Tag: Mental

The City of Birmingham 2nd Annual Mental Health Day

By The PHAME-US Campaign

Join the PHAME-US.com and Wilkinson Wellness Lab team at this community event sponsored by Nuture, LLC, the City of Birmingham, AL and Birmingham City Schools. The event is free and open to the public.

Nurture of Alabama believes Birmingham can thrive, especially if communities address the mental health crisis experienced in our neighborhoods. Through the event Friday, May 19th, Nurture’s goals are to: 1) remove the stigma of mental health support, 2) improve mental health services accessibility, and 3) provide community education on mental health & wellness.

The event will have chair massages, a licensed professional counselor providing depression screenings, speakers,  free resources, giveaways, local food trucks,  yoga sessions, line dancing, blood pressure checks and more. So come out, have a good time, and let’s engage in mental wellness!

Ashwagandha: A Natural Way to Fight Depression or Anxiety

By Jaelyn Copeland | UAB Community Health and Human Services Intern

Depression and Anxiety are fairly common mental health issues among individuals across the world. According to the CDC, depression occurs when a sad mood lasts for a long time, and interferes with normal, everyday functioning (CDC, 2022). Symptoms of Depression include:

  • Feeling sad or anxious often or all the time
  • Not wanting to do activities that used to be fun
  • Feeling irritable‚ easily frustrated‚ or restless
  • Having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Waking up too early or sleeping too much
  • Eating more or less than usual or having no appetite
  • Experiencing aches, pains, headaches, or stomach problems that do not improve with treatment
  • Having trouble concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions
  • Feeling tired‚ even after sleeping well
  • Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
  • Thinking about suicide or hurting yourself

Fortunately there are existing supplements that can help treat symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety. Ashwagandha is part of an evergreen plant that grows in both Asia and Africa. The plant is known to have health benefits when ingested as teas, powders, tinctures and supplements, or in raw form (Chandrasekhar et al., 2012). Ashwagandha is a classic example of a adaptogen, a plant or mushroom used for a variety of stress-related ailments such as anxiety, sleeplessness, aging and well-being. Ashwagandha also aids the body’s ability to withstand both physical and mental stress (Kumar et al., 2021).

Here are 7 benefits of using Ashwaganda:

  • Relieves stress and anxiety 
  • Lowers blood sugar and fat
  • Increases muscular strength 
  • Improves sexual function in women
  • Boosts fertility and testosterone levels in men
  • Sharpens focus and memory 
  • Supports heart health

Ashwagandha is usually consumed by using supplement capsules or in tablet, powder, tincture and tea form (Forbes, 2023). For more creativity, you can add the raw form of Ashwagandha into nut butters, granola, smoothies and overnight oats with low exposure to high heat. Have you tried Ashwagandha? What has been your experience? Feel free to leave a comment and join us on Facebook.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, September 14). Mental health conditions: Depression and anxiety. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved February 6, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/diseases/depression-anxiety.html

Forbes Magazine. (2023, February 1). 7 science-backed health benefits of ashwagandha. Forbes. Retrieved February 6, 2023, from https://www.forbes.com/health/body/ashwagandha-benefits/

Kumar S, Bouic PJ, Rosenkranz B. Investigation of CYP2B6, 3A4 and ß-esterase interactions of Withania somnifera (L.) dunal in human liver microsomes and HepG2 cells. J Ethnopharmacol. 2021;270:113766.

Chandrasekhar, K., Kapoor, J., & Anishetty, S. (2012). A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian journal of psychological medicine34(3), 255–262. https://doi.org/10.4103/0253-7176.106022.

Weathering the Storm, Al B. Sure is Grateful for His Second Chance at Life

Tan Walker | UAB Community Health & Human Services

You may know the artist, Al B. Sure from his hits “Nite & Day”, “Off On Your Own Girl”, or as one of the collaborators in the song “U Will Know” by Black Men United. Today, Al B. is a 54-year-old award winning R&B singer who recently awoke from a 2-month coma. He explained to his fans that he lost feeling in the left side of his body while sitting in front of a computer screen and then fell over. However, he was able to call for help since his phone was in reach at the time of the incident. He then expressed that he encountered multiple surgeries, blood transfusions, and an organ transplant during his hospital stay. He also had pneumonia, became septic, and had his lymph nodes removed (Daniels, 2022). Despite all of the health challenges that he went through, he is extremely thankful to be “alive, alert, and gradually healing.” He also says that is “maintaining a positive mindset throughout this healing process” (Daniels, 2022).

