Posts tagged with "mental health"

Mina Tocalini illustration for mental health article inside 360 magazine

How To Combat Loneliness, Especially Now

During the COVID-19 crisis, all of our lives have been disrupted. We’re not connecting with family, friends and colleagues like we used to, and it’s easy to feel lonely. To help some of the people I was coaching, I wrote down eight ways to combat this feeling and tested them on our business clients, executives, and even some friends. What they found was they could, indeed, address their own sense of being alone and fill their days with well-being and even happiness.

 I thought I would share those eight ways. 

  1. You can manage your mind. If you visualize each day as one filled with purpose and meaning, you will find that the act of being alone or distant from those you care about becomes less important. With a little practice, you really can train your mind to believe that it is happy without others. Seriously, collaborate with your mind. It will do exactly what it thinks you want it to do.
  2. Exercise is especially important. It’s an essential part of a healthy mind, body, spirit. Find a ritual every day that gets you up, walking, working out, biking…anything that is not sitting in a chair.
  3. Plan weekends where you are at public spaces. Visit a park, a hiking trail or a playground, and talk to other people. Wear your mask and introduce yourself. You will find that you and they will feel less lonely. I did a podcast once with a woman who was always on the airplane working in all kinds of places—much as I had been. She used to walk in the parks just to create the feeling that she was not alone. Neither of us were ever really alone, but we were often lonely. The walks always quieted our minds and engaged our spirits in healthy feelings.
  4. If you like to Zoom, set up a time with friends on a regular basis for tea or a cocktail hour. You will find that the week flies by as you look forward to the gathering, and the time spent together is priceless. Even with family, family Zoom time becomes remarkably sacred. It has in our home. But, our friends are also happily zooming in and we are all talking longer and deeper than we might ever in a restaurant.
  5. If you are a Facebook person, join some new groups. In these groups you  can share insights, things you have learned or want to know about, or possibly new career paths you want to explore. Our Rethink with Andi Simon group has been growing beautifully with professional women from across the globe who want to help other women become the “best they can be.” Sharing has become a gift for each of them.
  6. Book groups are terrific on Zoom.  Book clubs, where you can join others and discuss hot books together, are booming for good reason. If you have not joined one, find a theme that might reflect your own interests and see what you can do to get involved. Here is alink to some that are open for you to join.
  7. Tutor someone. Find ways to identify young people who would like a tutor for math or science or geology or anything that is your area of expertise. Sharing is an immensely powerful antidote for loneliness. The gift of giving will make your loneliness go away as acts of gratitude will make you feel purposeful and positive.
  8. Cook! Make something (for others or maybe just yourself) and sit and eat it slowly. Savor each bite and enjoy all the different flavors and tastes.

COVID-19 may be keeping people apart, but with a little ingenuity and effort, we can find ways to connect – with ourselves and with others.

About Andi Simon

Andi Simon, Ph.D. (www.andisimon.com), author of the upcoming book Rethink: Smashing the Myths of Women in Business, is a corporate anthropologist and founder of Simon Associates Management Consultants (www.simonassociates.net). A trained practitioner in Blue Ocean Strategy®, Simon has conducted several hundred workshops and speeches on the topic as well as consulted with a wide range of clients across the globe. She also is the author of the award-winning book On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights. Simon has a successful podcast, On the Brink with Andi Simon, that has more than 125,000 monthly listeners, and is ranked among the top 20 Futurist podcasts and top 200 business podcasts. In addition, Global Advisory Experts named Simons’ firm the Corporate Anthropology Consultancy Firm of the Year in New York – 2020. She has been on Good Morning, America and Bloomberg, and is widely published in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Forbes, Business Week, Becker’s, and American Banker, among others. She has been a guest blogger for Forbes.com, Huffington Post, and Fierce Health.

Illustration for 360 Magazine art story

Ways to Achieve a Positive Mindset To Help You Succeed

A positive mindset helps people make the best choices and decisions for themselves, their jobs, and those around them. Learning to practice having a positive mindset also fosters a strong relationship with yourself and others as it relies on engaging in and maturing your internal dialogue. It helps in building resilience, creating a positive and optimistic attitude and ultimately leads to greater success and well-being.  The good news is that there are things people can do to have a more positive mindset.

“There are so many benefits of cultivating a positive mindset,” explains Katie Sandler, personal development and career coach. “The goal is to learn how to do it and then continue practicing it until utilizing a positive mindset becomes a way of life. It can be done, and when it is, you will be far more successful and content as a result.”

A positive mindset is a mental and emotional attitude – it’s about making the choice to think positively. If we think positively then typically beneficial behaviors and actions follow. Sandler has helped many people to shift their mindset and use the power of it to achieve goals and become more successful in multiple areas of their life. Some of the ways she has helped her clients to achieve a positive mindset include:

  • Practice mindfulness. When you are living in the moment and are aware of what is going on in the present moment with a kind and open attitude, you are being mindful. Many people worry about the past or the future, which tends to lead to symptoms of stress, depression or anxiety. But, when you attune to the here and now without judgement, you are better able to remain positive and achieve your goals. As your mind wanders, which it’s trained to do, simply acknowledge it and gently bring it back to the present moment by focusing on your breath.
  • Have an attitude of gratitude. Being grateful means noticing even the small things in your life that you appreciate. It’s a way to savor the moment, be positive and look for the possibilities in whatever life throws your way. When you do this on a regular basis, it helps to flex your mindset muscles – train yourself to be grateful and express gratitude and notice the good things that happen all around you.
  • Keep it real. Life is not easy or peachy keen. As a matter of fact, it is actually more difficult than it is easy, but no one wants to admit this. So let’s face the facts – we have to work at having a positive mindset, period, and anything worth having doesn’t come easy because life is hard.
  • Engage your internal dialogue. You know that voice you hear in your head? Well you’re not alone, because we all have an inner voice we hear. The thing is, a lot of people don’t realize that you can in fact engage with that part of yourself, and with a loving and kind attitude, you can work with yourself to mature your mindset.
  • Commit to it and keep practicing. People tend to think that knowing what to do is half the battle, but that’s not true. If you don’t put it into practice then it doesn’t do you much good to know it. You have to learn new habits and ways of being, implement them, test them out, and continually work at getting better at them.
  • Define what success means to you. At the end of the day, how we define success varies for us all, but this definition is for sure: To achieve well-being, a state of fulfillment and contentment, and a positive mindset is the type of success we should all hope for – the type of success we all need and deserve.

“One of the most important things you can do in life is to shift your mindset so that you can truly enjoy the life you’re living,” added Sandler. “It will be beneficial in nearly all areas of your life, helping you to become healthier, happier, and more successful. Make this the year that you put positivity front and center.”

A positive mindset can help people experience greater levels of happiness, and being happier helps people to become more positive – it’s a cycle. In an issue of the journal called Canadian Family Physician, a doctor wrote what he called a prescription for happiness. The three things he prescribed to help people be happier are spending time outdoors in a natural environment daily, starting every morning by thinking of three things to be grateful for, and surrounding yourself with supportive people.

Sandler has provided professional support to many people to help them achieve their personal and professional goals. She routinely works with people to help them identify areas to focus on, paths for personal achievement, how to reach their life goals, and more. She also works with companies providing impact trainings and workshops, developing and promoting purposeful and inclusive organizational cultures. Through her efforts, companies have been able to reduce absenteeism rates, motivate their team, reduce stress levels, engage their employees, and create a workplace in which to thrive.

In addition to one-on-one coaching services, Sandler offers impact retreats and corporate impact events. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in mental health counseling, has a strong foundation in mindfulness-based stress reduction, and has worked in hospitals and private practices. She has also spent time as a research assistant at Johns Hopkins. Upcoming retreats include Rest and Renew in Asheville, NC, Mindfulness in Mykonos, Rewire and Renew in The French Alps, and Mindfulness & Mindset in The Hamptons. To learn more about Katie Sandler and her services, or to see the retreat schedule, visit the site: https://katiesandler.com/.

About Katie Sandler

Katie Sandler is a popular impact and private wellness coach. She offers retreats around the world, as well as private coaching and corporate impact coaching opportunities. She focuses on helping people become more successful, overcome adversity, and reach new career goals. To learn more about Katie or her services, visit the site: https://katiesandler.com/.

Emotional Support Animal Airline Laws Changing January 11th

In 2020, the Department of Transportation made a new determination that only service dogs would continue to be protected under the American’s with Disabilities Act, thus categorizing emotional support animals as pets.

So far, only Southwest Airlines have stated that they will continue to accept ESA’s at no charge. Both Alaska and American Airlines have stated that they will no longer accept emotional support animals on flights. However, several airlines accept pets for a fee. Those who have already booked flights this year with their ESA should look into each airline policy, as some will still be accepting ESA’s from existing reservations.

“Basically what it comes down to is the animal’s training. They are saying an individual with PTSD who has a trained dog can have the animal with them during air travel, but if the individual has PTSD and doesn’t have the luxury of being gifted a service dog, or can’t afford the costs of obtaining a service dog which can run upwards of $50,000, then their PTSD doesn’t qualify/isn’t valid,” said licensed mental health professional Prairie Conlon. Prairie Conlon, LPC, NPC  and Clinical Director of CertaPet was disheartened about the news.

“That’s textbook discrimination on several levels. I’m honestly astonished that they pushed this through. There are so many other options, such as tightening restrictions and requiring basic training, that could have solved the issue,” continued Conlon.

“So many news sources keep referring to the peacock incident of 2018 and of course they are saying good riddance, as am I. But what they fail to realize is that that incident did cause a lot of change and those types of animals haven’t seen ESA status for air travel since then. Stop referring to the peacock. It’s not a valid argument anymore. Nobody is fighting for the peacock to be an ESA.” 

CertaPet, an emotional support letter service, released this statement:

“We at Certapet think this is a great disservice to those facing mental health challenges that get emotional support from their animal.  We understand that there have been incidents that have discredited emotional support animals and the service they provide, but those situations could be prevented by increased regulation.  We think emotional support peacocks are ridiculous too.  Providing clear guidelines for certification and vetting companies in the industry would have been simple steps to solve this challenge for all stakeholders. Certapet is a trusted telehealth platform that has been providing real mental health services for many years. These imposter companies exploiting individuals with mental health issues should be penalized.

Eliminating emotional support animals altogether is a quick, cheap fix that disregards those who really need and use the treatment appropriately. The DOT has chosen the easy and harmful path over the correct one. We hope to have continued discussions with airlines as they make choices on their own company policies and encourage them to make the right decisions. Mental health is a serious issue and removing access to a researched and proven treatment is a disgrace.”

