Thank you to Tony Evers and Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development for awarding Unified Community Services with the Gold Award for Being a Veteran Ready Employer!

Award Presentation at Unified Community Services 2.13.2024

Have you ever heard the saying “You never step in the same river twice?”

Although our habits, patterns, and routines can feel familiar, no day is exactly identical because we are always growing, learning, and changing ourselves! Enjoy the moment you’re in!

Support Opportunity from the Childmind Institute!

Friendships are important to children. If your kid is having a hard time fitting in, there are ways you can help your child make friends.

https://childmind.org/article/kids-who-need-a-little-help-to-make-friends/

Need Lasting Change in 2024?

Tired of the New Year’s Resolution game that doesn’t work? Want lasting change when it comes to alcohol and substance use? Reach out today! We can help!

Looking for mental health and substance use awareness training for your organization’s leadership team? We can help!

Experiencing Grief This Holiday Season?

If you’re dealing with loss this holiday season, please read the article below by Kristen Carpenter, PhD. The link to the full article is below.

“If this is your first holiday season after the death of a loved one, you might be grappling with whether you should carry on traditions while grieving. And guess what? It’s perfectly normal and important to give yourself some grace.

Let yourself feel the way you feel

Feelings are facts. Everyone copes with loss in their own way. Your emotional responses to loss are valid and are part of your unique healing process. Don’t waste energy on feeling ashamed or guilty about your feelings; invest that energy in making concrete efforts to feel better and heal.

Be open to adjusting your holiday traditions

The first holiday after the passing of a loved one is often the hardest, especially if the loss is unexpected.

When a loved one is lost, some families find comfort in the familiar and incorporate a time of remembrance into their holiday celebrations.

Others find the usual traditions too painful, especially if the loss occurred recently. If this is the case, it can be helpful to celebrate the holiday in an entirely different way and consider resuming traditions when you’re ready. You might find it helpful to change the location of a celebration and consider taking a trip or visiting a family member in a different city.

Some prefer to be alone in their grief, and that’s okay too. Simply explain your need to your family and friends, who’ll likely care and understand.

Incorporate a time of remembrance into your holidays

How you celebrate the life of someone who died is unique to you, depending on what the person meant to you and how you feel comfortable commemorating your relationship.

Here are a few ideas:

Have those gathered together share a story or memory of the person.

Light a candle.

Plant a flower or tree.

Visit the person’s grave.

Say special prayers.

Keep photos close; for instance, wear a photo of the person in a locket or keep a picture with you during a special event you wish the person could have attended, such as a religious ceremony or wedding.

Don’t hesitate to seek support from others and don’t be afraid to accept help. Here are some easy ways to make sure your family and friends can help in the most meaningful ways.

Lead the way in letting people know what you need

Be clear about whether you prefer to grieve privately, with the support of close friends or with a wide circle of people accessible through social networks.

Tip for friends: Don’t take to social media to offer support, particularly if someone who’s experienced loss isn’t communicating publicly online. This could lead to you sharing something personal that the person prefers not to share.

Ask a friend to set up a meal train

People love to bring food, but nobody needs three lasagnas on the same day. Online tools make meals easy to coordinate, so this doesn’t happen.

Don’t be afraid to ask for food you can freeze — this can be especially helpful for a parent who’s handling the death of a spouse while raising children.

Write down what you need (the “notecard method”)

The “notecard method” will save you from trying to think of something in the moment and make your life easier when asked by a supportive friend, “What do you need?” or “How can I help?”

Here’s how it works:

Sit down and make a list of what you need, including things for tangible and emotional support. Things like:

Holiday or grocery shopping

Food preparation

Wrapping gifts

Household chores, like cleaning, mowing or maintenance

Get a stack of notecards and write down one item on each card.

When people ask how they can help, hand them a note card or have them choose something they feel they can do.

There isn’t one right way to deal with grief during the holidays

Everyone copes differently and you’ll find ways that are easier or more helpful for you than others. Allow yourself to feel the emotions, listen to yourself during this time and seek help if you need it. Taking care of yourself, sharing memories and being surrounded by supportive people are a few great ways to get through this time, but you’ll have to decide which methods work best for you.

