Become an Upstander!


Volunteer Opportunities
in partnership with
Jewish Volunteer Connection


Mental Health Monday: Breathe

Posted on May 25th, 2020 by

We are not mental health professionals. If you are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like anxiety or depression, or they are impacting your daily life, please reach out to professionals who can help you. If you need immediate help, use the National Suicide Hotline, 1-800-273-8255, which offers online chats as well. Jewish Community Services also offer help to people experiencing emotional crises.

We aim to provide some tips and guides to help those who are self-isolating and to connect with our JMM community. These ideas might not work for everyone, but we hope that by starting the conversation about mental health, we can inspire you to take a moment to breathe and reflect on what you need today to feel good.


Today is Memorial Day. Usually, this three-day weekend signals the start of summer, meaning the start of cookouts, beach days, and traveling. We were planning to open a new exhibit this weekend, which has been delayed by our closure. Instead of taking the day to work, as we had expected to welcome people to see the new exhibit, we’re taking the day off. To start the day off with calmness and to help with actually relaxing, I’m going to do some breathing exercises. I invite you to join me in breathing today. Take the five minutes it would have taken you to read my blog post to instead do some breathing exercises. Here are some suggestions for videos to watch to breathe along with. If you want to find out more about meditation and breathing, check out our previous blog post about mindfulness.

1) Live Jelly Cam – Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a jellyfish live cam that I love watching to relax. You can breathe in sync with their movements or simply meditate on the shapes they make. Not into jellies? They also have a penguin cam if you need a little cuteness in your life.

2) Relax and Breathe: Do Nothing for 10 Minutes

This video simply shows a shape opening and closing. You breathe along to the shape’s movement, in order to regulate your breathing and find calm. There are lots of videos like this, where you breathe along with a shape or pattern, that can help you to find calm in your day.

3) Kids Meditation – Square Breathing (Focus & Calm)

Have kids at home? Teaching them to breathe and calm down is an invaluable skill for them and for you too! This video teaches kids square breathing, using adorable fish illustrations. And you may enjoy breathing along to it too.


Do you have a favorite tool to help you “just breathe?” Share in the comments!


 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Mental Health Monday: Crafting

Posted on May 18th, 2020 by

We are not mental health professionals. If you are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like anxiety or depression, or they are impacting your daily life, please reach out to professionals who can help you. If you need immediate help, use the National Suicide Hotline, 1-800-273-8255, which offers online chats as well. Jewish Community Services also offer help to people experiencing emotional crises.

We aim to provide some tips and guides to help those who are self-isolating and to connect with our JMM community. These ideas might not work for everyone, but we hope that by starting the conversation about mental health, we can inspire you to take a moment to breathe and reflect on what you need today to feel good.


Being in quarantine has led many people to look for and pick up new crafting activities such as knitting, sewing, and baking. This is not a new phenomenon, as we can look back to the adult coloring book craze of 2015, where over $12 million adult coloring books sold. But why are these kinds of activities so appealing when people are stressed? There hasn’t been a lot of research on the mental health benefits of crafting, but people often claim that their hobbies help keep them happy and balanced.

This vintage coloring book comes from Bragar-Gutman’s department store. Today there are lots of different kinds of coloring books for folks young and old. Check out #ColorOurCollections for a ton of free, Museum-themed options!

A possible theory is the ability to tap into the phenomenon dubbed the “flow”, by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. He describes the flow as a state of ecstasy for a creator, who is so focused on their work that they pay no attention to the outside world. This state makes them feel like music or words are coming out freely from them, and they lose sense of their body, maybe even forgetting that they are hungry or tired. He describes it more in this Ted talk, speaking specifically of those who are highly trained and skilled in their fields. Though this Ted talk is a little dated, Csikszentmihalyi has continuously commented on different trends and fads for stress-relief, like coloring pages for adults. By focusing completely on a specific task, such as a complex page in a coloring book, someone can find that similar flow state of timelessness. They are able to let go of troubles on their mind and focus on the task at hand for a few moments. Though coloring is not a substitute for proper therapy (which we talked about last week) focusing on a single, creative task, can be a way to achieve the feeling of the flow and find respite from life’s worries.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi originally started his career by figuring out why people who had experienced World War II were still unhappy after they had found security in jobs and homes after the war.

Additionally, getting creative can help someone’s sense of accomplishment. By knitting a scarf or painting a landscape, being able to see the fruits of your labor on display is a huge boost to confidence and can even release feel-good hormones. The effects are multiplied when sharing these creative endeavors with friends. Being able to create beautiful gifts for those you love can strengthen your relationships and shows people that you’re thinking of them.

Arts and crafts are not just for young ones. Crafting can help improve brain activity and possibly even help counter-act neurological diseases like dementia. More study needs to be done to prove these benefits, but certain crafts can definitely improve finger and hand dexterity, keep people practicing math, and encourage our brains to think differently than we do in our daily lives. There are so many different crafts to choose from, it’s worth a try!

I’ve been working on this quilt for years. Though I’m still not finished, it’s amazing to look at all the pieces come together into a huge masterpiece!

