Tag Archives: Health and Wellness

WEBINAR – Gentle Yoga

Are you curious about yoga, heard about its many benefits, but feel too intimidated to try the typical class? Marsha Rudolph, MA, RYT has been teaching a gentle form of yoga for the last 15 years and breath awareness for the last 25 years. In this class, she will practice some breath awareness exercises, a short meditation, and some gentle
yoga postures.  A yoga mat is recommended, but not necessary.

Research demonstrates the many benefits of yoga to enhance health and peace of mind. These include:
• Stress Relief
• Pain Relief
• Better Breathing
• Improved Posture and Balance
• Increased Strength and Flexibility
• Improved Circulation
• Weight Management
• Better Heart Health

THIS PROGRAM HAS A LIMIT OF 99 ATTENDEES!

 

Click here to register!

Understanding Alzheimer’s and Dementia Program Recap

Alzheimer’s Disease is one form of Dementia, an umbrella term for diseases of the brain that cause progressive deterioration that leads to memory loss, cognitive impairment, and even loss of bodily functions.   Currently, 5.8 million Americans are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, but there are many more that remain undiagnosed.  Through education, research, and funding, the Alzheimer’s Association is committed to providing all of those effected by Alzheimer’s with the resources and support they need as they push for a cure.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia and is a progressive brain disease.  Alzheimer’s affects the brain by killing off neurons, nerve cells responsible for sending signals throughout the brain.  This leads to brain shrinkage and loss of communication between the cells, resulting in changes in memory, thinking, and behavior.   Unfortunately, there is no cure for the disease.

Risk Factors

There are multiple risk factors that affect the development of Alzheimer’s disease:

  • Age – Age is the greatest factor.  While Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging,  as we get older, we have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s or other dementia related diseases.  For example, 32% of people aged 85 or older have Alzheimer’s to some degree.
  • Family History – Your risk for Alzheimer’s increases if someone in your family has it and that risk further increases if more than 1 family member has it.
  • Genes – There are certain genes that can either increase your risk (risk genes) or guarantee that you will develop Alzheimer’s (deterministic genes), but the later are rare.
  • Ethnicity – Hispanics are 1.5 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than Caucasians and African Americans are 2 times more likely.
  • Gender – Almost 2/3s of the Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s are female

Stages of Alzheimer’s

There are 3 stages of Alzheimer’s Disease, but it is important to remember that each person will experience symptoms and progression differently.

  • Early Stage
    • Problems with concentration
    • Minor memory lapses, but can function independently
    • Challenges performing tasks
    • Trouble remembering new information
    • Oftentimes, these changes are noticed by family, friends, or a medical professional
  • Middle Stage
    • Often the longest stage
    • Damage to brain cells can make it difficult to express feelings and perform routine tasks
    • Confusion with words, such as calling a watch a wrist clock
    • Personality and behavioral changes, such as increased frustration and anger directed at loved ones
      • accusing people of stealing items that are misplaced or they forgot where they put it
    • Forgetfulness of events or personal history, such as birthdays or anniversaries
    • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Late Stage
    • Usually requires around-the-clock assistance
    • Unable  to respond to their environment (trouble feeling hot or cold) or hold a conversation
      • Jumping to unrelated topics and unable to recall what was just said
    • Changes in physical ability, such as unable to hold items or swallow
    • Unaware of recent experiences

Treatments

While there are no treatments to cure or prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, there are FDA-approved treatments to help manage the symptoms.

  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors
    • work to prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, a chemical messenger in the brain responsible for learning and memory
    • Brands include Aricept, Exelon, and Razadyne
  • Glutamate Modulators
    • work to prevent the breakdown of glutamate, another chemical messenger in the brain responsible for learning and memory
    • Brands include Namenda
  • Combination of Cholinesterase Inhibitors and Glutamate Modulators
    • Brands include Namzaric

Advancing Alzheimer’s Research

Research is the key to beating Alzheimer’s Disease and there are many improvements and opportunities aimed at that goal.  Early intervention research is identifying biological changes in those affected that manifest years before any symptoms, which will allow people the opportunity to work to delay the onset of those symptoms.  Lifestyle factors are also becoming more prevalent in research, especially the benefits of diet and exercise on reducing your risk and keeping a healthy brain.