Source: https://health.osu.edu/…/ment…/grief-during-the-holidays

20 Ways to Maintain Recovery During the Holidays

Author Unknown

  1. The 24-hour plan (or Minute by Minute): Each day of the holiday, choose not to get high that day without thinking too far ahead. If one day at a time gets too hard, take it an hour at a time. If that gets too hard, take it a minute at a time.
  2. Daily Dial-In: Put your counselor on speed dial for regular holiday check-ins.
  3. Attend recovery support groups near your home during the holiday season.
  4. Make a “Top Five.” Five people you can call if you’re craving alcohol or drugs. Let them know you will be calling them for support!
  5. Family function: Ask for support from non-drug using relatives.
  6. Strength training. Regular exercise is a powerful tool for building your recovery muscles and improving your fitness. Like drugs and alcohol, exercise releases dopamine and endorphins, the hormones that make you feel happy.
  7. Change your routes. Avoid triggers by listing and staying away from places where you used to drink or use.
  8. Connect with your sponsor. If you have a 12-step sponsor, check in with them daily.
  9. Soothe your spirit: Engage in activities daily that uplift your spirit, like meditation, yoga, prayer.
  10. Write about it. Keep a daily gratitude journal.
  11. Give back! Volunteer your time or services during the holiday.
  12. Graceful exits. If you’re at an event and feel tempted to get high, give yourself permission to leave early.
  13. Mission statement: Write a letter to yourself entitled: “This is how I plan to stay sober during the holiday.” Mail it to yourself in a holiday card!
  14. Benefits Plan: Write a letter to yourself on the benefits of recovery during the holiday. Remind yourself that you won’t know the benefits until you experience them. There’s so much to look forward to!
  15. Avoid HALT during the holiday: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.
  16. Plan ahead. Predict high-risk situations and let your counselor know how you
    will deal with each situation.
  17. Take 10. If you’re craving a drink or drugs, wait 10 minutes, then 10
    more minutes. Do something with your hands that takes you away from the cravings in your head: sweep the floor, vacuum, etc.
  18. Think it forward: If you ‘re thinking about using, think about how you will feel the next day if you’re hungover or sober.
  19. Tune in, not out (or play it forward): Create your special recovery playlist. Include songs from any season that inspire you to maintain your recovery. Keep this playlist on your phone as a handy tool to tum to resist triggers.
  20. Walk about. The holiday season brings longer days and less sunlight, but a brisk walk in nature under a starry winter sky can restore your spirit.

Did You Know About This Common Form of Depression People Often Experience?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — seasonal affective disorder (SAD) begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. These symptoms often resolve during the spring and summer months. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer and resolves during the fall or winter months.

Treatment for SAD may include light therapy (phototherapy), counseling, and medications.

Don’t brush off that yearly feeling as simply a case of the “winter blues” or a seasonal funk that you have to tough out on your own. Take steps to keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the year.

Source: https://www.mayoclinic.org/…/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651

As winter sets in, are you becoming more isolated? Isolation can affect our mental health and our physical health!

Learn more in this article by Keri Lipperini, Director, Office of Nutrition and Health Promotion Programs, Administration for Community Living.

“Winter is upon us. While some may enjoy the colder climates, others may start withdrawing from activities and disconnecting from family and friends. Those who suffer from seasonal depression will face an even harder battle as they withdraw until springtime returns. The decline of outdoor activities, followed by a lack of social interaction during the winter months, could easily lead you to feel isolated and lonely.

Research shows that social isolation and loneliness can have a detrimental impact on your health and well-being. In fact, studies by Julianne Holt-Lunstad at Brigham Young University found that prolonged social isolation is as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and more harmful than obesity. Other studies have found that being socially isolated increases your risk of being targeted for abuse and neglect. Older adults who lack social connections or report frequent feelings of loneliness also tend to suffer higher rates of injuries, infection, depression, cognitive decline, and early death. That is a profound impact!

Social isolation is complex. Chronic disease, speech or hearing impairments, inadequate transportation options, and settings that are not accessible for people with physical and mental disabilities can each make social isolation worse. You may choose to stay home, where you feel comfortable, because you feel anxious or embarrassed about your health or disabilities. Depression, anxiety, early-stage dementia, and other mental health concerns, can also increase your risk of social isolation. Additionally, If you no longer drive and have limited, or no, access to public transportation, you are more likely to face social isolation. This is a particular concern in many rural communities.

In addition to social isolation being complex; it is not always easy to spot. Just because you live alone, or spend a lot of time alone, doesn’t mean you are socially isolated and you can be socially isolated even if you have an extroverted personality and appear socially engaged. Social isolation is not about being in a room full of people, or having a lot of “friends” on social media, it is about feeling connected.

Feeling connected means being understood. People often isolate themselves because they feel no one understands what they are going through.

So, how do you spot social isolation? You may want to start by thinking about how you have changed over time. For example, are you less excited about things you once enjoyed? Do you feel distant from people or misunderstood? If you are a caregiver, does your loved one seem less excited about events they once looked forward to, such as the annual car show or regular social functions? These changes could be red flags indicating social isolation.

