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After Two Parkland Students Commit Suicide, Community Unites To Share Mental Health Resources

One year after the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., two students have died in apparent suicides, compelling the community to come together and share mental health resources.

On Saturday, a sophomore at the school, where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting last year, took his own life. One week prior, Sydney Aiello, 19, a recent Stoneman Douglas graduate who lost her best friend in the massacre, also ended her life.

As the Florida’s emergency chief Jared Moskowitz calls for the state Legislature to send more mental health resources for the high school’s students and faculty, calling mental health a “bipartisan issue” on Twitter, the community has stepped in where the state government has been slow to respond.

On Sunday, more than 60 school, county, city, child services and law enforcement officials, as well as mental health specialists, teachers and parents, met for an emergency meeting. Ryan Petty, father of Alaina Petty, a 14-year-old freshman who was murdered on Feb. 14. 2018, said that the school district will be giving parents the “Columbia Protocol, six questions that parents should ask their children, the Miami Herald reports. Based on their answers, they will know what emergency resources are available to them. Additionally, nonprofits are offering free therapy groups and services.

Online, it’s students, former and current, who are using social media to offer resources to those still suffering from the trauma and loss of last year’s school shooting. David Hogg, who graduated from Stoneman Douglas in 2018 and has become a fierce anti-gun advocate, took to Twitter, reminding Parkland students and grads that trauma doesn’t go away quickly.

“Stop saying you’ll get over it,'” he wrote. “You don’t get over something that never should have happened because those that die from gun violence are stolen from us not naturally lost. Trauma and loss don’t just go away, you have to learn to live with it through getting support.”

According to Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, who spoke with Teen Vogue, witnessing traumatic events can lead to symptoms consistent with acute stress disorder, including recurring memories, dreams or nightmares of the event; mood changes; irritability and more. These memories, she adds, can lead to negative thoughts, hopelessness, trouble sleeping and more.

Hogg wants youth to know that these symptoms are normal and that they can be managed through help, like therapy, talking with friends and family, meditation and self-care practices.

He, along with others, shared his own self-care routine.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, know there is help available. For immediate support, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis and are unsure where to turn, you can also reach out to the Crisis Text Line by sending HOME to 741741.

J Balvin Wants To Help Soothe Your Mental Health With Free, Bilingual Meditations

Entertainment

J Balvin Wants To Help Soothe Your Mental Health With Free, Bilingual Meditations

Chopra Center / YouTube

This may just be the biggest understatement ever, but 2020 has been one hell of a year – and it’s just now barely half way over. Apart from some of the incredible music artists have dropped this year, it’s been one crisis after another.

With everything going on and the increased isolation and loneliness, you’re likely feeling a combination of apprehensive, frazzled, angry, and confused.

Thankfully, there are plenty of very simple ways out there to find some balance and calm those nerves. The beloved J Balvin, along with famed alternative medicine advocate Deepak Chopra, has launched a new program that’s aimed at just that: helping us find balance and wisdom in these uncertain times.

J Balvin joins forces with Deepak Chopra to launch a free, bilingual 21-day meditation program.

Meditating can be an intimidating practice to start on your own, especially if its acceptance in your community isn’t widespread. Which let’s face it – it’s not exactly common in the Latino community.

Enter J Balvin and Deepak Chopra who have launched a 21-day meditation series.

J Balvin says that meditation saved his life and the hope is that the daily practice will change the lives of all who participate, too. 

“The world is offering us a reset and J Balvin is the perfect partner to help us reach a critical mass of expanded global awareness,” said Deepak Chopra of the partnership in a company press release. “Together we will set the stage for a more peaceful, inclusive, just, sustainable, healthy and joyful world for all. I am indebted to Jose and our Spanish speaking community for this collaboration.”

In an essay for People, J Balvin opened up about his struggled with mental health and how meditation has helped him.

Credit: JBalvin/ Instagram

J Balvin penned an essay for People, in which he opens up about his own struggles with mental health. He shares how he’s experienced both anxiety and depression, and that meditation has been one of the tools he’s used to help manage his mental health. If you’re looking for ways to help improve your mental health and build out a self-care routine, we recommend meditating.

On mental health, Balvin adds: “What makes mental health universal is that it does not discriminate. Mental health doesn’t care about your age, your race, your background; none of those things. It doesn’t care what you look like, or who you’re dating, or how much money you have in the bank. Of course it’s different for each of us. But it affects all of us.”

And speaking more about mental health awareness in the Latino community, Balvin says: “…because I am Latino — I know there can be a certain stigma in my community when it comes to mental well-being. Many Latino men will not want to talk about depression, because they fear it is not a manly thing, or that they will then be known as loco. But I don’t hesitate to say that I have been depressed.”

These are strong words and are so important for many of us to hear, to know that we’re not alone.

Deepak Chopra is a famed author and alternative medicine advocate.

