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    1. Crafting Your 2024 Vision Board: A Comprehensive Guide to Manifesting Your Goals

      Visualizing success is a powerful tool, and crafting a vision board is a creative way to manifest your goals. In this step-by-step guide, we'll explore why vision boards work, provide materials and preparation tips, and offer insights on doing it solo or with a group.
      Why Vision Boards Work
      Unlocking the Power of Visualization: Understand the impact of visualizing goals on the subconscious mind and how it influences positive thinking. Testimonials from Celebrities: Dive into success stories from celebrities who credit vision boards for their achievements, such as Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, and John Assaraf. Getting Started: Materials and Preparation
      Materials Needed:
      Poster board Magazines Scissors Glue Markers Digital Option: For a modern twist, consider using digital tools like Canva or Pinterest to create a virtual vision board. These platforms offer a wide range of images and customization options.
      Setting the Right Mindset: Choose a quiet and comfortable space for your creative process. Set the right mindset by reflecting on the positive changes you wish to manifest.
      Reflecting on Your Goals
      Self-Reflection:
      Consider short-term and long-term goals across various aspects of life. Identify key areas such as career, relationships, personal development, and health. Tips for Solo Vision Boarding:
      Collect images and words that deeply resonate with your aspirations. Arrange and glue items strategically to create a cohesive narrative. Personalize your vision board with meaningful touches and embellishments. Regularly revisit and reflect on your vision board to stay aligned with your goals. Group Vision Boarding
      Benefits of Group Vision Boarding:
      Share goals and aspirations with others for mutual inspiration. Organize a vision board party to create a collaborative and supportive atmosphere. Hosting a Successful Event:
      Provide a variety of materials and resources. Encourage participants to share their visions and goals. Foster an environment of encouragement and celebration. Bringing Your Vision Board to Life
      Daily Integration Strategies:
      Place your vision board in a visible location to reinforce your goals. Regularly revisit and update your goals as circumstances change. Use affirmations and visualization techniques to strengthen your commitment. Troubleshooting and Adjusting Goals
      Common Challenges:
      Address challenges in goal-setting, such as procrastination or self-doubt. Emphasize the importance of flexibility and resilience in adapting goals to changing circumstances. Embark on the new year with a clear vision and a positive mindset. Share your vision board experiences and goals with our community, and let's inspire each other to manifest success in 2024.
    2. 2023 at a Glance: Telemynd's Year-End Wrap-Up

      Celebrate with us as we reflect on Telemynd's achievements in 2023, including our Glassdoor Best Place to Work award, expanded patient access through strategic partnerships, and our commitment to empowering heroes and their families with accessible mental health care. Explore our notable contributions to military spouse employment, Holidays for the Heroes, and featured placements, showcasing our dedication to mental health advocacy. Join us in recognizing the key milestones that define Telemynd's success in the mental healthcare world.

      Awarded Glassdoor Best Places to Work
      Unlike other workplace awards, there is no self-nomination or application process, instead it’s entirely based on the feedback our team has voluntarily and anonymously shared on Glassdoor. A huge thank you goes out to everyone on our team who took the time to share their perspective on what it’s like to work here. We appreciate all the valuable feedback as it only helps us improve. Below are just a few words employees shared on Glassdoor that contributed toward the award.
      Innovative and Supportive, Clinical Care Manager
      “Telemynd has been incredibly supportive since I started about a year and a half ago. They are a company who cares about their clients, employees and care providers. Genuinely interested in making their own footprint in the teletherapy world and bridging gaps in underserved communities. While the company may be virtual it feels anything but. Everyone is very connected and there is an emphasis on human connection and that personal touch.”
      Professional and Pleasant Working Environment, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
      “I very much enjoy working with Telemynd as an independent contractor, very professional and caring staff, quick response to questions, very supportive to both patients and therapists, I highly recommend this company to those who have the love and passion for treating patients toward their healing process.”
      Great Work/Life Balance, Licensed Clinical Social Worker
      “I love working for Telemynd! The people are great and I am able to schedule my own appointments and see as many clients or as few as I wish. I am not stuck in an 8-6 setting seeing clients every hour and then working until late at night to get my notes done (sound familiar?). If you value your work/life balance and want to work for a company that truly appreciates your contribution to the mental health field, please consider Telemynd.”

      Expanded Patient Access Through Partnerships
      Telemynd is constantly pursuing its mission to expand access to care and has done so through its strategic alliances with prominent healthcare providers including Aetna, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, TRICARE, and the Veterans Association (VA). Towards the end of 2023 Telemynd significantly broadened their patient access with its partnership with UnitedHealthcare. This collaboration has enabled us to provide mental health services to an extensive network of over 82 million individuals.

      Obtained URAC Accreditation
      We're incredibly proud of the entire Telemynd team for achieving URAC accreditation for Telehealth. It's a testament to our unwavering dedication to providing top-notch digital healthcare services to those who need it most. This accreditation is a reflection of the hard work and commitment of every member of our organization. We're excited to continue our mission of expanding access to quality mental healthcare through innovative telehealth solutions

      Continued Putting People First
      Our commitment to delivering care and putting people first has never been more evident than reviewing the number of lives we've been able to positively impact over the past year. We've had a record year of helping tens of thousands of patients receive care for the first time. With 98% of survey respondents saying they plan to continue using Telemynd. Our dedication to the military and veteran community remains our top priority, expanding access and delivering more than 300,000 hours of care to service members and their families over the course of the past year.

      Empowering Heroes & Their Families
      At Telemynd, we wholeheartedly believe that our service members and their families deserve nothing less than the best in mental health care. To fulfill this commitment, we've developed a national network comprised of highly skilled therapists and prescribers. What's more, we've seamlessly extended our secure platform to encompass TRICARE and VA-covered mental health services.
      4+1 Military Spouse Employment
      Telemynd is proudly joined Blue Star Families and Hiring Our Heroes in the 4+1 Commitment to combat military spouse unemployment. As a leading military community mental health services provider, we are dedicated to supporting military families, retirees, and veterans across all 50 states.

      Our commitment goes beyond mental health services, emphasizing the recruitment of military community members to enhance our understanding and support on a deeper level. 🇺🇸

      Explore more about this important initiative on the Blue Star Families website and click here to watch a clip of the event.
      Holidays For The Heroes
      Holidays for the Heroes is a heartfelt initiative dedicated to spreading joy and support to military personnel and their families during the holiday season. Through organizing special events, distributing festive care packages, and facilitating the homecoming of 43 active-duty service members this year, the initiative goes above and beyond to foster a sense of community for those far from home. Telemynd is proud to contribute to this wonderful effort, having donated $2,000 to support the cause this year. To learn more or donate to this wonderful organization check out their website here.

      Featured Placements
      PopSmoke Media Feature: Telemynd - A New Tool Against Military Suicide — PopSmoke Media, a veteran-run Media Production and Distribution platform, recognized Telemynd as a valuable resource in the battle against military suicide. Originally founded to bring laughter to troops worldwide, PopSmoke has evolved its mission to entertain, educate, and advocate for the military and veteran community. Read the article here Smoke Pit Podcast: TeleMYND, Body & Soul (Season 6, Episode 😎 — Telemynd's impactful presence was acknowledged on the Smoke Pit podcast during an episode titled "TeleMYND, Body & Soul," hosted by Jamie Goldstein with a special interview with Grant Khanbalinov, a navy veteran and mental health advocate. This podcast aims to destigmatize mental health in the military community, emphasizing Telemynd's role in fostering open conversations and support for mental well-being. Listen to the full episode here. Military Family Magazine: Telemynd’s personalized approach to supporting military mental health ‘saves lives every day’ — At Telemynd, we're thrilled to share how our personalized telebehavioral health services are making a significant impact in addressing the immediate mental health needs of the military community. This article highlights our commitment to providing swift assistance without the typical wait times, emphasizing our TRICARE approval and distinctive people-first approach that prioritizes personal connections. With over 200,000 hours of annual mental health care and an impressive 98% satisfaction rate, Telemynd stands as a reliable solution amid the ongoing military mental health crisis. Read the Article here or visit our website at www.telemynd.com to learn more. Wives of the Armed Forces: How To Use Telemynd: Empowering the Military Community with Comprehensive Mental Health Solutions — This article, by the Wives of the Armed Forces, explores Telemynd's approach to addressing unique mental health challenges, offering tailored telepsychiatry and teletherapy services. The platform's network of licensed professionals specializes in military culture, trauma, PTSD, anxiety, and depression, ensuring personalized support. Telemynd's commitment to accessible care is highlighted, providing comprehensive services, including psychiatric evaluations and counseling. The article guides readers on starting with Telemynd, emphasizing a personalized matching process for the right mental health professional. By offering convenient, tailored, and comprehensive solutions, Telemynd empowers the military community to prioritize emotional well-being. Click here to read the articl Milspouse Matters: Dealing with Anxiety as a Military Spouse  — This podcast is committed to providing support for military spouses through insightful interviews that delve into the genuine experiences of being a part of this community. Their aim is to foster a supportive community where military spouses can connect, share stories, resources, and practical tips. In this episode Jen McDonald, the host of the podcast interviews Erin, widely known as The Short Wife across social media channels. Beyond offering a glimpse into her daily life, they also tackle the topic of dealing with anxiety as a military spouse, as Erin is a passionate advocate for mental healthcare. Follow the provided link here to join this conversation, gaining profound insights into Erin's journey and discovering her endorsement of Telemynd as an exemplary mental health service for the entire military community. The Short Wife: My Greatest Anxiety: Having Kids — Sponsored by Telemynd, The Short Wife's blog article delves into her anxiety journey, particularly the fears around having children. It candidly explores her challenges, starting in 2016 when the idea of parenthood triggered intense anxiety. Overcoming this fear involved years of therapy and support. The Short Wife emphasizes the vital role of professional help, praising Telemynd as a nationwide online telehealth service providing comprehensive mental health care. Accepting various plans, including TRICARE and the VA, Telemynd supports anxiety, depression, family, marriage counseling, and more. The article concludes with gratitude to Telemynd for sponsoring essential mental health care, encouraging readers to seek support and highlighting the significance of therapy in navigating life's challenges. Don't miss out on The Short Wife's engaging and relatable content! Stay connected with her journey by exploring her blog and following her on various social media platforms today.
    3. Merry and Mindful: Prioritizing Mental Wellness in the Holiday Season

      The holiday season, often hailed as the most wonderful time of the year, brings with it a unique blend of joy, festivities, and warmth. However, beneath the glittering lights and cheerful carols, many individuals find themselves grappling with stress, anxiety, and the pressure to meet heightened expectations. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the magical and challenging aspects of the holiday season, offering insights, examples, and solutions to ensure a mentally healthy and enjoyable experience.
      Unwrapping the Magic
      Festive Traditions and Bonding: The holiday season is a time for cherished traditions, from decorating the tree to baking cookies with loved ones. These activities foster a sense of togetherness and create lasting memories. Spirit of Giving: The act of giving, whether through gifts, time, or kindness, amplifies the holiday spirit. Engaging in charitable activities can bring a sense of fulfillment and purpose. Quality Time with Loved Ones: The holidays provide an opportunity to reconnect with family and friends, strengthening bonds and creating a supportive network. Reflecting on the Year: The end of the year prompts introspection, allowing individuals to celebrate achievements and set positive intentions for the upcoming year. Navigating the Stress and Challenges
      Financial Strain: The pressure to buy gifts, host gatherings, and travel can strain finances, leading to stress and anxiety. Family Dynamics: While holidays often emphasize family togetherness, navigating family dynamics can be challenging, causing emotional distress. Loneliness and Isolation: For some, the holidays magnify feelings of loneliness and isolation, especially for those who are away from family or experiencing loss. Overcommitment and Time Pressure: Juggling social events, work, and personal commitments during the holiday season can be overwhelming. Strategies To Implement This Holiday Season
      Budgeting Wisely: Create a realistic budget for gifts and celebrations to alleviate financial stress. Consider thoughtful, homemade gifts as a personal touch. Setting Boundaries: Communicate openly with family and friends about your limitations and expectations. Establishing boundaries can prevent unnecessary stress. Prioritizing Self-Care: Make self-care a priority by setting aside time for relaxation, exercise, and activities that bring joy. Remember, it's okay to take a break. Embracing Imperfection: Release the need for perfection in holiday celebrations. Embrace the imperfect moments and focus on the joy of the experience. Seeking Support: Reach out to friends, support groups, or mental health professionals if you're struggling emotionally. Sharing your feelings can provide relief and perspective. Emphasizing Mental Health
      Recognizing Signs of Stress: Be aware of common signs of stress, such as changes in sleep patterns, irritability, or difficulty concentrating. Addressing these early can prevent escalation. Telemynd: A comprehensive mental healthcare solution Insurance Coverage: Telemynd is covered by various insurance plans, making mental health support accessible and affordable. Remote Convenience: With 100% remote services, Telemynd allows you to prioritize your mental health from the comfort of your home. Licensed and Experienced Providers: Our team of licensed and experienced mental health professionals ensures high-quality care tailored to your needs. Easy Application Process: Applying for Telemynd is a simple and straightforward process, removing barriers to accessing mental health support. In Conclusion
      As the holiday season approaches, let's strive to create a balance between the magical moments and the stressors that may arise. By prioritizing mental health, setting realistic expectations, and seeking support when needed, you can ensure a joyful and fulfilling holiday experience. Consider Telemynd as a valuable resource to support your mental well-being, offering convenience, expertise, and the assurance that you don't have to navigate the challenges alone. May your holidays be filled with magic, warmth, and good mental health.
    4. Navigating the Seasonal Challenges of Postal Workers

      As the holiday season approaches, the air becomes infused with festive cheer, twinkling lights illuminate neighborhoods, and the sound of carols fills the air. Amidst the merriment, there's a group of unsung heroes silently shouldering the burden of ensuring our gifts and greetings reach loved ones on time—the delivery drivers and postal service workers.
      These dedicated individuals play a crucial role in making the holiday season special for countless people. However, the joyous atmosphere often conceals the significant stress and challenges faced by these frontline workers during this bustling time of year.
      The Unseen Stress
      1. Overwhelming Workload: Delivery drivers and postal service workers experience a surge in demand during the holiday season. The influx of packages and parcels can lead to extended work hours, tight deadlines, and an overwhelming workload. Navigating through crowded streets and managing increased package volumes puts tremendous pressure on these essential workers.
      2. Time Constraints: The holiday rush brings with it an urgency for timely deliveries. Postal workers find themselves racing against the clock to meet delivery deadlines, leaving little room for breaks or moments of respite. The pressure to maintain efficiency while delivering an ever-increasing number of packages can be physically and mentally draining.
      3. Weather Challenges: Winter weather compounds the stress for these workers. Rain, snow, and icy conditions not only make driving hazardous but also slows down the entire delivery process. Despite facing the elements, these workers strive to ensure that holiday packages reach their destinations intact and on time.
      4. Increased Customer Expectations: As expectations for prompt deliveries rise during the holiday season, so does the pressure on delivery drivers and postal service workers. Customers anticipate flawless service, and any delay or mishap can lead to frustration and complaints, adding an additional layer of stress to an already demanding job.
      5. Personal Sacrifices: Many delivery drivers and postal workers sacrifice personal time with family and friends during the holidays to fulfill their responsibilities. The heightened demand often means extended work hours, working on holidays, and limited time for their own festive celebrations.
      How Telemynd Services Can Help
      In recognizing the immense stress faced by delivery drivers and postal service workers during the holiday season, it becomes essential to explore ways to support their mental well-being. Telemynd, a leading provider of mental health services, offers a range of resources that can significantly contribute to managing stress and promoting mental wellness among these frontline workers.
      1. Accessible Mental Health Support: Telemynd provides easy access to mental health professionals through telehealth services. Delivery drivers and postal workers can connect with licensed therapists and counselors from the comfort of their homes or safe spaces, eliminating the barriers of time and location.
      2. Stress Management Techniques: Telemynd offers personalized stress management techniques tailored to the unique challenges faced by delivery drivers and postal service workers. Through virtual sessions, individuals can learn coping strategies to navigate high-stress situations, manage work-related pressure, and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
      3. Confidential Counseling: Confidentiality is paramount in mental health support, and Telemynd ensures that individuals can seek counseling without fear of judgment or disclosure of personal information. This promotes a safe space for workers to address their stressors and challenges openly.
      4. Flexible Scheduling: Recognizing the irregular and demanding schedules of delivery drivers and postal service workers, Telemynd provides flexibility in scheduling appointments. This enables individuals to prioritize their mental health without disrupting their work commitments.
      5. Employee Assistance Programs (EAP): Telemynd collaborates with organizations to implement Employee Assistance Programs, offering comprehensive mental health support to the entire workforce. This includes access to counseling services, stress management resources, and educational materials to promote a mentally healthy workplace.
      In conclusion, the holiday season is a time to express gratitude and extend support to those who work tirelessly to make our celebrations memorable. By acknowledging the unseen stressors faced by delivery drivers and postal service workers, we can take a step towards creating a more compassionate and supportive work environment. Telemynd stands as a valuable ally in this endeavor, offering accessible and effective mental health services to those who play a crucial role in making our holidays brighter. This holiday season let's remember to extend our gratitude and support to the unsung heroes who ensure the magic of the season reaches our doorsteps.
    5. Psychology of Horror: Why We Love or Hate It

      Have you ever watched a horror movie and felt your heart racing, creating a symphony of thumps and thuds? If you have, rest assured, you're not alone. This is a pretty typical reaction to a spine-tingling horror flick. But what causes one person to embrace the thrill while another shudders at the mere thought of it? You probably know folks on both sides of the spooky spectrum, and you might even be a horror enthusiast yourself. Despite the acts of evil, murder, and sometimes torture depicted in these movies, something about them bewitches certain people. Yet, others can't bear to sit through them. Let's dig into the captivating mystery of why some love horror while others recoil from it. After all, 'tis the season to explore the psychology of horror for a Halloween treat.
      Understanding the Eerie Essence of Horror
      First things first, what exactly is horror? In a general sense, horror is "an intense feeling of fear, shock, or disgust." In the world of cinema, it's a genre that aims to evoke these spine-chilling reactions. Horror movies achieve this by delving into the depths of physical and psychological terror, which sends viewers on a rollercoaster of intense fear, shock, or disgust. Some films even manage to blend all three into a chilling cocktail.
      Unraveling the Psychological Enigma of Horror
      The psychology of horror movies is a curious journey into the reasons behind our desire for spine-tingling fear. When confronted with fear, the human body kicks into gear, releasing a flurry of chemicals in what's commonly known as the "fight or flight" response. Simultaneously, moviegoers can discern that they are not in any real danger.
      As the harrowing tale unfolds on screen, the body experiences a rush of cortisol, adrenaline, endorphins, and dopamine. These chemicals set off a chain reaction in the body that's almost as automatic as turning out the lights. The heart races, blood pressure surges, and our inner hero or heroine prepares for action.
      Once the heart-pounding experience ends, there's an overwhelming sense of relief, and the brain bathes in a surge of "feel-good" chemicals. Some people revel in these biological responses, though they might not fully grasp why. The psychology of horror movies delves into the intricate reasons behind why some people feel a thrill from these films while others avoid them like the plague.
      The Conditions that Allow the Thrill
      Several conditions need to be in place for horror enthusiasts to enjoy their hair-raising adventures. These conditions are always present in horror movies.
      Physical Safety: Those indulging in a horror flick need to be certain that no harm will come to them. The key is knowing that the movie is just fiction, which helps maintain a healthy perspective. Psychological Protection: Some horror buffs may find solace in the artistry of special effects and film production. In such cases, the film isn't terrifying because it's admired as an art form. Sense of Bodily Control: Viewers must feel in control of their own bodies. If something gets too intense on the screen, they can always look away or leave the room. Having that sense of control is vital. The Thrill Seekers and the Fear Averse
      Why do some people gravitate toward horror movies while others choose to steer clear? It likely has to do with a combination of psychological and biological factors. These factors influence whether someone craves a dose of fear or shies away from it.
      Sensation-Seeking: Some viewers relish the sensory rush that horror films provide. Studies suggest they may be more inclined toward thrill-seeking and excitement. The Intensity of Horror: For some, the more potent the emotional rollercoaster, the greater the relief afterward. The stronger the emotions, the more profound the sense of relief. After all, it's that relief that can become addictive. Curiosity: Just like the rubbernecking at a car accident, some can't resist the allure of the unknown. Hearing about the horror genre from others can pique their curiosity. Desire for New Experiences: High levels of openness to new experiences can draw people toward horror. They have a greater appetite for novelty and the unknown. Biological Reactivity: Everyone's wired differently. Some people are more attuned to the physical sensation horror movies induce. For some, it's a fascination, while for others, it's overwhelming. Social Connection Influence: We learn from our social circles. Growing up in a family with a affinity for fear may make someone more susceptible to horror movies. Empathy Level: Highly empathetic individuals often find horror movies distressing, as they experience negative emotions when witnessing harm. Those with lower empathy levels may be more at ease. Gender and Age: Research suggests that younger folks are more likely to embrace horror movies. Additionally, men tend to be bigger fans of the genre than women. Past Trauma: Oddly enough, those who've experienced past trauma may turn to horror as a coping mechanism. It's a release of endorphins that brings a peculiar kind of comfort to some. So, whether you're intrigued by the eerie unknown or simply enjoy the crisp autumn air, the psychology of horror is as complex as the Halloween costumes that fill our streets. Whether you seek the thrill or prefer to steer clear, remember that in the world of horror, there's room for both the trick and the treat. Happy Halloween! 
    6. Understanding Types of Depression, Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment Options

      Being aware of the various types of depression is vital for reducing the misconceptions and stigma revolving around mental health conditions. Millions of people in the United States live with some form of depression. Knowing the signs and symptoms of all the types of depression helps increase awareness so people can seek the proper treatment and self-care. The following guide will go through the six forms of depression, including associated signs and treatments.
      Major Depression
      Description
      To understand what Major Depression looks like, we have listed the DSM 5 criteria below for Major Depressive Disorder . The DSM 5 provides health workers with what signs and symptoms to look for and gives a framework for diagnosing. Major Depression goes beyond simply feeling down or sad and includes the listed signs and symptoms below. If you feel like you are experiencing the symptoms below, we encourage you to reach out to a mental health professional for further assessment.
      Signs and Symptoms
      Common symptoms of this condition include:
      Feeling extremely sad, hopeless, and fearful Resorting to angry outbursts Feeling easily irritable or frustrated Disinterest in activities that were once enjoyed Having various sleep disturbances, like insomnia or sleeping too much Being overly tired even performing small, everyday tasks Appetite changes, leading to weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain Slower thinking, speaking, or body movements Feeling worthless or guilty Fixating on past regrets and missteps, leading to self-blame Feeling anxious, restless, or agitated Difficulty concentrating, remembering things, and/or making decisions Suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, or suicide Various physical problems, such as headaches and stomach upset Treatment Options
      Treatment plans can look different depending on the individual and can include one or a combination of therapeutic approaches. Below we have listed the three most common forms of treatment:
      Medication like antidepressants Psychotherapy (traditional talk therapy) using techniques from cognitive behavioral and/or interpersonal therapy Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), used to treat life-threatening depression that hasn’t responded to therapy and medication plans. Persistent Depression
      Description
      Persistent Depression (PDD) is similar in many ways to major depression, sharing some of the same symptoms. However, the difference between the two is the duration of symptoms. In PDD, the symptoms must have been ongoing for at least two years. Adults diagnosed with Major Depression have episodes of symptoms with some gaps in symptom-free time.
      Signs and Symptoms
      The signs and symptoms below are much like Major Depression:
      Feeling depressed and helpless Becoming irritated over little things A change in appetite, either wanting to eat too much or not eating enough Sleep issues, like insomnia or sleeping too much Experiencing fatigue or having low energy Expressing words that indicate a struggle with low self-esteem Difficulty concentrating or making decisions Having feelings of hopelessness Treatment Options
      Like Major Depression, the treatment for PDD includes various medicines (SSRIs) and psychotherapy (talk therapy).
      Bipolar Depression
      Description
      Bipolar Depression is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings from an emotional high to an extreme low. These alternating mood shifts are referred to as mania or hypomania (extreme high) and depression (extreme low). Approximately 4.4% of adults in the United States experience bipolar disorder in their lives.
      Signs and Symptoms
      Bipolar Depression can be classified into one of three categories:
      Bipolar I: The person has had at least one manic episode, preceded, or followed by hypomanic or major depressive episodes. Sometimes, during the mania phase, a break from reality (psychosis) can occur. Bipolar II: The person has had a minimum of one major depressive episode and one hypomanic episode but never a manic episode. Cyclothymia: A person with this condition will have had at least two years of several periods of hypomania symptoms and depressive symptoms. The depressive symptoms are not as severe as major depression, though. Treatment Options
      In most cases, a person affected by bipolar depression will need to take mood-stabilizing medication to help manage the episodes. In addition, the provider will use therapies, such as:
      Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT) Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) Family-focused therapy Psychoeducation is another helpful tool used to manage bipolar disorder. Psychoeducation is a type of therapeutic approach or intervention that focuses on providing individuals and their families with information and education about mental health conditions, symptoms, treatments, coping strategies, and other relevant topics. The primary goals of psychoeducation are to empower individuals and their support systems, improve their understanding of mental health issues, and enhance their ability to manage and live with these conditions effectively.
      Seasonal Affective Disorder
      Millions of people are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). People with major depression and bipolar depression have a higher percentage of experiencing this condition than the general population.
      Description
      Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs at a specific time of the year, typically during the fall and winter months when there is less natural sunlight.
      Signs and Symptoms
      Some people have fall/winter seasonal affective disorder, while others have spring/summer seasonal affective disorder.
      Fall/Winter
      Oversleeping or sleeping more than usual Appetite changes, with cravings for carbohydrate foods Weight gain or weight loss Fatigue and tiredness Spring/Summer
      Insomnia Low appetite Weight loss Anxious or easily agitated Increased irritability Treatment Options
      The three main forms of treatment for seasonal affective disorder are light therapy (exposure to bright artificial light that mimics natural sunlight), psychotherapy, and medication (such as antidepressants).
      Postpartum Depression
      Description
      Postpartum is a medical condition that affects women after they give birth to a baby. In some cases, women may begin to feel postpartum symptoms during pregnancy. Postpartum is a serious condition that consists of a more severe form of depression related to the physical and hormonal changes as a woman’s body returns to its pre-pregnancy state. This form of depression can last for several months or longer.
      Signs and Symptoms
      Here are some signs and symptoms of postpartum depression:
      Overwhelming tiredness or fatigue Depressed mood or extreme mood swings Less interest in everyday pleasures and activities Crying much more than usual Severe anxiety and panic attacks Intrusive thoughts of harming oneself or the baby Struggling to bond with the baby Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, or inadequacy Difficulty with concentration Indecisiveness Intense irritability and anger Withdrawal from family and friends Changes in appetite Insomnia or over-sleeping Restlessness Recurring thoughts of death or suicide Treatment Options
      Most treatment options for postpartum involve psychotherapy, antidepressants, or other medications, such as antipsychotic medicines, mood stabilizers, and benzodiazepines.
      Since many postpartum symptoms could also mimic those common with becoming a parent, new mothers should consider starting therapy right before/ right after giving birth to monitor any symptoms that arise and help identify postpartum early.
      Atypical Depression
      Description
      Atypical depression is a subtype of major depression with a specific set of symptoms that make it different from typical depression Atypical Depression is milder but more persistent and long-lasting.
      Signs and Symptoms
      Here are some signs and symptoms of atypical depression:
      Mood Reactivity: In atypical depression, individuals experience mood reactivity, meaning their mood can improve temporarily in response to positive events or situations. This is in contrast to the persistent low mood seen in other forms of depression. Increased Appetite and Weight Gain: People with atypical depression often have an increased appetite and may gain a significant amount of weight as a result of overeating. This is a hallmark symptom that distinguishes atypical depression. Hypersomnia: Individuals with atypical depression may experience excessive sleepiness and prolonged sleep durations (hypersomnia). They may sleep more than usual and find it difficult to wake up in the morning. Leaden Paralysis: Some individuals with atypical depression report experiencing a heavy, leaden sensation in their limbs, making them feel physically weighed down. Rejection Sensitivity: People with atypical depression may be highly sensitive to interpersonal rejection, often interpreting social situations negatively and feeling a strong need for social approval. Interpersonal Difficulties: Atypical depression may lead to difficulties in personal relationships due to these heightened sensitivities and emotional responses. Treatment Options
      Atypical depression treatment involves psychotherapy (talk therapy) and/or medication (MAOIs/SSRIs). Other factors can also aid patients in feeling better including lifestyle modifications, such as regular exercise, self-care, or stopping alcohol and/or recreational drug use.
      Misconceptions
      Although much has been done in society to decrease the stigma associated with mental health conditions like major depression and Bipolar Disorder, many people still have misconceptions about it that are important to dispel.
      Misconceptions say that:
      The person simply lacks willpower. The person is only feeling “blue” and will get over it. Medicine alone should resolve the problem. The person is giving into their feelings. The person can snap out of it easily. Depression affects everyone in the same way. Depression only happens when something negative has or is happening. Depression is the same as anxiety. Only adults get depression. Resources
      It’s important for someone who is struggling with a mental health condition, like any of the depressive conditions, to seek out the many available resources. Telemynd is a source of support for those who need to connect with a mental health provider.
      Telemynd offers a comprehensive mental health solution for people who want to be matched with qualified, mental health providers. We also partner with a variety of insurance companies to make necessary healthcare access easier.
      Telemynd's specialists are here to assist individuals or their loved ones on their journey to improved well-being. Contact Telemynd today.
    7. How to Deal with Seasonal Depression: 6 Tips to Consider

      Seasonal mood changes are a common condition. Millions of people experience mood changes as fall and winter begin. These mood changes can be significant and lead to difficulty managing daily activities. The condition is called seasonal affective disorder or seasonal depression. It can be very distressing and affect work, school, and relationships. 
      There are treatments and coping mechanisms for dealing with seasonal depression, so it lessens the impact on work, family time, and other activities.  
      What Is Seasonal Depression? 
      Seasonal depression, which is sometimes called Seasonal Affective Disorder, is a change in mood that accompanies the change in seasons. The most common type of seasonal depression is fall-onset depression, but some people experience spring-onset mood changes, such as sadness, hopelessness, irritability as well as changes to appetite and sleep patterns. 
      Experts diagnose seasonal affective disorder when mood changes occur at the same time of year for at least two years. The mood changes are typically persistent and cause daily symptoms. The symptoms are significant enough that they interfere with daily activities like work, school, or relationships. 
      Experts can’t define a single cause for seasonal depression. It may be linked to a number of factors that affect mood and energy such as. 
      Serotonin Changes 
      One possible cause is a biochemical imbalance in the brain caused by the reduced amount of sunlight in winter. Sunlight may affect a brain chemical called serotonin, which regulates mood and appetite. Less sunlight may mean less serotonin activity in the brain. 
      Melatonin Changes 
      The change in sunlight may also cause the brain to increase production of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that triggers feelings of sleepiness. Increased melatonin production may be responsible for the low energy and fatigue that sometimes comes with seasonal depression. Lack of melatonin may cause sleeplessness associated with spring-onset seasonal depression. 
      Circadian Rhythm Changes 
      The change in the amount of light and darkness may also affect circadian rhythms. This is the internal clock that signals the body when to sleep and wake each day. Environmental signals like sunrise and sunset can change the body’s natural sleep-wake schedule, as well as signals like when to have meals. Work and school schedules don’t change to accommodate changes to the circadian rhythm, so many people find themselves working against their natural rhythms, which causes tiredness and low moods. 
      Who Gets Seasonal Depression? 
      Anyone can experience seasonal depression, but it is most common in adults. People tend to notice the onset of seasonal depression between the ages of 18 and 30. On average, women are more likely than men to have seasonal depression symptoms. 
      There can be a higher risk for seasonal affective disorder for people who have a personal or family history of mental health conditions such as: 
      Anxiety disorder  Major depressive disorder  Bipolar disorder  Panic disorder  Schizophrenia  ADHD  Eating disorders  The physical environment can also increase the risk of seasonal mood changes. People are more likely to experience seasonal depression if they live at latitudes far north or far south from the equator, where there is significantly less sunlight during the winter. People who live in cloudy regions may also be at higher risk. 
      Seasonal Depression Symptoms 
      The symptoms of seasonal affective disorder are often similar to other forms of depression or anxiety. Symptoms vary depending on whether seasonal depression affects people in the spring and summer or fall and winter. Most people report that symptoms are mild as the seasons start to change, then get worse over time. 
      Fall-Onset Depression 
      Symptoms of fall-onset depression usually begin in the fall or early winter. Signs and symptoms of fall-onset seasonal depression may include: 
      Consistently feeling sad or down  Losing interest in activities one usually enjoys  Having low energy or feeling sluggish  Sleeping more than usual  Changes in appetites, such as carbohydrate cravings or overeating  Difficulty concentrating  Feeling hopeless, worthless, or guilty  Spring-Onset Depression 
      Symptoms of spring-onset depression begin in spring or early summer. This type is much less common, though it can be just as severe as fall onset. Signs and symptoms of spring-onset depression include: 
      Difficulty sleeping  Low appetite  Feelings of agitation or anxiety  Increased irritability  If depression symptoms don’t get better when winter ends, it may be the result of a more persistent form of depression that isn’t linked to seasonal changes. If this might be the case, a doctor or a mental health care provider can provide support for dealing with chronic depression. 
      In severe cases, seasonal depression can lead to thoughts of not wanting to live. Thoughts of self-harm are an emergency. Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts or wanting to help someone considering self-harm can call the national suicide hotline by dialing 988 for immediate help. 
      How Long Does Seasonal Depression Last? 
      Seasonal depression can last for many months. Some studies show that people who have seasonal depression experience symptoms for four to five months or 40 percent of the year. Many people notice effects beginning in the fall, with symptoms being most significant in January and February. The effects of seasonal depression tend to taper off in early spring. 
      People with spring-onset depression notice symptoms beginning as the days get longer, and mood changes tend to resolve in the fall. 
      How to Handle Fall-Onset Seasonal Depression 
      No one should have to struggle with fall-onset seasonal depression every year. Certain treatments and coping mechanisms can reduce symptoms and increase energy and sense of well-being. 
      1. Light Therapy 
      Since fall-onset seasonal depression may be linked to the decrease in sunlight during winter, light therapy can help ease the effects of long, dark days. Treatment involves sitting in front of a special lamp light therapy box that emits a very bright light. Light boxes are available without a prescription, though a doctor or mental health care provider can recommend a lamp to ensure it has the right features. Most people need daily light exposure for at least 20 minutes per day. Symptoms will start to decrease within a week or two, and continuing light therapy will help ensure symptoms don’t return. Some people begin using their light box at the end of summer to prevent symptoms. 
      2. Outdoor Time 
      Exposure to natural sunlight can also mitigate the effects of seasonal depression by helping the body get used to the new patterns of darkness and daylight. Spending time outside when the weather permits can improve mood. Increasing the amount of sunlight that enters a home or office can help as well. Opening drapes or blinds or sitting in sunny areas of the house can provide a helpful dose of sunlight. 
      3. Vitamin D 
      One of the effects of sun exposure is vitamin D production. Human bodies need sunlight to produce this essential nutrient. Some people become vitamin D deficient in the winter months, and that can exacerbate feelings of depression. Taking a vitamin D supplement may help, but you should consult your physician before starting any vitamins or supplements. 
      4. Therapy 
      Talk therapy is helpful for managing depression, no matter what the cause is. Cognitive behavioral therapy can be especially helpful as a way to understand complicated feelings and develop mindful or positive responses to negative emotions. Working with a licensed mental health care professional can help people struggling with seasonal depression understand their emotions, develop coping skills, and improve their outlook. 
      5. Medication 
      Antidepressants are highly effective at helping reduce the effects of seasonal depression or other causes of depression. These are prescription medications that help balance the neurotransmitters that affect mood. A doctor can prescribe them if other types of treatment aren’t effective enough. It is safe to continue light therapy and talk therapy while taking antidepressants. 
      6. Lifestyle Changes 
      Engaging in thoughtful self-care can help reduce the effects of seasonal depression. Eating a balanced diet to get complete nutrition can improve overall energy levels. Getting 30 minutes of exercise at least three days per week can boost mood and reduce stress. Staying connected to supportive friends and family and staying involved in enjoyable activities is a good way to improve mood. 
      Finding the right treatment plan can help manage mood changes during the cold, dark months of winter. Many people with seasonal depression may benefit from talking to a doctor or a licensed mental health care provider about what treatment they may need. The licensed mental health care providers at Telemynd can help identify the cause of mood changes and recommend steps to start feeling better. 
      Taking care of mental health all year long is an important form of self-care. Addressing seasonal depression can make winter and fall more enjoyable times of the year. 
    8. How to Set Positive Social Media Boundaries With Your Child

