Mental Wellness in 2024 – 24 Tips to Turn Into Habits

January isn’t only for setting New Years Resolutions, but it is also Mental Wellness Month. This focus helps people prioritize their mental health while exploring new ways to increase their overall wellness. Mental Wellness is more than just the absence of mental illness or mental concerns. It is about promoting healthy strategies to increase your sense of wellbeing and prevention. It is also about shifting from stigmatizing people for their challenges with mental health and restoring a sense of shared humanity with others. Mental wellness works to promote awareness, prevention, and changing attitudes about prioritizing mental concerns, like we do with physical concerns, while extending compassion towards people.

Nicasa Behavioral Health Services has 24 tips to help promote wellness throughout 2024. While working on the practice of mental wellness, we encourage everyone to pick tips that work well for their lifestyle. Start off slowly with intention and you can build upon your progress throughout the year. When starting a new habit, it is important to not get discouraged by a lack of immediate results or progress fallbacks.

Life happens. Keep at it and don’t give up!

  1. Talk to someone.
    1. Now is always the right time to talk to someone if you need help. Don’t put it off any longer and stop minimizing your concerns. Your problems are real because they are real to you. You owe it to yourself to find a trusted person to talk about them with. While talking may not resolve the issue immediately, it does strengthen your resolve to find a better solution for them.
  2. Practice self-compassion.
    1. Compassion means: a strong feeling of sympathy and sadness for the suffering or bad luck of others and a wish to help them. Self-compassion is turning that definition inward to extend yourself the same sympathy and wish to help that you show others. This can be incredibly healing while also assisting in reframing your internal dialogue of how you see yourself.
  3. Practice mindfulness.
    1. Carve out a few minutes each day to practice mindfulness. You do not need to do a full meditation, but practice being present, in the moment, and letting your thoughts go without immediate reaction. It can be a challenge at first, especially if stressed out, but with practice you will get better at it.
  4. Redecorate.
    1. New year, new you! Don’t wait until spring to freshen up your space. Often a cluttered, disorganized space can cause increased anxiety and avoidance to deal with other tasks. Find new ways to organize your space. There are a ton of cheap, DIY projects online that can allow you to add more of your personality back into your home.
  5. Practice deep breathing.
    1. Deep breathing is a great way to refocus your mind. Practicing deep breathing can help you gain a sense of control and balance, while focusing your attention on things that are within your control. Take time to practice while making decisions, or to recenter yourself after a long day at work.
  6. Journal.
    1. Journaling can be anything! It can be elaborate, simple, or electronic. You can practice creating your own writing templates, or using a blank note book you bought from Dollar Tree. You can even create sketches, paintings, and collages to represent your thoughts. The act of journaling allows you to record your thoughts and daily activities as you see them. It is a time for yourself, to reconnect with your thoughts and inner self.
  7. Exercise.
    1. Exercise in the gym, at home, or around your neighborhood. Sometimes when starting to work out, people will often create their own barriers—like needing an expensive gym membership, extra workout clothing, new equipment, etc. Keep the goal simple: to invite more physical activity into your life. Small steps can build up to bigger progress. Start with what objects around you, or explore new exercise programs. After you find something you enjoy, then you can consider investing into it.
  8. Practice gratitude.
    1. Showing gratitude can enhance your enjoyment of day-to-day activities, and improve your mental health. It can help ground you back to things that bring you joy, while noticing the everyday details that are often overlooked when bogged down by stress.
  9. Limit caffeine and alcohol.
    1. Limiting caffeine can be difficult when there are so many hidden sources in our food and drinks. Keep in mind, when healthcare providers reference a “standard serving size” a serving of coffee is 8oz with 80-100 milligrams of caffeine, and a drink of 14 grams of pure alcohol (approximately 12oz beer, 5oz wine, 8oz malt liquor, and 1.5oz spirits). Record your daily habits with caffeine and alcohol and set reasonable goals to start with. Remember to be honest with yourself while setting these goals and expectations for success, there will be days where it is easier to cut back than others but make sure you are keeping yourself accountable to this new goal.
  10. Work on incorporating more nutrient-dense foods, and being mindful of habits around meal times.
    1. After the holidays, dieting should be easy, right? With the holidays fueling overindulgence, you might feel like you are so full you might not eat again until February anyways. Many people struggle to adhere to a calorie deficient diet in the winter due to our natural biological response to cold weather and perceived natural scarcity that winter causes. Many people also struggle with fasting diets, fad diets, and restrictive diets. Sometimes it is easier to start with a food log of things you eat in a typical month, and create modifications based on foods you already like and ways to make snacking healthier than eliminate your favorite items.
  11. Get more sleep.
    1. Sleep eludes many people all year round. It’s tough with daily stressors creeping into your dreams. Sometimes the food and drink choices we make while awake follow us into bed. Caffeine and alcohol often cause people to stay up for longer than they anticipated. Some prescription medications can throw off your circadian rhythm as well. Try to limit your consumption of food and drinks that contain stimulants. Also creating a sleep routine, limiting blue-light from electronics, and kicking the television out of your bedroom can help.
  12. Meditation and Yoga.
