The practice and benefits of mindfulness, talking to children about suicide, driving tips to cut down fuel costs.

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Driving Tips that Cut Fuel Costs

Cut down on aggressive driving (rapid acceleration and last minute braking)
Fuel Economy Benefit: 5 – 33%
Observe the speed limit during highway driving. Highway driving MPG performance usually decreases at excessive speeds
Fuel Economy Benefit: 7 – 23%
Avoid leaving unnecessary items in your vehicle, especially heavy ones.
Fuel Economy Benefit: 1 – 2%/100 lbs.

Adapted from: Driving More Efficiently.

Don’t Worry – Be Mindful

We have so many things on our minds that worry us. The everyday concerns about money, relationships, family obligations, work demands, schedules, and household chores are more than enough to fill our heads with anxious thoughts. When you add in a not-so-routine event such as a health crisis, car accident, storm damage or budget cut at work, our anxiety-filled minds can trigger our bodies to react with pounding hearts, rapid breathing, tense muscles and tumbling emotions. Thoughts flood into our mind, “How am I going to fix this? What should I do? If I don’t think this through properly right now, I am not going to be effective.”

Some people throw themselves into “high gear” to anticipate outcomes and solve the problem as quickly as possible. Some people try to numb their anxiety through use of mood altering substances or “soothe” themselves with unhealthy eating. In the long run, ramped-up activity and multi-tasking, or escape through self-medicating only serve to make people more anxious, depressed and physically and emotionally overloaded.

Mindfulness – An age-old practice with modern applications

Mindfulness has been practiced for hundreds of years as a form of meditation. Mental health professionals are now beginning to recognize that mindfulness can have many benefits for people suffering from difficulties such as anxiety, depression, stress, and substance abuse. It can also help people deal with life’s challenges more calmly and effectively, become more flexible and creative, and build personal resilience to promote health and well-being.

Mindfulness can be defined in several ways:

Being actively attentive, deliberately keeping something in mind

Getting “out of your head” and completely” in touch” with the present moment

Paying attention on purpose and without judgment

Mindfulness works by helping us break out of habitual, often ineffective patterns of thinking and acting. The human mind is constantly thinking about ways to make life easier and be more effective. Ironically, this kind of thinking makes us even more anxious and ineffective. Studies have reported significant reductions in stress along with increases in life satisfaction and positive relations with others for those who have practiced mindfulness techniques for five minutes a day for as little as three weeks.

Expert Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. offers the following tips for fitting mindfulness into your daily life:
Waking up: While you are still lying in bed, before you do anything else, notice your breathing.
Showering: Open yourself up to your senses. Feeling warm or cool? Notice the scent of your soap; feel the sudsy shampoo in your hair.

Eating: Pay attention to the food you are eating, think about what it took to create it, put it in your mouth and taste it.

Walking: Slow down, pay attention to the movement and skill of walking.

Driving: When stopped at a red light, notice your body. Loosen your grip on the steering wheel. Relax your shoulders.

All day: Sprinkle mindfulness throughout your day. Set reminders to practice a mindful moment and change the times of day occasionally so these moments don’t turn into meaningless habit.

Mindfulness works by helping us break out of habitual, often ineffective patterns of thinking and acting.

Talking to Children About Suicide

Suicide is often an uncomfortable subject because it evokes feelings of sadness, anxiety, and remorse. We all want to protect our children from painful experiences but at some point in their young lives, they will learn of someone who is either having suicidal thoughts or has lost a loved one to suicide. Initiating an open and honest conversation with your children can remind them they have a caring role model to rely upon for guidance. As supported by multiple studies, asking your children about suicide does not induce or increase suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

According to the American Association of Suicidology, about 80% of people who attempt or complete suicide exhibit advance warning signs:

Talking about committing suicide
Sleep or appetite disturbance
Drastic behavior changes
Withdrawal from friends or normal social activities
Giving away possessions
Previous suicide attempts
Preoccupation with death or dying
Loss of interest in appearance
Identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered
Increase in alcohol and drug use
Severe depression signified by excessive sadness, crying spells, decreased energy, loss of interest, irritability, or feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness

Suicide and suicidal behavior are not normal responses to stress. Research shows that the risk for suicide is associated with changes in brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, including serotonin. Decreased levels of serotonin have been found in people with depression, impulsive disorders, a history of suicide attempts, and in the brains of suicide victims.

As a parent or adult mentor in the child’s life it is important to monitor depression symptoms and to initiate on-going conversations if warning signs are present. All threats of suicide should be taken seriously. If your child expresses thoughts of being suicidal, seek immediate help from PAS or your child’s doctor. Eliminate access to firearms or other potential tools for suicide, including unsupervised access to medication. If the child is in eminent danger, take him or her to the nearest Emergency Room or call 911.

Tips for talking about suicide:

The discussion should take place in a private, comfortable setting to allow the child/adolescent to speak freely.

Offer definitions and clarification. Suicide is defined as the act of taking one’s own life. Most likely, the child has had some exposure through peers or the media.

Acknowledge the serious nature of suicide as a tragedy. Be sure not to normalize or minimize suicide.
Be sure to use language and terms that are age-appropriate.

Encourage expression of feelings. Be supportive, sensitive, and understanding to allow children to feel safe in sharing feelings.

Tell your children how much you love and care for them to ensure they know they are valued.

Try to omit any graphic or disturbing details.

Give the child or adolescent time to ask questions.

Brittany Bagy, MA, LPC, PAS Client Services Specialist

Featured Service: Legal Consultation

Almost every major life event—the birth of a child, death of a parent, marriage, divorce, moving to a new home, accidents and injuries, owning property, a financial crisis—can involve a legal question or problem. This service provides up to 30 minutes of consultation for any legal issue, with the exception of those involving disputes or actions between an employee/dependent and their employer or the EAP, or for business issues. PAS’ national network of attorneys are available for consultation and general information regarding:

Family Law: separation, child custody disputes, guardianship matters, paternity, adoption
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Consumer and Financial Matters: bankruptcy, contract disputes, garnishments, small claims court proceduresWills and Probate: probating a parent’s estate, conservatorship, power of attorney, living wills
Vehicle-related Matters: traffic violations, accidents, personal injury or property damage
Administrative: veteran benefits, Social Security, IRS audits

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