If you are able to buy the supplies, my favorite craft is knitting. I love being able to create garments out of just yarn and needles, and finding new patterns. And the best part is, people always love getting hand-knitted scarves, hats, and gloves for holiday and birthday presents.

Miniature painting is a great way to develop skills and creativity. This piece was created by Benet Reynolds, @holyfireman on Instagram.

Another supply-heavy but the unique craft is mini painting. A favorite of this writer’s partner, miniature painting, or other types of 3D painting is a great way to get into art. You don’t have to figure out how something looks on a canvas, you simply color in the different parts of a mini, almost like a 3D coloring book! There are lots of techniques and styles to master as well, making it a great, long-term hobby.

If you don’t have access to a lot of supplies, you can always look into origami. While the art of paper folding may seem simple, there are lots of designs and shapes to create to make masterpieces to display. And this is a great craft to share with a little one! May we suggest trying out a hopping paper frog as your first origami attempt?

From coloring books to making candles, to hand lettering to woodworking, there are so many ways to engage your hands and improve your mood. Try something out this week and share the results with us! Or, if you’re a veteran crafter, show us some pics of your favorite finished piece! We’d love to hear from you.


 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Mental Health Monday: Online Counseling

Posted on May 11th, 2020 by

In today’s blog post, we talk about online therapy services. We recognize that not everyone has access to reliable internet or technology in order to use these services. In our current crisis, it’s clear that access to the internet is a right, not just a luxury, as it provides invaluable resources for everyone. To learn more about the work people are doing to ensure internet accessibility, visit webfoundation.org.

We are not mental health professionals. If you are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like anxiety or depression, or they are impacting your daily life, please reach out to professionals who can help you. If you need immediate help, use the National Suicide Hotline, 1-800-273-8255, which offers online chats as well. Jewish Community Services also offer help for people experiencing emotional crises.

We aim to provide some tips and guides to help those who are self-isolating and to connect with our JMM community. These ideas might not work for everyone, but we hope that by starting the conversation about mental health, we can inspire you to take a moment to breathe and reflect on what you need today to feel good.

~Talia Makowsky, JMM Visitor Services Coordinator

You can check out our past Mental Health Mondays posts here.


These days, for those of us who have access to reliable internet and technology, we are doing more and more in the digital world. This may include ordering groceries online, talking with friends over video chat, and completing work tasks from remote desktops. There are more services that are online and have been moving online long before we moved to social distance, including therapy and counseling.

Here, an unidentified woman sits at her desk on the phone. The advent of personal cell phones and internet access in the 90s gave tele-therapy a huge boost.

Long-distance therapy is not a new service, with a basis in the ’60s of people consulting professionals over the phone. However, with wider access to the internet and even video conferencing in the 90s, online therapy has grown exponentially, and providing therapy and counseling this way makes it more accessible. Those who are homebound can access the services without venturing out, the costs of the services go down, the hours to meet are more flexible, and those who live in rural areas don’t have to travel miles to the nearest therapist. This accessibility also helps with fighting the stigma of therapy, encouraging more people to take part in a service that everyone could benefit from. Additionally, clients have more choices in a therapist, allowing them to find someone they work well with and trust.

And in today’s world, talking to someone you can trust, who can help you deal with anxiety, depression, and more is especially important.

Finding an online therapist can be a little tricky. First of all, figure out what kind of service is right for you. Do you prefer being able to see someone when you talk to them, such as on a video chat? Or do you prefer talking over the phone, and not having to stress about what you look like on camera? Or, if both of those make you nervous, look for text-based services that you can try. You can also combine different services, depending on how you feel that day and the availability of your provider.

Alternatives to face-to-face therapy, such as text therapy, have been proven to be just as effective for helping people.

When looking for a therapist or counselor, make sure you take care to check their credentials. Counseling companies may advertise misleading services. Therapist and psychotherapist are not legally protected words, and so anyone may claim that they are a therapist, without proper licensing. When searching out an online service, ensure that the people you’re relying on are actually licensed, and licensed in your state. Health care providers are not to practice outside the state they’re licensed in, so be careful to double-check who you’re working with. Many services automatically create a list of providers who are licensed in your area, but it’s worth making sure you’re getting reliable services.

Having access to a therapist from home can make a huge difference in your mental health and stability.

As online therapy grows, there is a concern for privacy and safety. However, any company or counselor that is providing therapy services must adhere to HIPAA privacy standards. There should be some sort of process to verify the client’s and therapist’s identities, to ensure privacy. If the company that you’re considering doesn’t have some sort of process like this, maybe look elsewhere to ensure your safety.

Finally, when choosing an online service, make sure you check how or if it will be covered by your insurance. Some insurance companies may cover counseling or similar treatment in person but not online or over the phone. On the other hand, as face-to-face treatments are almost impossible at the moment, some insurance companies are making concessions or adding online and telephone services to support those who are unable to access the resources they need.

Do your research and advocate for yourself when working with your insurance company. If you regularly meet with a mental health professional, you deserve to continue your treatment, even if you can’t visit their office.


 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland