“Have yourself a Merry little Christmas, let your heart be light….”

A beloved holiday classic, this song can conjure up all kinds of positive memories of Christmases past.  Indeed, the holiday season is often full of warm memories, family gatherings, work parties, and general positive cheer.

However, the holidays are not festive and cheery for all.  For some, they represent painful memories or reminders of loved ones no longer here.  For still others, the holidays represent added stress of more to do, more money to spend when there is no “extra” money, and more activities added to an already stressful schedule.

So how can one maintain good mental health during this “most wonderful time of the year”?  Here are some tips for managing stress and dealing with depressive/anxiety symptoms during this time:

  1. Remember the word “No.” Only you know when it is too much for you.  Taking care of yourself means setting limits and sticking to them.  When you feel overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to step back and take a break.
  2. Be patient and gentle with yourself. Memories can be painful, and simple things can trigger memories when you least expect it.  A song, a smell, a phrase, or a sound can all be significant reminders.  When this happens, be gentle with yourself, embrace the significance of the moment, and allow yourself to feel whatever emotions it brings.
  3. Maintain a routine. One of the things the holidays can bring is chaos and craziness.  Maintaining as much of the normal routine as possible can help minimize the impact of the disruptions.  Routine stabilizes mind, body, and spirit as it grounds a person in what is known in the midst of the unknown.
  4. Limit alcohol use. When stressed, it is tempting to use alcohol as a coping mechanism.  However, alcohol use can lead to alcohol abuse and subsequent poor decision-making.  In addition, alcohol is a depressant and often leads to increased feelings of depression and sadness after significant use.  Limiting use to one or two drinks helps a person to maintain control and avoid complications normally associated with heavy use.
  5. Seek comfort from those who support you. There are those within our daily lives who provide emotional support and assistance.  Reach out to those you know you can count on, and let them know when you feel overwhelmed.  Asking for help allows others to know specifically what they can do to support you.
  6. Develop a budget. Knowing how much you have to spend for gifts for family, friends, and coworkers allows you to manage expenses.  This can also keep you from getting overwhelmed with surprise bills come January. If money is tight, get creative; make your own gifts or agree to spend time together instead of buying gifts. You make your own rules.
  7. Find time for rest and relaxation. Even in the midst of hustle and bustle, it is important to take time to catch your breath.  When feeling stressed or overwhelmed, take a break by doing things you enjoy, such as watching a movie, exercising, hanging out with friends, or reading.  Taking some downtime helps you recharge and rejuvenate yourself before the next set of activities.

If you find yourself having serious difficulties during or continuing to struggle beyond the holidays, there is help available.  Catalyst Life Services has a wide array of services available to address mental health, drug & alcohol, vocational, and many other issues.

Call Helpline at 419-522-HELP (419-522-4357) for information.  Contact us; we can help!

Erin Schaefer, IMFT-S, LPCC-S is the Director of Operations at Catalyst Life Services.  She received a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from Pacific Lutheran University in 1997 and a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy/Counseling in 2002 from the University of Akron.  Erin has worked in community mental health for over 20 years.  She was also director of Ashland Parenting Plus, a small nonprofit agency focused on teen pregnancy prevention, juvenile diversion, and parent education.  She served on the board and as president of the Ohio Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and also on the board of directors of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy from 2011-2013.  She has been a member of AAMFT since 1997 and is a Clinical Fellow

vocation progress industriesIt’s that time of year again!

The weather turns colder, the leaves begin changing colors, and “Help Wanted” signs are posted in every retailer’s window.

In many cases, seasonal positions are a great option for individuals seeking part-time employment. What might you want to review before coming to the decision to apply for such a position? How might you improve your chances of successfully obtaining such a position? Remember these simple tips in order to make your job search more successful.

To determine whether an open position might be a good fit for you, start by thinking about what skills someone might utilize in such a position. Consider how the business or employer might frame those into a position posting online. Then begin asking yourself questions relating back to the requirements of the position, for example:

  1. Am I someone who enjoys working with other people and interacting with customers?
  2. Do I have a flexible schedule and am willing to work evenings and weekends?
  3. Am I someone who thrives in a fast-paced environment?

By understanding yourself and your intent in your job search, you can ensure higher levels of success as you progress through the job seeking process. It is important that you first assess the position or industry as a fit for you as a prospective job seeker. There are number of online assessments that can guide you through this process as well. Assess your preferences and attitudes to find a position that fits your needs.

Equally important to understanding yourself, it is critical to ensure that you envision the hiring manager’s perspective when applying for these positions. By doing this, you can oftentimes predict possible interview questions in advance. If a “Help Wanted” advertisement requests someone who works well independently, the interviewer might say something like:

                “Tell me about a time when you were able to succeed with little guidance or direction.”

This is what is known as a “situational” or “behavioral” interview question. The interviewer is expecting an example demonstrating your ability to process through a difficult task. Here is one tip to prepare yourself to answer such a question; just remember the STAR method:

  1. Situation – What took place that led to the problem at hand?
  2. TaskWhat were you assigned to do or what was your role in the problem?
  3. ActionWhat did you do to fix the problem?
  4. ResultHow was this situation resolved?

