Written by Mercedes Braxton, LPC, NCC, Contributing Therapist
Not only has this past year, 2020, been a challenging adjustment, but 2021 has brought its own challenges as well. As we celebrate moving into a new quarter of the year with warmer weather, let us talk about healthy ways to spring forward! Springing forward entails elevating in your current circumstance, whether that is school, work, social life, self-care, or any other factor of your life that requires you moving forward!
In the conversation of health, mental health has become a hot topic, but is still undervalued. The stigma of mental health is you have to be ‘crazy’ to seek help; however, that could not be further from the truth! Life transitions and adjustments, work stress, managing negative symptoms, learning how to express your emotions and more are all reasons to seek mental health (therapy) services!
In the month of April, the military celebrates children with the Month of the Military Child. In this month, we celebrate the strength and courage each military child displays. Currently, children are adjusting to the new normal of virtual and hybrid learning with less social interactions than they are used to. As one would expect, this presents a threat to children’s mental health and healthy functioning. Yet, there is hope to create a new healthy normal. It is important to talk to your children about what they are thinking, feeling and experiencing during these times of transitioning. It is also important to have compassion and understanding as some children may have more difficulty adjusting than others. Some helpful strategies to encourage for moving children along are to: 1) have open, non-judgmental conversations with your children (allowing them to express what they think and feel without negative responses), 2) validate their feelings and experiences (acknowledging their thoughts and feelings are valid and matter), 3) encourage and work with them to develop creative new ways to socialize and engage with their friends, and 4) spend time as a family; every quality moment counts!
Spring also brings holidays such as Military Spouse Appreciation Day and Memorial Day! Military Spouse Appreciation day may look different this year, but, nonetheless, still deserves attention and a creative, special way to say thank you to your spouse for their commitment to the marriage, family, and sacrifices made for the
Memorial Day is a day to honor and remember every service member, including friends and loved-ones, who died while serving in the military. While this can be a difficult day thinking of fallen service members, we can also view this as a day to honor brave men and women who served with a purpose! On this day, I encourage everyone to allow themselves to grieve, while also practicing gratefulness for the time spent with the ones loved and lost.
June celebrates the Army’s birthday! Throughout the many years, the army has seen its share of wars, hard times, readjustments and more which is why it’s important to also acknowledge June as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month! Let’s celebrate and commend those who are able to acknowledge and manage the negative events that have impacted one’s life and the lives of so many service members. It is not easy to recognize and seek help for the many difficult experiences our service members face. PTSD is often thought to be the negative result of war, rape, or disaster; however, symptoms of PTSD can arise from any negative event experienced in one’s life that impacts their healthy functioning. With that being said, this year’s awareness is particularly important as the world has been turned upside down. So, how do we move forward? Seeking trauma informed counseling services is the first step to managing PTSD symptoms (flashbacks, nightmares, hypervigilance, avoidance of stressors, distress memories and more) and learning how to overcome the negative thoughts, feelings and behaviors associated with the disorder.