Clinical studies are happening all of the time and can provide patients with more frequent and regimented care, leading to more positive attitudes and a greater sense of worth and dignity.  These also allow people suffering from the disease an opportunity to seek additional medical help and try out new medications and treatments.

TrialMatch is a service provided by the Alzheimer’s Association that allows anyone, even those without any sign of Alzheimer’s, the opportunity to get involved by matching their medical profile with a wide-variety of trials related to Alzheimer’s research.  These trials can be medication focused or related to psychological approaches to managing and treating symptoms.  The more people that are involved, the better understanding there will be on how Alzheimer’s Disease and treatments affect people of all ages and races.

Resources

To view a recording of this presentation, please visit https://youtu.be/6kCcJS3Ho7g.  To learn about Alzheimer’s Disease, find help- for you or a loved one, or to get involved, please visit the Alzheimer’s Association or call their 24/7 Helpline at 1-800-272-3900.  For a copy of the handouts from this presentation, please click on the associated links below:

Alzheimer’s Association Helpline Flyer

Alzheimer’s Association Virtual Caregiver Support

Alzheimer’s Fact Sheet for New Jersey

Understanding Alzheimer’s and Dementia Presentation Slides

WEBINAR – Understanding Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia related conditions can have a debilitating affect on our loved ones as they age.  As more and more baby boomers are reaching ages conducive for the development of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, it is important for them as well as family members to be aware of these dangers and how to effectively respond to them.  Please join us as Nicolette Vasco from the Alzheimer’s Associate NJ Chapter will discuss:

  • The impact of Alzheimer’s
  • The difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia
  • Alzheimer’s disease stages and risk factors
  • Current research and treatments to address some symptoms
  • Alzheimer’s Association resources

THIS PROGRAM HAS A LIMIT OF 99 ATTENDEES!

 

Click here to register!

Virtual Autism Resource Fair

Welcome to the New Jersey State Library’s Virtual Autism Resource Fair.  Due to the current health crisis, the library was forced to cancel it’s in-person Autism Resource Fair, but since April is Autism Awareness Month and families affected by Autism are facing unique challenges with many of the state’s directives to close schools and most businesses, it is important as ever to spread the word about the organizations and resources available to members of the Autism community.  Please find below information about different Autism-related organizations throughout the state to learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorder, current research on Autism, resources for families including education, health-care, therapy and more!  Please share this with your family, friends, schools, libraries and any other person or group that can benefit from this information.


Autism New Jersey

Founded in 1965, Autism New Jersey has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of those affected by autism, including children, parents, and caregivers.  Autism New Jersey is one of the leading autism groups in the state and provides lifelong individualized services with skill and compassion.  Autism New Jersey serves the autism community by focusing on four pillars — Awareness, Information Services, Education & Training, and Public Policy.  Working with families, schools, clinicians, community organizations, and researchers, Autism New Jersey seeks to equip families and caregivers with the most up-to-date information and best practices for diagnosis, treatment, and support.

Autism New Jersey has a wealth of information on its website.  An autism diagnosis often brings many questions, including the best treatment options and where to seek medical, financial, legal, educational, and emotional support.  Autism New Jersey has a wonderful Helpline (800.4.AUTISM) that talks families and professionals through every aspect of their lives, and a Referral Service that offers a wide variety of healthcare and service providers.  Autism New Jersey also hosts workshops and produces informative webinars that have been especially useful during the current COVID-19 health crisis.

Autism New Jersey also tackled the COVID-19 crisis by creating a detailed resource page, which includes information about different governmental agencies, support for individuals, families, and self-advocates, and healthcare resources and options, including telemedicine and teletherapy.