Al B. has overcome many obstacles in his life in such a short time, yet he still remains positive through the storm. It can sometimes be hard for people to become bigger than their circumstances and exercise the strength, courage, and faith to make it through the challenging times. This is what is meant by being resilient.

Photo by Ann H on Pexels.com

Resilience is the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands (APA, 2022). Part of being resilient is remaining positive and optimistic when experiencing challenges.

Here are a few tips to stay positive during hard times:

  • Acknowledge all of the good things in your life
  • Look at your situation from a different perspective
  • Focus on the things you can control
  • Spend time with positive people
  • Ask for help when you need it

No matter how hard a situation may be, it is important to stay positive and not let your circumstances define you!

References

American Psychological Association. (2022). APA Dictionary of Psychology (2nd ed.). Retrieved November 18, 2022, https://dictionary.apa.org/?_ga=2.261668622.261180337.1668820604-1749021350.1667872057.

Daniels, K. F. (2022, November 5). R&B singer Al B. sure! shares health update after 2-month coma and organ transplant. Al B. Sure! shares health update about 2-month coma ordeal. Retrieved November 18, 2022, from https://www.nydailynews.com/snyde/ny-al-b-sure-health-update-two-month-coma-20221105-t3tayky6bnhrbb557go5cdmisq-story.html 

Kirsten Parker, M. F. A. (2021, November 16). 10 ways to keep positive during Hard Times. wikiHow. Retrieved November 18, 2022, from https://www.wikihow.com/Keep-Positive-During-Hard-Times#:~:text=How%20to%20Keep%20Positive%20During%20Hard%20Times%201,…%208%20Practice%20breathing%20meditation.%20…%20More%20items 

What Do I Do Now?: Overcoming Stagnancy in Life

By Tan Walker|UAB Community Health and Human Services Intern

Photo by Luca Nardone on Pexels.com

There are times in life when we feel like we are excelling and accomplishing our goals. There are also times where we feel stagnant, and our lives have come to a complete halt. Believe it or not, it is quite common for us to sometimes feel uninspired and unmotivated to complete certain tasks or become a victim of procrastination. This can feel like a never-ending cycle of feeling like we’re on top of the world and drowning all at once. Here are some signs that you are stagnating:

  • If you are experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals and aspirations
  • If you’re not in the mood to do anything
  • If you rely on sleep, eating, and other activities for entertainment and comfort
  • If you know you should be doing something, but you keep avoiding it
  • If you have not achieved anything new in the last few months
  • If you feel like you are not reaching your potential

Trying to face stagnation in life can be a sign of a deeper problem. It is important to not eat yourself up over it and focus on overcoming this feeling. These few steps can help you gain the momentum you need to help you get back on track: 

Realize that you aren’t alone- Everyone feels stagnant at some point or another. You are not alone, and it is completely normal.

Find things that inspire you- Set goals for yourself and believe that there are no limitations for yourself.

Give yourself a break- Normalize taking breaks for yourself. Taking 3-6 months to rewind and regroup can be very beneficial.

Change your daily routines- It’s okay to change things around. Doing the same things over and over again can sometimes make us stagnant.

Make a small step- It is important to take action towards the goals that you set. Don’t be afraid of the unknown, or worry about being a perfectionist. Take things one day at a time!

Always remember that everything starts with us. We are responsible for what we choose to do within our lives and how we feel about certain things. Don’t let stagnation define you!Celestine ChuaCelestine is the Founder of Personal Excellence where she shares her best advice on how to boost productivity and achieve excellence in life. Read full profile by following the link below.

