“We are in unprecedented times and it’s OK to ask for help,” say experts
With Thanksgiving just passed and with Christmas and the new year fast approaching – combined with the ongoing, months-long COVID-19 public health crisis and pandemic on the forefront of people’s thoughts and concerns – experts now more than ever say it is vitally important to assess your own mental health as well as that of your family, friends and other loved ones.
We are in unprecedented times where daily life is not as it use to be and depression, anxiety, and suicide – especially around the holidays and even more so with all the anxieties 2020 have wrought – are real feelings and it’s OK to ask for help, according to experts.
With that in mind, experts suggest that everyone this holiday season should take a few moments of self-reflection to honestly ask themselves “Am I OK? Are my kids, spouse or partner, best friend, family members, and co-workers OK?”
If not, help is out there and available and there are things you can do to mitigate and control the problem, according to Stan Popovich, author of the popular book, “A Layman’s Guide To Managing Fear”.
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With people across the nation being forced to stay at home and forego most normal holiday festivities and interactions, all while dealing with issues such as distance learning, job loss, financial struggles, or even the recent death of a loved one, Popovich says there are a number of easy steps anyone can perform daily or as needed to ensure a safe and happy ending to this year, as we usher in a better and healthier 2021.
Take a break: Sometimes, we get stressed out, especially when everything happens all at once and life’s stresses and troubles seem to be piling up, explains Popovich.
“When this happens, a person should take a deep breath and try to find something to do for a few minutes to get their mind off of the problems they are currently facing.”
“You could take a walk, listen to some music, read the newspaper, call or contact a friend or loved one, or just do a simple and fun activity that will give you a fresh perspective on things,” Popovich continues.
Stay in touch with others: “Don’t isolate yourself from those you know and love,” suggests Popovich.
“It is important that you talk to other people you know in order to get a better perspective of your life,” the author continues. “Listening to other people’s challenges and accomplishments can go a long way in feeling better about yourself. You can also learn how to overcome the obstacles in your life.”
Carry a small notebook of positive statements with you: Whenever you come across an affirmation that makes you feel good, write it down in a small notebook and carry it around in your pocket, encourages Popovich.
“Then, whenever you feel anxious, just open up your small notebook and read those statements.”
Remember, you can’t predict the future: While the consequences of a particular fear may seem real and insurmountable, there are usually other factors that cannot be anticipated and can affect the results of any situation.
“We may be ninety-nine percent correct in predicting the future, but all it takes is for that one percent to make a world of difference,” the author explains.
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Challenge your negative thinking with positive statements and realistic thinking: When encountering thoughts that make you fearful or depressed, challenge those thoughts by asking yourself questions that will maintain objectivity and common sense, suggests Popovich; adding, “Focus on the reality of your situation and not on your thoughts.”
Divide your activities into separate steps: When facing a current or upcoming task that overwhelms you with a lot of anxiety, divide the task into a series of smaller steps and then complete each of the smaller tasks one step at a time, suggests Popovich.
“Completing these smaller activities will make the stress more manageable and increases your chances of success.”
Create goals: “Set achievable goals and update them on a regular basis. Then take small steps to accomplish them,” suggests Popovich. “Make sure your goals are measurable and monitor your progress.”
“Don’t get upset if you don’t accomplish all of your goals,” Popovich continues. “You can always change your goals so that you can feel, and be, more successful.”
Accept who you are and remember your successes: “Do not get into the habit of comparing yourself to others,” warns Popovich; adding, “You are unique in this world and it is important that you realize that you can do anything you want if you put your mind to it.”
“Some people downplay their successes and focus on those things they struggle with,” continues Popovich. “Always remind yourself of your past accomplishments no matter how small they may be. Stop focusing on the negative parts of your life and remember your past achievements.”
Take advantage of the help that is available around you: Most importantly, whenever possible, talk to a professional who can help you manage your depression and anxieties, says Popovich.
“Remember, you are not in this alone and there are resources that can help. Try reaching out to someone who may be able to provide you with additional advice and insights on how to deal with your current problem.”
“If you don’t know anyone to talk to about your depression, fears, or anxieties, don’t worry. There are countless resources available,” continues Popovich; adding, “You and your mental health, as well as the mental health of those you love, are worth it!”
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If you or someone you know and care about are experiencing feelings of depression, anxiety, having suicidal thoughts, or are in crisis, please contact the USA National Suicide Hotlines at (800) SUICIDE or (800) 273-TALK or try the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.
The Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
“We’re committed to improving crisis services and advancing suicide prevention by empowering individuals, advancing professional best practices, and building awareness,” say Lifeline officials.
For more information about Stan’s book and to get free mental health advice, visit Stan’s website at http://www.managingfear.com
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Trevor Montgomery, 49, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, (the now defunct) Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.
Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.
Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.