Autism New Jersey is at the forefront of advocacy for the autism community.  Learn more about their Public Policy initiatives and ways you can Get Involved, through volunteering, donating, or becoming an Autism Ambassador.



Autism Speaks

Autism Speaks, founded in 2005 by Bob and Suzanne Wright, grandparents of a child with autism, is dedicated to promoting solutions for the needs of people with autism and their families through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of people with autism; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions. The organization builds upon the legacy of three other organizations that merged with Autism Speaks; Autism Coalition for Research and Education (ACRE), the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) and Cure Autism Now (CAN).  As a national organization, Autism Speaks is advancing research into causes and better treatments for autism spectrum disorders and related conditions both through direct funding and collaboration.

Autism Speaks provides a wealth of information and resources for people with autism and their families. For families affected by autism, Autism Speaks has detailed pages on diagnosis, treatment, and a Resource Guide which can be narrowed down by state, life stage, and level of support. Additionally, Autism Speaks has a Autism Response Team that can help parents, clinicians, and researchers in a wide variety of topics, including where to get a diagnosis, schools and special education, advocacy and support, adult services – including post-secondary programs and employment, and inclusion and community activities.

Autism Speaks also promotes programming and research related to autism by providing funding through grants. So far, Autism Speaks has awarded over $2,000,000 to 55 institutions, just in New Jersey. This money went toward special swim lessons and water education classes, summer camps for children with autism, and research studies at academic institutions, including Rutgers and Princeton. To learn more about how you can support the Autism Speaks mission, visit https://www.autismspeaks.org/get-involved or email the New Jersey Autism Speaks office directly at newjersey@autismspeaks.org.

Autism Speaks also has a specific page dedicated to the COVID-19 health crisis. Whether you are a family with school-aged children, looking for resources and support for an adult with autism, or an educator or health professional, Autism Speaks is there for you.



New Jersey Autism Center of Excellence


The New Jersey Autism Center of Excellence is a collaborate group of innovative scientists, clinicians, and service providers who strive to improve the quality of life of families touched by Autism in the State of New Jersey.  According to it’s mission statement, NJ ACE is committed “to improve autism research and clinical care throughout the state of New Jersey, revamp autism training initiatives across the state, educate society about autism unmet needs, and to make NJ a national leader in these endeavors.”  NJ ACE was created in 2018 through a grant from the New Jersey Governor’s Council for Medical Research and Treatment of Autism to Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey in partnership with Specialized Children’s Hospital.

NJ ACE is focused on collecting research data, whether from new studies or previous ones done throughout the country, to better identify and explain the underlying causes of Autism, how it develops, and best practices for treating both symptoms and the underlying disease.  Also, please check out the Research tab on their website for the latest information about anything related to Autism research.

If you are looking for more help, NJ ACE lists nearly 50 organizations that provide a wide variety of services for the Autism community.  NJ ACE has a wonderful webinar series related to adults with Autism, a topic that is often overlooked and understudied, leaving many members of the Autism community with little help or support as they move on from school.  Additionally, NJ ACE has a YouTube channel with a wide variety of videos, including one about Zoning your Home, specifically designed for those Autism community members adjusting to the new realities of home life during the COVID-19 health crisis.  You can also download a copy of their Home Routine Schedule and Guide.  Please check out their COVID-19 Resources Guide for more information about strategies and helpful sites.



New Jersey Autism Registry

New Jersey is one of the few states that has a statewide registry specifically dedicated to Autism.  The New Jersey Autism Registry was created to better understand Autism Spectrum Disorder in New Jersey and link families to available services and supports.  State law requires licensed healthcare providers to register any child diagnosed with Autism to the Autism Registry  as long as they are a resident of New Jersey, under 22 years old, and diagnosed with ASD, Autistic Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), or Asperger’s Disorder/Syndrome.  You can choose to be in the registry anonymously, but then your family will not be able to be linked to special child health case management services. These county-based, coordinated service providers have many years of experience and knowledge of the local, county, and statewide resources available to families of children with special health care needs.