      Many parents and experts ask, "Should kids have social media?" Deciding when they are old enough for social media apps and which ones they can use is a complex issue. Social media use among teens is already ubiquitous. One survey reports that up to 95% of teens use a social media platform, and about a third say they're scrolling, posting, or otherwise engaged with social media "almost constantly."
      This can be a source of concern to parents who worry when kids are constantly glued to their phones. Adults have justifiable fears that kids will encounter inappropriate material or be approached by strangers. On the other hand, parents may also see their kids using social media to communicate with friends, share favorite music, or organize in-person social events.
      Figuring out how to ensure kids are safe and happy online is an ongoing process for all parents.
      Negative Effects of Social Media on Mental Health
      Social media is still a relatively new phenomenon. Research about how it affects human development is ongoing, and there are no definitive answers yet.
      The American Psychological Association acknowledges that there is significant potential for harm to kids' mental health, but the degree varies among individuals. They note, "Not all findings apply equally to all youth. Scientific findings offer one piece of information that can be used along with knowledge of specific youths' strengths, weaknesses, and context to make decisions that are tailored for each teen, family, and community."
      There are known risks for social media use. A 2019 study revealed that teens who spend more than three hours a day on social media face double the risk of experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety compared to teens who spend less time online.
      Some kids may experience negative feelings related to comparing themselves to others online. Cyberbullying and hateful comments can negatively affect kids and teens. Exposure to content that contains hateful, violent, or bigoted material can increase feelings of anxiety and depression.
      Positive Effects of Social Media
      For some kids and teens, social media use may not be problematic. It may even be beneficial. Online interaction can deepen friendships and increase feelings of connectedness. Technology can give kids and teens a way to stay in touch with friends or family who live far away. Gaming sites and video chatting provide real-time interactions and shared activities. Some social media platforms enable kids to showcase artwork, writing, or music.
      Setting social media boundaries and expectations requires accounting for all of these factors and applying them to individual children appropriately.
      Understanding Your Child's Relationship With Social Media
      Before parents can set boundaries on social media use, they need to assess how their kids are using social media. For children just getting their first phone, they may not have any social media accounts. Some kids may use gaming sites with chat functions where all interactions happen in real time. Other kids may have accounts on apps like Instagram, Snapchat, or Reddit, where they can send and post comments, photos, and videos. Parents can start the conversation by asking thoughtful questions, such as:
      What sites or apps do kids use? What do they do on social media? Do they post, comment, communicate with DMs, or just look at things other people post? Why do kids like the apps and websites they use? How do online interactions make them feel? What apps and websites do their peers use? Grasping what appeals to kids about online communication can guide discussions about using it safely and wisely. For example, it's important to know if a teen uses private messaging to chat with a friend who has moved away. Adults can take positive uses of social media into account when setting guidelines for use overall.
      Establishing Collaborative Guidelines With Your Child
      One of the goals for setting rules about social media use is to help kids be mindful of how they spend time online. Rather than setting arbitrary rules, it can be better to have a discussion with kids about online time. Ask them why they spend time on social media apps, what they enjoy about using them, and what they don't enjoy. Ask about how their peers use social media to get a sense of the social media environment in which they operate.
      Together, parents and children can build a list of guidelines about how they use social media and how much time they spend online each day. Clearly explain expectations about social media, school, extracurricular commitments, and daily time. Work with kids and teens to find a way to fit social media in around higher priority activities. Set time limits if appropriate. Create an agreement about who they can accept as friends and what privacy settings they employ.
      There are pros and cons of parents monitoring social media use. Giving kids privacy is important, but adults also need to be firm about the need for social media safety for kids. Using parental controls to limit and monitor the use of apps can protect kids from predators.
      Some families find it helpful to create a contract about social media use. Adults and kids then have a written agreement that they can both use to guide behavior moving forward. Organizations like Common Sense Media offer samples of social media contracts for families.
      Identifying Warning Signs of Excessive Use
      Excessive use of social media isn't healthy for people of any age. Spending too much time online can distract people from other responsibilities and real-life relationships and exacerbate health issues related to a sedentary lifestyle.
      Some kids and teens may fall into a habit of excessive social media use without realizing it's happening. The American Psychological Association (APA) lists the following signs of excessive social media use:
      A tendency to use social media even when adolescents want to stop or realize it is interfering with necessary tasks Spending excessive effort to ensure continuous access to social media Strong cravings to use social media or disruptions in other activities from missing social media use too much Repeatedly spending more time on social media than intended Lying or deceptive behavior to retain access to social media use Loss or disruption of significant relationships or educational opportunities because of media use The APA advises parents to regularly assess whether kids are showing signs of problematic social media use. If screen time use is becoming problematic, adults should share their concerns with the child. To change behavior, adults can increase restrictions on the amount of time kids spend online and the kinds of apps or games they are using. Adults should also present kids with alternative activities to replace social media use.
      Encouraging Offline Activities and Interactions
      One tried and true tactic for getting kids off devices is to offer alternative activities that they enjoy. Many kids feel a little lost when adults say, "Put down the tablet and find something else to do." Adults can help by presenting options of what "something else" can be.
      Scheduling regular in-person activities, such as sports, art classes, music lessons, or other interests, is an easy way to plan offline time. Family activities such as camping, hiking, board games, shared meals, and outings to museums, sporting events, and plays can also provide an alternative to online time. Many kids and teens will agree to put devices away during unstructured time with their friends. No screen playdates can foster independent, offline play and strengthen friendships.
      Leading by Example
      Parents and caregivers can show kids what healthy social media use looks like and talk to them about how they choose to engage with social media. This sets a strong example for kids. Model setting good boundaries with social media rules, such as:
      Phone-free meals Periods each day where the whole family stays offline Cutting out all phone use while driving In-person family activities without phones Adults who are concerned that social media is causing mental health problems in a child or teen should reach out to a healthcare provider or mental health professional. Changing social media habits may cut off the source of the problem, but young people will need help dealing with the longer-term effects. Everyone in the family may benefit from talking with a counselor to understand how social media affects them and how to avoid future difficulties.
    9. Helping Your Child Cultivate Positive and Healthy Friendships

      Back-to-school time can be exciting for kids. It can also open up worries about making and keeping friends. The social aspects of school are often just as important as the academic aspects.
      Children and teens enjoy the company of their peers and have more fun when they have companionship and support from people of the same age. Childhood friendships are also an important part of a child's emotional development.
      Every adult who cares for children wants that child to have friends. In addition, adults want to see kids learn how to be a good friend. Parents can assist in this learning process and help children develop the skills to make lasting, beneficial friendships.
      Why Friendships Matter
      Friendships are how children learn to navigate social and emotional interactions with other people. In early childhood, playtime with other children is a place where kids learn about cooperation, empathy, and positive interactions. As kids become teens, their friends act as a support network, encouraging one another in sports, school, and times of stress. These friendships can build self-esteem and improve academic success. Some research shows that strong friendships in the teen years can set the stage for better mental health into adulthood.
      Parents and other caregivers can help children cultivate a friendship in obvious ways, like setting up playdates and giving kids rides to see their friends. In addition, adults can help children and teens understand what makes a healthy, positive friendship and how to avoid social relationships that may be harmful in the long run.
      Model Healthy Friendships
      Showing children behavior that they should emulate is one of the most tried-and-true tactics in parenting. Children observe adult behavior even before they can speak. They imitate what they see, whether that's pretending to drive the car or saying "please" and “thank you."
      Adults can use this method to model healthy friendships by engaging in behaviors such as:
      Demonstrating empathy, kindness, and respect in their own relationships Engaging in active listening and asking thoughtful questions when interacting with adult friends Saying kind things to and about one another Offering to help others Avoiding speaking unkindly about friends who aren't present Demonstrating the value of diverse friendships by taking opportunities to interact with a variety of people Teach Effective Communication and Conflict Resolution Skills
      Friend drama is an inevitable part of life. Kids are engaged in a learning process as they make friendships, and there will be trial and error as they learn. Hurt feelings and disagreements will come up between any group of friends. Teaching them emotional awareness and the ability to communicate emotions can help kids learn to manage conflicts.
      Parents and caregivers can help kids handle episodes of conflict by giving them strong communication tools. This is accomplished by:
      Teaching children the words to express their feelings so they can explain their actions and reactions effectively Giving children opportunities to talk through what happened and how they feel about it without criticizing or judging them Helping children understand why they feel the way they do and what would make them feel better Teach Empathy and Emotional Intelligence
      Empathy and emotional intelligence can bolster a child's communication skills. Both of these qualities involve being aware of and sensitive to other people's feelings. Understanding how others feel is the first step in teaching kids to respond in positive and appropriate ways.
      Jamil Zaki, a Stanford University neuroscientist, told the Washington Post that empathy has three dimensions. "One is emotional, vicariously sharing what other people around us view," Zaki explained. "The other is cognitive, which is trying to understand what other people feel and why. And the third is compassion or empathic concern."
      Adults can help kids learn about all the dimensions of empathy and emotions with actions such as:
      Talking about feelings and connecting them to actions or situations Naming emotions and discussing what kids want when they feel a particular way Helping kids identify clues about emotions in other people Talking to children about how they can respond to others in empathetic and sympathetic ways Empathy and emotional intelligence are also tools that help kids identify incidents when others are not responding appropriately. Children who understand how empathetic relationships should feel will be better able to avoid or leave relationships with people who lack empathy.
      Identify Healthy vs. Unhealthy Friendships
      Adults should keep an eye on their kids' friendships to make sure the relationship is healthy for the child. Unhealthy or toxic friendships can be detrimental to children, leading to possible emotional distress or engaging in harmful behaviors. As kids get older, harmful relationships may become abusive or coercive. If a child seems to be in an unhealthy friendship, talk to them about the situation.
      Observe kids to ensure they and their friends behave in ways consistent with healthy relationships, such as:
      Treating each other as equals Being honest and trustworthy Respecting personal boundaries Celebrating each other's successes Standing up for one another Refrain from using peer pressure In addition, look for signs of negative relationships, such as:
      Power imbalances between friends Unkind words or behaviors Excessive interpersonal drama Excessive jealousy or possessiveness Excessive competition Controlling behaviors, using social exclusion or bullying Encouragement of rule-breaking Balance Online and Offline Friendships
      Many kids, especially teens, interact with friends online. Kids use online gaming, social media, texting, and group communication tools like Discord to talk to friends they know in real life. Research shows that these interactions can deepen real-world friendships and allow kids to continue friendships with people who live far away.
      However, online activity should not replace face-to-face interactions. A study from 2014 showed that screen time can affect how well kids interpret body language and facial expressions. Moreover, excessive online time causes a more sedentary lifestyle, which has negative health effects.
      Another risk with online interactions is stranger danger. Kids may meet new people on virtual platforms and form friendships with them. Adults need to equip kids with knowledge of online safety to protect them from online predators. Parents should monitor their children's online interactions and employ parental controls on apps to protect kids from people who would harm them.
      Encourage Shared Interests and Hobbies
      Activities and hobbies are some of the best ways for kids and teens to meet new friends. Sports, art classes, Scout troops, religious youth groups, and after-school clubs are great ways for kids to meet other kids with their interests. This can be especially beneficial for kids who struggle in social situations or don't connect easily with peers. Finding others who already share at least one interest gives them a starting point for forming a friendship.
      Parents should take the opportunity to encourage children to have strong friendships from preschool and beyond. Being a good friend and maintaining strong, healthy friendships are skills that will benefit kids for the rest of their lives.
    10. World Mental Health Day 2023

      World Mental Health Day, observed on October 10th each year, is a critical moment to raise awareness about mental health issues, reduce stigma, and promote overall well-being. In this blog post, we'll explore the significance of World Mental Health Day, take a closer look at the current state of mental health, discuss practical ways to take care of your mental health, offer tips on supporting others, and provide valuable resources, including Telemynd, to help you on your mental health journey.
      The Significance of World Mental Health Day
      World Mental Health Day is a global event recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) to emphasize the importance of mental health and foster discussions around it. Here's why it matters:
      Destigmatizing Mental Health: One of the primary goals of this day is to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. Stigmatization often prevents people from seeking help, which can have dire consequences. By discussing mental health openly, we can break down these barriers.
      Promoting Awareness: World Mental Health Day raises awareness about the many mental health issues that individuals face, from anxiety and depression to more severe conditions like schizophrenia. Understanding these issues helps build empathy and support networks.
      Encouraging Action: The day encourages individuals, communities, and organizations to take concrete steps towards improving mental health. These actions can range from self-care to advocating for mental health policy changes.
      The State of Mental Health Today
      To truly appreciate the significance of World Mental Health Day, it's crucial to delve deeper into the current state of mental health worldwide. The statistics and trends below shed light on the scale of the issue and its far-reaching consequences:
      Prevalence of Mental Health Issues
      Depression and Anxiety: Depression and anxiety disorders are among the most prevalent mental health conditions globally. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression affects approximately 280 million people worldwide, while over 300 million suffer from anxiety disorders. These conditions can be debilitating, affecting every aspect of a person's life, from their relationships to their ability to work and enjoy life. Substance Abuse: Substance abuse affects over 270 million people worldwide, and often co-occurs with mental health issues. Individuals struggling with depression, anxiety, or other mental disorders may turn to drugs or alcohol as a means of self-medication. This dual diagnosis makes treatment more complex and underscores the importance of addressing mental health holistically. Eating Disorders: Eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder also take a heavy toll on mental well-being. About 70 million people internationally live with this condition that not only harms physical health but also have severe psychological and emotional consequences. Impact on Productivity
      Economic Burden: The economic toll of untreated mental illness is staggering. The World Economic Forum estimates that mental health conditions will cost the global economy $16 trillion by 2030. A significant portion of this cost comes from lost productivity as individuals with untreated mental health issues struggle to perform at their best in their professional lives. Workplace Challenges: Mental health challenges often manifest in the workplace, leading to decreased productivity, frequent absences, and a higher turnover rate. Employers are increasingly recognizing the importance of mental health support programs to retain talent and maintain a healthy, thriving workforce. The Stigma Factor
      Barriers to Seeking Help: Stigma remains a formidable obstacle to seeking mental health treatment. Many individuals hesitate to reach out to professionals or disclose their mental health struggles to friends and family due to fear of judgment, discrimination, or potential social consequences. This stigma perpetuates silence and suffering. Gender and Cultural Disparities: Gender and cultural factors also play a role in the stigma surrounding mental health. In some cultures, discussing mental health is particularly challenging, and gender norms can restrict individuals from seeking help when they need it. Breaking down these barriers is essential for global mental health improvement. Pandemic Effects
      Increased Mental Health Issues: The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing mental health challenges and created new ones. The stress of living through a global health crisis, coupled with isolation, economic uncertainties, and grief over lost loved ones, has led to a surge in mental health issues. Studies report rising rates of depression, anxiety, and loneliness worldwide. Healthcare System Strain: The pandemic has strained healthcare systems globally, affecting mental health services as well. Many individuals faced difficulties accessing therapy or counseling due to lockdowns and overwhelmed healthcare facilities. Telehealth services like Telemynd have become crucial for maintaining mental health support during these challenging times. Taking Care of Your Mental Health
      Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Here are practical steps you can take to nurture it:
      Practice Self-Care
      Prioritize self-care routines that work for you, such as meditation, exercise, journaling, or spending time in nature. Get enough sleep, maintain a balanced diet, and limit alcohol and caffeine consumption. Connect with Others
      Build a strong support network of friends and family. Social connections can provide emotional support during difficult times. Reach out and talk to someone when you're struggling. Sharing your feelings can alleviate stress and anxiety. Manage Stress
      Learn stress management techniques like deep breathing exercises, mindfulness, or progressive muscle relaxation. Set boundaries and avoid overextending yourself with commitments. Seek Professional Help
      Don't hesitate to reach out to mental health professionals when needed. Therapy, counseling, and medication can be effective treatments. Telemynd, a telehealth service, offers convenient access to licensed mental health providers through online sessions. How to Support Others
      Supporting someone with a mental health issue requires empathy and understanding. Here's how you can help:
      Educate Yourself: Learn about the specific mental health condition the person is facing to better understand their experiences and needs. Be a Good Listener: Encourage open and non-judgmental conversations. Let them express their feelings without interruption. Offer Practical Support: Assist with daily tasks or chores, when necessary, especially during challenging periods. Also simply remind them periodically that you’re there to help when they need support. Encourage Professional Help: If the person is struggling, encourage them to seek professional assistance, such as therapy or counseling. Resources and Support
      Access to resources is crucial for mental health support. Telemynd is a leading telehealth service that connects individuals with licensed mental health professionals through secure online sessions. Telemynd offers a convenient and confidential way to receive therapy and counseling, eliminating scheduling, transportation, and geographical barriers.
      The platform provides access to a wide range of mental health professionals, allowing you to find the right match for your needs. With the flexibility of online sessions, it's easier to fit therapy into your routine, and Telemynd prioritizes your privacy and security, ensuring a safe space for your therapy sessions.
      In addition to Telemynd, there are numerous helplines, support groups, and online resources available for mental health support. Organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Mental Health America (MHA) offer valuable information and assistance.
      Conclusion
      World Mental Health Day serves as a reminder of the importance of mental health and the need to support those who may be struggling. By understanding the state of mental health today, practicing self-care, and offering support to others, we can contribute to a world where mental health is treated with the same importance as physical health. Don't hesitate to utilize resources like Telemynd to embark on your journey towards improved mental well-being. Together, we can break down the barriers that prevent individuals from seeking help and create a more compassionate and understanding society.
    11. Which States Allow Mental Health Days for Students?