Your risk of social isolation can increase as you get older for a variety of reasons, including bereavement and greater risk of disabilities that effect mobility or communication. Nearly one in five Americans age 65 and older are socially isolated.

However, social isolation can effect anyone at any time. As a veteran who experienced deployments and the transition from military to civilian life, I am no stranger to the effects of social isolation. Anyone, no matter their age, can withdraw or disconnect from family, friends, or the community.

You may be wondering, what can be done? Studies show that being active and engaged in your community are great ways to tackle social isolation.

One such study was an evaluation of ACL’s nutrition program, which provides meals to older adults. Ninety three percent of participants who receive meals in congregate settings, such as senior centers, were socially active and satisfied with their opportunities to spend time with other people. The typical congregate meal participant does not experience loneliness and only seven percent of congregate meal participants screened positively for depression.

Some other ways to engage in meaningful social activities include:

Volunteering or mentoring in your community

Visiting your local senior or community center

Seeking out leadership roles in a civic organization or faith community

Signing up for a cooking, exercise, falls prevention, chronic disease self-management, or other class

You can also learn about assistive technology solutions, such as hearing aids and wheelchair ramps, which can make it easier for you to stay active in your community. If you are a caregiver, encourage your loved ones to engage in meaningful social activities that increase opportunities for socialization. If your loved one is unable to get out of the house, a daily phone call or visitor can make a huge difference.

Ultimately, tackling social isolation is about making our communities more accessible, inclusive, and caring. If you think someone in your community is at risk of social isolation, you can start by reaching out. Try asking if they would like a visit or invite them to join you on an outing.

To learn more about programs and services in your community that can help you or a loved one get more engaged, go to eldercare.acl.gov or call 800-677-1116.”

Source: https://acl.gov/…/acl…/staying-socially-connected-winter

#winter#isolation#healthandwellness

Dealing with Grief This Holiday Season? You’re Not Alone.

It’s extremely difficult to lose people we care deeply for whether they move on from a shared workplace, move out of a residence, leave a relationship, or pass away. Please take some time to care for yourself in you’re dealing with grief this holiday season.

Iowa Co.

Sharing Grief of Loss- 2nd Thursday of each month.

7:00pm – 9:00pm at Iowa County Health and Human Services Building. 303 W. Chapel St. Dodgeville, WI 53533.

Compassionate Friends -(608) 604-1723 julie.henneman9@gmail.com

3rd Tuesday of Each Month 7:00pm. @ Grace Lutheran Church, 1105 Bequette St. Dodgeville, WI 53533

Veterans Mental Health

Iowa County Veteran Services Office location at 303 Chapel st., Suite 1300, Dodgeville, WI 53533

1st & 3rd Friday of every month 9:00am-3:30pm. Sponsored by:

Madison Vet Center at 608-264-5342 Jonathan Howell

Sauk Co.

Grief Support Group: 1670 S. Boulevard Baraboo, 800-553-4289. (also Richland County)

Grant Co.

Grief Support Group- Schreiner Memorial Library. Last Monday of each Month @ 6:30pm. Lead by Kim White, Mindfulness Matters

Compassionate Friends- 2nd Monday of the month at 6:30pm. Boscobel Public Library. Lead by Tammy Clauer: tammy.clauer@gmail.com

LaFayette Co.

Survivors Grief Support Group

2nd Monday Monthly 6-8pm

Lafayette Co Multi-Use Bldg 11974 Ames Rd. Darlington

Vernon Co.

Survivors Grief Support Group

3rd Tuesday @ 7pm- 8pm

Coulee Recovery Center 933 Ferry St. LaCrosse, WI

(608) 633-3135

Crawford Co.

Survivors Grief Support Group

3rd Monday @ 6:30pm- 8pm

River District Hotel 130 S. Main St., Prairie du Chien

sonya.anderson@crossingrivers.org

Grief Support Group

1st Monday @ 5:00pm

Crossing River Health-Polodna Conference Room

Haley Kregel: 608-357-2449

ONLINE RESOURCES:

Support Group

• Wisconsin Based: 2nd & 4th Thursday 7:00pm-8:30pm. Contact psw@Mhawisconsin.org (414) 336-7970

Survivors Loss –18yrs+

• Healingconversations@afsp.org

Sharing #grief 2nd & 4th Tuesday of the Month. Confidential SOS Group at Journey Mental Health Center, Madison, WI 608-280-2435

E-Mail: sos@journeymhc.org

#LOSS#mentalhealth#supportgroup#support