Once your child is registered, a letter and informational pamphlets are sent to you notifying you that your child has been registered.  To keep confidentiality, the letter does not contain your child’s diagnosis.  In addition to a letter sent to you, information about your child is sent to the special child health case management unit within your county of residence.  These case managers are available to serve you and your family by providing you with coordinated, family-centered resources.  This service is free to you and is available to your child from birth through the age of 21.  All personal information in Registry is kept in a tightly secured location and all information produced from Autism Registry data, such as reports, data tables and so forth are done in aggregate, with no individuals identified whatsoever.

Parents can facilitate the registration process by informing their health care provider (such as their pediatrician, neurologist, or psychiatrist or other New Jersey licensed provider that cares for the child) of the law and by telling them that they want their child registered. They can also assist with completing and sharing the autism registration form with their child’s health care provider.  Early identification of children with autism and early intervention of the behaviors and symptoms associated with autism improves later outcomes. The Autism Registry helps with this by referring families to special child health case management services, who perform coordinated care and inform families of available resources, or to early intervention if the child is under 3 years of age.

For more information, please download their Autism Registry Family Brochure or check out their publications on their homepage.



Parents of Autistic Children

Parents of Autistic Children (POAC) Autism Services is a non-profit that continuously makes a significant impact in New Jersey’s fight against Autism.  Each year, POAC sponsors hundreds of events for the Autism community, ranging from trainings for families, educators libraries, and police, fundraisers including their Autism Walks throughout the state, and recreational activities for families affected by Autism, including swim lessons and BBQs.  Additionally, POAC aims to address, support, and promote legislative issues that affect those with autism and their families, including sitting on the NJ Governor’s Council on Autism.

POAC has compiled tons of resources for families and the greater community available as Fact Sheets.  These sheets range from information on Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), online resources for parents and teachers, and governmental programs and agencies critical to support members of the Autism community.  Additionally, POAC has compiled a list of digital and print publications, which you can purchase online, used and referenced in their trainings as well as useful for parents, caregivers, teachers, and individuals with Autism.  POAC relies on the help of dedicated and passionate volunteers for all it’s programming.  If you would like to help POAC in it’s mission to support those affected by Autism, you can visit their Ways to Help page, to learn more about becoming a volunteer, donating, or getting your school or workplace involved in the Autism conversation.

Currently, to help those affected by Autism in the current COVID-19 crisis, POAC is offering daily live events for free.  These include Story Time with Gary (founder of POAC), Yoga and Zumba designed specifically for individuals and families, music sessions, and webinars on a wide-range of topics.  Additionally, POAC has also compiled a list of forms that families with Autism will find useful as they try to navigate all stages of Autism while staying in the safety of their home.



Talking Book and Braille Center

The New Jersey State Library Talking Book & Braille Center (TBBC) provides an extensive collection of audiobooks to anyone in NJ who has a print disability and cannot read traditional standard printed material. These audiobooks are produced by the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, a federal program that ensures “that all may read“.   A person with autism qualifies for TBBC services if they have a print disability: low vision, blindness, a physical disability where they cannot hold the book or turn the pages, or a reading disability.

While autism, itself, is not an official qualifying reason to receive services from TBBC, many times there are accompanying reasons a person with autism may qualify.   If there is a sensitivity to touch that would prohibit a person from being able to hold a book or turn the pages, that person would qualify with a physical disability.   “Low vision” simply means that even with glasses, a person cannot read the print in the newspaper.   And, a person may also qualify if there is a reading disability in addition to the autism.

The application for TBBC requires that a “Certifying Authority” must certify that the person qualifies for services.  No additional documentation is needed for the application to be approved.  The complete list of those who can sign are listed on the application; for those who are blind, low vision, or have a physical disability, the person signing includes librarians, nurses, doctors, social workers, and so on.  For a person with a reading disability, a doctor (MD or DO) must sign the application.