      In the three years since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown policies, there has been a dramatic uptick in mental health concerns among kindergarten through 12th-grade students. According to the Children's Hospital Association, during the height of the pandemic in 2020, the number of children visiting the emergency room for mental health rose dramatically. By 2021, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy issued an advisory declaring a mental health crisis for American children. The report noted that “an alarming number” of young people struggle with “feelings of helplessness, depression, and thoughts of suicide.”
      In the ensuing years, school districts have looked for novel ways to support students in need. Many states have prioritized hiring counselors and school psychologists or offering social-emotional curricula designed to raise awareness of mental health concerns. A few states have started allowing students to take excused absences to manage mental and behavioral health concerns.
      The Value of Mental Health Days
      Students with ongoing mental health struggles often need time during the school day to get the care they need. Appointments with providers may overlap with school hours and lead to absences. Students adjusting to medication changes or managing periods of mental health crisis may not be well enough to attend school.
      Excused absences allow students undergoing mental health treatment to take the time they need without concern about truancy violations or having to repeat a grade. Furthermore, a policy of excusing absences for mental health ensures that students can get support from teachers as they make up missed work.
      Many students who don’t have diagnosed mental health conditions experience periods of mental distress or emotional fatigue. In an interview with the Washington Post, Barb Solish, director of Youth and Young Adult Initiatives for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), noted that an excused day off is beneficial to those students as well.
      “When students are feeling physically unwell, there is a universal understanding that they should stay home and they should take time to feel better,” Solish said. “School policies that recognize mental health as an acceptable reason for absence can help students take the time they need to care for themselves and restore their health. Practically speaking, if you have a fever, you’re not paying attention in class, right? You’re not learning the lesson. If you’re feeling overwhelming anxiety, you’re not learning either.”
      What States Allow Mental Health Days in School?
      As of summer 2023, 12 states have passed laws explicitly excusing school absences for mental health reasons. The specifics of the laws vary, with some states requiring a written excuse from a mental health care provider and other states asking only that students and parents explain the reason for their absence. Some states limit the number of days students can be absent for mental health care.
      Arizona: As of 2021, students in Arizona are allowed to take mental health days off from school, though each school district can set its own policies. California: In 2021, California enacted a law that allows students to miss school due to mental or behavioral health concerns. In addition, all public schools must include mental health content in their health education curriculum. Colorado: In 2020, Colorado passed a bill allowing students to take mental health days and requiring school district attendance requirements to include a policy for excused absences for behavioral health concerns. Connecticut: In 2021, Connecticut passed a law permitting all students to take two non-consecutive mental health wellness days per year. Illinois: Starting in 2022, Illinois public schools must allow students to take up to five mental health days per year and treat them as excused absences. Students and parents will need to explicitly state that they are using a mental health day absence when they call into their school. Kentucky: In 2022, Kentucky passed a law making days off from school for reasons related to mental health excused absences. Maine: In 2020, Maine enacted a bill that would allow students to take days off school for mental and behavioral health reasons. Nevada: In 2021, Nevada passed a law allowing students aged 7-18 to miss a day of school for mental health reasons with a written note from a mental healthcare provider. Oregon: In 2019, Oregon passed a law allowing students to take up to five days off school within a three-month period, including days for mental health or physical illness. Utah: In 2021, Utah adopted a law making mental or behavioral health an excused absence. Virginia: In 2019, Virginia passed a law allowing students to use mental health as a valid excuse for absence. Washington: In 2022, the state of Washington enacted a new law that will allow students to use mental or behavioral health reasons as a valid excuse for an absence. A handful of other state legislatures have proposed laws to revise state absence policy to include excused absence for mental health concerns. Since 2019, lawmakers in New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey, and Delaware have tried to pass legislation in support of excused mental health days, but the bills were unsuccessful. It is not clear if lawmakers will try again in the future.
      States With No Official Policy on Mental Health Days
      The majority of states have no official guidance about mental health-related absences. That doesn’t mean students can’t take time out of school to care for their mental health, however. Even in states where there aren’t laws on the books, individual school districts may have policies that accommodate students who need time for mental health care.
      For example, Maryland failed to pass a law about excused absence for mental health reasons. However, the New York Times reports that Montgomery County, home to the largest district in the state, implemented a policy of excusing absences taken for “student illness and well-being” beginning in 2021.
      Adults should contact school administrators to find out the attendance policies for their school district and discuss how to arrange for the time their child needs for mental health care.
      What Counts as a Mental Health Day?
      Lawmakers have worked to balance the pros and cons of mental health days for students. Some of the laws protecting time off for mental health reasons are meant as a way for students to access professional mental health care. California’s law was written to “ensure that student absences for behavioral health concerns will be treated the same as excused absences for physical health concerns.” The law’s advocates hope that allowing students to miss school for mental health reasons will reduce barriers to getting the care they need.
      In contrast, Connecticut supports mental wellness days for students who may not have ongoing mental health concerns. The law allows time for kids who need a break to recharge. “The idea behind providing two mental wellness days is first to support self-care and help create good mental wellness habits early in life,” said state Rep. Liz Linehan, co-chair of the Committee on Children. “Secondly, by classifying mental health days, we reduce the stigma of mental health concerns and give our kids a way to talk to the adults in their lives about their struggles.”
      In Illinois, schools are required to follow up with parents when students take more than one day off for mental health reasons. This gives school counselors an opportunity to offer support if the student needs it. Schools can refer students for counseling or work with parents to open a dialog with their students about what they need.
      Changing Policy in Your State
      If your home state doesn’t offer excused absences for students to seek mental health treatment, you can advocate for change. Residents can contact state lawmakers directly to tell them why students should have mental health days. Most lawmakers post their contact information on their official websites. In addition, residents can reach out to state and local boards of education to ask for better policies around student mental health.
      Local and state-level education groups like the PTA often have committees that advocate for state policy changes that benefit students. Joining your school’s PTA and speaking to leadership is a good way to connect with others working to support students. In addition, organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) advocate at the state and local levels. You can get on their email list to receive alerts about opportunities to advocate for student mental health.
      In the short term, adults caring for children with mental health concerns can talk to teachers, counselors, and school administrators about accommodating the child’s need for care. There may be local resources available to assist you.
    12. Creating a Healthy Study Environment

      As the school year gets going, kids will be coming home with homework. Whether they need to do the assigned reading, complete worksheets, or finish an assignment online, they will need a space to get their work done. Giving kids a well-organized, pleasant space for studying, as well as time and support, will ensure they can do their best work.
      Parents can help their kids establish good study habits by planning ahead and setting up a workspace and routines for getting homework done.
      Workspace for Studying
      Giving children a designated space for schoolwork is beneficial. Having a space that is already cleared off and set up for homework allows them to get started without fussing with cleaning and organizing before they can work. If homework space needs to do double-duty as a dining table or living space, set up bins or other containers to hold homework materials. That way, students can pull out a single container to get started rather than hunting down everything they need from other areas of the home.
      Make sure kids have enough space for their materials, including a laptop or Chromebook. Set homework space near an electrical outlet so they can easily plug in their computer if they need to. Adjustable lighting, such as multiple desk lamps or overhead lights with a dimmer switch, can help them see to work and prevent glare on a monitor screen.
      A workspace should be comfortable — but not so comfortable that it’s easy to doze off. Teens might prefer to work on their bed, but that can be distracting and lead to misplaced papers or books. Younger kids may need furniture that’s the right size for their smaller bodies. Child-sized chairs, tables, and desks can make it more comfortable to sit and focus on work.
      Décor to Enhance Learning
      In addition to making sure the homework space has adequate lighting and plenty of elbow room, giving the space pleasant touches can be useful as well. Well-thought-out décor can improve mood and help kids enjoy being in their study space.
      Color psychology explains how color choices can set the mood for a workspace. Bright, light colors like pale blues and greens have a calming effect. Highly saturated colors like emerald green or royal blue may feel energizing. Warm colors like reds and oranges make rooms feel warmer, even if they are the same temperature as the rest of the building. Choose paint and furniture colors that enhance a student’s mood as well as suit their preferences.
      Adding art or other wall décor can make a space more interesting. Parents should be thoughtful about what decorations they add to a homework space. One study showed that young students in a classroom with bold décor didn’t perform as well as students in an undecorated classroom. Select art that is pleasant but not distracting.
      Plants and flowers are another element that can enhance a study space. Research shows that plants improve concentration and memory. Plants in a workspace can also reduce stress. In addition, plants are natural filters, and they can improve indoor air quality.
      Minimizing Distractions
      Many students, especially teens, try to study with a lot going on around them. Kids may have music or TV on in the background. They might have their phone nearby so they can see messages coming in. These distractions can affect their ability to learn.
      A study from 2006 found that people who try to learn new information in a distraction-rich environment learned less efficiently. Distractions affect how the brain stores information. While students may be able to take in new information despite distractions, they may not be able to recall it as easily as if they learned it without distractions.
      Distractions also lead to poor time management. Answering texts, taking calls, scrolling social media, and clicking links to videos can all take time away from homework. Wasting time on distractions can lead kids to stay up later to finish homework or not finish assignments before the due date.
      That’s not to say kids need to do homework in a silent room with no interruptions. Playing music while studying can be beneficial because music improves mood. For most people, instrumental music is best for studying because music with lyrics can be distracting and reduce reading comprehension.
      Some students work well when studying with a group of friends or classmates. It’s important for parents and students to honestly assess homework habits, figure out what is helpful, and eliminate negative distractions.
      Establishing a Routine
      Setting a basic routine for homework can give kids a solid framework for getting their work done. Set up expectations for what time kids should plan to do school work, how many breaks they can take, and what they’re allowed to do with free time before and after school work.
      A routine doesn’t have to be the same every day. Busy schedules mean that on some days, kids will need to do homework after dinner, while on other days, they can get started right after school. It can be helpful to have a written schedule that lists activities, family events, and homework times so students know when they need to study each day.
      Parents and caregivers can add deadlines and test dates to the schedule. Asking kids to look ahead at upcoming schoolwork demands helps them manage workflow. They can prioritize projects with earlier due dates and set time aside to review for upcoming tests. Parents can check in on their progress and encourage them to stay on track to meet deadlines.
      A routine also means parents know when they should be available to help with homework. Adults don’t necessarily have to be in the same room as their kids, but kids should be able to come and ask them for assistance. Adults should also try to avoid activities such as work or important calls that can’t be interrupted during homework time.
      The homework routine should also include reasonable breaks. Let kids know they can stand up and move, get a drink, or spend a little time with a family pet. Study breaks are helpful for students of all ages.
      Positive Study Breaks
      Marathon study sessions with no breaks aren’t good habits for students. Taking breaks for physical activity or a snack is beneficial for the learning process. Research shows that breaks for physical movement improve learning.
      Mindfulness techniques for calming the mind and body are also helpful as a study skill. A 2019 study showed that using mindfulness to manage academic stress helped students stay focused and engaged so they could stay on track academically. Tactics such as breathing exercises or focusing on an object to calm the mind can give students a tool for settling their thoughts and refocusing their attention.
      Other activities can provide a helpful break from studying and give students an opportunity to use self-care to manage academic stress. Purposeful study breaks can include activities such as:
      Time in nature Listening to music Spending time with pets Stretching exercises A short phone call or meet-up with friends Taking a walk Taking a relaxing bath or shower Meditation Many teens may want to hop on their phones when they take a study break. Research shows that using social media to relax while studying isn’t actually helpful. In fact, it may be detrimental to studying. Participants in a 2019 study who took a phone break while doing school work took 19% longer to complete the assignment and solved 22% fewer problems than participants who did not use their phones during breaks. Adults may want to encourage teens to find a different way to relax during homework time.
      Getting Extra Help
      For some students, an ideal study environment and common sense organization tactics are only the start of academic success. Kids with certain learning differences may need additional assistance managing schoolwork. Parents who have concerns about persistent homework issues or poor grades can talk to teachers and counselors about getting extra help for their students.
      Extra help may include assessments and support for learning disorders such as ADHD or dyslexia. For other students, tutoring in challenging subjects can aid them in grasping the subject matter. This may require changes to the study routine or doing homework at the tutor’s office instead of at home. Families can adjust their existing routines and expectations to meet these new needs.
      Good study habits will help kids succeed in school, from elementary school through higher education. Giving them a firm foundation of skills for independent learning is a great way to ease their path in school. These same skills can carry over into the workplace and help them achieve lifelong success.
    13. The Art of Active Listening

      In today's fast-paced world, communication has taken on various forms, from social media posts to instant messaging. However, the essence of truly connecting with others often lies in something more fundamental: active listening. Active listening is a powerful skill that not only strengthens relationships but also promotes understanding and empathy. In this blog, we will delve into why active listening is important, when to use it, and offer valuable tips on how to integrate it into all aspects of your life.
      The Importance of Active Listening
      Active listening goes beyond merely hearing words; it involves engaging fully with the speaker's thoughts, emotions, and intentions. It demonstrates respect, validates the speaker's feelings, and fosters a deeper level of connection. Here are some key reasons why active listening is crucial:
      Enhances Relationships: At the core of every strong relationship lies effective communication, and active listening is a foundational component of this. When you actively listen, you show others that you value their opinions and care about their experiences. This builds trust and strengthens the bond between individuals. Promotes Understanding: Listening actively allows you to gain a comprehensive understanding of the speaker's perspective. This understanding is crucial for resolving conflicts, making informed decisions, and collaborating effectively. Fosters Empathy: Empathy, the ability to understand and share another person's feelings, is nurtured through active listening. When you engage with someone's words and emotions, you step into their shoes and experience the world from their vantage point. Reduces Misunderstandings: Misunderstandings often arise due to misinterpretations or incomplete information. Active listening minimizes these occurrences by ensuring that both parties are on the same page. When you actively listen, you can clarify any points of confusion and ensure that the intended message is accurately received. Enhances Personal Growth: Active listening is not only about hearing others but also about self-awareness. As you practice this skill, you become more attuned to your own biases, assumptions, and listening habits. Tips for Practicing Active Listening
      Mastering active listening requires intention and practice. Here are some valuable tips to help you become a more adept active listener:
      Give Your Full Attention: When someone is speaking, give them your undivided attention. Put away distractions like phones or other devices and maintain eye contact. This not only shows respect but also enables you to pick up on nonverbal cues. Avoid Interrupting: Interrupting the speaker can convey a lack of interest or impatience. Allow the speaker to express themselves fully before offering your thoughts. This not only demonstrates respect but also ensures that you understand their message completely. Show Nonverbal Cues: Your body language plays a significant role in active listening. Nodding, smiling, and using facial expressions that match the speaker's emotions show that you are engaged and empathetic. Reflect and Clarify: Periodically summarize or paraphrase the speaker's points to ensure you understand correctly. This gives them a chance to correct any misconceptions and confirms that you are actively processing their message. Ask Open-Ended Questions: Encourage deeper conversation by asking open-ended questions that can't be answered with a simple "yes" or "no." This invites the speaker to elaborate and share more of their thoughts and feelings. Manage Your Internal Dialogue: While the speaker is talking, it's natural for your mind to formulate responses. However, try to minimize this internal dialogue during their speaking time. This allows you to be fully present and engaged in what they are saying. Practice Empathy: Put yourself in the speaker's shoes and try to understand their emotions and experiences. This helps you connect with them on a deeper level and respond in a more empathetic manner. Avoid Judgments and Assumptions: Keep an open mind and refrain from making judgments or assumptions about the speaker's words. Everyone's experiences and perspectives are unique, so approach each conversation with curiosity and an eagerness to learn. Integrating Active Listening into All Aspects of Your Life
      Enhance Professional Communication:
      In the realm of professional pursuits, actively listening to colleagues, clients, and superiors can foster effective collaborations and cultivate a workplace culture of respect and understanding. Active listening enables one to grasp intricate details, glean valuable insights, and make informed decisions. Furthermore, by demonstrating a genuine interest in the perspectives of others, professionals can build rapport, strengthen team dynamics, and position themselves as reliable and empathetic leaders
      Relationships With a Partner
      Within the realm of romantic relationships, active listening becomes a heartfelt bridge that deepens connections between partners. By genuinely absorbing each other's words, emotions, and desires, couples demonstrate a commitment to understanding one another. This level of attentive engagement fosters an environment where both partners feel heard, valued, and supported. Through active listening, couples can navigate challenges more effectively, celebrate triumphs more intimately, and sustain a sense of emotional intimacy.
      Parent Child Relationships
      Active listening serves as a cornerstone in nurturing strong bonds between parents and children. When parents actively listen to their children's thoughts, concerns, and stories, they demonstrate that their feelings and experiences matter. This open and empathetic communication builds a foundation of trust, allowing children to feel valued and understood. Active listening not only enhances the parent-child relationship but also instills in children the importance of respectful communication, empathy, and emotional expression, leading to a lifetime of healthier interactions.
      In Conclusion
      Active listening is a timeless skill that holds the power to transform your relationships, enrich your understanding of others, and foster a deeper connection with the world around you. By prioritizing active listening and integrating it into all aspects of your life, you not only become a better communicator but also a more empathetic and well-rounded individual. So, the next time someone speaks, remember that your attentive ear has the potential to create ripples of positive change.
       