ABOUT PRAIRIE CONLON

Prairie is a licensed mental health professional and is considered the world’s leading expert on Emotional Support Animals. She is the Clinical Director of Therapeutic and consults for CertaPet, one of the largest telehealth companies in the nation. Prairie has a Master’s Degree in professional counseling and a Postgraduate Degree in Military Behavioral health counseling. She is certified as an equine-assisted psychotherapist. Prairie is a certified Accelerated Resolution Therapist and helps train future trauma therapist in this modality. She consults for several nonprofits for veterans and first responder trauma, including The Lone Survivor Foundation and Horses that Heal. She is the founder, developer and lead researcher of emotional support animal Assisted Therapy (ESAAT) which is a set of techniques utilized to decrease anxiety, panic attacks, depressive symptoms, and sleep difficulties with the use of an Emotional Support Animal.

ABOUT CERTAPET

We are the #1 Emotional Support Letter Service, and we make sure your letter is 100% compliant with state and federal regulations.

Kaelen Felix illustrates Ritchie Torres for 360 Magazine

TRAILBLAZER: CONGRESSMAN RITCHIE TORRES

By Elle Grant

January 3rd marked the commencement of the 117th Congress and the swearing of its newest members. For many, it marked the beginning of a new dawn. One that will be followed by the inauguration of TIME’s People of the Year, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. They will replace President Trump on Inauguration Day on January 20th. Yet several other remarkable individuals were elected this year and sworn in a bit earlier, solidifying the 117th Congress as the most diverse in American history. One of these representatives is a freshly elected Ritchie Torres, a 32-year-old politician serving the 15th congressional district in the Bronx, New York. Torres is the first openly gay Afro-Latino man elected to Congress, and one of two gay Black men that will serve in the 117th Congress, a distinction he shares with fellow New Yorker Mondaire Jones. 360 Magazine had the opportunity to sit down with Torres to discuss the story of his life, the issues he considers vital, as well as pick his brain for his thoughts on current events.

“I am a product of the Bronx,” Torres says of his childhood, “I spent most of my life in poverty.” Ritchie Torres was raised by a single mother, one of three children, in the Throggs Neck neighborhood of the East Bronx. He recalls the difficulty his mother had raising a family on minimum wage in the 1990s, as well as the awful conditions of the public housing he grew up in. Torres recollects these experiences with the soft yet fluid countenance that marked his speech throughout 360’s conversation with him. He floats between topics and memories with ease.

He recalls, with a rich sense of irony, the construction of Trump Golf Links as a child. “My life is something of a metaphor. I grew up right across the street of what became Trump golf course and actually something funny, is when the golf course was undergoing construction, it unleashed a skunk infestation. So, I often tell people I’ve been smelling the stench of Donald Trump long before he became President.” His own situation, compared with the government subsidized construction of the Trump Golf Links, deeply unsettled Torres’ image of society. He says collectively of his youth, “Those experiences shape not only who I am as a person, but as a public official.”

Such injustices prompted Torres to seek to become “The change that you wish the see in the world,” he says, quoting Mahatma Gandhi. He named public figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Ted Kennedy as role models. He got his start as a housing organizer and eventually took the leap of faith to run for public office, becoming New York’s youngest elected city official at age 25. He had “No ties to the machine. No ties to the dynasties of Bronx politics, but I was young and energetic. I knocked on thousands of doors,” he claims that kind of face-to-face contact won him that election. Torres then became the first LGBTQ+ official elected from the Bronx.

“I think it has several implications,” he says when asked what this early accomplishment meant to him. “I mean, first, we are all products of our identities and our lived experiences. Right? Who we are as people shapes what we do as policy makers. It is important to have LGBTQ policy makers in the room where decisions are being made. A wise person once said, ‘If you don’t have a seat at the table, then you are probably on the menu.’” Referring to his 2020 election win, he says “My election means that LGBTQ people of color, in particular, will have a seat at one of the most powerful tables, the United States Congress.” He calls the reality of his election both empowering and normalizing. “I am a symbol of possibility.”

“I met Mondaire for the first time four years ago,” Torres says of Mondaire Jones, U.S. representative of New York’s 17th congressional district. “I remember when I met him for the first time, we had a conversation about the lack of LGBTQ representation of color in New York state politics. And I never imagined that four years later, he and I would become the first openly LGBTQ Black members of United States Congress.”

Congressmen Torres recognizes that his path, though marked with accomplishments, has not been one of only highs. Torres stands apart as a public official on the national stage who is open about the lows of his life and his struggles with mental health. When asked why he chooses to be so transparent, he says “I felt a deep sense of obligation to speak openly about my own struggles with depression in order to break the silence and shame and stigma that surrounds mental health.” He seeks to evolve, not perpetuate, the current ideas surrounding mental health. He hopes to show that “there is a way forward” out of difficult moments, which for him were struggles with substance abuse, the loss of a friend, and moments when he considered taking his own life. But seven years later, Torres was elected to city council. “I would not be alive today, much less a member of the United States Congress, were it not for mental health care which saved my life.” He aspires to send a message that “Recovery is possible. You can take an antidepressant, as I do every day, and find normalcy and stability” and achieve feats like being elected to Congress.

