Category Archives: Self-care

Taking Care of Ourselves and Others: Preventing Suicide

Two celebrities took their lives in May 2018 – designer Kate Spade and chef Anthony Bourdain. Suicide is a cause of death that is both preventable and on the rise. According to the CDC, suicide rates in this country increased by 25% between 1999 and 2016. 

In times like these, where suicide is once again a topic of national conversation, we must be vigilant about the threat of contagion. This is a real and dangerous phenomenon that leads to a measurable spike in suicides following significant media exposure and public discussion of prominent suicides.

This happened in my small town in Connecticut. Several years ago a popular and well-known athlete hung himself in the family home only to be discovered by his younger brother. The news of his death spread like wildfire through the town. It was a tragedy felt by all. Within 24 hours, a second boy took his life in the same manner. His mother was in another part of the house at the time. Within two days following the second suicide, a third child, a girl, attempted to end her life but failed, thankfully. These children attended the same school and were very close in age. As a result, all of the children in the school were closely monitored for fear that there was a “suicide pact.” 

To halt the spread of suicidal ideation, and to care for ourselves, our loved ones, and our neighbors effectively, we must be fully informed about the specific ways in which we can help prevent suicide. Here are some tips for winning the fight against suicide. First, learn the risk factors. There are a number of factors that can place an individual at increased risk of suicide. If you or someone you know has one or more of these risk factors, proactive and preventative measures are even more important. These risk facts include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • History of depression or other serious mental health conditions
  • Serious physical health concerns such as pain, chronic conditions, and the like
  • History of prior suicide attempts or a family history of suicide
  • Stressful life events such as financial strain, divorce, loss of a loved one, relocating to an unfamiliar place, job loss, and natural disaster
  • Traumatic life events or history such as bullying, physical abuse and sexual assault
  • Access to firearms or other lethal weapons
  • Impaired judgment due to substance abuse such as drugs or alcohol
  • Past or current work in a high-risk industry such as military veterans, healthcare workers, or farmers
  • Heavy exposure to suicides such as first responders  

Second, watch for the signs. If you suspect that a loved one or neighbor is at risk for suicide, watch for these warning signs:

  • Words that express a desire to kill oneself, even in a joking manner, a feeling of hopelessness, having no reason to live, being a burden on others, or feeling trapped in a difficult situation
  • Behaviors such as increased use of substances such as drugs or alcohol, looking for suicide tips or methods online or in conversation with others, withdrawing from favorite activities, isolating from family or friends, sleep changes, giving away prized possession, or saying goodbye 
  • Moods such as depression, anxiety, loss of interest, irritability, shame, rage or uncontrollable anger, agitation, or a sudden sense of relief after a prolonged depression
  • Mood changes, including a sudden elevation in mood
  • Rage or uncontrollable anger

Third, don’t be afraid to start a conversation with someone who is exhibiting the warning signs and may be at risk for suicide. When you’ve identified risk factors and/or warning signs, don’t be afraid to initiate a conversation to directly address the issue with the person. The following tips from the Suicide Prevention Lifeline may be helpful:

  • Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide
  • Be willing to listen. Allow your expressions of feelings to show and accept the feelings that you are having while listing to your loved one or neighbor
  • Do not judge. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad. Do not lecture on the value of life
  • Don’t agree to keep your concerns secret. Seek support from professionals or others
  • Offer hope that alternatives are available, not glib reassurance
  • Take action by removing weapons, pills, alcohol, and other means for acting on suicidal ideation 

Fourth, be proactive about your own emotional health. According to the Campaign for Change Director, there are five general habits that each of us should repeat consistently for good emotional health. They are:

  • Take care of yourself physically by eating healthfully, exercising regularly, and getting good sleep
  • Check in with family, friends, and counselors on a regular basis
  • Engage with others in a meaningful way. After all, you cannot be healthy if your relationships are unhealthy
  • Relax with mediation, gently activity, gardening, cooking, and other activities that bring you pleasure and gratification
  • Know the signs and symptoms of emotional suffering in yourself and others

Finally, stay informed and involved. Seek out additional resources to educate yourself on the ways that you can take action to help prevent suicide. If you or someone you know is in danger, take it seriously and act appropriately. 

  • Call 211 Infoline for the names of counselors and for guidance and support
  • Call (800) 273.8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (press 1 for veterans)
  • Call 911 if it is a true emergency requiring immediate response
  • Call (800) (On Facebook Messenger: using the “send message” button at facebook.com/crisistextline will connect you to a live crisis counselor

Take care of yourself and those around you . . .