Chopra is a popular author and alternative medicine guru in the English-world. He’s written several books about consciousness and meditation and he had a partnership with Oprah for her 21-Day Meditation series.

Deepak Chopra says that he’s excited to reach a new audience and to be able to work alongside J Balvin, a man who has been very open with his own struggles.

The 21-Day program is free and available in both English and Spanish.

Credit: deepakchopra/ Instagram

The program, Renew Yourself: Body, Mind & Spirit is a 360 look at rejuvenation and will be available through Chopra’s website. With a strong track record of success, the 21-Day Meditation program encourages participants to move beyond old, limiting beliefs and patterns for 20 minutes each day, opening with guided wisdom and storytelling from Balvin, followed by a meditation session with Chopra. Renew Yourself: Body, Mind & Spirit is free for longer than 21 days, typically 5-6 weeks, and at the end, listeners can purchase the meditation to have on-going access to both Chopra and J Balvin.

In addition to the daily meditations, you’ll also recieve a daily message and journaling prompts to complete each day. “Together we will set the stage for a more peaceful, inclusive, just, sustainable, healthy, and joyful world for all,” Chopra said in the press release.

Working From Home Can Impact Your Mental Health, Here’s How To Stay Sane And Healthy

Things That Matter

Working From Home Can Impact Your Mental Health, Here’s How To Stay Sane And Healthy

Kathleen Demayo / Getty Stock

A recent survey shows that thirty-five percent of workers who telecommute said their mental health had deteriorated as a result of doing so amid the coronavirus lockdown. As someone who has gone from working in a social, fun-filled, compassionate office space, I can consider myself part of that 35%.

Although working from home (for those privileged enough to do so) is a necessity for our safety and that of the community – it definitely presents some unique challenges.

Yes, the benefits are many: avoiding transit problems and the stress of commuting; sidestepping office politics; adopting a flexible schedule that allows for chores and errands to be incorporated into the work day; more time with family and pets; and a break on keeping up a business wardrobe and other appearance-related expenses.

But there’s a dark side. It’s an arrangement that fosters isolation and disconnection, two conditions that feed the greedy depression monster.

Here are some excellent tips for taking care of your mental health during these unprecedented times.

Break up your workday

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Some common challenges when working from home during the pandemic is the lack of stimulation and connection to people you used to see regularly. This can become a bit confusing, so it’s great to try to break up the schedule.

One of the best tips for working from home that I’ve discovered is breaking up the work day with movement. This can be a quick burst of movement (like jumping jacks, or lifting kettle bells) or some lower impact movement like a walk. I’m also a huge fan of taking a mid-afternoon break (longer than your typical 30-minute lunch break) to go on a long walk or run errands.

Get a routine and stick to it

Routine is essential, and it’s even more important when structure is missing.

Sticking to a routine does not mean that you have to abide by the old standard 9-5 office hours, and only take downtime in the evening. It simply means that you have a system for waking up on time, getting ready, feeling confident and getting your work done in a timely manner. 

When you do this regularly enough, it will feel more natural over time, and you won’t have to think about it so much. For me, this has meant taking my dogs out on a walk to get a coffee in the morning and then coming home and getting to work – it’s like creating my own little commute.

Stay connected

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Remember to keep up with friends and family, even if that can only be done through a Zoom or FaceTime call. Text someone you care about, and when restrictions are lifted in your area, try to make plans as regularly as you feel comfortable.

Connection is key, and it can be challenging when you don’t leave your home for long stretches of time.

It’s also helpful to join platforms of people doing similar work as you and interacting with them throughout the day. Or you can join an online book club or participate in volunteer work – having this sort of obligation will go a long way in helping you show up when you don’t feel great.

Incorporate wellness activities into your day

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One of the biggest perks of working from home is that you get to do things you might not be able to if you’re in an office all day.

I’ve been doing 20 minute walks around my neighborhood while listening to music. This moves the energy in the body and allow us to to have a shift in consciousness, which is so important when you’ve been isolated in front of a computer screen.

Another way to experience new energy in the body is to pause from work, find a comfortable place to sit, and then do deep belly breaths. This involves taking one deep breath in, and then focus on the exhale. You’ll notice your shoulders will relax, and your body will feel lighter.

Learn how to detach

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It’s so important when working from home that you keep your work and personal lives and actual physical areas totally separate. For many, it may not be possible to create an actual separate office space but you can create workspaces outside of your most “lived in” spaces. That’s what matters most.

There is a risk that working hours will get longer if the boundaries between work and personal life become blurred. It is necessary to establish a rigid system in which work can be carried out in a planned manner, such as by setting working hours and the timing of contact with supervisors.

No matter what you do, remember that working from home is yet another “new normal” to get used to — and the sooner you adapt to what makes you most productive, healthy, and mentally well, the better.