The 117th Congress is slated to be the most diverse in history. Torres says of this reality, “I think American is increasingly becoming a multi-racial, multi-ethnic inclusive democracy. We are witnessing the collapse of politics as an old voice network. I am part of a new generation of young leaders every bit as diverse as America itself. Congress is becoming what it always should have been, a miniaturization of America itself.”

Torres acknowledges the year 2020, monumental in many ways, as harrowing for his Bronx community. “COVID-19 has been a catastrophe for the city and the country, and the South Bronx has been the epicenter of COVID-19. The South Bronx had the highest rate of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality during the peak of the pandemic. And just as destructive as COVID-19 itself were the deeper inequalities that were brought to light.” He argued that the coronavirus exposed the deeper health inequalities, racial inequalities, and class inequalities laid bare by the pandemic.

These issues are at the forefront of Torres’ mind in thinking of his work as a legislator. When asked what he saw as the first step to rectifying the rampant racial injustice in the United States, he answered “the first thing is to bring greater accountability to policing in America,” an argument familiar to many Americans following the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd and their ensuing protests. As the Black Lives Matter movement swept the nation with greater momentum than ever before, cries for justice and defunding the police became common across the country’s cities. “Where there is no accountability, there will never be an end to police brutality” Torres says, being especially critical of qualified immunity in the United States.

Torres heads to Congress as a man with a mission regarding many issues. He himself declares “My great passion is affordable housing,” reflecting a long journey working continually in the housing sphere. He seeks to secure far greater funding for public housing in New York City and to expand the Section 8 program. The Section 8 program, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher program, created by an act in 1978, provides assistance to eligible low- and moderate-income families to rent housing in the private market. Torres says, “For me the surest way to stimulate the economy is to put money in the pockets of struggling families.” In order to do that, he believes the solution is an expanded child tax credit, which he describes as the single largest tax expenditure in America, yet he finds fault with a system that is “so regressive that it excludes a third of American families. Particularly the poorest families in America.” Torres’ passion shines through when he discusses the subject, detailing how this solution could slash childhood poverty by 40% in the span of the year. He calls its potential an absolute “game changer.”

Without question, affordable housing and tax reform are the first issues Torres hopes to address after being sworn in to the 117th Congress on January 3rd, 2020. “For me, the central mission of my life is to fight poverty in America. Racially constructed poverty in America. The South Bronx is said to be the poorest district in America and if we can make progressive policies work in the South Bronx, we can make them work anywhere.”

360 Magazine also had the opportunity to discuss a variety of current issues with Congressman Torres, one of which being the then impending Senate run-offs in Georgia. Following races too close to call in November 2020, Republican incumbent David Perdue is facing a challenge from Democrat Jon Ossoff. Additionally, GOP appointee Kelly Loeffler is defending her seat against Democrat Reverend Raphael Warnock. The election is vital because it will determine which party will control the Senate. “The stakes are supremely important,” Torres says of Georgia. “As long as Mitch McConnell refuses to bring critical bills to the floor for a vote, there is a limit to what we can accomplish. For me, Mitch McConnell is the single greatest obstruction on the path to progress. Winning those two seats in Georgia are essential.”

Regarding the impending mayoral race in his home of New York City, as well as early polls that display former Presidential candidate Andrew Yang as the frontrunner, Torres is coy. “The mayor’s race is wide open. Anyone who claims to have it figured out is lying.” He goes on to affirm “It is full of more than one credible candidate.”

“To be clear, I never announced that I wasn’t going to be in the squad.” Torres says, referring to ‘The Squad’ of United States Congress, composed of Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a fellow New Yorker, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. With new young progressive politicians like Torres joining the fray, claims of expanding membership are common. Torres, along with the aforementioned Mondaire Jones, as well as Congresswoman Cori Bush, Congresswoman Marie Newman, and Congressman Jamaal Brown are commonly referred to as impending members.

Instead, Torres clarifies, “I would never issue an announcement that I would not be a part of something. That would be an odd thing to do. Whenever I’m asked about the squad, I simply state that I’m my own person and I prefer to be judged on the basis of my own story and my own record, on my own terms.” He goes on to assert he is willing to work with “anyone and everyone in the service of delivering to the people of the South Bronx. That is my highest priority.” Torres is clear in this declaration that he is willing to work with more conservative members of his own party or the Republican party in hopes of progress.

On a future in politics, Torres affirmed his intent to serve the people in the moment and to “let the dice fall where they may” regarding the future. When asked what wisdom he would impart to a younger generation, Congressman Torres says “We are all only as strong as the support we have in our lives and be grateful for the supporters you have. The friends and family. I would not be here today if not for the friendship of people who believed in me more than I believed in myself. Know who those people are and value them and be grateful for them.”

Update as of 1/14/21, Congressman Ritchie Torres has formally endorsed former presidential candidate Andrew Yang for mayor of New York City. This comes just a day after Andrew Yang announced his campaign in a video titled ‘Why I’m Running,’ which features Torres in it.

Covid Mental Health illustration by Mina Tocalini

The National Black Nurses Association – RETHINK & RE:SET

The National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) is excited to announce the launch of two new major campaigns for its members under its new wellness initiative, NBNA Resilient Nurse Resource. RETHINK, launched yesterday, was created to build awareness around the importance of vaccinations, with a focus on influenza and pneumococcal. The goal of RETHINK is to debunk common myths surrounding vaccines and to inform Black nurses and the Black community on the benefits of vaccinations. The website features an interactive Test Your Flu IQ quiz to test participants knowledge and understanding on the flu and vaccines. There is also a flu and pneumococcal vaccination locator to assist with identifying providers in nearby serving areas. Anyone interested in learning more about vaccines can click HERE.