In preparing for your next interview, try to come up with a few specific examples for situational interview questions that exemplify a few of your “transferable skills” which are skills you take with you from one position to another (sometimes in an entirely different industry). Some of these skills might include:

  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Time Management
  • Computer Literacy
  • Critical Thinking
  • And many others

Finally, as you review these tips before you start the job seeking process, remember that we have only touched on the surface of some of these topics. You can take your job search to the next level by expanding on the advice given above.

For more information about job seeking skills or how best to prepare for what comes after the interview, stay posted to this blog and follow us on social media, where there will be more helpful hints to come.

Thanks for reading and see you next time!

Blog Written by: Mitch Jacobsen is the Director of Vocational Services at Catalyst Life Services, and he has worked with individuals with barriers to their employment and educational goals. He oversees a number of vocational programs and services designed to improve employment outcomes. Mitch is passionate about the vocational department at Catalyst Life Services, which helped put over 500 people to work in calendar year 2017.

Congratulations to Catalyst Life Services’ Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) team for their work toward earning high marks on their 4th Quarter Report on program performance measures.

This dynamic program serves nearly 200 Richland County youth, ages 14-24, with barriers to their employment and educational goals, with an emphasis on out-of-school youth with multiple barriers, some of those barriers might include youth who are:

  • Basic skills deficient
  • An English language learner
  • Offenders or subject to the juvenile or adult justice system
  • Homeless or a runaway
  • In foster care or who have aged out of foster care
  • Are pregnant or parenting
  • Have a diagnosed disability
  • Youth who require additional assistance to complete an education program or obtain and maintain long-term employment

In serving these youth participants, staff members on this program emphasize a number of program elements individualized to the participant and designed to remove or minimize these barriers to the youth participant’s goals and increase employment and educational placement outcomes.

In the WIOA program, measuring success comes in the form of five specific outcome measures, of which the Catalyst team “exceeded” or “significantly exceeded” four of these items.

One such measure of which the Catalyst team was particularly proud was that 79.4% (77/97) of eligible participants achieved a measurable skills gain, which is accomplished when an individual achieves one of the following:

  • Improvement of at least one educational functioning level
  • Passing 5 credit hours or more on the most recent progress report
  • Graduating from a secondary or post-secondary education program
  • Passage of an exam to attain a credential such as CDL/STNA

For this particular measure, the statewide rate was 28.8%.

These performance measures are reported at the state level quarterly and dispensed to the areas locally where the program receives governance and oversight from a local Workforce Development Board comprised of representatives from government entities, non-profit organizations, and private for profit businesses.

If you know anyone interested in this program contact Stephanie Jakubick at 419-774-2250 or at jakubick@catalystlifeservices.org

Leadership Unlimited Visits Catalyst Life Services

This year’s Leadership Unlimited class visited Catalyst Life Services with the topic of Wellness!  It was an impactful experience and Catalyst was able to share the variety of ways they offer support on an individual’s journey to Wellness.

Harry Donahue, CEO & President welcomed these leaders to Catalyst Life Services.

Mitch Jacobsen, Director of Vocational Services, provided the class with a tour of Progress Industries’ industrial workshop which employs individuals with disabilities and serves the manufacturing community of Richland County with cost-effective production solutions. Mitch discussed the importance of assisting individuals with barriers to employment and how our vocational department put over 500 people to work last year.

Laura Montgomery, VP of Human Resources and Housing Services, was able to speak about the Housing First Philosophy.  Housing First is an approach that offers permanent, affordable housing for individuals and families experiencing homelessness, and then provides the supportive services and connections to the community-based supports people need to keep their housing and avoid returning to homelessness. For more information on Housing First: Click Here

 

Erin Schaefer, Director of Operations, and Elaine Surber, Associate Director and Director of New Beginnings Drug and Alcohol Services, were able to provide a demonstration on the 8 dimensions of wellness and how implementing the Eight Dimensions of Wellness part of daily life can improve mental and physical health for people with mental and/or substance use disorders. For more information on the eight dimensions of wellness: Click Here

No matter where you are in life, there’s always room for improvement. At Catalyst Life Services, we serve people at every stage of life. We work toward the total health of ALL the people in our region, in ALL parts of their lives: body, mind and spirit. We are an agent of change guiding the people we serve to lead more fulfilling lives.

Below is our success stories of an individual who has gone through all of Catalyst’s programs and his experience back to wellness.

Catalyst has partnered with TIROCC, which is Trauma Informed Recovery Oriented Community of Care and represents the growth and expansion of the previous Recovery Oriented System of Care. Back in 2015, the Richland County Mental Health & Recovery Board collaborated with L, Harrison, who is a specialist in implementing organization in the process of Trauma-Informed care, both internally and externally. We at Catalyst were involved in the process of being assessed on how we currently operate when it comes to a trauma. Our assessment helped us to develop a strategic plan to help address the areas where we need to improve or change, but to, also, help us understand what areas we are excelling in. This collaboration helped us to identify where we have grown in trauma-informed awareness, improvements in the process, relational interactions, services development, and cross-provider partnerships.

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