This Blog is made available by me, an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Connecticut. I am not a recruiter, hiring manager, or career agent. I am not expert in any of the areas or issues related to job search activities. I am merely sharing my job search experiences. This Blog/Web Site is designed to provide accurate information on the subjects presented but should not be considered professional or legal advice.

Retirement Savings 2017

Looking forward to 2017 you should review your retirement plans to determine what changes, if any, you want to make. Individual retirement plans (IRAs and 401(k)s) are two of the most common defined contribution plans and offer tax-advantaged retirement savings.

The annual limit for contributions for traditional and Roth IRAs for 2017 is $6,000. People age 50 or older in 2017 can contribute an additional $1,000 for a total potential contribution of $7,000.

The annual imit for contributions for 401(k), 403(b), and 457(b) plans is $18,000. Workers age 50 or older in 2017 are permitted an additional catch-up contribution of $6,000 for a total potential contribution of $24,000.

401(k) v. IRA:

  • 401(k)
    • For employees of companies that offer such plans
    • Employer may match the contribitions up to 6% of salary
    • Pay taxes later (upon withdrawal during retirement)
  • Individual Retirement Plan (IRA)
    • Roth IRA
      • Pay taxes now
      • Tax-free withdrawals of contributions only (not earnings or interest on contributions) at any time
    • Traditional IRA
      • Pay taxes later
      • Receive potential tax deductions now

Now, get to it . . .

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This Blog is made available by me, an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Connecticut. I am not a recruiter, hiring manager, or career agent. Nor am I an expert in any of the areas or issues related to job search activities. I am merely sharing my job search experiences with you. This Blog/Web Site is designed to provide accurate information on the subjects presented but should not be considered professional or legal advice.

Stress Management Tips by Mayo Clinic Staff

240_f_53775217_ubr6vq04d6piu9mpsgygfao9ef1fafwuStress can ruin your job search and your holiday celebrations. It is best to prevent stress in the first place rather than to have to stop, rethink what you are doing, and regroup. The key is to be realistic about your feelings and what you can accomplish during this time, planning ahead, and seeking support to stave off stress and depression.

Mayo Clinic Staff offer the following tips for coping with stress and depression and the possible outcomes to your physical and mental health during the holiday season.

240_f_77544622_w1eixjvacemfdtkmunytdg24nc2ywfxiAcknowledge your feelings. If sometime difficult is happening in your life, please realize that it is normal to feel sadness and grief. It is okay to take time to grieve and express your feelings. You should not try to force yourself to be happy just because it is the holiday season.

Reach out. Seek out community, religious, or other event for support and companionship if you are feeling lonely or isolated. Also, volunteering to help others is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your network.

Be realistic. The holidays do not have to be perfrect or to be a repeat of previous years. As our families grow and change so will traditions and rituals. Choose a few to hold on to but be open to creating new traditions and rituals. For example, if you cannot be with someones you love, use Skype or Facetime to share the holiday.

Set aside differences. Accept other people for who they are even if they do not live up to your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. Be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are that they too may be feeling the effect of holiday stress and depression.

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Stick to a budget. Decide how much money you can afford to spend before you go gift or food shopping. Then stick to your budget no matter what you find. Avoid impulse purchases.

Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends, and other activities. Plan you menus and make a shopping list so that you remember everything you need. Do not be afraid to ask for help from family or friends.

Learn to say no. Saying yes when you want to say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Do not overextend yourself. Friends and colleagues will understand if you cannot participate in every project or activity.

Do not abandon healthy habits. Overindulgence will add to your stress and guilt. Have a healthy snack before going to holiday parties so that you do not go overboard on sweets, cheese, or drinks. Get plenty of rest. Incorporate regular physical activity into each day.

Take a breather. Remember to make time for yourself. Spending even a few minutes alone, without distraction, will refresh and energize you so that you can attend to everything you need to do. Read a book, get a message or facial, listen to soothing music, or take a walk in the moonlight to clear your mind, slow your breathing, and restore your inner calm.

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Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts you may still find yourself feeling sad or anxious, unable to attend to daily chores, or shying away from social activities, seek professional help from your doctor or a mental health professional.

Do not let the holidays become something that you dread or what to avoid. Take steps to prevent the stress and depression that can descend during the holidays.

Learn to recognize your holiday triggers, such as financial pressures or personal demands, so you can combat them before they lead to a meltdown. With a little planning and positive thinking, you can find peace and joy during the holidays.

Article from Mayo Clinic, Healthy Lifestyle. Viewed on November 20, 2016.

Now, get to it . . .

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This Blog is made available by me, an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Connecticut. I am not a recruiter, hiring manager, or career agent. Nor am I an expert in any of the areas or issues related to job search activities. I am merely sharing my job search experiences with you. This Blog/Web Site is designed to provide accurate information on the subjects presented but should not be considered professional or legal advice.