On December 15, 2020, the NBNA will also launch its mental wellness campaign, RE:SET. This new initiative offers members FREE counseling services, education webinars, wellness podcasts and more, to aid them in maintaining their mental wellness throughout the current COVID-19 crisis. The free counseling services are only available for existing and new NBNA members, and their families.

Unfortunately, there is a stigma in the Black community surrounding mental health. This, in addition to the lack of providers from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds and culturally competent providers, contributes to only one-in-three African Americans receiving mental health treatment.

To provide the best patient care, nurses must be able to reset and recharge from the daily pressures and renew their resilience and strength. Creating tools for renewal and increased resilience is especially important as nurses have a high prevalence of anxiety and depression. With this comprehensive resource, NBNA members will receive holistic tools and resources designed to give nurses the boost they need to promote mental wellness and wellbeing.

“We know how difficult this year has been for nurses everywhere, especially Black nurses who are faced with both the pandemic and the current racial uprising,” states Dr. Martha A. Dawson, NBNA President. “It is crucial that we protect our nurses’ physical and mental wellbeing during such an unprecedented time in our country. With RE:SET we are able to provide them with the tools necessary to recover from the daily stresses of exhausting working conditions and challenges. It is essentially PPE for their mental and emotional health, which will help to impact their physical health.”

RE:SET provides NBNA members and their families with easily accessible options for mental wellness, including:

  • RE:SET Support Line: Available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, members who need in-the-moment support, are connected with licensed clinicians for no-cost, confidential guidance and resources.
  • Free, Confidential Counseling: The RE:SET program provides up to five free sessions with experienced and licensed clinicians. This service removes the cost, access and privacy hassles of getting professional emotional support when NBNA members face a problem or situation that is difficult to resolve.
  • Text Coach, also known as text therapy is available to NBNA members via mobile phone or desktop computer to help with non-acute concerns. Licensed clinicians will help nurses and their families boost emotional fitness and wellbeing by exchanging text messages, voice notes, tip sheets, videos and resource links.

To learn more about the RE:SET FREE tools and other resources, visit, www.nbna.org on December 15th.

To become a member of the National Black Nurses Association and to gain access to the FREE counseling services, visit www.nbna.org.

About National Black Nurses Association (NBNA)

Founded in 1971, the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) is a professional organization representing 308,000 African American registered nurses, licensed vocational/practical nurses, and nursing students in 108 chapters and 34 states. The NBNA mission is “to serve as the voice for Black nurses and diverse populations ensuring equal access to professional development, promoting educational opportunities and improving health.” NBNA chapters offer voluntary hours providing health education and screenings to community residents in collaboration with community-based partners, including faith-based organizations, civic, fraternal, hospitals, and schools of nursing. For more information, visit nbna.org. #NBNAResilient

Tree illustration done by Mina Tocalini of 360 MAGAZINE.

Snow and Ice Tips to Protect Your Yard This Winter

With the pandemic keeping people sheltering at home, more people are extending their outdoor time in the winter by adding fire pits, outdoor heaters and other features. Even in the wintertime, it’s important to take care of your yard. The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, an international trade association representing power equipment, small engine, portable generator, utility vehicle, golf car and personal transport vehicle manufacturers and suppliers, offers tips to keep your yard in top shape for winter use.

Stop trimming your lawn once it freezes. Trim your grass to the height recommended for your lawn variety before it freezes. Cutting your grass too short can leave it dry and exposes it to the elements, not to mention insects and disease.

Add a thin layer of mulch to your lawn before it’s too cold. A thin layer of mulch can protect your grass roots from snow and frost. It can even prevent deeper layers of soil from freezing, making it easier for your lawn to bounce back in the spring.

Check your trees for dead or damaged limbs. Removing dead or damaged limbs before inclement weather arrives, is one way to protect your shrubs and yard from damage (not to mention people and pets!).Snow and ice can weigh heavily on dead branches and make them snap and fall. Remove any dead branches carefully with clippers, a chainsaw or pole pruner, following safety precautions. Consult an arborist for problematic trees.

Mark pathways to clear and beds to avoid. Mark the areas that you will need to clear of snow and ice, as well as areas you want to avoid, like flower beds. Stakes or sticks can help. When it’s time to run your snow thrower, you won’t accidentally cut a path through the lawn and can stick to your walkways. Always follow manufacturer’s safety procedures and never put your hand inside the snow thrower. Always use a clean out tool or stick to clear a clog. Be sure that children and pets are safely inside and not near outdoor power equipment while it’s being operated.

Keep new (and old) plantings well-hydrated. Many people have added trees and shrubs to their yards during the pandemic, and caring for them in the winter is still important. Plants and trees that are well-hydrated are more likely to survive a hard freeze so water well before the cold snap sticks. Newly planted trees can only survive about two weeks in the winter without water, so be sure to water any new trees you’ve added to your landscape if they aren’t getting water naturally from rain or snow. If your outside hose is already shut off for the winter, then use a bucket and add 5 gallons to the area around the tree.