Typically, TBBC mails all material (audiobooks and the machine to listen to the books) at no cost to the individual.  At the moment, we are unable to mail items back and forth. That doesn’t mean you cannot get books! All of TBBC’s audiobooks can be downloaded from a service called BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) and then listened to on most smartphones and tablets, including the iPad and Kindle Fire using the BARD Mobile App. Our staff at TBBC are available by phone or email, and can walk you through the process of getting these books.

To find out more about TBBC, our audiobooks, how to get them, and how to use BARD, please visit our website at https://www.njstatelib.org/talking-book-braille-center/ or call us at (800) 792-8322 ext 861 or email us at tbbc@njstatelib.org


WEBINAR – COVID-19 Webinar Series by LEAD

Starting April 1st, LEAD (Let’s Empower, Advocate, and Do) will be providing a free 30 minute webinar every Wednesday in April until April 22nd related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Topics include tips and tricks to work from home, staying motivated, get moving, and coping with anxiety related to COVID-19.  By registering for these webinars, you will also receive a recording of the webinar if you are unable to attend.  As we all struggle to adjust to a new normal in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, developing coping methods and keeping a positive attitude will have a positive effect on both our work and home life.

LEAD was founded in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy in 2012 by 8 high school sophomores.  LEAD originally focused on service programs addressing substance use, domestic violence, poverty, homelessness, and mental illness, but has expanded over the years to become a leader in mental health education.

Click here to register!

WEBINAR – COVID-19 Webinar Series by LEAD

Starting April 1st, LEAD (Let’s Empower, Advocate, and Do) will be providing a free 30 minute webinar every Wednesday in April until April 22nd related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Topics include tips and tricks to work from home, staying motivated, get moving, and coping with anxiety related to COVID-19.  By registering for these webinars, you will also receive a recording of the webinar if you are unable to attend.  As we all struggle to adjust to a new normal in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, developing coping methods and keeping a positive attitude will have a positive effect on both our work and home life.

LEAD was founded in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy in 2012 by 8 high school sophomores.  LEAD originally focused on service programs addressing substance use, domestic violence, poverty, homelessness, and mental illness, but has expanded over the years to become a leader in mental health education.

Click here to register!

Tips and Tricks to Stay Moving

We’ve all seen commercials about the importance of movement to stay healthy.  Whether it is to stay off muscle or joint issues or to increase our stamina and lessen the chance of heart disease, movement provides a host of health benefits.  Now that many of us are confined to our homes, for the most part, it is as important as ever that we take the time to move around in different ways.  Kyrah Altman CEO, President, and Co-Founder of LEAD (Let’s Empower, Advocate, and Do), a leader in mental health education, shared the following tips as it relates to how movement can keep us healthy, both mentally and physically:

Practice Mindfulness

    • While mindfulness is aimed at focusing our attention to the present through techniques like breathing, movement is a key component
    • Be sure to take mindful breaks throughout the day and incorporate movement into those breaks
    • Spend time outside, if possible, such as going for walks, or simply taking off your shoes and feelings the ground in your toes
    • Exercise can be a great mindfulness practice by forcing your mind to focus on exercise at hand and your breathing
      • We should all strive for 30 minutes of exercise and 60 minutes of physical activity each day
        • Go for a bike ride, Ecosmo are the main provider of folding bikes in the UK – see their range at ecosmobike.com and get yours.
        • Take the stairs, park farther away from a store, conduct meetings by walking, and engage in house walking (such as brushing your teeth while walking around the house)
        • The Move It Google Chrome extension will remind you to do a variety of movement-related tasks throughout the day
    • For more information on Mindfulness, check out our Mindfulness to Reduce Stress Program Recap.