    14. Discover Why Psychologists Swear by Journaling for Self-Care Success

      In today's fast-paced world, the act of journaling often remains neglected, despite its potential to offer solace and self-expression. While its popularity might have waned with adulthood, revisiting journaling can yield profound benefits for emotional release and self-care. Whether you consider yourself a proficient writer or not, the practice can become a valuable tool for navigating life's challenges.
      Rediscovering the Power of Writing
      While the thought of journaling might seem like an extra burden after a long day, it's important to recognize that it's far from being as mentally taxing as composing work emails. The simple act of reflective writing has been extensively explored by researchers and mental health experts. Their findings highlight its potential to enhance mental calmness, self-awareness, self-expression, and even physical well-being. In this exploration, we'll delve into the world of journaling for self-care and learn how it seamlessly intertwines with mindfulness practices.
      The Essence of Journaling
      Despite technological advancements, the art of journaling persists as an ancient tradition that transcends typewriters, keyboards, and smartphones. It's about capturing thoughts and emotions through written words, creating a private realm for self-expression. Unlike work-related tasks or social media updates, journaling is a personal endeavor intended solely for the writer's benefit—a medium for recording thoughts and current emotional states.
      In a world bombarded with news and social media updates, journaling might appear outdated. However, scientific research underscores the powerful impact of deliberate journaling on both mental and physical health.
      Healing through Words
      Beneath the surface, journaling's benefits extend to physical well-being. Studies have delved into the effects of expressive writing on individuals with high blood pressure. Remarkably, blood pressure levels significantly dropped after participants engaged in writing therapy for four months. Similarly, parents dealing with emotionally or behaviorally challenged teenagers experienced reduced blood pressure after practicing self-care journaling for six weeks.
      The intricate interplay between mental and physical well-being is evident in deeper investigations. Journaling has emerged as a potent therapeutic tool for individuals grappling with mental health conditions. From heightened emotional management to improved well-being and daily functionality, its healing impact is undeniable. Research reveals that just a month of consistent journaling can lead to decreased depression and anxiety symptoms, coupled with increased resilience. Intriguingly, it's even being explored as a formal treatment for individuals diagnosed with major depressive disorder, often complementing other therapeutic methods.
      Unveiling the Benefits of Journaling for Self-Care
      The realm of journaling offers numerous advantages:
      A Refuge for Emotions: Your journal becomes a sanctuary for all emotions, providing an outlet for emotional release. Journey to Self-Discovery: Engage in self-exploration, nurturing personal growth and self-awareness. Navigating Emotions: Journaling helps process intricate emotions, fostering emotional regulation. Pathway to Well-being: Through introspection and expression, it contributes to holistic wellness. For many, opening a journal and putting pen to paper becomes akin to meditation—a serene space for contemplation.
      Starting Your Journaling Journey
      Initiating your journaling journey is simpler than it appears. It requires taking that first step—pick up a pen or open a document and let your thoughts flow. While the blank page might feel intimidating, the key is to begin the process.
      Integrating Journaling into Your Self-Care Routine
      Cultivating any new habit demands effort, and journaling is no exception. True benefits emerge through consistent practice, fueled by a touch of self-discipline. Achieve success with these tips:
      Curate Your Environment: Choose a serene setting devoid of distractions, creating an ambiance conducive to reflection. Consider incorporating calming elements like aromatherapy or soft music. Master the Timing: Opt for moments of mental clarity, possibly at the start or end of the day. Avoid fitting it between tasks to ensure genuine engagement in self-reflection. Frequency Matters: Commence with a structured routine, transitioning to intuitive, need-based sessions as journaling becomes a habit. With persistence, journaling becomes seamlessly woven into your life, offering mental health benefits within arm's reach.
      Prompts to Ignite Inner Dialogue
      Harness the potential of expressive writing therapy using these prompts:
      Gratitude in the Present: Reflect on today's positives and events. Confronting Challenges: Explore current life hurdles and emotions. Anticipating the Future: Set goals for the week ahead, envisioning your journey. Influential Moments: Recall your best and worst days, delving into their significance. Childhood Reverie: Unearth a childhood memory that shaped you. Limitless Possibilities: Imagine a day without constraints—how would you spend it? Futuristic Visions: Where do you envision yourself in five years? These prompts serve as guideposts, unveiling treasures within your mind and heart.
      Writing the Next Chapter of Self-Growth
      In conclusion, the merits of journaling for self-care extend beyond immediate relief. Its impact resonates through physical health enhancement, stress reduction, and well-informed decision-making. This introspective journey lays the foundation for personal growth and enlightenment—an avenue to harness your potential. Step into the realm of journaling for emotional release and self-discovery, and let your transformative writing journey unfold.
    15. Joining Hands for Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month

      September is more than just another month on the calendar. It's a time to shine a light on a topic that often hides in the shadows, yet affects countless lives worldwide: suicide. As we mark Suicide Prevention Month, we have a vital opportunity to come together, raise awareness, and champion the cause of mental health support. In this blog post, we'll delve into the significance of promoting mental health awareness and suicide prevention, shedding light on its prevalence, impact, warning signs, and actionable steps to make a difference in our communities.
      The Prevalence and Impact of Suicide
      Suicide isn't just a statistic; it's a tragedy that leaves behind heartbroken families, friends, and communities. Globally, over 700,000 lives are lost to suicide each year, making it a leading cause of death. In the United States alone, suicide claims more than 48,000 lives annually, and for every successful attempt, many more individuals struggle with suicidal thoughts. These numbers underscore the urgency of addressing this issue head-on.
      The impact of suicide reverberates far beyond the immediate loss. It sends shockwaves through families, schools, workplaces, and communities, leaving a lasting emotional scar. The stigma surrounding mental health often leads individuals to suffer in silence, reluctant to seek help. This is why it's crucial to create an environment where people feel safe discussing their struggles and seeking the support they need.
      Recognizing the Warning Signs
      Understanding the warning signs of suicidal behavior is a critical step in prevention. While each person's experience is unique, common indicators include:
      Talking about suicide: Expressing thoughts of suicide, even casually, should be taken seriously. Increased isolation: Withdrawing from friends, family, and activities they once enjoyed. Drastic mood swings: Severe shifts in emotions, including depression, anxiety, and rage. Giving away belongings: Uncharacteristic acts of giving away possessions. Sudden calmness: A sudden improvement in mood after a period of depression. Making arrangements: Taking steps such as making a will or saying goodbye to loved ones. Understanding Risk Factors
      Several factors can contribute to an individual's vulnerability to suicide, including:
      Mental health conditions: Depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia are associated with a higher risk. Substance abuse: Drug and alcohol misuse can intensify feelings of hopelessness. Previous attempts: Those who have attempted suicide before are at a higher risk. Access to lethal means: Easy access to firearms or other means increases the risk. Family history: A family history of suicide or mental health issues can be a risk factor. Taking Action to Make a Difference
      While addressing suicide prevention may seem daunting, even small actions can have a meaningful impact. Here are some actionable steps that individuals can take:
      Educate Yourself: Learn about the signs of suicidal thoughts and mental health struggles. Knowledge is the foundation of effective action. Start Conversations: Initiate open and non-judgmental conversations about mental health. Let friends and loved ones know that you're there to listen and support them. Share Resources: Spread awareness by sharing credible resources on social media or within your community. Knowledge can save lives. Be an Active Listener: When someone shares their feelings, listen without judgment. Let them express themselves and provide empathy. Create a Safety Plan: If you're concerned about someone, work together to create a safety plan. This plan can include emergency contacts, coping strategies, and steps to take when feelings of crisis arise. Support Local Initiatives: Get involved in local mental health and suicide prevention organizations. Volunteering or participating in events can make a tangible difference. Advocate for Policy Changes: Support policies that prioritize mental health resources and remove barriers to treatment. Conclusion
      Suicide Prevention Month serves as a reminder that we all play a role in creating a world where mental health is a priority and where support is readily available for those who need it most. By raising awareness, sharing information, and taking tangible actions, we can collectively work towards reducing the stigma surrounding mental health, recognizing the warning signs, and providing the necessary support to save lives. Remember, every small effort counts, and together, we can make a significant impact on suicide prevention and mental health awareness.
       
    16. The Food and Mood Connection: Cultivating Healthy Eating Habits

      Many people wonder, “Does eating healthy make you feel better?” In the case of the food and mood connection, the simple answer is yes. In fact, food is the fuel that drives all the body’s processes, so it makes sense that providing the body with the highest quality of fuel can make you feel your best, both physically and mentally. Read on to learn about the relationship between food and mood, as well as how to cultivate healthy eating habits one meal at a time.
      The Importance of Healthy Eating Habits
      Being mindful of food consumption can play a big role in overall well-being. This is because mindful nutrition can have a significant impact on your physical and mental health. Healthy eating habits can lower your risk of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia. Eating healthy foods can also increase your immunity and help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight, both of which help maximize wellness.
      The Connection Between Healthy Eating and Mood
      The benefits of eating nutritious food transcend the effects on the physical body. Beyond helping you avoid chronic disease and excess body weight, eating healthy foods can also improve energy levels, focus, and mood. In fact, researchers have found that people who follow a healthy eating pattern have better mental health than those who adhere to less healthy diets. The converse is also true: Fueling the body with poor-quality food can negatively impact mental health.
      Researchers are uncertain why there is a food and mood connection, but it may be related to the small microorganisms that live in the gastrointestinal tract (the “gut microbiome”) and their influence on mood and behavior. Healthy eating patterns can also reduce underlying inflammation within the body, which may improve mood disorders. Another proposed mechanism is that eating a healthy and consistent diet can minimize wild swings in blood sugar levels, which may be a factor in conditions of low mood.
      Tips for How to Cultivate Healthy Eating Habits
      It’s one thing to know the importance of creating healthy eating habits. It’s quite another challenge to maintain those habits over the long term. Here are some helpful tips for how to cultivate healthy eating habits.
      Tip #1: Meal Plan in Advance
      Having an eating plan in place in advance can help you avoid a situation in which you are super hungry and tempted to give in to cravings for unhealthy food choices. Meal planning can be a helpful way to start cultivating healthy eating habits.
      Start by writing down what you typically eat in a given week, broken down by each meal. Then, evaluate where you can start making changes. This may be as small as making a big batch of oatmeal over the weekend and progressively eating it for breakfast during the week instead of relying on whatever's around at the office for grazing.
      Gradually, you can ramp up your meal planning so that you're being deliberate or mindful for the majority of meals each week. If you know in advance that you will have a particularly busy or hectic day, take that into consideration when food prepping so that you have a quick and easy meal planned or, even better, plenty of leftovers available from the day before.
      Tip #2: Make the Mood Food Connection Fun
      Parents across the board are used to using various strategies to make healthy eating more appealing to kids (i.e., “ants on a log” to get children to consume celery, peanut butter, and raisins). The same strategy can be applied to adults of all ages as well.
      Eating healthy foods does not have to be boring. Instead, look for a fun and easy cookbook or search for fun and easy recipes on Pinterest to help stay motivated. Experimenting with food shapes (star-shaped cucumbers, anyone?) and creative dips can trick the brain into being excited about eating foods that may feel less thrilling at first blush.
      Tip #3: Avoid Absolute Restriction
      Trying to cut certain “temptation” foods completely out of the diet is very difficult to do and maintain. You may have a string of healthy eating days and then go completely off the rails when you lose willpower or have a “cheat day.”
      Nothing can derail a balanced diet like bouncing back and forth between super-healthy meals and meals that are completely void of any nutrition at all. Instead, you should avoid absolute restriction and permit yourself to eat what you enjoy in moderation, while also eating healthy foods.
      Tip #4: Stay Well Hydrated
      Part of a healthy eating plan includes staying well hydrated. Sometimes you may feel hungry when you’re actually just thirsty, which is why it’s important to keep up with daily water intake requirements (3.7 liters for the average man and 2.7 liters for the average woman). Some studies have even shown that drinking water before a meal may reduce the amount that a person eats during the meal, so staying well hydrated may also help with portion control.
      Tip #5: Experiment With Spices
      Eating healthy means eating a rainbow of different-colored fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, lean meats, and healthy fats. Adding a number of new fruits and vegetables into the diet may be enough to spice things up, but if you are struggling to stick to a healthy eating habit, adding more spices can help too. Healthy herbs and spices can keep new foods interesting and fun to experiment with, and many herbs and spices have wellness-boosting properties themselves.
      Tip #6: Don’t Get Too Ambitious
      When you have early success with mindful eating, you should pat yourself on the back and applaud your efforts. And it’s equally important to not get over-ambitious with trying a new recipe every night because this can lead to burnout. Instead, work on perfecting a few new easy recipes for the arsenal and incorporating these into your daily life. Gradually building in a new dish here and there can help mix things up without feeling too overwhelming and making you vulnerable to giving up altogether.
      Common Challenges of Healthy Eating Habits
      In today’s world, it’s not always easy to eat healthy, even when you know it's the best way to keep yourself firing on all cylinders. The following challenges are common, but some workarounds can help sustain healthy eating habits.
      Challenge #1: Eating Healthy Can Be Expensive
      Shopping exclusively at a farmer’s market or high-end grocery is a recipe for financial distress. People often find it challenging to change their eating habits because fresh, healthy produce tends to be more pricey than processed foods that are more shelf-stable. While this is a real challenge, it doesn’t have to get in the way of embracing the food and mood connection.
      To stay within budget, try to buy healthy foods in bulk, and shop during sales whenever possible. One way to do this is to eat the fresh produce that is in season at any given time of year. Buying frozen produce can also help save money while still maximizing nutritional benefits.
      Challenge #2: Eating Healthy Can Be Time-Consuming
      Another challenge when it comes to making healthy food choices is that it can initially take more time and effort to eat healthy than it does to make last-minute food decisions and pick up dinner from the drive-through on the way home.
      It takes real cognitive work to plan out meals, shop for ingredients, and then prepare those meals, compared to eating out or buying ready-made meals. However, once you get into a pattern of eating healthy, it's simple to find workarounds to reduce the amount of time required.
      Meal prepping in advance, so that you have easy, ready-to-go snacks, lunches, or dinners, can go a long way in cutting down on preparation time. Also, seek out recipes with just a few ingredients and meals that can be prepared on "auto pilot" — such as one pot meals, sheet pan meals, or slow cooker meals.
      Challenge #3: Eating Healthy Can Make It Hard to Socialize
      It may be intimidating to make changes to a nutrition plan if you're worried about the social implications. If eating out or frequent dinners are part of your work culture or social life, you may feel self-conscious about not ordering pizza with the group or eating a salad instead of digging into the burger and fries.
      However, healthy eating options are typically available everywhere, once you start to look. Taking a peek at the menu online ahead of time can help reduce decision-related stress in the moment and make it more likely that you will stick to the plan. Sometimes, just choosing the healthier option in a social setting, or the lesser evil, can go a long way in sticking to a balanced diet.
      Embracing the Food-Mood Connection
      The undeniable connection between food and mood highlights the importance of healthy eating habits for both physical and mental well-being. Nourishing our bodies with high-quality fuel can lead to increased energy, focus, and better mental health. Strategies like meal planning, creative food choices, moderation, hydration, and flavor experimentation aid in cultivating these habits. Despite challenges, embracing this relationship empowers us to enhance our overall wellness, meal by mindful meal.
    17. Back to School Guide: Tips for Empowering & Supporting Your Kids

      Beyond the frenzy of school supply shopping, lies a more crucial task on the back-to-school agenda for parents – helping their children manage the stress that often accompanies this transition. As the school year brings forth new teachers, friends, and expectations, it's important for parents to play a pivotal role in establishing routines and nurturing a positive mindset that can help children tackle change confidently. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into practical strategies that empower parents to support their kids' emotional well-being during the back-to-school period.
      Reducing Back-to-School Anxiety Through Routines
      The shift from summer's carefree days to structured school routines can trigger anxiety in children. Establishing a new routine can help ease this transition by providing predictability and a sense of control. Here’s how parents can guide their children in crafting an effective routine:
      Step 1: Crafting a Realistic Schedule Parents should work backward from fixed constraints, like school start times, to build a routine. Allot extra time to account for learning curves and unforeseen delays, ensuring a stress-free start to the day.
      Step 2: Involving Children in the Process Foster a sense of ownership by involving children in the routine creation process. Encourage them to participate in decisions, such as choosing an alarm tone or a morning activity, instilling a sense of empowerment.
      Step 3: Preparing Through Practice Parents can ease children into the new routine gradually by adjusting sleep schedules and practicing the routine in the weeks leading up to school. Conduct a "practice morning" to allow kids to visualize and adjust to the changes.
      Step 4: Embracing Flexibility Accept that unexpected factors may influence the routine. Flexibility is key in adapting to unforeseen circumstances, allowing both parents and children to feel more empowered.
      Supporting Mental and Emotional Well-Being
      Beyond routines, providing mental and emotional support is paramount for a successful transition. Parents can take several steps to help children cope with back-to-school stress:
      Open Communication: Establish an "open door" policy where children feel comfortable sharing their concerns. Active listening can go a long way in managing anxieties effectively. Creative Outlets: Encourage children to express their emotions through journaling, art, or other creative avenues, offering alternative channels for communication. Trusted Support System: Inform children about other supportive adults they can turn to, such as family members or caregivers, giving them multiple outlets to address their worries. Positive Mindset: Foster enthusiasm and a positive outlook about the new school year to help children approach change with optimism. Additional Support
      For children facing heightened back-to-school anxiety, seeking professional help is a viable option. Telemynd offers a range of expert mental health services, including licensed psychiatrists and therapists who can provided personalized support tailored to children's needs.
      Empowering children during the back-to-school transition involves more than just checking off school supply lists. By creating effective routines, fostering open communication, and supporting mental well-being, parents lay a strong foundation for their children's emotional resilience. This comprehensive guide equips parents with practical tools to guide their kids through the journey of change, ensuring a confident and successful start to the new school year.
    18. 30-Day Wellness Challenge

      Get ready for National Wellness Month! At Telemynd, we believe that everyone deserves access to mental health and well-being practices that promote a healthier and happier life. That's why we're excited to present our 30-Day Wellness Challenge, focusing on activities and practices to enhance your mental health. Join us on this journey of self-care and discovery, as we embark on a month-long quest to prioritize our mental well-being one day at a time.
      Day 1-5: Mindfulness
      Start the challenge by incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine. Practice deep breathing exercises, meditation, or simply take a few minutes each day to be fully present in the moment. If you need guidance for your mindfulness practice, YouTube offers a wide range of resources, including guided meditations, calming background sounds, and other videos, to help you cultivate mindful environment wherever you are.
      Day 6-10: Get Moving
      Physical activity is essential for mental well-being. Try engaging in free workout videos available online or take a walk in nature. Invite friends or family to join you, making exercise both fun and social.
      Day 11-16: Journal Your Thoughts
      Journaling is a therapeutic practice that allows you to express your thoughts and emotions freely. Invest in an affordable notebook or use digital journaling apps to track your progress and reflect on your feelings throughout the challenge.
      Day 17-21: Cultivate Gratitude
      Practicing gratitude can significantly improve your mental health. Each day, write down three things you are thankful for. Whether it's a beautiful sunset, a supportive friend, or a small achievement, expressing gratitude can shift your focus to the positive aspects of life.
      Day 22-26: Connect with Nature
      Spend time outdoors and connect with nature during this phase of the challenge. Enjoy a picnic in the park, take a hike, or have a relaxing day at the beach. Nature has a calming effect on the mind and soul, helping you recharge and rejuvenate.
      Day 27-31: Embrace Creativity
      Engaging in creative activities can be incredibly therapeutic. Try drawing, painting, writing poetry, or learning a musical instrument. You don't need expensive art supplies; simple materials will do. Let your creativity flow freely and notice the positive impact on your mental well-being.
      Bonus Tips:
      Social Support: Reach out to friends and family for emotional support during the challenge. Share your experiences, feelings, and progress with them.
      Get Inspired: Try exploring various online resources or ideas to discover activities or practices you may want to try during each week of this challenge. Remember, everyone's wellness journey is unique, so feel free to personalize the challenge to suit your needs and preferences. Let your individuality shine as you embark on this transformative and enriching experience!
      Telemynd Resources: Telemynd offers affordable and accessible mental health services. Consider exploring our virtual therapy sessions and mental health resources for expert guidance and support.
    19. Beginner’s Guide to Self-Care: Essential Tips for Starting Your Journey