How to Keep Your Job Search on Track

240_f_92830750_5okumemuydpc5at4cx2yp8qhz5zweynaSearching for your next job or career opportunity is a challenging objective. It is essential that you stay positive even if all you feel is rejection and defeat. If you become frustrated in your job search you can end up sabotaging your efforts and wasting your time and resources.

How can you stay positive and motivated during a job search? Below are five ideas for staying on track during a frustrating job search:

Find things that excite you. Think about the things that you like to do and that make you happy. Schedule time each week, at least one day per week, to pursue your hobbies and interests. When you are engaged in these activites your mind will be occupied with happy, productive thoughts. And this feeling will last. When you return to your job search you will be energized, strong, and have a positive state of mind.

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Surround yourself with people who inspire you. Surrounding yourself with people who bring you up will keep you from feeling down. Stay close to the positive influencers in your life — your family, friends, significant others, and mentors. These people will help you to stay on track with your job search and your goals.

Follow people you don’t know but who inspire you. Whether they are authors, inspirational speakers, celebrities, successful business people, or bloggers, keep these “close by” so that you connect whenever you need a lift. Read their books or inspirational quotes, follow them on Facebook or Twitter, study their careers, and learn from their mistakes. A little inspiration can go a long way to lifing your spirits and improving your mood.

Help yourself by helping others. Helping other people is good for us. It makes us feel good. If you are feeling down, volunteering and helping other people will recharge your spirit and improve your mood.

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Exercise. Make time to exercise each day. Exercise will expel negative energy and release tension. Go for a run, take a walk with your dog, take a yoga, spin, or Zumba class, or lift weights. The point is to get moving. Exercise releases endorphins and endorphins make us feel happiness and pleasure.

Create structure. Each weekend, write down a plan for the upcoming week. Having a plan will give you structure and a sense of stability, control, and empowerment. Sticking with your plan will help you to feel accomplished and successful.

Now, get to it . . .

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This Blog is made available by me, an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Connecticut. I am not a recruiter, hiring manager, or career agent. Nor am I an expert in any of the areas or issues related to job search activities. I am merely sharing my job search experiences with you. This Blog/Web Site is designed to provide accurate information on the subjects presented but should not be considered professional or legal advice.

Take a break from your job search and laugh

How about a change of pace from my usual posts? How about a joke?

 

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I hope you found this funny and laughed. I thought it was “acute joke”.

Now, get back to your job search . . .

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This Blog is made available by me, an attorney licensed to practice law in Connecticut. I am not a recruiter, hiring manager, or career agent. Nor am I an expert in any of the areas or issues related to job search activities. I am merely sharing my job search experiences with you. This Blog/Web Site is designed to provide accurate information on the subjects covered but should not be considered professional or legal advice.

How to Avoid Tax-Related Identity Theft

 

fotolia_44519607Tax-related identify theft occurs when someone uses your Social Security Number (“SSN”) to file a tax return and claim a fraudulent (and usually excessive) tax refund. Generally, an identity thief will use your SSN to file a false return early in the year – in January or February. They may already be filing fraudulaent returns. It is unlikely that you will know that an identity thief has filed a fraudulent return until you try to file your correct and proper tax return. The Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) will return your tax filing to you with a note that a tax return with your SSN has already been filed.

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How to reduce your risk of tax-related identity theft:

  1. Do not carry your social security card, or any document with your SSN on it, with you on a daily basis. Carry it only when you are going to need it for a particular purpose such as applying for a Passport or registering for school.
  2. Do not disclose your SSN to anyone unless it is absolutely necessary. For example, medical professionals routinely ask for SSNs as part of their patient forms. Your physician does not need your SSN to treat you because medical records are kept by your name and birthdate. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DISCLOSE YOUR SSN JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE ASKS FOR IT.  Do not be afraid to ask why your SSN is needed. Be comfortable that you are providing it only when necessary and to someone who will protect the information.ask why.
  3. Protect your personal and financial information at home and on your computer. Protect your personal computers using firewalls, anti-spam and anti-virus software, update security patches, and routinely change passwords to internet accounts.
  4. Shred any documents that contain confidential personal and financial information.
    • If you do not have a shredder, Staples and other stores will shred information for relatively low cost.
    • Take advantage of free shredding. Many banks and other businesses sponsor free shredding events in most communities several times a year.
  5. Do not give personal and financial information over the telephone, through the mail or on the internet unless you initiated the contact or you are absolutely sure with whom you are speaking.
  6.  Check your credit report annually. There are free services online like www.creditkarma.com.
  7. Check your Social Security Administration earnings statement annually. If you do not receive an earnings statement directly from the IRS, it is available at the IRS website at www.IRS.gov.