    1. Yoga and Meditation are a powerful blend of self-compassion, mindfulness, and exercise. Sometimes yoga can be a series of stretches that can improve your flexibility. Don’t let the laid-back nature of the practice fool you though, there are some variations of yoga that are high-intensity workouts, in high-heat and humid rooms, and with animals. Wherever your practice takes you, yoga and meditation are often joined together because they synergize the body and mind while allowing the practitioner space to clear their heads while focusing on being present in the moment.
  13. Set boundaries to improve relationships.
    1. Setting boundaries isn’t meant to block people out, they are meant to communicate what you are comfortable with. More importantly, communicating what you are uncomfortable with in a direct way. Everyone has boundaries regardless of how they are communicated. Some people also have different boundaries for different people, or for different places. Only you can decide what is an appropriate boundary for you and how it gets communicated to others. An example: At a holiday party a family member repeatedly said something inappropriate to your partner, and in the moment, you may not have said anything for fears of making the situation worse for your partner or with other family members. You may choose to communicate to that person a few weeks later that you are not okay with how they addressed your partner and in the future you will leave the gathering if they do not show them the same respect they show you. Thus, establishing a clear boundary when you feel safer to do so and a consequence for going over it.
  14. Take a break from social media.
    1. Doomscrolling is a modern phenomenon in which someone binges potentially negative content on the internet or social media apps (WebMD). Doomscrolling and obsessive social media checking can increase anxiety, depression, and overall have a negative impact on your mental health. Set limits to how long you use social media or limit the kinds of content you allow yourself to view.
  15. Hydrate.
    1. Staying hydrated can make you feel better, inside and out. If you normally do not drink water, getting in 2.7 to 3.7 liters of water can be overwhelming. Increase your amount slowly and explore water flavorings. Try adding frozen fruit into your water inside of ice cubes, or cold brew herbal tea bags—just check to see if they have caffeine in them so you know how much you are consuming throughout your day. Find what works for you.
  16. Be outside more and bring nature inside with plants.
    1. House plants help to establish house care routines and liven up a space. Talk to a local green house to see what plants are native to your area, or if your green thumb is more on the brown side, what plants are more forgiving to beginners. Gardening outdoors can also improve your mood as well as your appreciation for your home. Hiking and outdoor walks are also a great way to connect with nature and improve your mental health.
  17. Play music and dance.
    1. Research has shown listening to music can decrease feelings of anxiety and depression, improve memory, sleep quality, mental alertness, and decrease blood pressure (org). Throw in dancing and you have great physical activity to improve your mood. Dance like no one is watching or learn to ballroom dance with your partner. However you do it, including music into your daily routine can help get you into a better headspace.
  18. Limit how much you multitask.
    1. Even though many jobs seem to require it, multitasking can take a toll on you mentally. Regular multitasking can lead to cognitive loss, memory problems, loss in productivity, increased anxiety and social anxiety, chronic stress, and errors that can harm yourself and others around you (com). Even though society has come a very far way, our brains are still only made to handle one task at a time. Even with people who proclaim they are excellent multitaskers, their brains still have to make the same adjustments to switch between tasks and make the reward analysis decisions which slow everyone down—leading to a loss in productivity and errors in work. Try to limit how much and when you multitask. Like avoid talking on the phone while driving in a car or completing several complex tasks at once (working on a report while scheduling appointments).
  19. Set goals.
    1. Set realistic goals that do not have an “all-or-nothing” catch to them. Example of all or nothing goals are, “I’m going to workout every day,” “I’m going to grow my business by 200%,” or “I’m never going to eat out again.” These goals do not account for life-events that may get in the way of their achievements, and many people are immediately discouraged by fallbacks in progress. Goals should be something to help set new habits and make improvements that are appropriate to your life.
  20. Celebrate achievements.
    1. Life has many reasons to celebrate successes. Celebrate a promotion, completing a certificate program, avoiding a bad habit, and/or reaching a recovery milestone. Celebrating small achievements can keep you motivated as you work your way to bigger ones.
  21. Plan a vacation or a getaway.
    1. Making a plan gives you something to look forward to. When you are looking forward, there is hope that better days are coming soon. Making plans can increase positive feelings and decrease depression and anxiety. Even if it is a small weekend getaway, getting out of your normal routine every once in a while, is good for your mental health.
  22. Try something new.
    1. Try a new workout class, take an art class, or try out a DIY home décor tutorial for beginners. Learning a new skill can make you feel empowered, increase your self-esteem, and decrease feelings of depression and anxiety. Remember, being bad at something is the first step to being good at anything. A project flop is a fun story, and sometimes can create an even more interesting piece than a successful one.
  23. Practice forgiveness.
    1. Forgiving is hard. It’s hard to forgive others, and at times it is even harder to forgive yourself. Work on ways to incorporate forgiveness into your mental health journey. If you cannot forgive the person or situation that happened, then work on forgiving yourself to carry that experience differently with you. Eventually it will become easier with time.
  24. Work towards bringing balance into your life.
    1. Striking a balance can be an interesting opportunity to fold in all the new habits you want to create into your established routine. If you find that work is consuming more time away from doing the things you want to do, or being with the people you want to be with, then find ways to build balance there. Sometimes it is not practical to cut back on hours, but work on finding ways to leave without bringing it home.