      When people hear the term “self-care,” they may envision someone taking a spa day or a long vacation to the Caribbean. Ahhh, sounds dreamy … but that’s not exactly self-care.
      While those activities may be relaxing, they are not an accurate depiction of practicing self-care, and they are too costly to help anyone on a regular basis.
      True self-care is a routine of repeated activities that help someone care for their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. While the specific habits will look slightly different for everyone, the overall goals are always balance and a healthy lifestyle.
      This article will provide a beginner’s guide to self-care. Anyone starting their self-care journey can begin with confidence and find helpful tips in this self-care guide.
      Self-Care for Beginners
      Before anyone can begin practicing self-care, they must first understand what it is — and what it is not.
      The general goals and practice of self-care are similar for everyone: Find balance in life by making time for activities that refresh them physically, mentally, and emotionally.
      Self-care is not typically lavish events or expensive vacations. It's not something to do just once or twice a year. And self-care is not something that only happens when the rest of life is put on hold.
      More commonly, self-care looks like small daily activities or routines taking 20 minutes or less. Some may cost money — like buying a face mask or enjoying a specialty coffee. But others are free: petting a dog, reading a book from the library, or talking to a friend.
      Self-care activities are important for general health and well-being. Not only are they enjoyable, but they also serve a scientific purpose for the body. Engaging in self-care activities releases “happiness chemicals” in the brain: serotonin, endorphins, dopamine, and oxytocin. Keeping these chemicals flowing helps prevent depression and improves overall mood and health.
      Anyone beginning to practice self-care can take small steps toward improving their mental health and well-being.
      Essential Tips for Starting Self-Care
      Self-care for beginners may take some practice before someone feels any results. People who are already overwhelmed and near burnout find it difficult to add one more thing to their schedule. But truly, everyone deserves self-care. It is available to anyone who makes an effort to take care of themselves for a few minutes a day or throughout the week.
      Beginners to self-care should follow these essential tips for starting self-care routines.
      1. Assess Needs
      The first step in self-care for beginners is to pause and assess their needs. Where are they feeling the least balanced and healthy right now? For example, if they have been feeling tired and overworked lately, the most obvious need is a physical one: sleep.
      But it's important to take the time to look a little deeper to assess all needs. Sleep is a physical need, but it is closely related to mental health. If the thing keeping someone awake at night is a stressful relationship, they may have unmet emotional needs. If they’re restless because their brain keeps worrying over to-do lists, their true need may be relaxation and a mental break.
      All these situations can make someone feel tired, but the answer to solving them looks different in each scenario. Self-care is a unique process for everyone. It’s most effective when someone takes the time to assess their needs first and then find self-care habits to meet those needs.
      A self-care beginner can assess self-care needs in the following categories:
      Physical: Are they getting balanced meals, exercise, feeling strong and healthy, getting sleep? Mental: Are they able to function at work, make decisions, think clearly, and complete long-term projects? Emotional: Do they feel valued, respected, fulfilled? Do they have people to talk to about challenges? Depending on their answers to these questions, someone can focus on the self-care routines that will fill in the gaps for their current mental and physical well-being.
      2. Set Obtainable Goals
      Self-care can bring balance to many issues, but it doesn’t work overnight. It’s also not a replacement for prescriptions from a doctor. When someone is starting a new self-care routine, they need to be realistic about what they want to achieve with self-care and how much time they can realistically commit to self-care.
      For example, a relaxing bedtime routine may be an ideal solution for someone struggling to get enough sleep. But it may be unrealistic for them to spend an hour every single night taking a bath, writing in a journal, practicing meditation, and listening to relaxing music. Instead, they may need to break up these activities into smaller chunks of time throughout the week.
      It’s important to set reasonable goals and a realistic timeline for a self-care journey. It usually takes about a month of repeated effort before something becomes a habit. A self-care beginner should try their new self-care routine for several weeks before reevaluating and making adjustments. It helps to review the assessment questions above to see if there have been any changes or improvements.
      3. Create a Self-Care Toolkit
      Any self-care guide for beginners will include a list of self-care activities to try. These are considered self-care toolkits because they are things someone can pick and choose to support their overall well-being. The tools are generally the same, but people will use different options for various situations, depending on their self-care needs.
      Self-care means valuing oneself enough to carve out time for the things they need most:
      Physical needs, like exercise and healthy meals Intellectual stimulation, like learning a new skill Emotional connection, like talking to friends Relaxation needs, like soaking in a hot bath If none of those activities sound appealing, don’t worry! There are many paths for a beginner to start practicing self-care. Don’t get caught up in the details because self-care habits look a little different for everyone.
      Keep reading to discover more detailed suggestions for a self-care toolkit.
      4. Overcome Challenges and Setbacks
      Any time someone begins a new habit, they are bound to encounter difficulties. They may forget to set aside time for the self-care activities they want to enjoy. Or someone may try a few self-care routines and feel awkward, like they aren’t a good fit.
      These challenges are common, especially for self-care beginners. The most important thing is persistence. No one should give up on their own self-care! If one type of activity isn’t working, switch to a different option from the self-care toolkit. If fitting self-care into a daily routine is difficult, someone can try scheduling it into a calendar or setting reminders on the phone.
      It’s worthwhile to make self-care a priority and keep those self-care “appointments” in the schedule.
      5. Celebrate Progress and Self-Reflection
      Since self-care routines impact physical and mental health in tiny ways throughout the day, someone may not see a dramatic change immediately after beginning to practice self-care. Remember, change is gradual. So it’s important to celebrate baby steps and small improvements along the way.
      An essential tip for starting self-care is to take time to reflect on progress. Someone who reviews the assessment questions every few weeks will start to notice improved answers. When self-care becomes an automatic part of their routine, that’s a sign of success. If a self-care activity becomes the highlight of the day, that means it’s working!
      To maximize self-care benefits, celebrate progress with small rewards or monthly treats. Celebration can be self-care too.
      How to Create a Self-Care Toolkit
      Ultimately, self-care comes down to the individual activities and routines someone chooses to prioritize for their own well-being. The activities may look different for each person, but the self-care message is always the same:
      “I’m doing this because I value myself, and I’m worth it.”
      For example, one person may enjoy taking walks in the woods, while someone else prefers reading a book, but both are making time for activities they enjoy.
      Self-care for beginners means picking and choosing activities from the following lists to see which ones best fulfill their unmet needs. As needs change, it’s natural to try different self-care activities from the toolkit.
      Self-care activities to nurture physical well-being:
      Go for a walk (preferably in nature) Drink water Do stretching exercises Take deep breaths Close your eyes, give them a break Eat a healthy meal Get a good night’s sleep Soak up sunlight Take a bath or shower Exercise for 10-20 minutes Buy new clothes or makeup Use a cleansing face mask Bake something yummy Get a massage Take a 20-minute power nap Get a manicure or pedicure Dance to music Self-care activities to cultivate mental and emotional well-being:
      Listen to music Write in a gratitude journal Call or text someone Laugh Practice meditation Write down positive affirmations Spend time with a friend Light a candle Drink a cup of tea Pet a dog or cat Water plants or flowers Color or paint in a de-stressing coloring book Read a self-help book Snuggle with a weighted blanket Listen to inspiring podcasts De-clutter your space Put together a puzzle Try a creative hobby Read mental health blogs Smell flowers or essential oils Do an act of kindness for someone Plan a social event Hug someone Create and enforce boundaries Talk to a coach or therapist Anyone beginning their self-care journey can choose several fun ideas from the self-care toolkit here. They should select the activities that best meet their personal needs based on the assessment questions. After trying at least one a day for a week, they can repeat the activities that were most helpful to them.
      Self-care for beginners doesn’t have to be intimidating! With the tips from this self-care guide, anyone can take steps toward self-care and improving their physical and mental well-being.
    20. Tips for Stress-Free Summer Adventures With Kids

      With August right around the corner, we know that the days of carefree summer adventures with your kids are drawing to a close. However, there's still time to make the most of this season before school starts again. Summer for kids is all about relaxation, with no school schedules to worry about. They can stay up late, enjoy family trips, and engage in creative activities.
      This time presents a wonderful opportunity for kids to explore new things, discover their local surroundings, and create lasting memories during family outings. As parents, we all want to ensure that summer adventures with our kids are enjoyable for everyone involved.
      Yet, we understand that summer can be a bit overwhelming for parents, as we try to keep our kids fed and entertained. The days might feel never-ending, and the bickering over toys and screen time can add to the stress. It's not uncommon for the craft ideas we find online to end up causing more mess and frustration than anticipated.
      For parents seeking a stress-free summer experience with their kids, it's essential to plan ahead with kid-friendly activities and family outings. While there's no guarantee of a perfect, stress-free day, we've found that by preparing in advance, staying flexible, and involving our children in the planning process, we are more likely to have successful and enjoyable summer adventures with the little ones.
      If you're looking for stress-free activities to enjoy with your kids during these last days of summer, we've put together some helpful tips for you. Let's make the most of this time and create wonderful memories with our children
      Planning Summer Activities With Children
      When preparing for summer adventures with children, parents can take steps to set themselves up for success. It’s important for parents to consider their child(ren)’s age and be realistic about what activities are the best fit for their schedule and budget.
      The best activities are those parents can set up and demonstrate for their child, which they can enjoy safely with minimal supervision. Open-ended play will keep kids entertained for a long period of time while developing their problem-solving or creative abilities.
      To keep summer activities running smoothly and stress-free, parents should follow these tips for kid-friendly summer adventures.
      Create a Schedule
      Kids can make the most of summer activities when they have a predictable schedule to follow. Children with predictable routines are generally calmer and find it easier to adjust between activities. This doesn’t mean parents need to plan every minute of the day. But they should give kids of all ages some structure for the day. Some ideas for a summer schedule include:
      Do chores right after breakfast Go outside to play in the morning Do 20 minutes of reading Quiet time after lunch Complete workbook activities before screen time Go to the pool on Saturday afternoons If a child is still learning to read, parents can use color-coded papers or pictures to display the schedule for their child.
      Practice Flexibility and Embrace Unpredictability
      Yes, schedules and structure are important. But life won’t look the same every single day of the summer. Children love when little unexpected events change their regular routines.
      Embrace the flexibility of summer days with these simple, stress-free adventures for children:
      Let kids pick out a treat at the grocery store Attend kid craft activities at the library After kids earn allowance from chores, take them out for ice cream or snow cones Fill up water balloons on a hot afternoon Spin a wheel of possible activities for the day Stay up late to catch fireflies Summer allows for more flexible schedules, so be sure to do simple unpredictable summer activities with kids to make the best memories.
      Involve Kids in the Planning Process
      Kids of any age can get involved in planning family-friendly summer activities. Parents who involve their kids in making summer plans will enjoy several benefits.
      Kids who help plan activities are more likely to participate and enjoy with a willing attitude. Parents who ask their kids for ideas are empowering their children to make choices. The whole family can benefit from the unique perspective and ideas kids have. Older children can do research on local places they would like to visit or activities related to their own areas of interest.
      Younger children can draw inspiration from the letters of the alphabet. Invite them to think of crafts, activities, and food related to a different letter each day.
      When planning a family vacation, get input from everyone, including young children. Try to ensure there is something for each person to look forward to and enjoy about a trip.
      Kid-Friendly Summer Adventures
      Parents always need ideas for stress-free summer activities with kids. Some find it’s best to stockpile summer activity inspiration so they always have a suggestion for a rainy day or when a kid complains, “I’m bored.”
      Many parents make a Summer Bucket List of fun things to do with kids and display it on the wall where kids can choose activities each day. Another idea is to make a Bored Jar with small cards listing activities kids can do on their own throughout the summer. Once a child can read, they select an item from the jar and enjoy the prompt activity for the next hour.
      Having fresh, creative ideas for summer activities will get parents through the long, hot days of summer. Parents can add these family-friendly summer activities with kids to the schedule:
      Outside Activities
      Turn on the hose and sprinklers Fill up a baby pool and add floating toys Read a book in the shade Create sidewalk chalk art Mix a bucket of bubble solution, dip tennis rackets and string loops in to make giant bubbles Hang up a sheet and use a projector to make a drive-in movie Make a muffin-tin picnic, with assorted snacks and finger foods in muffin tin cups Hands-On Crafts
      Draw and paint with finger paint or cornstarch chalk, using cut fruit or vegetable pieces as stamps Set up simple age-appropriate science experiments Play with modeling clay, using household objects to make imprints or cut shapes Plant flowers or vegetables so kids can water them and watch for blooms Let kids choose a new skill to learn, like baking, sewing, photography, etc. Go on a nature walk, collect plants to press and trace Local Outings
      Go to a park, playground, or sports field Play at a kid-friendly splash pad Swim at a public pool Visit the library for story-time, themed activities, or Summer Reading programs Ride bikes on a park path or trail Taste-test local sweet treats until you find a family favorite Tips for Stress-Free Family Outings
      Planning summer adventures for the family can be fun and lead to great memories! But going anywhere with kids can be a recipe for stress and exhaustion, especially if parents find themselves unprepared. It’s important to plan ahead and take care of the parents’ needs, too, so the whole family can have a successful trip.
      Parents planning a local day trip or a bigger week-long adventure can practice these vacation tips for families.
      When Packing, Be Overprepared
      For a stress-free family outing, parents need to plan ahead and prepare for the unexpected. This means making an itinerary with flexibility for kids getting tired of walking or needing a midday nap. Pack layers of clothing so everyone is prepared for cold or rainy days. Parents should bring plenty of snacks and water to fuel kids through summer adventures.
      During family outings, many parents bring a basic first aid kit with sunscreen, band-aids, anti-itch ointment, sunburn relief, and children’s fever medicine. That way, they are prepared to help a child feel better immediately without losing time searching for a store.
      Parents should also take time to prepare their child for travel during family vacations. When kids don’t understand where they are going or what the plan is for their trip, they may feel more anxious about the family outing. When parents discuss travel details with their kids and answer their questions, it helps kids relax and enjoy the adventure.
      Self-Care for Stress-Free Family Vacations
      One of the most important vacation tips for families is for parents to remember their own self-care throughout the summer. It’s important for adults to take care of themselves, especially if they are caring for young children. Parents who are nourished, well-rested, and feel emotionally supported will find it easier to relax and be patient during family activities in summer.
      That’s why parents should consider their own self-care before and during family outings. Instead of staying up late packing or eating fast food during a road trip, parents can plan small moments and routines that help them relax throughout the summer.
      Self-care for parents in summer might include:
      Waking up before their kids to enjoy a relaxing morning ritual Walking in nature daily to be rejuvenated Planning time to exercise or be active Staying hydrated, especially on hot summer days Eating fresh produce to get vitamins and fiber Building daily quiet time into their kids’ schedule Engaging socially—in person or via text—with supportive people Going to bed early enough to feel refreshed the next day Taking time to be in the moment and soak it all in When parents take care of themselves and their own basic care needs, they will be better prepared to handle family outings with kids.
      Stress-Free Summer Adventures With Kids
      Parents who want to reduce their stress and enjoy fun summer activities with kids should focus on planning ahead while providing both structure and flexibility. They can make a list of the best age-appropriate activities for their child. When preparing for outings or family vacations this summer, parents should pack for possible challenges. And finally, parents should tend to their own self-care so they’re better able to enjoy summer adventures as a family.
    21. Productivity Hacks and Time Management Techniques

