At United Counseling Service, we spend a lot of time thinking about mental health. In May, especially, Mental Health Awareness Month, we always work to engage the public with this important topic. The pandemic made some of the routines that support mental health more difficult. In fact, we have seen 135% of the number of callers looking for clinical treatment compared to the previous year. In that way, Mental Health Awareness is more important than ever. Here are some ideas for supporting mental wellbeing in your life.
Physical wellbeing. So many of the healthy habits your doctor would recommend to protect your physical wellbeing also protect your mental wellbeing. Following a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise, and making sure you have a good sleep schedule are crucial to a positive outlook and good decision making.
Positive relationships and conversation. Do you have a nonjudgmental friend or two to talk to? Processing even mundane feelings through conversation and helping others to do the same is a great way to support your mental health. Verbalizing aloud can help you identify what’s really bothering you. While it may not be as easy or fun to have these conversations over the phone, they are crucial to our sense of self and stability. Friends are especially valuable if they can see the funny side of things and make you laugh.
The importance of surroundings. Human beings were not designed to be in a constant state of high alert in the way modern life demands. Zoom meetings. A 24-hour news cycle. Texts and alerts buzzing and pinging. A television screen constantly blasting trauma into our homes. Stepping away from our electronics to spend some time outside can help to put our worries in perspective. Some relaxing or favorite music or putting some order to the chaos of a drawer or closet can have a mildly therapeutic effect for some.
The things you love. Our results-driven attitude can sometimes monopolize our time to the degree where we forget to have fun for fun’s sake. When’s the last time you played a board game with a friend or made some art just for the experience of making it? Whatever it is you enjoy doing, make the time. Doing so will fuel you for all of the things you have to do. When you’re done, plan another fun session. It will provide something to look forward to.
Help when you need it. Mental health issues are anything but simple. Even among people who have a positive mental health routine including all of the great tips above, loneliness, fear, depression, and substance use sometimes creep in. For times like this, don’t wait to get help. The friendly team at UCS has helped many people going through complex and difficult feelings. You are not alone. Call us at 802-442-5491.
Throughout the rest of the pandemic and beyond, reviewing these five building blocks of mental health can help identify action steps, things you might try to brighten your spirits, whether that’s cooking a delicious meal, taking a walk, phoning a friend, trying a DIY project, or calling for help. By taking good care of ourselves and connecting with each other, we will find a way through our most challenging feelings.
United Counseling Service provides outpatient counseling and addictions services, emergency mental health services, extensive rehabilitation services, home and school-based services, employment services for people recovering from mental illness or with developmental disabilities and Early Childhood Services. In response to the COVID 19 pandemic, UCS has developed a warm line available Monday through Friday 8am to 5pm for anyone living in Bennington County. We are here for you! For more information about UCS visit www.ucsvt.org or call 802.442.5491.
Lori Vadakin, MA, LADC is the Director of Outpatient Mental Health and Substance Use Treatment at United Counseling Service.