Red Ribbon Week – 10/23 to 10/31

From October 23rd to October 31st is Red Ribbon Week. This week is dedicated to helping youths understand substance misuse as well as empower caregivers with knowledge and resources to have better conversations in the home about substance use.

The first Red Ribbon Week was created by The National Family Partnership, formerly the National Federation of Parents for Drug-Free Youth, to advocate and educate parents about drugs. This was in response to the murder of US DEA Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena in 1985 in Guadalajara, Mexico by Caro Quintero, co-founder of the now-disintegrated Guadalajara Cartel. Agent Camarena’s friends and neighbors started to wear badges of red satin to honor his memory after his untimely passing. Parents used Kiki as a role model for their coalitions to show a single person can make a difference. In 1988, the first Red Ribbon Week was held to commemorate Agent Camerena and educate about drugs. Today, the Red Ribbon serves as a catalyst to mobilize communities to educate youth and encourage participation in drug prevention activities (https://www.redribbon.org/).

 

This year’s theme is: Be Kind To Your Mind. Live Drug Free.

This theme was chosen because people every day make the choice to be their best selves by living drug free and establishing new healthy habits. For Nicasa Behavioral Health Services this is an important message for staff, community members, stakeholders, donors, current and former clients in recovery, and individuals across Lake County. Our Prevention Department works hard to educate children in 3 elementary schools (Wauconda, IL) 10 middle schools (Waukegan, Mundelein, Wauconda and Island Lake), and youth engaged in Community Youth Network’s (CYN) mentorship program with an evidence-based curriculum, Too Good For Drugs, on substance misuse. Too Good For Drugs works with children to develop skills for making healthy choices, building positive friendships, developing self-efficacy, communicating effectively, and resisting peer pressure and influence. It also works on developing character skills like: setting reachable goals, making responsible decisions, bonding with pro-social others, and identifying and managing emotions. The Prevention Department also organizes a “Stay Out of my Room” interactive display to educate parents and caregivers on where their children could be hiding substances and what do be on the lookout for. Nicasa also assists the Mundelein STAND-UP Task Force and Choose Your Path (Wauconda, IL) in providing consistent drug-free messaging.