      The world of work is very different than it used to be. Data from the Pew Research Center suggests that 35% of people whose jobs can be remote are working from home full-time. Further, self-employment or freelance work often means wearing multiple hats over the course of the week. While having a varied and flexible work schedule is nice, it can also mean time management and productivity challenges compared to the traditional 8 to 5 workday.
      The good news is – whether working from home, the office, or both - there are productivity hacks for effective time management and boosting productivity. In this article, we provide a range of strategies - different people find that different methods work better for them.
      Organizing for Effective Time Management
      Placing all life responsibilities onto a calendar and to-do lists can help clear the mind and focus more easily on the task at hand. It also takes away the need to rely on memory.
      The latest research found that people who use paper planners, versus those who use mobile device calendars, made higher-quality plans and more successfully carried them out. The researchers explain that a paper calendar allows people to see a broader time period. This gives a big-picture perspective while planning. All information is also viewed more easily on a paper planner, whereas on mobile devices, you have to click on an event to see its details.
      Planners with monthly and weekly pages, and a few blank pages for to-do lists, can be the most useful. Furthermore, if folks use them for both work and personal activities, they can avoid scheduling conflicts and have a sense of their work-life balance.
      Here are ways to use paper planners to enhance productivity:
      Noting deadlines. Place deadlines, meetings, and events on the monthly pages. Also note regular tasks such as taxes, car servicing, and the annual vet appointment. Color coding. Use different colors to designate time off, bills, deadlines, and meetings. This makes it easier to see what’s coming due and when a particular event is occurring. Writing to-do lists. Write all regular to-dos in categories. For example, regular activities (cleaning and laundry), projects (home repairs), work-related tasks (invoicing), and hobbies or bucket list items. These serve as a good reminder and help to make steady progress on longer-term projects. Planning ahead. Spending 15-30 minutes on the weekend to plan the upcoming week is a great way of improving efficiency. Look at your calendar over the next few months to see approaching events and deadlines. Prioritize based on due dates and work complexity. On the weekly page, place tasks for each day on one side and that day’s schedule on the other. Then look at your to-do lists and write any tasks needed from those as well. Designating days. Those who wear a few hats in the week can benefit from devoting an entire day to wearing just one. Switching between multiple responsibilities can make it difficult to complete projects because no specific one gets a significant amount of time. For example, if Mondays and Tuesdays are days to meet with clients, Wednesdays and Thursdays can be reserved for writing. Establishing a Daily Routine
      Having a routine helps regulate the body’s internal clock. This facilitates quality sleep, which is needed to be productive. What’s more, a routine can support healthy habits, like eating regular meals and going to bed and getting up at consistent times. A few helpful aspects of a daily routine can include:
      Getting up earlier. Some research suggests that early risers feel better mentally and emotionally. Getting up early also provides more time to work during the day and, in turn, have more off-time in the evenings. Furthermore, more business hours are available for you to contact organizations. Getting dressed each day. Even when working remotely, some people find that wearing regular clothes can help them get into the work mindset. It can also make it more satisfying to relax in pajamas later. Considering individual needs. For those who are most alert in the morning, that might be the time to write, and the afternoons can be the time for running errands, for example. Breaking Down Large Projects
      Tackling a project like a 50-page report can feel overwhelming. However, just a bit of planning can alleviate anxiety and foster progress. Two key things to do include:
      Breaking it up into smaller tasks. This can be, for instance, research, an outline, each chapter, editing, and final proofreading. Setting mini-deadlines. Set shorter deadlines for each task by considering how long it will take and working backward in your calendar from the final deadline. Setting Measurable Goals for Boosting Productivity
      The key to productivity is to set measurable goals. This can also be a time-saving strategy. SMART is a great acronym to use:
      Specific. Be clear on the task you are broaching. Measurable. Establish a quantifiable outcome. Achievable. Have a realistic goal that sets you up for success. Relevant. Prioritize. Time-bound. Give yourself a time limit. For a 2000-word article due in 3 days, a strong goal would be “From 8 am to noon, I will do the research and complete my outline.” This is referring to a specific project, a measurable outcome (an outline); it is achievable because the time frame is appropriate, it is relevant because the project is due in 3 days, and it is time-bound (4 hours).
      Vague goals, like “today I’m going to write for 4 hours,” are not as useful. They can lead to spending time in front of the computer and going down the research rabbit hole resulting in only one written paragraph.
      Avoiding Multitasking
      While it may seem like multitasking can increase productivity, it is actually counterproductive. The truth is, the brain cannot focus on two or more tasks at once without slowing processing and making mistakes. The way to fight the urge to multitask is to minimize distractions.
      Minimizing Distractions
      Between calls, texts, social media, and emails, there is always something pulling for everyone’s attention. Here are some tips for staying focused:
      Create a workspace. Set aside a space in your home for work. This can also help put you in the work mindset. Keep devices separate. Reserve the phone for social media and games and stay off those sites on the work computer. Website blockers are useful for this. Turn off unnecessary notifications. Unimportant notifications – such as social media and email - can be silenced during work time. Be purposeful with email: Check email at only certain times per day. If working on time-sensitive matters with others, email notifications can be set for only those from certain people. Use the day’s to-do list: Not only can the list help avoid procrastination, but it can also keep your attention focused. Delegating for Maximizing Productivity
      Those with an overflowing plate may benefit from pausing and asking themselves if they can delegate any tasks to coworkers. Folks may ask for help from someone who is reliable or more skilled at the task than they are. Or, supervisors can delegate to supervisees by:
      Playing to their interests and goals Providing the needed resources Giving specific parameters like objectives and deadlines Additionally, little chores also add up to a significant amount of time and take away focus. If the kids are on summer break, they can be in charge of walking the dog or helping Grandma take her medication on time.
      Using Little Tricks for Big Gains
      Small time-saving strategies can help make each day as productive as possible. Different approaches work for different people, so the key is to use techniques that work for you. Additional time management tips include:
      Planning meals. Plan meals based on your schedule for the upcoming week and shop for needed ingredients just once. This helps avoid having to make last-minute decisions or trips to the store. Using short breaks effectively. Thirty minutes in between meetings is a great time for small tasks like making phone calls, going to the mailbox, or sending emails. Using long breaks wisely. Use large chunks of time for in-depth tasks like writing or studying. Touching things only once. The “touch it once” rule means immediately acting on something while it is in hand. For instance, right after checking mail, going ahead and sorting it, shredding credit card applications, etc. Creating a mail pile just gives a dreaded mini-project at the end of the week. Or, when coming across a recipe of interest, writing down the needed ingredients right then, saving the trouble of having to remember to make the list later. Knowing when 80% is perfect. Perfectionists can find it hard to call a task “done.” But for some tasks, 80% is all that is needed. For instance, an email to the boss should probably be proofread, but not one informing book club members of details of the next meeting. Organizing the computer. This can be one of the most useful time management techniques. Create shortcuts on your desktop for files and folders you always open. Create templates for documents you write regularly, like invoices. Backing-up files. Prepare for tech snafus so that you don’t lose your work: at the end of each workday, make copies of your documents onto a jump drive. Using self-rewards. Some people find that giving themselves little rewards throughout the day keeps them motivated. For instance, get on social media only after finishing the chapter you are writing. Looking forward to things. Planning for dinner with friends in the middle of the week, for example, can also be a motivator for completing tasks. Taking Care of Yourself
      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say productivity improves with good health. Humans can only do so much if they do not feel their best.
      Here are some ways to sustain energy and well-being:
      Eating healthy. A balanced diet is important for energy and long-term health. Getting enough sleep. Too little sleep slows people down the next day and negatively affects health in the long run. Exercising. Keeping the body active has positive effects on mood and energy. Some people exercise in the morning to get energized for the day. Others prefer to exercise in the afternoon when they feel less mentally alert. Taking breaks. Sitting for too long can tighten muscles and strain the eyes. Set an alarm to stand up regularly and stretch. The American Optometric Association suggests the 20-20-20 rule: take a 20-second break every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away. Interacting with others: Working from home can cause loneliness. Scheduling time with friends, working in a coffee shop, or volunteering are just a few ways to combat this. Calling it a day. Work and personal time can blend together. Checking email in front of the tv means less focus on your favorite show as well as on your correspondence. Moreover, emails will always be rolling in. Pick a consistent time to end the workday to maintain a healthy balance of work and rest. Unwinding. Give yourself time to relax before bed, whether that’s by streaming your favorite show, reading a book, or spending time with loved ones. This also helps with sleep. Being creative: Schedule in time for hobbies. Having a creative outlet or expressing another facet of yourself improves well-being. Having a play day. Give yourself 24 hours per week to do whatever you want, whether it be going to the park or engaging in a hobby. In today's ever-evolving work landscape, embracing productivity hacks is essential for effective time management. Whether working remotely or in the office, implementing strategies like organizing with paper planners, establishing a daily routine, breaking down large projects, setting measurable goals, avoiding multitasking, and minimizing distractions can significantly boost productivity. Additionally, taking care of oneself through healthy habits and creative outlets contributes to overall well-being and enhances work-life balance. By incorporating these techniques, individuals can navigate the dynamic world of work with greater efficiency and satisfaction.
    22. Unveiling Client Insights Through Video Gaming

      When you discover that your client's primary pastime is video gaming, consuming 6-10 hours a day, you might catch yourself rolling your eyes. Every spare moment seems to revolve around gaming, and their entire social circle comprises internet gamers. It's easy to engage in negative self-talk, labeling it as a colossal waste of time and questioning the authenticity of their online friendships. Negative stereotypes and overgeneralizations often surround this generation of video gamers. But let's challenge our biases. Would you react the same way if your client told you they were an avid reader, spending most of their free time engrossed in books, attending book clubs, and hosting some themselves? Perhaps not, or at least with less negativity.
      Understanding Video Gaming:
      While it is true that video gaming can become a detrimental behavioral addiction for a small minority, it does not hold true for the vast majority of gamers. The DSM-5 categorizes it as a condition for further study, while the ICD-11 includes it as "Gaming Disorder." Research suggests that gaming disorder affects around 3%-8% of individuals. Whether or not your client's gaming habit reaches the level of a diagnosis, there is valuable information to be discovered if you are willing to invest some time in understanding gaming and its role in their life.
      Building Rapport through Video Gaming:
      In this blog post, I hope to convey the idea that paying attention to video gaming can be beneficial. Just like any other activity that occupies the majority of your client's leisure time, showing genuine interest in it can help you connect with them, develop rapport, and demonstrate positive regard. The wide range of game types, objectives, and available personas within video games can act as a sort of informal "projective test," providing valuable insights into your client's psychological needs and desires. The planning, strategy, skills, and social connections developed through gaming should not be dismissed. The choices they make within games and the personas they create hold meaning for them, much like the narratives young clients construct in play therapy or the subject matter and rendering choices in art therapy. To unlock these insights, we need to set aside our biases and listen and learn.
      Video Gaming 101:
      It's understandable if you haven't played most, if any, of the modern video games. Embrace your lack of knowledge as an advantage because when you ask your client to describe their experiences, favorite games, created personas, and emotional reactions during gameplay, your genuine curiosity will lead to insightful conversations. However, for a rough roadmap, here are some basic game genres:
      Sandbox: Games with open-ended goals that encourage experimentation and building (e.g., The Sims, Minecraft). Real-time Strategy: Games where players and AI control competing factions in real-time, emphasizing strategy and resource management (e.g., Warcraft, Age of Empires). Multiplayer Online Battle Arena: Similar to real-time strategy games, but players can form teams with other gamers in real-time to compete (e.g., League of Legends, Smite). Shooters (First Person/Third Person): Action-packed games where players engage in battles and wars, with a first-person or third-person perspective (e.g., Halo, DOOM). Role-Playing Games: Games where players control characters who navigate a fantasy world, facing challenges and leveling up (e.g., Skyrim, Fallout 4). Action Adventure: These games can have complex plot lines. They are often highly immersive with the players solving mysteries or puzzles in a first-person perspective. Significant combat elements are often present. (e.g. Legend of Zelda, Assassins Creed) Simulation & Sports: Here you fly the airplanes, drive the cars or play the sports in very realistic ways. (e.g. Madden NFL, Forza Motorsport) Other genres: Puzzles and Party Games, Survival and Horror, Platformer. It is not necessary to become an expert in these genres and there is significant overlap between the categories. The bottom line is that when you learn that your client identifies as a video gamer, it will be helpful to understand their favorite two or three games. Ask them which games they play the most and do some research to understand the game and why they might be choosing to spend their time immersed in these worlds.
      Archetypes
      One of the most instructive aspects of video gaming for a therapist is understanding the concept of archetypes. When gamers choose or create avatars, they embark on immersive journeys within captivating fantasy worlds. It's not far-fetched to consider that players often deeply identify with their alter egos, reflecting their psychological needs and desires. Let's delve into the prevalent archetypes commonly observed:
      Orphans: The blank slate to project onto Warriors: Natural leaders, eager for battle Healers: Nurturers who keep friends healthy and have with healing abilities Rangers/scouts: Trailblazers, explorers, trackers, and hunters Rouges: Cunning survivors, existing in the shadows as assassins and spies Spellcasters: Masters of magic, wielding spells, and supernatural powers Engineers: Methodical problem solvers, steady and calculated Athletes: Always up for a challenge and striving for superiority Hero: The objective for all the above types as they journey through the game As you learn about your clients favorite games, how the game works and how they have chosen to engage in the game here are some questions for you to consider or even pose to your client.
      Why did you choose this particular game? What draws you to it? How does it surpass others? Describe the enjoyment it brings you. Do you prefer playing the game yourself or watching others play? Why? Do you enjoy team interactions or prefer facing the game's challenges alone? Describe the relationships you have developed. Tell me about your created avatar. What gender are they? What role do they play in the game? What powers do they possess? What are their limitations? Compare/contrast how you solve problems versus how your avatar does. What makes your avatar unique? How did you name your avatar and other characters? What additional powers do you hope to acquire? Describe the game's villain/enemy. What powers do they possess? How do they defeat you? Do you consistently play the same role, or do you switch roles? Why? How do you feel when you are playing, whether winning or losing? Does your game/avatar have limitations and rules which must be abided? Can you draw parallels between your gaming experiences and life outside the game? Are there problem-solving skills in your gaming life that you might employ in life outside of gaming? By delving into your client's video gaming experiences, you not only acknowledge this important aspect of their life but also gain hypotheses and potential insights into their social, cognitive, and emotional functioning.
      Credit where credit is due. Just about everything I know, and I’ve shared here about video gaming comes from the work of Anthony M. Bean, Ph.D. He’s a self-confessed video gamer but also has studied and written extensively about it. He’s the real deal. I’ve listed a couple of references below if you want to get the full story from his primary sources.
      Sources
      Bean, A. M. (2019) Working therapeutically with video gamers and their families. Journal of Health Service Psychology, 45, 40-46.
      Bean, A. M. (2018) Working with video gamers and games in therapy: A clinician’s guide. Routledge Publishers.
      Pavlovic, D. (2020) Video Game Genres: Everything You Need to Know. HP Tech Takes. https://www.hp.com/us-en/shop/tech-takes/video-game-genre
    23. 10 National Veteran-Owned Businesses Giving Back to the Community

      Veterans fight for our country and dedicate their lives to keeping people safe. Their brave and selfless acts should never go unnoticed. Even after returning home, some veterans continue to advocate for the people. Spending time on the front lines can come with many battles, whether with physical or mental health. Many veterans return home lacking tools and resources to readjust to everyday life.
      Plenty of companies support veterans' causes, but special recognition goes to veteran-run ones. Veteran-run small businesses continue to help other veterans every day. Many provide employment opportunities, donate to veteran causes, and support veterans in need.
      Shop These 10 Veteran-Owned Small Businesses
      These 10 veteran-owned businesses are doing just that. From donating products to giving back a percentage of sales to military causes, the following businesses focus on serving the community.
      1. Boldfoot Socks
      Boldfoot Socks aims to show the true meaning of “American-made.” With a unique variety of socks ranging from patriotic to argyle, Boldfoot Socks has something for everyone. And with an incredible cause. Boldfoot Socks donates 5% of each sale to veterans and the U.S. military to improve health services, help with jobs, and reduce homelessness.
      Boldfoot Socks goes the extra mile in customer service, granting three-month sock insurance to replace socks with rips, tears, or holes without question. Every pair of socks is sourced from American-manufactured products and materials with a distinct message. Boldfoot Socks exemplifies what it means to be American-made, striving to repay those who risk their lives to defend our country.
      2. Gatorz Eyewear
      Launched in 1989, Gatorz Eyewear turned a passion for motorcycles into a sunglasses empire. Backed by the U.S. Navy SEALs Foundation, Gatorz Eyewear withstands high speeds, whether on the battlefield or freefalling from the sky. After passing the ultimate performance test, Gatorz Eyewear is the preferred choice of the U.S. Navy SEALs. Each pair of sunglasses is crafted from billet aluminum, with a sleek look that’s equally durable.
      When it comes to giving back, Gatorz Eyewear fights just as hard. Along with the U.S. Navy SEALs, Gatorz is a proud supporter of the Green Beret and Global SOF Foundation. Veterans, military, and first responder personnel can also receive a special discount for their service.
      3. Frag Out Flavor
      An American patriotic celebration just isn’t complete without a barbecue. Combat veteran Patrick Flynn knows this too well. Founded in 2017, Frag Out Flavor boasts exciting flavors to spice up your next cookout. From Honey BBQ to Mango Habenero blends, these best-selling spices support a bigger mission.
      Your next BBQ will boast exciting flavors while supporting a larger mission. Purchasing Frag Out Flavor products means sharing the flavor with deployed veteran troops. Frag Out Flavor donates to the veteran community while supporting those who defend our country with every sale.
      4. 4Freedom Apparel
      Honoring heroes with USA-made clothing, hats, and accessories, 4Freedom Apparel takes pride in giving back to veterans. Owned and operated by military couple Jonathan and Shari, each piece of 4Freedom Apparel gear stylishly boasts the American flag. 4Freedom Apparel is for those who are proud to be American and want to represent their dedication to those who gave their lives to fight for the U.S.
      A proud supporter of multiple foundations that give back, like the Wingman Foundation, Vets 4 Vets, and K9s For Warriors, 4Freedom Apparel donates a portion of its sales to help support each cause.
      5. Nine Line Apparel
      A lifestyle brand founded by Patriots for Patriots, Nine Line Apparel strives to start conversions between those who have served and people who support them. “Nine Line” is an emergency call used during combat. It’s often the difference between life and death for the many severely wounded soldiers. Nine Line Apparel creates patriotic accessories and clothing for men, women, and kids, inspiring unity and camaraderie for Americans nationwide.
      With an emphasis on dedicated support, Nine Line Apparel raises awareness for military and first responder charities, along with disaster relief, veteran initiatives, and more through the Nine Line Foundation.
      6. Snap-On Tools
      One hundred years of advertising has made Snap-on Tools a legend in the tool sales industry. Developed in 1920, Snap-on Tools started with “five unique handles and ten sockets.” Today, this company sells directly to professional technicians, with 80% of its products manufactured in the U.S.
      Snap-on is a proud partner of the Honor Flight Network, an organization that raises funds to fly WWII veterans to Washington, D.C. to see their memorial. Since the program's beginning in 2013, Snap-on has sent over 700 veterans, guardians, and family members to experience this once-in-a-lifetime moment.
      7. Boss Dog
      Boss Dog pays homage to the essential role dogs play in the military and our daily lives. With nothing less than the best, this award-winning line of top-quality dog treats gives canine companions the nutrients they need. From Boss PROBALLS with probiotics to freeze-dried, complete meals, ingredients like raw goat’s milk, taurine, DHA, and Greek yogurt show your dog they are indeed a boss. Boss Dog also sells several durable accessories for your best friend, like harnesses, leashes, and collars.
      With every sale, Boss Dog works to give the best to our heroes. The company sponsors and supports vet and military charities like Heroes for Healthcare, Victory Service Dogs, Folds of Honor, Pets for Vets, and Trails of Purpose.
      8. Bravo Sierra
      Developed within the U.S. military community in 2018, Bravo Sierra brings high-performance personal care to people nationwide. Bravo Sierra only uses clean, skin-friendly ingredients that smell great even in the most demanding conditions. From aluminum-free deodorant to sunscreen, these 100% American-made products serve a higher purpose than just keeping civilians fresh.
      With 40% of its founding team and 30% of all current employees made up of veterans, Bravo Sierra works to provide opportunities for vets in need. The company also donates 5% of all sales to the Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR) program and provides a 15% discount on Bravo Sierra products for all active duty, veterans, and military family members.
      9. Oscar Mike
      Oscar Mike goes above and beyond to support veterans. Its products aren’t just American-made, from production to stocking and shipping. Oscar Mike also donates 100% of its apparel profits to help veterans in need. With a wide range of apparel and accessories like T-shirts, hoodies, and canteens, the Oscar Mike Foundation supports injured Vets who need to stay active.
      This mission hits home for the founders, a group of injured vets dedicated to creating a space where vets can continue a competitive lifestyle after injury. Focused on creating camaraderie and spaces for injured vets, Oscar Mike has raised over $2.5 million in funds to build a new adaptive sports facility. Oscar Mike bands together to stay active, even competing in Spartan races across the nation.
      10. Hero Soap Company
      Hero Soap Company is a veteran-owned body wash and bar soap company with most ingredients sourced in the U.S. With captivating, natural scents from cedarwood to lavender, these handmade soaps keep civilians and veterans clean and smelling fresh.
      Hero Soap company donates a portion of every sale to charities that support active military, veterans, and first responders, including the 14th Hour Foundation, Operation Finally Home, Gary Sinise Foundation, and Operation Interdependence. It's donated over 1,200 bars to deployed troops and prides itself on being the most American company in the USA.
      Support a Veteran Small Business
      Giving back is a wonderful feeling. So why not give back to the people who have sacrificed a huge part of their lives for this country? People can support small businesses with every purchase from a veteran-owned business and help provide resources.
    24. Positive Psychology Principles: What They Are and How They Can Help Your Mental Health