Continue watering plants and trees even after the leaves drop. Older plants and trees should enter winter well-hydrated, so continue watering even after the leaves have dropped. Even in the wintertime, hardy evergreen plants continue to lose moisture through their needles and if it’s a dry winter they need supplemental water too.

Don’t shake heavy snow and ice off branches. It may be tempting for children (or adults) to wiggle those branches and watch the snow come off, but snow or ice can damage a branch. Shaking them can cause the branches to snap. It’s better to wait until the snow melts to assess the damage.

Remove damaged branches as soon as the weather allows you to do it safely. If snow or ice have snapped a limb, look at the cut and assess the damage. Try to get a clean cut on an already broken branch or limb, as this will make it more difficult for insects or disease to enter the stressed area on your tree or shrub. Follow all manufacturer’s safety precautions if using a chainsaw or pole pruner.

Be careful about salt. Salt can melt snow and ice, but it can also damage plants and trees by drawing water away from their roots. Keep salt applications away from your trees and shrubs. Salt should also be cleaned off pet paws following a romp outside in the snow.

Remember to get outside, even when it’s chilly. It’s good for our mental and physical well-being to spend time in our family yards and breathe in the fresh air – and it also helps us connect to each other and with nature.

About OPEI
The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) is an international trade association representing power equipment, small engine, portable generator, utility vehicle, golf car and personal transport vehicle manufacturers and suppliers. OPEI is the advocacy voice of the industry, and a recognized Standards Development Organization for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and active internationally through the International Standards Organization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in the development of safety and performance standards. OPEI is managing partner of GIE+EXPO, the industry’s annual international trade show, and the creative force behind the environmental education program found here. OPEI-Canada represents members on a host of issues, including recycling, emissions and other regulatory developments across the Canadian provinces.

Body positivity — a balancing act

By Janna Breslin

Body positivity is a phrase we hear more and more often, lately. It’s a push to alert people—especially impressionable children and teens—that there are many harmful media representations out there, especially for women.

Just as people once wrung their hands over Barbie’s unnatural shape, the Kardashians and other airbrushed social media influencers make certain “desirable” body shapes seem naturally attainable. We’re all guilty of it to a certain extent. Who doesn’t use strategic selfie angles to mask our “imperfections?”

The body positivity movement is aimed at normalizing all body types, rather than focusing on and celebrating only super-ripped Abercrombie and surgically-enhanced Victoria’s Secret models. Realistically, no matter how much we diet and exercise, the majority of humans can’t achieve those standards. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t wear the clothes we enjoy or avoid photos with friends.

But acceptance is a balancing act. We should all recognize that our bodies are constantly changing, and to hold ourselves to impossible ideals is detrimental to our mental health. On the other hand, body positivity isn’t a substitute for physical wellness. Luckily, physical health also comes in a number of different packages.

The push to normalize all body types

Your body image is how you feel about the way you look and feel, when you look in the mirror or at photos of yourself. Healthy body image is not merely not hating the way your body looks, but actively accepting it without trying to change yourself to fit arbitrary standards. For example, if you tell yourself, “I’ll look better once I lose fifteen pounds,” that’s not a healthy body image—even if you actually need to lose that weight to be healthy. In fact, it can actually promote unhealthy behaviors.

Body positivity initially started as a plus-size movement, and has grown more inclusive over time. The movement includes people of any shape, size, gender, race and physical ability (or disability). The point is to challenge the way society presents the physical “ideal” in pop culture, media, and more. That ranges from putting plus (or even average)-size models in ads to workout videos hosted by plus-size yogis.

How acceptance can help you stay healthy

For some people, the idea that you can be healthy and physically active, even if you’re plus-sized, is nothing short of revolutionary. Of course, there’s plenty of blowback—detractors accuse body positivity advocates of “glorifying obesity.” Since the movement is diverse, you may come across conflicting options from different sources. The key is that weight stigma hurts your mental health—and when you’re struggling emotionally, it’s that much harder to get fit and enjoy life.

Judith Matz, a clinical social worker cautions people not to put off activities until they reach a certain weight or fitness goal. The key to body acceptance (and staying or getting fit) is to continue to practice healthy behaviors regardless of your current size. When you consistently get the message that you’re not worthy of taking a barre class while you’re thirty pounds overweight, or you can’t wear a crop top until you’re perfectly toned, you’re more likely to give up.

That’s how body positivity can help: it reminds us that we all have the right to exist in and enjoy our bodies just as they are, right now. That includes engaging in healthy exercise and enjoying balanced nutrition.

Body positivity is no substitute for physical wellness

With that said, body positivity isn’t a substitute for physical health. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be a physically fit person at a higher weight. As long as you and your doctor are happy with your fitness and body size, healthy bodies really do come in all shapes and sizes.

The key is to balance the mental health benefits of body acceptance with physical fitness. You don’t have to be the “perfect” BMI (and in fact, research suggests that is an outdated metric) with ripped abs and biceps to be healthy or to love your body. However, if you struggle to get off the couch and get any physical activity at all, chances are you could stand to get back into fighting shape. You wouldn’t be alone, either. During the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are struggling now than ever—which feeds right back into negative body image.

The goal for everyone should be to accept ourselves as we are—works in progress—and prioritize our physical fitness over whether we fit into arbitrary aesthetic standards. When we do that, we make healthier decisions.