During Red Ribbon Week our Prevention Department will be providing education and prevention services at the following places:

  • From October 23rd to October 31st, our Youth Advisory Board will have tables setup during lunch periods at Wauconda High School. At these tables they will have red strips of paper and will be asking fellow students to write down why they decide to remain drug free. The red slips of paper will then be made into paper chains and be displayed throughout the high school that week.
  • Tuesday October 24th, the Youth Advisory Board will be going to Wauconda Middle School to provide a Red Ribbon Week presentation to their entire 8th grade class. The presentation will focus on Red Ribbon Week, Prevention, and reasons the 8th graders should join the club when they come to the high school next year.
  • On October 25th, we invite everyone in the community wear red to support Red Ribbon Week. Please send us your stories and pictures to development@nicasa.org so we can share them on social media. You can also use hashtags: #BeKindToYouMindLiveDrugFree, #RedRibbonWeek, #Prevention, and #DrugFreeAmerica on social media.
  • Monday October 31st, Stand Up Mundelein will be at Mundelein High School for Boo-Bash. They will be handing out pledges and Red Ribbon material on staying Drug Free.

Here are some tips on talking with your teen about substance use:

If you are finding your child continually uses substances, even after talking with them and setting firm boundaries on the matter, if may be time for additional help. It is important to remember Red Ribbon Week is not only about awareness, but also advocacy and resources. Nicasa is committed to a drug-free youth. We are available to help assess the seriousness of the matter and help determine an appropriate level of care for children 12-years-old and older.

Call 847-546-6450 or email info@nicasa.org for more information about our youth services.

For more information on Red Ribbon Week, visit RedRibbon.Org

Celebrating Latinx Heritage Month

Why is National Latinx Heritage Month September 15th through October 15th?

Most American’s incorrectly assume “Mexican Independence Day” is May 5th every year. While Cinco de Mayo is a historically significant event for Mexico—Mexico defeating the Second French Empire at the Battle of Puebla in 1862—it is not as widely recognized as it is in the United States with an over commercialized celebration.

Many countries in Central and South America actually begin celebrating their independence days starting on September 15th. Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua all begin their celebrations on September 15th, Mexico follows on September 16th, Chile on September 18th, and Belize on September 21st. These celebrations and observances continue through October, including Día de la Raza on October 12th—the day Christopher Columbus landed in the Bahamas. During this month, Latinx Americans remember the history of their people, and breaking away from 300 years of brutal Spanish colonization of their homelands.

In Mexico, on the eve of September 16th the President rings the same bell Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla rung during the Grito de Dolores (Cry of Dolores) starting the Mexican War for Independence. Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla was a Roman Catholic priest who gathered mestizos and indigenous peoples to defend their homelands from The Spanish colonizers. Ultimately Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla was executed by the Spanish in 1811, but his revolutionary acts in his lifetime earned him the nickname The Father of Independence in Mexico.

Día de la Raza has been recognized since the 1920s in Central and South America to honor the indigenous peoples that lived there before the Spanish and Portuguese colonies. While it does directly translate to Day of Race, it is a celebration of cultural and ethnic groups in their countries to preserve their traditions, while sharing them with others. This is only a recent trend in North America, starting in 1992 to recognize the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples Day rather than Christopher Columbus Day.

Nicasa Behavioral Health Services is committed to eliminating health inequities and racial injustices in our behavioral health care and social services by creating safe service spaces, encouraging and promoting our bilingual services, and having a diverse staff available to meet the changing needs of our community. An important part of this work are the relationships and teamwork we have with all of our clients, staff, interns, donors, supporters, volunteers, Board of Directors, community partners, and more. We appreciate everyone’s efforts as we must come together as one to provide healthcare and services that are fair, equitable, accessible, and of a high quality for all people throughout Lake County.

Have a Happy and Safe Latinx Heritage Month!

