Join the voices for recovery this September | SteamboatToday.com

Join the voices for recovery this September

Sarah Valentino
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

Editor’s note: This is the first part of a four-part series of columns about mental health and wellness.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recognizes September as National Recovery Month, which celebrates the successes of those in recovery from mental health problems, including substance use disorders.

The Health Partnership Serving Northwest Colorado supports the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover. Along with several educational events this month, this is part one of a four-part wellness series to explore a few different ways to work on your own mental, emotional and behavioral health.

Across a lifetime, one in two people experience a mental disorder that affects their thinking, emotions or behavior and impacts their ability to work or go to school, carry out daily activities and engage in satisfying relationships. Yes, you read that correctly — half of our population struggles with mental health at some point in their lives, whether it be anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, substance use disorders or a co-occurrence of these disorders.

While self-help strategies should not take the place of professional help, especially in crisis situations, they can be a valuable tool for people who are already managing recovery or for those looking for new ways to find wellness in their everyday lives.

Love, laugh, connect

Did you know that loneliness poses as great a health risk as either smoking cigarettes or obesity? Social isolation can be detrimental to your physical health, leading to shortened lifespans, and it can also put you at greater risk for mental health problems. Listed below are some ways to get involved in your community, meet new people and explore new interests.

Love: Be a volunteer

While it's a great way to earn "good citizen" points, volunteering is also one of the most powerful self-help strategies around. Initially, some volunteers fear that the added obligation will make them feel more stressed but research shows that finding the right place to volunteer has the opposite effect, lowering anxiety and depression, providing a sense of purpose and supporting a sense of optimism. Here are some Routt County organizations that are always glad to have more volunteers:

• Horizons Specialized Services: Contact through horizonsnwc.org or call Tommy Larson at 970-879-4466

• Routt County United Way: Visit routtcountyunitedway.org/volunteer/.

• LiftUp of Routt County: Visit liftuprc.org/volunteer/.

Laugh: Make it a daily habit

So simple, and yet so easy to forget to add into your daily routine. Research has proven the powerful effect of laughter on your mood, energy, mental focus, creativity and ability to problem solve. Even better — laughter can be a great way to form new friendships and nurture old ones. Get yourself on a daily cat video routine. Download an app that tells you jokes. Or go vintage and read some comics.

Connect: Discover interest groups or a sports league

As we grow older, work and chores tend to take up more of our time, and we often forget the incredible value of exploring hobbies and the simple joy of play. Join a book club. Discover geocaching with a friend. Become the town cribbage champion. Just go play.

• City of Steamboat Springs adult recreation programs: Visit steamboatsprings.net/135/recreation-programs

• Book clubs: Bud Werner Memorial Library at http://www.steamboatlibrary.org, Hayden Library at haydenpubliclibrary.org and South Routt Library at southroutt.colibraries.org. These libraries each host several clubs.

• CMC credit and community education: Find class schedules at coloradomtn.edu/credit-classes/.

There are many paths to wellness and recovery. Stay tuned over the next three weeks to learn about feeding your body for your mental health, exercise and the power of a good night's sleep.

To celebrate September as Recovery Month, view our full calendar of events at ncchealthpartnership.org/news/calendar.

Sarah Valentino is regional behavioral health educator for Northwest Colorado Community Health Partnership in Steamboat Springs.

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