This entry has been directly taken from a blog post from Mental Health America
written by Danielle Fritze, MHA Senior Director of Public Education & Visual Communications
NOTE: If you are an uninsured Montanan there are resources available to access free mental health care. Click here for more information on the program and how to get started.
For many people, the holidays conjure up a Norman Rockwell-esque mental picture of people gathered to enjoy food, friends, and family, accompanied by feelings of love, warmth, and excitement. But for others, the holidays can cause them to feel anxious or depressed despite all the decorations and festivities.
There may be pressure to impress friends and relatives with a spotless house or the perfect gift. The need to travel and buy gifts can strain an already tight budget. The crowds in parking lots, shopping centers, and airports are enough to send anyone into a state of heightened anxiety.
Obligations to attend multiple functions or visit everyone can be overwhelming. Maybe family time is tainted by unwanted conversations or a toxic relative. Perhaps the holidays remind you of friends or family members who are no longer around to celebrate.
And last but not least, some people don’t have anyone to spend the holidays with.
Here are five things you can do if you find yourself stressed or depressed this holiday season.
1. Say “No” If You Feel Overwhelmed.
There are only so many functions you can attend (or host), especially if you are busy with your day-to-day obligations and have limited time off. Trying to be too many places or get your house looking pristine for company can make get-togethers that are supposed to be enjoyable end up overwhelming.
If trying to be everything to everyone is sucking the joy out of the holidays, don’t be afraid to RSVP “no” to a few invitations or opt not to throw your annual party. This gives you the opportunity to reach out and suggest spending one-on-one time with friends or family in the new year when calendars are a bit more open and interactions can be more intimate and meaningful.
Alternatively, if you have social anxiety, you may send your mental health into a tailspin by pushing yourself too hard to participate in events or go to crowded places that trigger your symptoms. If stores swamped with too many shoppers are your nightmare, rely on trusted websites for online gift shopping. You can increase the impact of your gift giving by selecting a charity on Amazon Smile – a portion of what you spend will be donated to your designated charity.
2. Be Kind To Your Wallet.
If finances are a source of anxiety, decline gift exchanges in favor of low-cost activities that you can share with loved ones. Offer to have someone over for a home-cooked meal, or plan a coffee date. It’s also not unreasonable to set spending limits or make homemade gifts if you can’t avoid a gift exchange.
Travel costs can be prohibitive; if appropriate request that your family or friends help cover the cost of your travel for the holidays instead of giving gifts. Use technology to get face-time when you can’t be somewhere in person. Skype and Google Hangouts are two free ways to make video calls with one or more people. Facetime is also an option for iPhone users.
3. Know When To End Unwanted Conversations.
Many families have that one toxic member (or maybe there are a few of them) who can turn a seemingly fine conversation into a family feud.
When you see things start to take a turn for the worse, DO NOT POKE THE BEAR.
There is no shame in removing yourself from the situation—leave the room or step outside until cooler heads prevail.
If your dread is more centered around being grilled by friends and family about things like your relationship status, weight gain, or a tough life event you’ve faced recently, you have a few options.
It may help to rehearse any replies to anticipated questions in advance of gatherings, so you don’t find yourself struggling to figure out what to say. You can change the subject of the conversation if you don’t feel like having a particular discussion, but try not to do so in a provocative or defensive way.
For example, don’t respond to, “How are you doing since the breakup?” with “How are you doing since you got passed over for that promotion at work?”
Lastly, you can simply inform someone that the topic they are bringing up is a sensitive one that you would rather not discuss.
4. Honor Those Who Have Passed On.
Remember that it is okay to be sad. There is no way to replace the presence of a loved one who has passed away, but one way of coping is to honor their memory rather than mourn their absence.
Some ideas include:
If continuing old traditions is too painful, opt to create new ones that you think your loved one would have enjoyed.
5. Don’t Be Alone If You Don’t Want To.
If you prefer to spend the holidays by relaxing in solitude or engaging in self-reflection, there is nothing wrong with that. However, if you find yourself feeling lonely and without friends or family to spend time with, there are other people out there who are also looking for or open to having company:
The Emergency Housing Assistance program will provide rent, security deposit, mortgage payment, and/ or hazard insurance assistance as-needed for Montanans who have lost a job or substantial income loss as a result of COVID-19. Montana Housing will pay the difference between 25 percent of the household’s reduced net monthly income due to COVID-19 impact, and their eligible housing assistance costs, with a minimum payment of $250 per month and up to $2,000 a month. Household income limits range from $75,000-$125,000 based on family size. Montanans receiving other forms of housing assistance are not eligible.
More information on this funding and how to apply can be found here.
Deadline to apply is November 10, 2020
406.841.2840 | HOUSING.MT.GOV
The Emergency Housing Assistance Program serves eligible Montanan families, who because of the COVID-19 emergency or the response to that emergency, have suffered substantial financial hardship and lack sufficient income or resources to pay housing costs.
The Small Business Association released new loan forgiveness applications that streamline the forgiveness process for PPP loans of $50,000 or less.
Borrowers that use the new simpler application will be exempt from any reductions in the borrower’s loan forgiveness amount based on reductions in full-time equivalent (FTE) employees or reductions in employee salary or wages that would otherwise apply.