Movement and Community

    • It is much easier to stay active and move if you have someone else to join you – buddy system
    • Even though many of us are in isolation, there are many ways to still move with others
      • Take the family or dogs for walks, even around the house or backyard
      • Conference call or video chat with family or friends as you all walk or perform some sort of activity, such as yoga
    • Join Facebook groups or see if local fitness centers are offering online classes

Movements for Anxiety or Stress

    • EFT – Emotional Freedom Technique
      • Emotional acupressure
      • Tapping various parts of the body while repeating a positive mantra
        • Side of the hand
        • Beginning of eyebrow (inside), moving across the eye socket, then underneath the eye to the bridge of the nose
        • Chin
        • Collar bone
        • Hand width from the armpit
        • Top of the head
    • Yoga and Pilates, especially chair or desk poses, can be done anywhere, especially in a home office or at work

Get Creative

    • Explore your creative side by:
      • drawing or painting
      • Singing or dancing
      • Doing makeup or giving a haircut
      • Knitting or sewing
      • Baking or making a new recipe
      • Playing music
      • Writing poetry, short stories, or in a journal
    • Many of these can be done with family or friends while you are stuck at home, even through video calls

Set Yourself Up for Success

    • Control what you can!
      • An easy way to take control of your life is through diet and nutrition
        • For example, 1 apple gives more energy than a cup of coffee and has no crash!
      • Stay hydrated to keep alert and avoid headaches
        • Try to drink 8 8oz glasses of water throughout the day
    • Avoid self-medication through drugs, alcohol, or excessive dieting or exercise
      • These maladaptive coping mechanisms can lead to dependencies and addiction
      • Determine the function of the activity – is it to distract or drown out or numb
    • Teletherapy
      • If you are struggling mentally, which can cause you to severely limit your movement, try teletherapy

 

WEBINAR – COVID-19 Webinar Series by LEAD

Starting April 1st, LEAD (Let’s Empower, Advocate, and Do) will be providing a free 30 minute webinar every Wednesday in April until April 22nd related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Topics include tips and tricks to work from home, staying motivated, get moving, and coping with anxiety related to COVID-19.  By registering for these webinars, you will also receive a recording of the webinar if you are unable to attend.  As we all struggle to adjust to a new normal in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, developing coping methods and keeping a positive attitude will have a positive effect on both our work and home life.

LEAD was founded in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy in 2012 by 8 high school sophomores.  LEAD originally focused on service programs addressing substance use, domestic violence, poverty, homelessness, and mental illness, but has expanded over the years to become a leader in mental health education.

Click here to register!

Tips and Tricks to Reduce Anxiety

The current health crisis marks a complete shift in our daily lives.  Many people are forced to work or stay home, limiting social interactions.  The contagious nature of the disease and it’s widespread impact adds deeper dimensions of stress and anxiety as we worry about our family, relatives, and friends.  However, there are many things we can do to help lower our anxiety and incorporate into our daily life to strengthen our physical and mental well-being.  Kyrah Altman CEO, President, and Co-Founder of LEAD (Let’s Empower, Advocate, and Do), a leader in mental health education, shared the following tips as it relates to reducing anxiety and keeping a healthy mental state:

  • Risks associated with unanticipated transitions
    • Situational stress and life disturbances
      • not the same as anxiety
    • Can lead to the development of an adjustment, mood, or anxiety disorder
    • Can worsen an already existing disorder
  • Use a strengths-based approach
    • Leverage previously-used strategies and support systems, such as breathing exercises or calling/video chatting with support groups or family
    • Engage in and encourage self-care strategies that offer a sense of completion
    • Identify an accountability partner that you can share your experiences with and work toward a common goal, such as yoga
    • Do not confuse self-care or stress-management with treatment for a mental disorder
      • a rise in stress or temporary anxiety from the current situation does not equate to mental illnesses, such as long-term anxiety disorders that require professional help
    • Pick and choose what works for you – we are all different and have different needs and respond differently to strategies and activities
  • Anxiety 101
    • Anxiety can be fleeting or continuous, requiring different approaches and treatments to deal with
    • Anxiety disorders, considered mental illnesses, disrupt a person’s ability to:
      • satisfy daily requirements
  • Mindfulness and other strategies
    • Mindfulness is a fantastic way to refocus your attention on the present moment, accepting and forgiving negative feelings without judgement or hostility
      • Benefits of mindfulness include
        • reduced stress, anxiety, and panic
        • coping skills for pain management and depression
        • develop positive self-image
        • regulate and manage emotions
      • 4 Elements Craft
        • A craft project that uses 4 different color items connected together, similar to a rosary.  As you touch each color, you focus on different aspects of the color and perform different activities to realign your thoughts and emotions, letting go of everything else around you and focus on your being at the present.
          • Green (earth) – notice the physical space your are in, starting with your feet and moving throughout your body up to your head.  Notice any sounds or smells that happen in the moment.
          • Clear (air) – focus on your breathing, taking long deep breathes.  You can also perform some basic breathing exercises to calm your mind.
          • Blue (water) – make saliva by chewing gum, drinking water, or running your tongue on your teeth
          • Red (fire) – use your imagination and visualize a place where you feel safe and happy
      • Meditation and deep breathing are other great ways to practice mindfulness
        • Calm and Headspace apps
        • LEAD hosts a 10 minute meditation at 9am EST Monday – Friday
        • Check out podcasts related to mindfulness or meditation
      • For more information on mindfulness, check out our Mindfulness to Reduce Stress Program Recap
    • Anxiety reducing sounds are a great way to engage and strengthen the mind
    • Embrace self-care
      • Set clear boundaries, especially with family while at home
        • Be respectful and effective when communicating your boundaries, acknowledging people’s requests for your attention while instilling value in what you are currently doing
      • Determine ahead of time what or who you will need to say “No” to more often
      • Check in with family, friends, and coworkers during the quarantine with text or video chat tools

WEBINAR – COVID-19 Webinar Series by LEAD

Starting April 1st, LEAD (Let’s Empower, Advocate, and Do) will be providing a free 30 minute webinar every Wednesday in April until April 22nd related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Topics include tips and tricks to work from home, staying motivated, get moving, and coping with anxiety related to COVID-19.  By registering for these webinars, you will also receive a recording of the webinar if you are unable to attend.  As we all struggle to adjust to a new normal in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, developing coping methods and keeping a positive attitude will have a positive effect on both our work and home life.

LEAD was founded in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy in 2012 by 8 high school sophomores.  LEAD originally focused on service programs addressing substance use, domestic violence, poverty, homelessness, and mental illness, but has expanded over the years to become a leader in mental health education.

Click here to register!

Reducing Stress at Home

The current COVID-19 outbreak has forced many people to work from home.  While the idea of working from home may sound appealing and appear to be a wonderful break from the stress of the workplace, there are many new challenges that can add stress and anxiety to an already intense situation. Additionally, stress and anxiety are playing a bigger part in our lives, as we worry about the health and wellness of our family, friends, and neighbors.

During an American Library Association webinar, “Libraries and COVID-19: Managing Strategies and Stress“, Loren McClain, a certified instructor for the National Council of Behavioral Health and Mental Health First Aid USA, shares some wonderful tips for adjusting to a new daily routine that focuses on staying home while still accomplishing work and home tasks:

  • One of the best ways to reduce stress with family and friends is to share accurate and empirical information regarding the disease
  • Try to engage in activities that bring you joy, modifying them to reduce your risk of exposure or find alternate ways to ensure that you don’t need to leave the house.  Check YouTube and Pinterest for craft activities as well as exercise and yoga routines
  • Focus on positive thinking, focusing on what you can do and control rather than the negatives of being stuck at home or what is going on in the world around you
  • Limit your exposure to news and social media.  The constant bombardment about the disease and the woes of the world will make you more stressed and depressed, causing you to miss opportunities for fun and memories with your family
  • Try to keep your home organized, predictable, and tidy.  One of the few things we have control over right now is our own home.  This is a perfect time to practice Spring Cleaning and get the entire family involved.  Even a little progress can make you feel accomplished and help focus your thinking on staying positive.
  • Try to stick to a daily routine you are accustomed to, such as a morning walk or reading a newspaper.  Being able to salvage some parts of your daily routine will help keep the feeling of chaos from keeping in.
  • Develop a new quarantine ritual or plan with your family to follow so that everyone can get adjusted to the new way of life.  This will help everyone understand each other’s priorities throughout the day and allow for the structure that we usually get from a workplace or school.
  • Set small goals to see results and gain a sense of confidence.  This includes work goals and household tasks.
  • Watch your screen-time.  With devices constantly around us from TVs, to computers, to mobile devices, we are constantly focused on screens throughout our day.  Follow the 20/20/20 rule to reset and refocus your brain and help prevent eye strain and headaches – For every 20 minutes of screen-time, look away and focus on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  • If you are dealing with higher levels of stress or anxiety, including difficulty adjusting to a home-bound life, check with your health insurance company about telehealth options.  Some companies are waiving restrictions for mental health counseling.

To view a recorded version of this webinar, please visit https://alapublishing.webex.com/recordingservice/sites/alapublishing/recording/71af3c666df243e3b38186e214f3cf54.  Loren McClain speaks from 43:00 – 1:00:00.

Mindfulness to Reduce Stress Program Recap

Thank you to Chelsea Hoagland from Capital Health Behavioral Health Specialists to sharing her knowledge of mindfulness and techniques to help us reduce stress.   While mindfulness is not designed to be a quick fix to reduce stress, with practice and conscious effort, you can transform your lifestyle to become more mindful of our senses, surroundings, and the present moment.

Mindfulness was first espoused by Dr. Jon Kabatt-Zinn and is composed of elements from yoga and Buddhism.  According to Zinn, “Mindfulness is awareness, cultivated by paying attention in a sustained and particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally.”  One of the major tenants of mindfulness is to love yourself regardless of what is happening in our life – past, present, and future.  By removing any judgement of yourself, especially while you are trying to practice mindfulness, you can release your mind and body from the trials and tribulations of past and future, focusing solely on the present moment.

Mindfulness is designed to redirect your focus from outward issues and influences to your inner self, connecting you with the present moment.  The 5 senses play an important role and serve as focal points as you calm your mind and shift your focus away from that meeting you missed or that upcoming deadline at work.  True mindfulness is learning how to let go of everything in your life and just be, which means being “OK”with what is and feeling better about how to handle it.

Mindfulness in action is often divided into Formal and Informal practice.  Formal practice focuses on guided meditation, which can be done in a group session or the use of videos or audio tapes.  The following videos are 2 examples of guided meditation for mindfulness:

Informal practices tend to be quick things you can do throughout the day that focus on senses.  A common practice is take a moment to look at your natural surroundings and just appreciate the current moment, such as a sunrise or a bird perched on a branch.  Washing your hands can be another great informal practice since we do it multiple times a day, allowing us to just focus on the smell of the soap, the sound of the water, and feel of the lather, forgetting what we just did or we have to go next.  There are 2 other practices that are more a little more involved, but are still great ways to practice mindfulness throughout our day when we have a brief moment of downtime or when we start to feel overwhelmed:

  • 2 Feet, 1 Breath
    • Stop what you are doing and feel one foot, then the other, and then take 1 conscious breath.
    • Repeat this often during the day as a small reminder that you are actually living in a physical body.
  • The 3 Ps
    • Every time you do something repetitive throughout day (answer an email or touch a door handle), take 1 second of the length of 1 breath to:
      • Pause.  Take just a moment for yourself, just that single breath.  Let go of the planning mind and the task orientation of the day and simply notice the moment.
      • Be Present.  Be aware of what is happening in this moment by experiencing the sensation of the body, noticing the thoughts and feeling the emotions just as they are, without trying to change anything.
      • Proceed.  Using mindful speech and skillful means, respond compassionately to whatever needs your attention in this moment.