Janna Breslin is a well-known fitness model, certified personal trainer, health coach, and
nutrition expert. With Evan DeMarco, she co-founded Complete Human, the new
multi-media platform that takes a deep dive into the areas of mind, body, soul, and planet while
exploring what makes us who we are and what will make us better. Their flagship podcast can be found on all major streaming podcast players including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Play, and their namesake streaming video channel is online at YouTube.

Instagram | Facebook | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Youtube

Allison Christensen, 360 Magazine, Vaughn Lowery

10 Times Teen Movies and TV Shows Portrayed Mental Illness in a Helpful Light

By Shay Siegel

The importance of learning about mental health and debunking the stigmas that come along with it has been expressed more and more in recent years. Mental illness is a valid struggle in the everyday lives of people from all different backgrounds and circumstances—it does not discriminate. Representation of mental health is especially important for teenagers who already deal with issues of identity and belonging simply as part of growing up and all the external pressures they are exposed to. Art and entertainment forms that explore mental health and real societal issues are contributing to these discussions. 

These ten shows and movies (some of which are based on wonderful books) have explored mental illness in one way or another and shed some much-needed light, helping teens realize they are not alone.

1. Degrassi 

This was my favorite show when I was in high school, and it has done a great job not only shifting to keep up with current times, but it has always confronted a variety of important issues that teens face. I usually think of Degrassi: The Next Generation, because that’s the segment of the show I grew up with, but the new version Degrassi: The Next Class with a different cast for a new generation is exactly what the show has always been about, while keeping up with the current atmosphere. Degrassi consists of a big cast, which is one of the things to love about it and shows a multitude of characters that struggle with different issues, both external and internal. Mental health has always been portrayed in Degrassi and manifested in many ways, from eating disorders, to self-harm and suicide, to anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, to identity issues, peer pressure, sexual assault, substance abuse, and so much more. The show is confronting, and it raises awareness and leads to deeper thinking and conversation-starting in a helpful and positive way. Degrassi is my number one pick for a series that shows all the raw and relatable issues teens face, especially mental illness.

2. 13 Reasons Why

I loved the book 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, so naturally I was excited when it was made into a series. I know it has received a ton of backlash and been accused of glorifying suicide, and yes, the show may definitely be triggering and problematic in areas. There are many positives to be gleaned as well, though. The story confronts the very ugly side of suicide and the lasting effects of trauma like sexual assault and bullying on the psyche. It’s not meant to be comfortable because these issues are uncomfortable, and the show can help in processing tough topics. The story provides encouragement to think about how our actions affect others and how we can’t know what others are going through. And regardless of whether the show is hated or loved, it has absolutely started important conversations and raised suicide awareness.

3. All the Bright Places

I actually have not yet read the book by Jennifer Niven, but I watched the movie recently and thought it was a really realistic, while also heart-wrenching, take on depression. It’s helpful for teens to see two characters with different past traumas coping in different ways, and the idea expressed that some are able to heal while others still struggle. There is no one set of symptoms when an individual has depression and that was clearly portrayed in this film. The message of hope to find the bright places everywhere even when we might not feel like one of those places within ourselves is beautiful.

4. Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska is an adapted series based on John Green’s popular novel from 2005, which I also loved, but the series expands upon the book and incorporates updated ideas and messages that fit our current times and conversations, especially those that address mental health. The story unfolds as a mystery, and at times it’s lighter and a fun coming-of-age tale, but it’s so much deeper as it progresses, especially as the later episodes take on a more ominous tone and Alaska’s inner struggles become clearer. This is another instance of not truly knowing what another person is going through, especially when they don’t reach out for help in a direct way. This is unfortunately a reality of mental illness and one of the reasons is that those struggling don’t fully understand it themselves. The open-endedness of the story is realistic because that’s exactly how life is—nothing gets wrapped up neatly, but we learn about others and ourselves along the way.

5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

This is also one of my favorite books by Stephen Chbosky, and the movie is every bit as emotional. Charlie is an incredibly realistic character. His feelings of loneliness while continuing on day to day with hope are so accurate and relatable for any teen who has ever felt like an outcast. The deeper past issues that we find out he has repressed are heartbreaking, but I think the story does a great job in portraying that past trauma, while contributing to his current situation, might also not have necessarily created it because there are many layers to mental illness and there is no off button once a “reason” is realized.

6. It’s Kind of a Funny Story

This movie is based on the YA novel by Ned Vizzini. We get a look into many of the patients’ lives over the course of a few days in a psychiatric hospital, while Craig, the male lead, learns about himself and his circumstances, ultimately taking steps to heal. One of the most positive messages of the story is that Craig takes it upon himself to seek help, which many (or most) don’t feel acceptable doing. This is so important for teens to see. The idea that others can’t save us, and we have to build our own lives and not look to others to make it all better for us is also done well. The author of the book, Ned Vizzini, committed suicide, but he left a message of hope in allowing Craig to work through his struggles and show readers and viewers what goes on in the mind of someone struggling so deeply in hopes that those who need it may seek help.

7. Eighth Grade

This movie was cringe-worthy at times, which was effective because that’s exactly what this time of life is like. If you feel awkward watching someone, just imagine how elevated those feelings are for them on the inside. Kayla, the thirteen-year-old protagonist, is riddled with worry and anxiety about her every decision and encounter, and many of the times her fears are realized, which I think we all can agree escalates anxiety. It was an accurate and upsetting portrayal of what goes on both inside and outside during this impactful transition in life, maybe not for every single teen but certainly for the ones who feel that specific emotional turmoil.