Benefits of a Mental Health Day from Work or School

We’ve all had those days when the alarm goes off and we lie in bed, feeling depleted of our energy, and maybe even our good mood. We think to ourselves, “I’m not really sick, but I just need a break from real life today.” While taking a sick day is common when you are feeling physically unwell, what’s not as common – but perhaps should be – is taking a mental health day when you are feeling mentally and emotionally unwell.

Now many, if not most, companies do offer their employees personal days with no questions asked. But many people save these days for what seem like real life emergencies. They feel guilty if they use one of these days to simply rest and relax their mind.

The truth is, taking a mental health day from work or school can be extremely important for your overall well-being. It can help you avoid burnout, improve your mood, help you get some much-needed rest, and rejuvenate you so you can tackle “real life” once again.

Signs It’s Time for a Mental Health Day

So how do you know when you are really in need of a mental health day and when you’re just feeling a bit lazy and unmotivated?

Stress

You’ve been feeling overwhelmed and irritable.

You Just Feel… Off

Sometimes we don’t feel like ourselves, but we can’t quite put our finger on what’s wrong. We know we feel anxious and like the world is a bit too much. This is a sure sign you need a break.

Getting Sick More Often

Are you dealing with a cold that “just won’t go away?” When we are stressed, our immune systems become compromised, and it’s harder for us to fight off the common cold.

The bottom line is you should never feel guilty for taking some time for your mental health. I encourage you to take a mental health day every once in a while. Sometimes it’s the absolute best thing we can do for ourselves.

And if you find a mental health day didn’t quite do the trick, you may have more going on in your life that requires more hands-on treatment. If you like the idea of speaking with someone about whatever is bothering you, please get in touch with me so we can discuss treatment options.

SOURCES:

Celebrating BIPOC Mental Health Month

July is BIPOC mental health month. The event was established in 2008 as the Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in an effort to create awareness of the unique struggles faced by underrepresented groups in the United States. Campbell was an author, teacher, and mental health advocate with a mission to shine a light on the mental health issues of minority communities.

BIPOC mental health month seeks to continue the visionary work of Campbell by developing public education campaigns that bring awareness to as many people as possible while also addressing the needs of BIPOC.

Traditional Roadblocks Keeping BIPOC from Receiving Treatment

According to the Mental Health America organization, over 15 million BIPOC have reported they struggle with mental health issues. Unfortunately, many of these people face roadblocks to seeking the treatment they so desperately need.

A Stigma

Far too often people in the BIPOC community refuse to seek help for their mental health issues because they belong to a culture that has a social stigma surrounding therapy. For instance, in some BIPOC communities, admitting you need help means you are “crazy” or “weak.”

Lack of Access

Often, people within the BIPOC community do not speak English. If these people live in smaller, rural communities in the United States, they may not have access to clinicians who speak a foreign language. In addition, according to the American Psychological Association, 86% of psychologists in the United States are White. With so few BIPOC people becoming therapists themselves, it can then be hard for others within their community to find a therapist who understands their culture and specific challenges.

Lack of Resources

Individuals within the BIPOC community often face a lack of resources to even begin learning about mental health and the specific issues they may be facing. One such resource is the National Alliance of Mental Illness. If you are a member of the BIPOC community, please share this resource with others.

If you or someone you know is a part of the BIPOC community and suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD, or any other mental health disorder and would like to explore treatment options, please reach out to me.

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How to Navigate Challenging Life Transitions

When we’re young, life transitions are fun and empowering. We go from crawling to walking, walking to running. We start with training wheels but soon no longer need them. As we age we graduate into higher grades and become more independent.

But as adults, life transitions can feel not so fun and far from empowering, because life transitions can often include loss: loss of a job, a marriage, and loved ones. During these life transitions, we can feel out to sea, completely at the mercy of the tides that seem to be tossing our lifeboat around.

If you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed right now because you are facing one or more life transitions, here are some ways you can navigate these choppy waters:

Slow Down

Have you noticed that the pace of life has picked up? Most likely your heartbeat and breathing have also picked up as a response. It’s time to slow down.

