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Happy Friday!

Written by: jasparkspapa

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The weekend is upon us! As we hunker down with the holidays approaching, we highlight relevant community resources to support our recovery and wellness.

CHOW is a community that believes in connection, authentic conversations and shared resources. Creating better mental health is just like any new habit – there is no thing that is right for everyone and there are many pathways to wellness. We would love to support you on this journey by sharing valuable information with you!

Sober AF Sober/Sober Curious Sporting Events

Sober AF Entertainment is organizing a rad bunch of sober/sober curious events during the holiday season. The organization is still looking for volunteers for these games and selling tickets for attendance.

For more information visit http://www.soberafe.com

Colorado Artists in Recovery: Expressive Arts Workshop

This workshop will stimulate your imagination and channel your inner creativity through a combination of drawing/painting, writing/poetry, dance/movement, music, drama/theatre and art-looking activities. Expressive arts can improve well-being, reduce anxiety and stress, improve self-awareness and self-esteem, increase self-awareness and promote connectedness. You do not need to identify as an artist or have prior experience. 

Register at: https://www.coloradoartistsinrecovery.org/expressive-arts-workshop

Sleep Hygiene During the Holidays and Beyond

The Centre for Clinical Interventions (CCI) is a specialist clinical psychology service, administered through the North Metropolitan Health Service. The service has four core areas of business:

  1. Develops and provides evidence-based treatments to adults experiencing complex anxiety, mood and eating disorders.
  2. Conducts clinically applied research to improve existing psychological interventions.
  3. Provides training and supervision for health practitioners in evidence-based psychological interventions.
  4. Develops evidence-based online resources to support practitioners delivering psychological interventions, as well as individuals seeking self-help materials to improve their mental health.

For more information visit https://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au

Restaurant After Hours Support Groups

Restaurant After Hours offers a free virtual support group program via Zoom three days a week.  These groups are intended to a private, safe, comfortable, non-judgmental space where hospitality workers can share their thoughts and concerns with peers. 

The groups are overseen by facilitators trained under mental health counselors, whom also provide a psychoeducation (or mental health education) takeaway or coping skill for attendees to use in their personal lives if they wish. 

Psychoeducation topics and coping skills will include general wellness and self-care, anxiety, depression, mindfulness, grounding, boundaries, substance use, trauma, relationships, and resilience.  From Sunday through Tuesdays, the meetings will cover the same topic, but we encourage attendees to join as many meetings as they are able to.  The discussions will happen organically amongst peers and facilitators.   ​

​Sharing is encouraged, but listening is okay.  We want you to feel as comfortable as possible.   We do not record any meetings and any personal information shared remains confidential, and we ask the same from attendees.   It is up to the attendee to turn their video on or off, or change their display name on Zoom if they wish to remain anonymous.

Sundays, 8pm EST 
(7pm CST, 6pm MST, 5pm PST)

Mondays, 5pm EST 
(4pm CST, 3pm MST, 2pm PST)

Tuesdays, 11am EST 
(10am CST, 9am MST, 8am PST)

For more meeting information visit http://www.restaurantafterhours.org

An Important Holiday Message from Embark PCA

Supporting Loved Ones During the Holidays:

After a year and a half of Covid-related lockdowns and restrictions, many of us are looking forward to spending more time with friends and family this holiday season. Many of the holiday traditions that used to be an annual part of our lives will resume this year, even if we have to modify them a little to keep people safe. The holidays can be a time of anticipation, joy, and connection. But there is another side to this season, and one we must keep in mind. The holidays can be a time of stress, anxiety, and worsening mental health, increased risk for those living with mental illness or substance use disorder, and painful grief for those living with the loss of a loved one from these diseases. 
Mental Health
For many of us, holidays can be a time of stress, anxiety, and depression. Many factors can make the holidays more stressful than other parts of the year: the increased financial burden of travel and gift-giving, packed holiday schedules with parties and events that interfere with other responsibilities, strained relationships with family members that become more difficult with more family time, pressure to find the perfect gift for a loved one, and loneliness for those who aren’t spending holidays with family or friends, to name a few. 
For those with a diagnosed mental illness, the holidays can be even more difficult. One study from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) found that 24% of people with mental illness reported that the holidays made their condition a lot worse, and 40% reported that they made their condition somewhat worse. Other studies have found that self-harm, suicide attempts, and completed suicides increase after holidays. This can be a difficult and dangerous time for people with mental illness. 
Substance Use Disorders
And that is true for people with substance use disorders too. In addition to the stress and anxiety that can be triggers for substance use, the culture of alcohol consumption at holiday events adds a layer of temptation that can be hard to resist or communicate to people around us. Complicated or difficult relationships with family members we see at holiday gatherings may increase the stress of the season, and because substance use disorder can run in families, we may find ourselves at family gatherings with loved ones who don’t understand the importance of our recovery or who continue to drink heavily or use drugs in our presence. Research shows that drug and alcohol consumption increase during the holiday season. The environment of stress and substance use around the holidays can make it a dangerous time for people with substance use disorder or living in recovery.
Grief
Grief can also make the holidays a tough time for some of us. In addition to over a half million deaths from COVID, we continue to lose far too many friends, family members, and neighbors to suicide and overdose. Nearly 50,000 people a year die from suicide, and we are approaching 100,000 deaths a year from overdose. These tragic deaths leave behind loved ones who grieve all year long, but the holidays can be especially painful. For people living with grief, the holidays can be the most difficult time of the year. Time with family and friends can be a reminder of who is missing, and memories of special holiday times with a deceased loved one can sharpen the pain of loss. With so much excitement and cheer around, it can feel inappropriate to express feelings of sadness and loneliness that exacerbated during this time. But it’s important to find ways to let these feelings out.
What Can We Do?
Given that the holidays can be a challenging time for people experiencing stress or anxiety, increased symptoms of mental illness, pressure to use substances, and painful grief, here are five things you can do to manage the challenges of the holidays:
Be aware of your needs and triggers: Put your well-being first. Take time to recognize the specific aspects of the holidays that may be difficult for you, and to the extent possible, limit your exposure to these triggers. Have a plan for handling those situations that cause you stress that you cannot avoid.
Take care of your physical health: Exercising, eating right, and getting enough sleep will help your body handle the increased stress of the season.
Manage your time: Don’t try to do more than you can, and make sure to build in time to care for yourself and relax.
Surround yourself with the right people: While holidays sometimes mean spending time with people who make things harder, focus on spending more of your time with people who support your well-being, don’t add stress to your life, and allow you to express the feelings you need to express
Stay active in therapy, treatment, or self-help: Part of the challenge of the holidays is they sometimes interfere with our normal healthy behaviors, like going to therapy, treatment, or self-help groups that help us manage behavioral health. Make keeping these appointments a top priority

.Conclusion
The holidays can be a time of great joy, but they can also challenge our mental health and recovery from substance use disorder. For people grieving a lost loved one, they can be especially difficult. As we celebrate the opportunities for togetherness that are returning this holiday season, let’s also take steps to protect and improve our well-being.

For more information about supporting your loved ones in recovery, visit http://www.embarkpca.net

Have a wonderful weekend!

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