By Jennifer Scott @spiritfinder.org/
When you are faced with suicidal thoughts or have even made a past attempt, it can feel as though you have lost all control over your mind. You don’t want to feel this way, but your brain simply won’t give it a rest. Rest assured, it is nothing you’ve done and it is possible to break free. Take a look at the resources in this toolkit for guidance, and use the mind-healing activities to re-focus your thoughts and turn them into something positive.
Mental Health Resources
The first step on the road to healing is to seek help. Although you may feel alone, you are far from it. Getting a support system together will enable you to jumpstart the process, and these resources are a great place to begin:
- National Institute of Mental Health
- Suicide Prevention Resource Center
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Often times when you are experiencing negative thoughts, you feel as though you can’t get a handle on them. As hard as you try, you can’t seem to gain control. Mindfulness meditation is a focused approach to taking control of your thoughts in which you are paying attention to the present moment, including your thoughts, emotions, and sensations. Using breathing techniques, you can achieve a heightened sense of awareness in a matter of minutes no matter where you are.
Mindfulness meditation not only refocuses your thoughts, but research has shown that it physically alters your brain. Participants in a 2016 study practiced meditation for three days. At the end of those three days, brain scans showed increased activity in the areas of the brain that process stress and give you a sense of calm. While there isn’t an ideal dose for meditation, it can be done in a matter of minutes, fitting into even the busiest of schedules.
Prayer is a powerful coping mechanism. People of faith who regularly pray are less likely to fall into depression and commit suicide due to the hope and optimism they hold onto for the future. Scientists have found that prayer and spirituality are sources of hope and strength which act as buffers against stress, anxiety, pain, addiction, and depression. Prayer is also an effective way to keep stress and anxiety at a minimum or banish them all together. Releasing your day’s worries and giving them over to a higher power can be liberating and leave you ready to set new goals.
There are also many health benefits of a positive spiritual life. For example, engaging in prayer triggers a relaxation response. When your mind is calm and relaxed, blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate lower. You can think more clearly and your body stays in a low stress state, leaving you centered and focused on recovery. In addition, your body will have more resources to devote to healing if you are feeling positive and less stressed.
Have you ever had so many thoughts going through your head that you don’t know where to turn? Journaling is a great way to get everything out in the open so you can start to understand your feelings one thought at a time. The two main objectives are to recapture the moment and learn from it. At the end of the day, take a second to write down how you felt throughout the day or reacted to certain events. This is a safe place for you to write about everything you are experiencing.
While you may have had a rough day, try to find lessons you’ve learned and recognize the positive moments. Even if it was something as simple as a greeting from the mailman or finding your favorite movie on television, write it down. You may gain perspective into how you see yourself and the world. Journaling is also a great way to track your progress, and may alert you to patterns in your thoughts and even your actions.
The above activities are a great start, but keep in mind that anything that engages your mind and promotes positive thinking is considered a method of healing. You can come up with your own ideas, but here are some more suggestions:
With the right resources and activities, you can find relief from your thoughts and finally start moving forward. Remember, healing takes time, but with the right help and tools, you can overcome this.
Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Course:
Suicide Prevention: Evidence-Based Strategies is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that reviews evidence-based research and offers strategies for screening, assessment, treatment, and prevention of suicide in both adolescents and adults. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. In 2015, 44,193 people killed themselves. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes, “Suicide is a serious but preventable public health problem that can have lasting harmful effects on individuals, families, and communities.” People who attempt suicide but do not die face potentially serious injury or disability, depending on the method used in the attempt. Depression and other mental health issues follow the suicide attempt. Family, friends, and coworkers are negatively affected by suicide. Shock, anger, guilt, and depression arise in the wake of this violent event. Even the community as a whole is affected by the loss of a productive member of society, lost wages not spent at local businesses, and medical costs. The CDC estimates that suicides result in over 44 billion dollars in work loss and medical costs. Prevention is key: reducing risk factors and promoting resilience. This course will provide a review of evidence-based studies on this complex subject for psychologists, marriage & family therapists, professional counselors, and social workers. Information from the suicide prevention technical package from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be provided. Included also are strategies for screening and assessment, prevention considerations, methods of treatment, and resources for choosing evidence-based suicide prevention programs. Course #30-97 | 2017 | 60 pages | 20 posttest questions
This online course provides instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. After enrolling, click on My Account and scroll down to My Active Courses. From here you’ll see links to download/print the course materials and take the CE test (you can print the test to mark your answers on it while reading the course document). Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. Click here to learn more.
Professional Development Resources is approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).