      Is it possible for someone to improve their mental health and well-being through positive thoughts and talk therapy? The science of positive psychology claims it is not only possible, but also an avenue for mental health care to combat depression and loneliness.
      This article will explore the main positive psychology principles, the benefits of positive psychology for those who practice it, and how to use positive psychology coaching as a mental health resource. After exploring the history and science behind it, keep reading for the best books on positive psychology and inspirational psychology quotes.
      What Is Positive Psychology?
      The biggest goal of positive psychology is to teach someone to shift their perspective, which empowers them to improve their quality of life.
      Unlike traditional psychology, which focuses on a patient’s weaknesses and mental illness, positive psychology’s focus is on the strengths that allow a patient to build a satisfying, meaningful life. By learning more about positive experiences and traits like gratitude or resilience, people can improve their own happiness, well-being, and self-confidence.
      Positive psychology is a relatively new branch of psychology, established in 2000. Martin Seligman, a researcher with a background in psychology, had spent decades studying depression and the link between feelings of sadness and helplessness. He found that patients who learned to build positive character traits could also learn optimism and resilience to improve their overall mental health.
      Seligman felt that traditional psychology had placed too much emphasis on healing damage and not enough effort on building human strengths. Seligman believed the field of positive psychology could correct the imbalance with a focus on helping people find fulfillment in creativity, engaging in meaningful pursuits, facing adversity, and relating to others.
      In 1998, Seligman was elected president of the American Psychological Association. He added positive psychology as a new subfield to focus on the life-giving aspects of psychology. In 2000, Seligman published the foundational paper of positive psychology with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, another psychologist known for developing the concept of “flow.”
      Positive psychology is not meant to replace traditional psychology. Instead, it complements traditional psychology by focusing on “what is going right with an individual” to build positive well-being.
      What Are Positive Psychology Principles?
      Positive psychology is a “soft science” based on evidence-based theories developed from research such as surveys, animal experiments, brain imaging, and case studies. The predominant theory is the observation that developing strong social relationships, personal character traits, and overall happiness can act as a buffer for life’s setbacks.
      Positive psychology promotes the theory that well-being can not only be defined and measured in humans, but it can also be taught. Through positive psychology principles, people can learn to improve their physical and mental well-being.
      Some of the important theories and principles of positive psychology are:
      To live a “good life,” feelings of satisfaction and well-being are more important than feelings of temporary pleasure. A “good day” usually has three main characteristics: feelings of competence, autonomy, and a connection to others. Work and relationships matter in terms of making life worth living because they give people a sense of meaning. Money cannot buy happiness, but helping other people or volunteering almost always leads to feelings of happiness. Based on these theories, Seligman proposed five different building blocks of well-being, which are now referred to as the PERMA model. These include:
      Positive emotions Engagement (with a project or hobby) Relationships Meaning Accomplishment or achievement Patients using positive psychology coaching can learn to develop their own character traits and strengthen these five core areas. Positive psychology demonstrates how people can live meaningful and fulfilling lives by enhancing their everyday experiences.
      What Is “Flow” in Positive Psychology Principles?
      The concept of “flow,” mentioned above, is another positive psychology principle. Csikszentmihalyi coined this term after observing artists, writers, and athletes who seemed to lose themselves in their work during creative experiences. The state of flow occurs when someone has a high challenge and an equally high skill level.
      Because entering flow is a rewarding and enjoyable experience, it is linked to happiness and overall well-being. This aspect of positive psychology encourages people to identify their strengths and develop areas of interest where they can find meaning and satisfaction. It is similar to the principle of engagement from the PERMA model.
      Benefits of Positive Psychology
      Practicing positive psychology regularly enables someone to boost their social and emotional well-being. It leads people to explore their own character strengths so they are better equipped to face challenging situations.
      The human brain has a natural tendency to remember frustration and difficulties more than success. This “negativity bias” benefited Stone Age man when there were daily dangers to avoid, but it is less practical for modern man’s success. Positive psychology principles help people reframe the way they look at life, fight pessimism, focus on strengths, and cultivate gratitude.
      Building a sense of meaning and purpose in life can have a wide range of positive outcomes for those practicing positive psychology. Research demonstrates that older adults who feel their life has meaning and purpose experience higher levels of physical health and mental well-being. Those who felt their lives were meaningful tended to have stronger relationships and more involvement in social activities, so they were less likely to be lonely.
      While many things can contribute to healthy relationships, feelings of connection, and a resilient character, it’s clear that the practice of positive psychology contributes to overall wellness — both physical and mental health.
      Common Misconceptions of Positive Psychology
      Some people think positive psychology is too simple because it focuses on positive experiences but ignores negative emotions and serious conditions like depression or anxiety. It can be viewed as overly optimistic, unrealistically promoting constant happiness. Positive psychology is also misconceived as neglecting individual differences, ignoring the importance of negative experiences, and focusing solely on individual happiness.
      In reality, positive psychology promotes a balanced perspective that acknowledges both the positive and negative and tailors interventions and therapeutic strategies to the individual based on their specific profile. It is a partner to more traditional therapeutic models of psychology. Instead of diminishing alternative methods of managing symptoms, it enhances them. Positive psychology seeks a balanced life in which an individual is equipped to handle the inevitable difficulties that are part of human existence.
      Goals of Positive Psychology Coaching
      For those who want to experience the benefits of positive psychology, the best method is through coaching or talk therapy. With this mental health resource, a client meets regularly with a therapist trained in positive psychology principles.
      The goal of positive psychology coaching is to improve a client’s quality of life by helping them identify their own strengths, giving them a sense of hope, and teaching them how to nurture feelings like gratitude, happiness, and optimism.
      Through coaching, clients will set goals that challenge them to build positive relationships, find connections to others, and develop their own talents.
      How to Use Positive Psychology in Your Daily Routines
      Since positive psychology focuses on building individual strengths instead of treating weaknesses, it’s accessible for most people to practice at home. Positive psychology embraces the principle that people can change and improve.
      When someone tries new experiences, sets goals, and looks for opportunities that play to their strengths, they are practicing positive psychology. Exploring activities that create flow moments will improve mood. Making efforts to slow down and savor pleasure can become part of their daily routine.
      One easy way to practice positive psychology at home is to do gratitude exercises. By focusing on a few things every day that they are grateful for, an individual trains their brain to focus on positive memories and increase their happiness.
      Some people do this with a gratitude journal, with prompts to help them focus on positive things in life. Other people do this through daily practices of meditation or prayer. The method of practice is not as important as the overall goal of learning to improve well-being by practicing gratitude.
      Another method of practicing positive psychology is called the experience sampling method, or ESM. This is a type of mindfulness exercise to help lower stress levels and rewire the brain. Using a timer throughout the day, a client is encouraged to pause when they receive the alert, then write down what they are doing, thinking, and feeling. Practicing ESM helps people realize how much of their day is filled with small, positive moments.
      Positive psychology is accessible to most individuals and can be an effective part of behavioral health care to support individuals in becoming happier, more resilient, and better able to handle life’s challenges.
      Positive Psychology Quotes
      “Positive psychology is the scientific study of human strengths and virtues.” – Martin Seligman
      “A joyful life is an individual creation that cannot be copied from a recipe.” – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
      “…positive psychology is not to be confused with untested self-help, footless affirmation, or secular religion — no matter how good these may make us feel.” – Christopher Peterson
      “Positive psychology is the scientific and applied approach to uncovering people’s strengths and promoting their positive functioning.” – Hugo Alberts
      “Flourishing is the product of the pursuit and engagement of an authentic life that brings inner joy and happiness through meeting goals, being connected with life passions, and relishing in accomplishments through the peaks and valleys of life.” – Dr. Lynn Soots
      “The difference between misery and happiness depends on what we do with our attention.” – Sharon Salzberg
      Best Positive Psychology Books
      Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life by Martin Seligman
      Flourish (A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being) by Martin Seligman
      Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
      Positive Psychology in a Nutshell: The Science of Happiness by Ilona Boniwell
      Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman
    25. Challenging Mental Health Stigma: 5 Inspiring Celebrities Leading The Way

      With their unusual schedules and extreme exposure to public scrutiny, it’s not surprising that many celebrities have mental health conditions. Thankfully, celebrities talking about mental health challenges and solutions can pull back a curtain on conditions often considered private or taboo.
      Decades ago, seeking medication or treatment for a mental health disorder could be viewed as a career-ending decision. Now, with the help of numerous celebrity mental health advocates, Hollywood and many other industries are beginning to destigmatize mental health. From Selena Gomez’s mental health documentary to Lady Gaga’s PTSD discussions and Jim Carrey’s mental illness honesty, celebrities are removing the stigma of mental health topics.
      Now, anyone suffering from conditions like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, OCD, or PTSD can find a celebrity who has faced a similar challenge and found a way to work through it. When celebrities promote mental health awareness, fans of those actors and performers will realize they aren’t alone. Destigmatizing mental health means people can openly discuss and learn about the resources available to support someone through a mental health disorder.
      The following people have been outspoken about their own challenges and have become celebrity mental health advocates.
      Selena Gomez Battled Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety, and Depression
      In 2016, during her Revival tour, actress and singer Selena Gomez began hearing voices and suffering from paranoia. After years of suffering from depression, periods of mania, and suicidal thoughts, she finally checked into a mental health hospital and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
      Since then, Selena Gomez has become one of the more prominent celebrities talking about mental health. Her recent mental health documentary, Selena Gomez: My Mind and Me, explored her bipolar diagnosis and how living with mental illness has impacted her life.
      In 2022, Gomez launched the “Your Words Matter” campaign to help destigmatize mental health treatment. As part of the campaign, she encouraged people to consider the ways they refer to mental health conditions and diagnoses. Using people-first language can remove some of the negative stigma from seeking treatment for mental health. For example, it’s better to refer to someone as “a person with bipolar disorder” rather than “a bipolar person.” Language can empower those who are seeking help to improve mental wellness.
      The recent campaign isn’t the first time Gomez has spoken up in support of mental health awareness. In 2021, for Mental Health Awareness Month, Gomez launched a campaign called Mental Health 101. In 2020, she established her mental wellness website, WonderMind, where she shared her own bipolar diagnosis. In 2019, she won the McClean Award for mental health advocacy.
      Gomez treats her bipolar disorder and depression with medication and cognitive behavioral therapy. She informs those following her story that her illness isn’t over, and it never will be. Mental health is something she will continue to work on for life. Gomez wants others, particularly teens and young people, to know that education and research are important tools for mental wellness.
      Her honesty about her own struggles has made Gomez one of the most relatable celebrity mental health advocates.
      Lady Gaga Raises Awareness of PTSD and Trauma Therapy
      Many people associate the term PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) with service members who have been scarred from combat experiences. However, performer Lady Gaga is on a mission to help people understand that PTSD is a mental illness, which can affect anyone who has been through a traumatizing event.
      In Lady Gaga’s case, her PTSD resulted from being raped repeatedly when she was 19 years old. She made her PTSD diagnosis public in 2016. In a 2020 interview with Oprah, Lady Gaga explained:
      “I developed PTSD as a result of being raped and also not processing that trauma … I never dealt with it, and then all of a sudden, I started to experience this incredible intense pain throughout my entire body that mimicked the illness I felt after I was raped.”
      PTSD is an extreme form of stress that usually results from specific traumatic events. It can cause flashbacks, sleeplessness, anger, depression, and physical pain. For Lady Gaga, the pain of unprocessed trauma became fibromyalgia that gave her "head-to-toe pain."
      While PTSD can be a frightening mental health diagnosis, the good news is that it can be treated with therapy and anti-anxiety medication. In cases of sexual assault or abuse, there is no timeline for recovery. So even if someone is suffering from a childhood event, they will still find support and can take steps toward mental wellness if they go through therapy as an adult.
      Lady Gaga reminds her listeners that mental health is a medical condition and should be treated that way. In a letter to fans of her Born This Way foundation, Lay Gaga writes, “No one’s invisible pain should go unnoticed … I am continuing to learn how to transcend this because I know I can. If you relate to what I am sharing, please know that you can too.”
      Daniel Radcliffe Discusses OCD and the Value of Therapy
      Before becoming a childhood star in the Harry Potter movies at age 11, actor Daniel Radcliffe suffered from compulsions to repeat activities like flipping a light switch or re-stating his own words. Beginning at age 5, he was diagnosed with OCD, or obsessive compulsive disorder. There were times when it took him 5 minutes to turn off a light. He needed to hear his own words repeated after he said them, so he learned to repeat them in his mind or under his breath.
      While these challenges have caused him many internal struggles, they have not held Radcliffe back from external success. In a 2020 interview, Radcliffe said the most important thing he did to cope with his disorder was going to therapy.
      “I would encourage everyone to undergo therapy. It doesn’t mean you’re insane or weak.”
      The more Radcliffe speaks out about his own struggles with OCD, the more he is destigmatizing mental health treatment. Radcliffe is one of the most recognized celebrities talking about mental health, and his experience inspires others to get the support they need.
      Jim Carrey Challenges Depression
      Actor Jim Carrey is best known for his comedic roles, where he uses exaggerated facial features to make his audience laugh. But the person behind these humorous characters is someone who has struggled with sadness and depression ever since childhood.
      Carrey grew up in a stressful environment. His father was often unemployed, and his mother was frequently unwell. Comedy and acting became an escape for Carrey after he dropped out of high school to earn money. He has talked openly about his depression since 2009.
      Jim Carrey’s mental illness perspective is unique. He views depression as the result of people pretending to be someone they are not. When someone’s mind can no longer play the “character or avatar” they are trying to be, the mind rebels by going into depression mode.
      In a video interview, Carrey quotes author and spiritual healer Jeff Foster, who says the word “depressed” could be described as “deep rest.” When the mind and body need a deep rest from the work of pretending to be more satisfied than they are, depression settles in.
      Depression is a mental illness where someone feels extremely sad and disinterested for more than a few weeks at a time. Depression is an extremely common mental disorder, but it can be treated successfully with medication and therapy.
      Carrey uses medication to manage his depression. But he also mentions how important it is for people to give themselves a “fighting chance” to battle depression by eating healthy food, exercising, getting enough sleep, spending time in the sunlight, and surrounding themselves with support.
      Jonah Hill Documents Treatment for Anxiety Attacks
      Sometimes, celebrities battling mental disorders are the best advocates for destigmatizing mental illness. This is the case with actor and director Jonah Hill, who recently made the Netflix film Stutz to share the mental health advice and strategies of his therapist, Dr. Phil Stutz.
      But because of Hill’s 20-year struggle with anxiety, which is made worse through media appearances, Hill didn't make any public appearances to promote the film. In a letter to fans, Hill wrote:
      “I’m hoping to make it more normal for people to talk and act on this stuff [mental wellness] so they can take steps toward feeling better and so that the people in their lives might understand their conditions more clearly.”
      Anxiety is a mental disorder where someone suffers from feelings of worry, anxiety, or fear that are powerful enough to disrupt their daily activities. There are many symptoms of anxiety, but attacks may include feelings of impending doom, rapid breathing, sweating or trembling, and difficulty concentrating.
      Hill’s documentary Stutz has a powerful message for anyone suffering from anxiety. He made the film to share the tools that helped him in his battle with anxiety and panic attacks. In the film, Dr. Stutz gives this advice to viewers:
      “You can’t move forward without being vulnerable. Vulnerability is connection to the rest of the world. Take action, no matter how frightened you are. If you can teach somebody that, they can change their whole life.”
      Celebrities with mental health conditions have a choice to treat their disorders in private or share their pain with the world. Everyone benefits from celebrities talking about mental health because it normalizes the need for medication or therapy and lets people know that mental health resources exist.
      Celebrity mental health advocates like Selena Gomez, Lady Gaga, Daniel Radcliffe, Jim Carrey, and Jonah Hill help destigmatize mental health conditions. Fans who may be struggling with mental health can view their documentaries and read their stories to learn they aren’t alone. These celebrity mental health advocates are slowly changing perceptions about mental health stigmas.
      Anyone who needs mental health care should not hesitate to seek support. There are many professionals willing to offer advice, support, and therapy that can improve lives. Begin by visiting Telemynd to connect with quality health care providers from the comfort of home.
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