 

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“IRS” scam phone calls are very common this time of year. You need to be careful to protect yourself and your family.

What you need to know:

  1. The IRS WILL NEVER call you to demand immediate tax payments.
    • Let me repreat that . . . The IRS WILL NEVER call you to demand immediate payment of taxes owed.
    • The IRS WILL NEVER call you to demand tax payments without having first mailed a bill to you (probably several bills and written demands for payment).
    • Quite frankly, what government agency works this quickly?
  2. The IRS WILL NEVER demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they claim to be owed.
  3. The IRS WILL NEVER require you to use a specific payment method for paying your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  4. The IRS WILL NEVER ask for credit card or debit card numbers over the telephone.
  5. The IRS WILL NEVER threaten to have you arrested by local police or other law-enforcement officials for failing to pay your taxes.

If you receive a telephone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and demanding money from you, here’s what you should do:

  1. If you know that you owe taxes or think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040 to confirm the amount due and the due date for the payment. The IRS employees can help you with a tax payment issue.
  2. If you know that you do not owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you owe taxes, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1.800.366.4484.
    • You can also file a complaint at www.tigta.gov using the FTC Complaint Assistant; choose “Other” and then choose “Imposter Scams.”
    • If the complaint involves someone impersonating an IRS agent or other government official, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

Source: www.bgtaxct.com (Bacon and Gendreau Tax Preparation and Financial Services, 62 LaSalle Road, West Hartford, Connecticut)

Now, get to it . . .

bitmoji155069107-3This Blog/Web Site is made available by me, an attorney licensed to practice law in CT. I am not a recruiter, hiring manager, or career agent. Nor am I an expert in any of the areas or issues related to job search activities or taxes. I am merely sharing my job search experiences with you. This Blog/Web Site is designed to provide accurate information on the subjects covered but should not be considered professional or legal advice.

The Importance of Self Care in Job Search

“The person who gets hired is not necessarily the one who can do the job best; but, the one who knows the most about how to get hired.” Richard Nelson Bolles, author of “What Color is Your Parachute?”

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Job search can be stressful and overwhelming. Intense feelings of loss, anxiety and self-doubt are caused by several factors:

  1. External circumstances that make us feel vulnerable and powerless, as though we have no control over our present or future work life;
  2. External expectations that cause us to feel like we have disappointed or let down our family and friends;
  3. Pressure to find a job using a complicated, confusing and impersonal job search process;
  4. Fear and worry because there is so much that we need to learn if we have any chance of succeeding in this new reality; and
  5. Competing priorities for successfully managing our lives and the lives of our family in this new reality.

Physical, emotional, spiritual and mental self-care should be a priority if we hope to stay focused, energetic and positive during the job search process. Four steps toward reducing our stress and taking better care of ourselves are:

  1. Setting realistic expectations. We manage our exceptions by accepting and working through setbacks. Life is not easy or simple but you will succeed.
  2. Taking time to get to know ourselves at this stage in our lives. Take an inventory of current skills, ask others what they see as our strengths and weaknesses, and decide what it is that we need and want in the present, short-term and long-term.
  3. Understanding the difference between what we need to live comfortably and what we would like to have in the short-term and long-term. Being honest with ourselves and truly understanding who we are and what we need to feel happy and fulfilled is empowering.  Information will create opportunities and help us to make the best choices for our work and personal lives.
  4. Committing to self care:
    • Physical Care:
      1. Eating well and staying hydrated
      2. Resting/sleeping 6 to 8 hours
      3. Playing
      4. Exercising
    •  Emotional Care:
      1. Spending time with family, friends and pets
      2. Creating a powerful support system or network
      3. Treating ourselves kindly; avoid negative self-talk
      4. Appropriately express emotions, including anger and sadness
      5. Communicate honestly with others, including our children
    • Spiritual Care:
      1. Make time for reflection and mediation
      2. Spend time in nature
      3. Be creative: listen to music, draw, dance, sing
      4. Volunteer or participate in community or social activities
      5. Laugh
      6. Accept kindness, praise or love from ourselves and others
      7. Celebrate accomplishments, both big and small
    • Mental Care:
      1. Read something inspirational
      2. Challenge ourselves to learn something new
      3. Take an online class
      4. Pursue a new hobby or interest

Taking time out of our day, everyday, for self care will expand our support system (network), help us to gather information about ourselves and about the working world that will be useful in our job search activities, and keep us healthy, focused and positive.

Now, get to it. . .