." I'm positive they will come up with more - controversy "sells."
     While we can't stop these shows, we can be aware of their triggering potential, the subjects they address, how to combat false or misconstrued information, social media and online influences, and to have the willingness to talk with our youth about these subjects.
     If  you or a person in your life needs help, give a therapist a call. There are times when everyone just needs someone who will listen.

Helpful Resources:
Suicide Hotline: 800-273-8255
Suicide Prevention Resource Center: http://www.sprc.org/13-reasons-why
American School Counselor Association: https://www.schoolcounselor.org/school-counselors-members/professional-development/learn-more/13-reasons-why-resources
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education: https://save.org/13-reasons-why/

 

Lenz

Tips from Our EAP...
26 Tips to Boost Your Mental Health

   1. Track gratitude and achievement with a journal. Include 3 things you were grateful for and 3 things you accomplished each day.
   2. Start with a cup of coffee. Coffee is linked to lower rates of depression. If you can’t drink coffee try green tea.
   3. Set up a getaway. It could be camping with friends or a trip to the tropics. You may be surprised at the things in your town. Planning vacations and having something to look forward to can boost your overall happiness for up to 8 weeks!
   4. Work your strengths. Do something you're good at to build self-confidence, then tackle a tougher task. 
   5. Keep it cool for a good night's sleep. The optimal temperature for sleep is between 60˚-67˚F.
   6. Think of something in your life you want to improve. What can you do to take a step in the right direction?
   7. Experiment. Creative expression and overall well-being are linked.
   8. Show love to someone in your life. Close, quality relationships are key for a happy, healthy life.
   9. Boost brainpower with a couple pieces of dark chocolate every few days.
Flavanoids, caffeine, and theobromine in chocolate are thought to work together to improve alertness and mental skills. 
   10. “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.”  - Maya Angelou. If you have personal experience with mental illness or recovery, share on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr with #mentalillnessfeelslike. Check out what other people are saying at www.mentalhealthamerica.net/feelslike. Plus, writing about upsetting experiences can reduce symptoms of depression
   11. Be optimistic. Being optimistic doesn't mean ignoring the uglier sides of life. It just means focusing on the positive as much as possible.
   12. Feeling anxious? Take a trip down memory lane and do some coloring for about 20 minutes to help you clear your mind. Pick a design that's geometric and a little complicated for the best effect.
   13. Take time to laugh. Hang out with a funny friend, watch a comedy or check out cute videos online. Laughter helps reduce anxiety.
   14. Go off the grid. Leave your smartphone at home for a day and disconnect from constant emails, alerts, and other interruptions. Spend time doing something fun with someone face-to-face.
   15. Dance around while you do your housework. Not only will you get chores done, but dancing reduces levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), and increases endorphins (the body's "feel-good" chemicals).
   16. Relax in a warm bath once a week. Try adding Epsom salts to soothe aches and pains and boost magnesium levels, which can be depleted by stress.
   17. Spend some time with a furry friend. Time with animals lowers the stress hormone, cortisol, and boosts oxytocin which stimulates feelings of happiness. If you don’t have a pet, hang out with a friend who does or volunteer at a shelter.
   18. Practice mindfulness by staying "in the present."
   19. Work Omega-3 fatty acids into your diet. They’re linked to decreased rates of depression and schizophrenia among many benefits. Fish oil supplements work, but eating your Omega-3s in foods like wild salmon, flaxseeds or walnuts also helps build healthy gut bacteria.
   20. Practice forgiveness. People who forgive have better mental health and report being more satisfied with their lives.
   21. Feeling stressed? Smile. It may not be the easiest thing to do, but smiling can help to lower your heart rate and calm you down.
   22. Send a thank you note - not for a material item, but to let someone know why you appreciate them. Written expressions of gratitude are linked to increased happiness.
   23. Do something with friends and family - have a cookout, go to a park, or play a game. People are 12 times more likely to feel happy on days that they spend 6-7 hours with friends and family.
   24. Take 30 minutes to go for a walk in nature. It could be a stroll through a park, or a hike in the woods. Research shows that being in nature can increase energy levels, reduce depression and boost well-being.
   25. Enjoy 15 minutes of sunshine. Sunlight synthesizes Vitamin D, which experts believe is a mood elevator (remember sunscreen!).
   26. "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." - Albert Einstein. Try something outside of your comfort zone to make room for adventure and excitement in your life.

~ Lana Lenz, EAP Coordinator (resource: www.mentalhealthamerica.net)

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