If you applied, know someone that has, or are looking to... we can help.
Click here for forgiveness guidelines.
Feeling a more angry or irritable than normal, you know, “just not feeling right?” Maybe you are blaming yourself more for not being the person you used to be at home or on the water and now go home feeling like you are letting someone down. Maybe the client that you once loved to teach, or the waters you can navigate with your eyes closed, no longer bring you peace? Heck, maybe, that relaxing evening drink has increased to four or has become the midday, “I will just have one, well maybe two” self-talk.
Look, here’s the thing, we all could use a check-up from the neck up! Even the toughest, manliest and womanliest of guides need to talk it out sometimes. And the Guide Relief Program is here to ensure you have someone to speak with when you need it and how you need it no matter where in the state you are.
We have even removed the barrier of not being insured. That’s right, as an uninsured Montanan, help is here. If you, or a family member, do not have insurance, but feel as though you need to chat with someone, follow the instructions below to get the process started.
If you should have any questions, feel free to contact us at email@example.com
All communication is confidential.
At the end of July (July 25 in Montana, July 31 elsewhere) a significant benefit extended to independent contractors will end. The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program (FPUC) which has provided an additional $600 per week to individuals who are collecting Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) will terminate. Even though many independent contractors have been able to return to work fully, many have not or have found that they have decidedly less work. The loss of this additional income will prove critical to many who work as independent contractors, the self-employed, gig workers, and the like.
As Congress considers new relief, including the extension of FPUC, we encourage you to reach out to your Senators (and others if you wish) urging them to support the extension until January 2021. It could be because you need the extension beyond July 25th. Perhaps you won't need it right away, but in passing, will ensure that you will receive this benefit in the event it's needed. And in doing so, you will support your fellow guides who are in need of this funding.
Below find information on how to contact Montana Senators Tester and Daines. Direct links will be the most effective in which to reach out. You will also find talking points on FPUC, guide specific points, and suggestions on how best to write your letter. It's important to stay focused and clear on your messaging. Also, don't be fearful of making it personal. This is very personal to you and your colleagues.
If you are a guide or independent contractor from a state other than Montana, click here to find the Senators in your state.
We encourage you to reach out to us if you should have any questions or need assistance. firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Fill out the form with information needed. Name, address, etc.
2. Message bullet points.
3. Guide specific bullet points. (Choose one or two that may resonate with you. Feel free to expand on it and give personal examples.)
Hints and tips on putting your email together
You know why you’re writing and what to write, but just how should you write it? Here is some advice on giving your letter the right tone and approach.
First and foremost, if you are in crisis and need support, call the Montana Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 24/7, at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) Or text “MT” to 741741
If you should need assistance in navigating what might be best fit for you, please do not hesitate to contact us. Feel confident that every conversation is confidential.
406-838-3507 or email@example.com
Montana Housing’s Emergency Housing Assistance program provides rent, security deposit, mortgage payment, and/ or hazard insurance assistance as-needed for Montanans who have lost a job or substantial income loss as a result of COVID-19.
If you're concerned about your ability to pay your bill, please contact them right away.
Phone and internet:
FCC announced the Keep Americans Connected Initiative. In order to ensure that Americans do not lose their broadband or telephone connectivity. More than 700 companies and associations have signed the Chairman's pledge to Keep Americans Connected. These companies have vowed to:
United Way is supporting communities across the world struggling to cope with COVID-19, protecting the most vulnerable. Helping people most in need access food, shelter, vital information and more through United Way’s global network. Services are available throughout Montana.
File For Unemployment
If you, as an independent contractor, have not yet filed for unemployment, a site has been created specifically for those who work as independent contractors, self-employed, or gig workers. Before you file, have the following items prepared:
If you have questions or need assistance, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) office can be reached at 406-444-3382 or PUAClaims@mt.gov
Montana Citizens' Advocate
If you have filed for unemployment and haven't received your benefits and/or are unsuccessful in speaking with someone at Montana Works or the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), we encourage you to call or email the Montana Citizens' Advocate. Their job is in the name - they work to advocate on behalf of Montanans and offers direction and assistance within state government.
Montana Citizens' Advocate Office can be reached at (855) 318-1330 or (406) 444-3468 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To check on your status or apply today!
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC):
The new Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) provision in the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2020” (CARES Act) adds an additional $600/week to any benefit payment for which you are eligible.
Under this new law, the first week for which the additional $600 is payable is benefit week ending April 4, 2020. Assuming continuing eligibility, the last week the FPUC $600 addition may be paid is benefit week ending July 25, 2020.
FPUC payments are taxable by the federal government. Any withholding from benefits you have elected, or may elect, for federal income taxes will also apply to the new FPUC payments.
FPUC payments are also subject to offset for child support payments and benefit overpayments.
Yes, you are reading right. Unemployment Benefits, including the $600 additional weekly payment are beginning to roll out. However, as is stated very clearly in this video, the Montana Department of Labor & Industry are working diligently to add the self-employed and independent contractors to the system. Once that has been completed, self-employed and ICs will begin receiving their benefits, including the $600, which in many cases will be retroactive.
We understand that waiting for these funds to hit is stressful - know you are not alone in this. There are other programs that might help you with electric or other utilities. Find that information here.