As simple as it may sound, slow, deep breaths are a powerful way to tell your body that everything is okay. Right now, your body is in “fight or flight mode,” as you subconsciously, and maybe even consciously, feel you are being attacked. Making time each day to be still, away from the noise and chaos to breathe deeply and slowly, will slow down your heart rate and make you feel calm and peaceful.

Embrace Uncertainty

I know, it seems completely counterintuitive if not downright impossible. But when we surrender control and embrace the unknown, with an almost scientific curiosity about outcomes, we feel positive emotions (curiosity, wonder) instead of negative emotions (lost, out of control).

Acknowledge the Cycles of Life

Someone once said, “This too shall pass.” Life, like weather, has seasons. While you may feel stuck right now and like nothing is going the way you hoped or planned, recognize the truth, which is, this too shall pass. Transitions are just that, an uncomfortable bridge from one part of life to the next.

Fall Back on Traditions

Rites of passage have been used for thousands of years in all cultures to help people transition from one place in life to another. It’s time to call upon this ancient wisdom of our ancestors and empower ourselves.

Rites of passage put us in the driver’s seat. We can acknowledge that things MUST change because we intuitively understand that the human journey is all about facing challenges and becoming new versions of ourselves.

Life, such as it is, throws us curve balls and sadness and things that cast fear and doubt into our vision. This is natural and no one escapes.

But there ARE ways to navigate these challenges. Try these three tips. And if you’d like additional help along your journey, please get in touch with me.

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3 Roadblocks to BIOPC and Mental Health

If you belong to the BIOPC community and suffer from poor mental health, you’re not alone. In the United States, there are over 15 million indigenous people and people of color that report struggling with mental health issues. Sadly, these people often face roadblocks to seeking the help they need.

1. It’s Seen as a Stigma

Very often people in the BIOPC community stop themselves from getting the help they need because there is a cultural or social stigma within their group. As an example, in some BIOPC communities, seeking treatment is a sign that you are “crazy” and in other cases “weak.”

2. A Lack of Access to the Right Treatment

Oftentimes, people within the BIOPC community do not speak English. Unless you live in a large, urban area where other languages may be spoken by practicing clinicians, it can be challenging finding a provider who will speak your language.

And, according to the American Psychological Association, 86% of psychologists in the U.S. are White. This means it can be challenging to find a provider who understands your culture and background and the specific challenges you face.

If you cannot find a provider in your area that is of the same race, it is recommended that you ask prospective mental health providers about their training and background to get a sense of whether you’d feel comfortable working with them or not. You can ask things like:

  • Have they had any cultural competence training?
  • Do they have experience treating people from your specific cultural background?
  • Do they respect and include BIOPC clients’ values and cultural beliefs into the treatment plan?

3. A Lack of Available Resources

People within the BIOPC community often have a lack of access to proper resources where they can even learn about mental health and what they may be experiencing. The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) is a great resource to take advantage of and to share with other members of your community.

If you are suffering from a mental health issue such as depression, PTSD or anxiety and would like to explore treatment options, please get in touch with me. I have had cultural competence training and always make it a point to incorporate my BIOPC clients’ values and culture into our treatment plan.

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National Counseling Awareness Month

April is National Counseling Awareness Month, and so I thought it would be a good idea to take this time to talk a little about mental health and the benefits of seeking treatment for whatever issues you may be facing.

When we talk about mental health, we are talking about our emotional, psychological and social well-being. Our mental health not only affects how we feel but also how we think and behave as well as handle stress and make decisions.

Mental Health Statistics

Just how common are mental illnesses in the United States? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • More than 50% of American adults will be diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their life.
  • In any given year, one in five people in this country will experience a mental illness.
  • Children are not immune to mental health challenges, in fact, one in five will experience a serious mental illness at some point.

Causes of Mental Illness

While there is no single cause of mental illness, there are some common factors that are believed to contribute to the risk of developing mental health issues. These include:

  • Trauma or a history of abuse.
  • Stress-related to ongoing chronic diseases such as cancer or heart disease.
  • Chemical imbalances such as hormonal imbalances.
  • Use of drugs and alcohol.
  • Feeling lonely and/or isolated.