8. To the Bone

This was an interesting take on how mental illness manifests in eating disorders. The idea of knowing how damaging your behavior is but also not knowing how to stop it or do anything different, or even just not wanting to, is relatable to anyone who struggles with mental illness whether it be an eating disorder or otherwise. This film has also been criticized for misrepresenting sensitive subject matter, but again, it has helped start conversations and it has definitely expressed an important message that recovery is not a straight line.

9. The Edge of Seventeen 

I loved this movie, and one of the best things about it is how “normal” Nadine’s mental health issues are treated. Her mental illness is not necessarily what the movie is about, but a driving force behind her as a character, and an accurate portrayal of depression for one unique person, since everyone experiences it differently. Although her struggles may be heightened by exterior circumstances and “being a teen” the way she views herself and the world are real and heartbreaking, and although she might not be in imminent danger she is suffering, nonetheless. The movie is also quite funny in parts! The balance of humor and despair work to provide light to all the darkness that exists.

10. Euphoria

This new series is extremely uncensored, raw, and even shocking, but it definitely captures the issues and pressures of being a teen in this current climate. A realistic and well-done takeaway from the series is how mental illness can completely take over and suffocate a person, even bringing on a terrible feeling of boredom and monotony. Rue, the main character, struggles with addiction, which first became an issue when she was looking for a way to combat her host of mental illnesses, and of course gives her yet another issue to struggle with when she is already in severe pain, if from nothing else then from being born into this world. The uncomfortable honesty in Euphoria is executed with precision and is a look at mental illness, while it has always existed, now in the new generation. 


Shay Siegel is a freelance writer, poet, and editor. Her debut YA novel, Fractured, is available now. For more information, visit shaysiegel.com, or connect with Siegel on Facebook, Instagram and Goodreads.

Yunizon Eyewear

Yunizon Eyewear Combines Innovative Fit Technology, Gender Neutral Styles, and Mental Health Awareness

Yunizon Eyewear, the pioneers behind Global Fit, is proud to launch their core line of innovative, gender neutral sunglasses. Co-Founded by eyewear industry vet Kimberly Van Schoyck-Riojas and corporate finance expert Rebecca Lay, the brand is positioned to become a top global, all-inclusive brand. The first to market Global Fit extends beyond the traditional one size fits all approach to address the issue of fit for every shape, size,and gender. Each retailing for $159, the core collection introduces hand-crafted silhouettes in three sizes that unify style and function to create eyewear that is built to be lived in and lasting. Built on the idea “Under One Sun,” Yunizon will donate a portion of all proceeds to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Traditional eyewear brands produce glasses by using general fit guidelines focused on Asian, Universal, Standard, and European fit. Yunizon’s unique Global Fit creates an enhanced, accurate and comfortable design that appeals to a diverse society. Mastering a tailored fit by having three distinct head widths in each style, slide prevention nose pads, modified temple design, ultra-lightweight premium materials, and reduced pantoscopic angle for cheekbone comfort create a perfect fitting pair of frames. Yunizon utilizes light weight, shatter proof, and premium quality CR-39 lenses in all sunglasses.

Yunizonco-founder, Kimberly Van Schoyck-Riojas states, “Having worked in the eyewear industry as a senior product designer for over 15 years, I’ve seen sunglasses go from fashion accessory to daily wear. When sunglasses were purely an accessory, comfort and fit didn’t matter as much. However, given how consumer behavior has changed, particularly with millennials, it is critically important that today’s sunglasses are both trendy and comfortable. Yunizon is uncompromising on style with an unmatched focus on fit.” 

In addition to being highly considerate of fit, all Yunizon products are gender neutral, aligning with the brand’s values of free expression and inclusivity. Yunizon Looks to go beyond the traditional approach and disrupt the eyewear industry with their universal designs, innovative fit and high-quality products that appeal to today’s diverse society.

To learn more about the brand, shop the styles, and find your fit visit:

Website 

Instagram 

Twitter 

Facebook

About Yunizon Eyewear:

Yunizon Eyewear is a New York City based company producing handcrafted eyewear with a focus on fit. Available in three distinct sizes (narrow, medium, and wide), each all – inclusive, gender neutral style is designed to fit and look great. The founders, Kimberly Van Schoyck-Riojas and Rebecca Lay, contribute years of experience in the eyewear industry as well as their values of free expression, unity and belonging to the brand.

About Kimberly Van Schoyck-Riojas:

Kimberly is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Yunizon. Before starting Yunizon, Kimberly gained over 15 years’ experience in the eyewear industry. As a designer, Kimberly is both creative and detail-oriented; paying attention to the overall construction and materials used. This results in products that are not only aesthetically beautiful, but also technically superior. Kimberly has worked closely with counterparts across the US, Europe and Asia, helping her develop insight into fit issues. This has inspired her to create Yunizon’s Global Fit Technology which has resulted in better fitting sunglasses for all facial features.

About Rebecca Lay:

Rebecca is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Yunizon. Before starting Yunizon, Rebecca worked in finance as an advisor for over 10 years in Sydney, London and New York, but her true passion is eyewear. The global nature of Rebecca’s work has helped her develop a tolerant attitude and a worldly mindset. This ethos was critical in establishing Yunizon’s brand values of free expression, unity and belonging