National Public Health Week: Sabrina Willis, Magnolia Project Freedom Coach

3535. NPHW webIn honor of National Public Health Week, please join us in celebrating all of our wonderful partners who work every day to improve our communities! The theme of NPHW this year is to become the Healthiest Nation in One Generation — by year 2030. 

Sabrina Willis, MS, is the Freedom Coach for the Magnolia Project, a federal Healthy Start program and initiative of the Coalition. She shares in this guest post the role the Magnolia staff plays in building a healthy community in Northeast Florida!

My current role at the Magnolia Project as a Freedom Coach allows me to bring hope and encouragement to those that are living in environments where chronic stress is rampant and silently destroying relationships and the family units as a whole.

Sabrina2As a trained Mental Health Counselor I often use common therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) but I sought out to be trained in Life Stress Reduction (LSR) and Case Planning and Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR) because I appreciate how the two techniques enables individuals to explore topics, situations, and/or people that could be triggering their current behavior consciously or unconsciously.

Toxic Stress is chronic and ongoing stress without any buffers (like supportive relationships). Toxic Stress is often ignored because the events that contribute to the “wear and tear” on the brain and body are often viewed as “common events”.  Some examples of chronic and ongoing stress can include: not feeling loved, a drug addict in the family, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, a depressed parent, constant criticism from family or relatives, etc.

Individual mental health wellness benefits our whole society. However, the lack of mental wellness collectively compromises the overall health of family units and interpersonal relationships, which is at the core of human relationships.  Toxic Stress can change the architecture of a developing brain and the probability of poor outcomes increases, including making our families more vulnerable to many chronic conditions, from heart disease to diabetes, depression and addiction.

IMG_0138National Public Health Week is good opportunity to remind, encourage and support all to explore the experiences that provoke anxiety, fear, defeat, and self-doubt because within those experiences you might find the source of triggers that are negatively impacting your overall health — physically and emotionally.

I have had many opportunities to work with women in the communities where toxic stress is rampant and anxiety, fear, defeat and self-doubt is the norm.  However, those who are taking the risk to explore their negative experiences are also getting an opportunity to recognize “What I thought was helping me feel safe was actually stressing me out and now that I no longer have that thing I actually feel less stress — how crazy is that?”