Therapy Can Help

Living with a mental illness can be incredibly painful. This is why National Counseling Awareness Month was started, to help those in need recognize there are people and resources available to them. A professionally trained therapist can help you uncover the cause of your mental illness as well as offer tools and coping mechanisms to turn your life around.

To find a therapist near you, you can use this directory, which lists therapists by state and specialty. Keep in mind that many therapists are now offering sessions over the internet, so it may be best to pick someone you feel more comfortable with instead of someone who is geographically close.

I do offer telehealth services and would be more than happy to speak to you about what is going on. Please feel free to reach out to me.

 

Resources:

National Minority Health Month

April is National Minority Health Month, a time for individuals within the BIOPC community to focus on addressing their mental health needs. Started 20 years ago, the National Minority Health Month Foundation launched National Minority Health Month to strengthen the commitment of local communities and mental health practitioners to eliminate the barriers minority populations often face when struggling with mental health issues.

During this time, many of us, including those in the BIOPC communities, are facing daily struggles in dealing with the continued stressors related to the Covid-19 pandemic. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health has released some guidelines and suggestions to help individuals stay as healthy as possible during this time.

Exercise

Moving our body is not only good for our physical health but also our mental health. Not only do we feel good about ourselves when we commit to an exercise regimen, but the movement itself helps our body to release “feel good” hormones that can alleviate stress and anxiety.

Eat Well

When we are dealing with stressful situations, most of us tend to reach for unhealthy comfort foods laden with trans fats and refined sugars. Not only do these foods tend to make us pack on weight, but the chemicals in these foods can exacerbate our mental health issues, making us feel more depressed and tired.

It’s important to eat foods that support our mental health. Be sure to get enough protein and healthy fats. Your brain needs healthy fats to function properly.

Be Gentle with Yourself

When we are struggling with stress, depression or anxiety, it’s important that we are kind to ourselves and practice self-compassion and self-care. Take time for yourself each day to show yourself some love and nurture your spirit. Meditate, listen to music or get that massage you know you need!

It’s also a good idea to reach out to a mental health professional to get some guidance and tools to help you navigate what you are going through. If you’d like to explore treatment options, please reach out to me. I’d be more than happy to speak with you about how I might be able to help.

You may also want to check out this resource for some other minority health resources.

 

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How to Find the Right Therapist in Your Town or City

It’s a new year and many of us have committed to making changes that will allow our best selves to shine through. And in most instances, we know exactly how to get the help we need to facilitate this change.

For instance, if we want to get into good physical shape, we know to head to our local gym and get help from a personal trainer. If we want to eat better to prevent disease, we ask our doctor to refer us to a licensed nutritionist.

And when we want to work on our mental and emotional health, we know we should seek support from a licensed mental health counselor. But finding the right one can seem overwhelming to many and stop them from getting the help they need.

With this in mind, here are some tips on finding the right therapist in your local town or city:

Ask for Personal Recommendations

There was a time the topic of mental health was considered taboo. But luckily those days are behind us and many people are now open to seeking therapy. You may very well have a friend or family member who has or currently is working with a therapist they love.

Ask Your Doctor

If you already have a good relationship with a doctor, dentist, or anyone in the medical field who honors your confidentiality, they are a great resource to tap into about a mental health professional referral since they are connected to many people in the medial field.

Use Your Insurance Company

If you happen to be one of those lucky individuals with an insurance company that has a stellar customer service department, you might want to ask them to suggest a therapist in your network whom they have vetted.

Do an Internet Search

If you have no one you can personally ask, then you will need to perform an internet search for therapists in your local area. One of the best places to start your search is a website called Psychology Today. This site has a comprehensive list of therapists from around the country. To be listed on here requires a minimum of professional qualifications. In other words, a therapist cannot be listed on this site unless and until they can prove they have a legitimate advanced degree in their discipline and an up-to-date professional license or certification.

The beginning of the year offers all of us so much potential. Let this year be the year you deal with any issues you may be having so you can begin to live your best life!

If you live in the area and would like to explore treatment options, please reach out to me. I would be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

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