Chua, C. (2020, January 21). 5 steps to move out of stagnancy in life. Lifehack. Retrieved November 7, 2022, from https://www.lifehack.org/articles/featured/5-steps-to-move-out-of-stagnancy-in-life.html

Gardening Is My Mental Health Therapy

By Reginia Dodson | UAB Community Health and Human Services Intern

Photo by Alexander Grey on Pexels.com

I planted a vegetable garden. At the time, I had no idea that it would prove to be therapeutic for me. It is only a small, raised bed garden that I somehow have planted to an overflowing capacity. This makes for a battle to keep my squash, zucchini, and eggplant from taking over the entire little box. Along with these aggressive space invaders, I planted tomatoes, okra, and cabbage as well. I even think that it is quite possible that I created an entirely new vegetable due to the overcrowding and plants mixing together. OK, I am joking, but still…there is joy in planting this garden.

When I began gardening, I did not realize that it would become my place and time to disengage from all the stressors in my life. Each day as I tackle the invaders growing and the natural intruders, I find myself relaxing and calming my anxieties. It is something to feel the cool soil as I dig around with my bare hands. I feel a connection with nature each day that I am in my garden.

I am not the only one who feels this way. Rooftop gardening, yes…on the roof, has been associated with better personal development and suggested enhanced physical and emotional well-being, sense of purpose, social inclusion, interpersonal relations, and quality of life (Triguero-Mas et al, 2020). What happens on the roof, happens on ground as well. I am always in my garden early in the morning before the world around me awakens. It is so serene and peaceful. I find even my breathing is more relaxed and the time helps to prepare me for the stressors I will encounter during the day. Furthermore, there are times that my family and friends get to enjoy the garden as we come together, supporting my happy pursuits with some good work and fun. Not to mention, good food afterwards.

It is also delightful to find what has grown seemingly overnight. I see it as a life metaphor, patiently waiting to see the work of my hands and nature come together to bring life into the world. I laugh at times because I never saw myself gardening. Especially, using my bare hands while doing so…oh the dirt and grime. So what about you? Do you have a garden? Are you good with plants? Do you find peace and delight working with nature? Leave your comments below.

References

Suggested citation for this article: Triguero-Mas M, Anguelovski I, Cirac-Claveras J, Connolly J, Vazquez A, Urgell-Plaza F, et al. Quality of Life Benefits of Urban Rooftop Gardening for People With Intellectual Disabilities or Mental Health Disorders. Prev Chronic Dis 2020;17:200087. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5888/pcd17.200087external icon

Journaling Can Benefit Your Mental Health

By Tan Walker | UAB Community Health & Human Services Intern

Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

When you think of “journaling”, it is easy to picture a young girl locked away in her room writing about her high-school crush in a diary with a lock on it. Although this is an easy perception to have, it likely matches with the overall consensus for adults: journaling is for young people still trying to figure out their purpose in life and gossiping about the latest high school drama.

Believe it or not, many adults own a journal of some sort. Whether it’s a diary, a 3 subject notebook, notes taken on a smartphone, or just a plain sheet of paper and a pen: journaling has no required format. Journaling only requires that you share your thoughts openly. Effective journaling can help you meet your goals or improve your quality of life (Ackerman, 2022; Purcell, 2006). Although personal goals vary from person to person, they are almost always positive and journaling can be a process that support goal accomplishment.

Effective journaling can help you clear your head, reduce anxiety, and it can also help you connect your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and behaviors. But how exactly does dumping words on a page have an impact on your mental health?

Well, journaling has been proven to help people struggling with a mental illness or people who want to improve their mental health (Ackerman, 2022; Purcell, 2006). More specifically, effective journaling has been found to:

Boost your mood
Enhance your sense of well-being
Reduce symptoms of depression
Reduce symptoms of trauma and PTSD
Improve your work memory

Here are some following tips to ensure your journaling is effective:

Write in a space free of distractions
Journal at least once a day
Keep your journal private -“my eyes only”
Be in control of the topic and structure of your writing

Try journaling today! The process may take some time, but the benefits can support your health and quality of life. It can be fun! Whether you choose to write about how your day went or your current thoughts and emotions, the fun part is that you get to choose what your narrative will be!

Courtney E. Ackerman, M. A. (2022, September 8). 83 benefits of journaling for depression, anxiety, and stress. PositivePsychology.com. Retrieved September 8, 2022, from https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-of-journaling/

Purcell, M. (2006). The Health Benefits of Journaling. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 10, 2022, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-health-benefits-of-journaling/000721

Overcoming the Mental Health Stigma and Seeking Mental Care

By Tan Walker | UAB Community Health & Human Services Intern

Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

Suicide was the second leading cause of death for African Americans ages 15 – 24 in 2019 (Office of Minority Health, 2022). This alarming trend is very concerning, particularly because mental health professionals believe they can support these young people through their circumstances. The highest proportion of suicide deaths occurs among African Americans, ages 25-34. Why is this happening?

