Resources

Do you know what apps your kids are using on their electronic devices? Check out this article.

"Dangerous Apps for Teens": http://www.jeffveley.com/articles/2015/6/6/dangerous-apps-for-teens


Do you ever wonder where to find resources about child and family counseling, housing, health care, employment, or legal services? Click on the links below to find information on these services and more.

Wisconsin has some excellent resources, 2-1-1 and Wisconsin First Step, to connect families and professionals with community-based health and human services. The 2-1-1 Wisconsin resource site provides a variety of services including housing, food, utilities, health care, employment, mental health, child care, and legal services. Wisconsin First Step is a database of behavioral and mental health resources for children and youth including counseling and therapy, alternative therapies, crisis mental health services, and support and education for families. Both databases may be accessed through on-line, call-in or live chat options.


Philip Chard: Nature is powerful medicine if you take it in

Philip Chard, Special to the Journal SentinelPublished 12:00 p.m. CT Jan. 27, 2017

If you get the blues on occasion, as most of us do, or if mired in a dark pit of melancholia and despair, be aware of this ancient but oft-forgotten fact.

Nature is a powerful antidepressant.

Numerous studies show that interacting with the natural world effectively treats depression and cognitive disturbances (non-organic memory problems, "monkey mind," attention deficit disorder, etc.). What's more, it has far fewer potential side effects, as are common with antidepressant medications.

But there's a caveat. While going outside does elevate mood and mental acumen, one's state of mind while in nature determines the degree of benefit one accrues.

You see, we have to let the natural world in. To enjoy its emotional and cognitive perks, one must be fully present and immersed in the sensory experiences nature has to offer. That's not as common as it sounds.

While hiking the Ice Age Trail recently, I happened upon a fellow trekker who was interacting with his smartphone and had in ear buds. I'm not sure what this guy was absorbing, but it wasn't our surroundings.

Attempting to soak up the therapeutic benefits of the natural world without deeply connecting with it is like taking an antidepressant pill that passes through one's system without dissolving. Is being outside good for heart and mind? Yes, but only when your mind is there along with your body, rather than off mentally visiting the past or future.

As such, technology is not the only culprit here. While in nature, one can be physically present but mentally absent simply because one's thoughts are occupied with something "there and then" rather than "here and now."

The ticket is to turn down one's mental chatter while simultaneously turning up one's sensory acuity. Think less and sense more, focusing on sights, sounds, smells, sensations, etc.

This is where mindfulness proves essential. Clients I've suggested use nature for therapeutic benefit sometimes report struggling to turn off their thoughts while outdoors (or anywhere for that matter).

For them, practicing sensory immersion is helpful. In nature, this can be done in many different ways, including splashing water on one's face (or going for a swim), inhaling the scent of flowers or pine needles, watching waves or passing clouds or tall grasses in the wind, sifting sand through one's fingers, listening to birds, playing in the snow — the list is long.

The antidepressant and cognitive benefits of nature interaction occur even when one's immersion in the natural world isn't all that pleasant, such as slogging through a driving rain or enduring frigid wind chills. What's more, the impact increases when physical exertion is involved. Hiking, paddling, swimming and other vigorous pursuits, when done mindfully, boost the positive effects on melancholia while improving memory and concentration.

Naturalist John Muir said it best:

"Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”

Philip Chard is a psychotherapist, author and trainer. Email Chard at outofmymind@philipchard.com or visit philipchard.com.