African Americans (AAs) may be stigmatized against seeking help from mental health professionals. This thought process may be linked to a cultural legacy where AAs endured the surviving of many cruel and inhumane circumstances within the United States. Many African Americans experience poverty at least once in their lives. This alone has negatively affected the mental health status of the black community. In fact, those living below the poverty level are twice as likely to encounter serious psychological distress (Office of Minority Health, 2022).

When encountering hardships, African Americans may work to suppress their emotions, resulting in them “doing what they have to do” to make it through each day. Taking mental breaks, seeking therapy, and expressing thoughts and feelings are not often discussed or practiced in the African American community.

Unfortunately, suicide rates among Black Americans have continued to progressively increase since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. What better time to be proactive in addressing it than now?

Suicide is one of the most preventable public health problems, and young adults are at higher risk than any other demographic. Here are a few suicides prevention tips for young African American adults:

– Know the Signs
– Practice Self Care
– Research local counseling resources
– Call, text, or chat 988 to get connected with the National Suicide Prevention Hotline

References

Office of Minority Health. Mental and Behavioral Health – African Americans – The Office of Minority Health. (n.d.). Retrieved September 3, 2022, from https://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=4&lvlid=24

Schimelpfening, N. (2020, December 8). How you can help someone one is suicidal. Verywell Mind. Retrieved September 3, 2022, from https://www.verywellmind.com/suicide-prevention-tips-1067531

Choose to Be Healthy!

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as the “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being” and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.  Although other descriptions of the word “health” exist, overall most people understand what it means to be in good health or “healthy.”  Look at the following questions:

Continue reading “Choose to Be Healthy!”

Finding the Beauty in Even the Dormant Stages of Life

Dormant Rose Bush

By Khalia Wilkinson
Today, while enjoying my morning walk I passed by a rose bush that I’m used to seeing in full bloom. This bush is usually very beautiful and full of life, with enchanting red roses layered one on top of the other. When I walked by it today, it took me by surprise; the appearance of this shrub was not appealing at all.  In fact, twigs, debris, and thorns heavily engulfed this sad little bush.  I thought, “Wow.  How ugly, dry and unattractive this is.”  Not being a gardener, I even thought that the owners of this bush should maybe pull it up because it was so ugly and lifeless.  The winter months had made it an eyesore.  I then took a look around me.  The trees and the grass were also very dry and brittle.  In that moment another set of thoughts quickly came to mind.  “Just give it time” I thought, “this rose bush will come back around and be beautiful once again very soon!”  This thought put a smile on my face.  I took a calming deep breath then heard my spirit say, “find the beauty in even the dormant stages of life.”

Bright Red Rose

To be dormant is typically preached against.  In fact, this word is normally received negativity.  But today, there was a spin on the word to me.  I appreciated it and received it with great joy!  Dictionary.com defines this word as “lying asleep or as if asleep; inactive; a state of rest or inactivity; inoperative; unasserted; not erupting; to be in a state of minimal activity with cessation of growth, either as a reaction to adverse conditions or as part of an organism’s normal annual rhythm.”

The reason why being dormant is so frustrating to many of us is because we have become a world of movers-and-shakers, go-getters, and high achievers; and there’s nothing wrong with that!  In fact, there are consequences in being the opposite which is slack or stagnant. However, we have become so focused and driven until we no longer understand the natural rhythms of life.  We have begun swimming upstream, pushing against the current far too hard.  We no longer appreciate the time of rest and inactivity that is needed.  We do not take the time to slow down, rest, and regroup.  In fact, to find the beauty in this is very difficult and challenging to do.

But today, I received that it is a must.  To everything there truly is a season.  And that even goes for the seasons of dormancy.  Now, I realize that this is not a discussion that one normally has, especially during the beginning of a New Year when resolutions are soaring high; however, being still and inactive for a moment can benefit you more than you think.  So when you feel the “tug” and your season is upon you to act in a dormant state, rest in it and enjoy all of the beauty that it has to offer!