Good Mental Health: 12 Therapist-Approved Tips

hands green brain

Good mental health is both a state of mind and a lifestyle. Part of it is developing a rational, positive mindset about oneself and the world. Having sources of pleasure and a manageable level of stress facilitates good mental health as well.

Additionally, it’s important to have a lifestyle that helps maintain this state of mind. This goes beyond fulfillment in work and relationships. It’s about regularly engaging in activities that provide a sense of peace or catharsis, including being in nature, meditating, or working with a therapist.

By practicing good mental health, people become more resilient and able to cope when their lives are riddled with stress and misfortune.

“Practicing good mental health habits before you feel distressed is like putting money in the bank for the bad times,” said Jude Miller Burke, Ph.D., a business psychologist and author of The Adversity Advantage. “When a bad time then comes, you are more prepared.”

If you feel like you’re missing a positive mindset or healthy lifestyle, try out some of the tips we gathered by asking therapists how to practice good mental health. Continue reading Good Mental Health: 12 Therapist-Approved Tips

Traveling with Depression: How I Should Have Prepared

woman backpack mountain

Mental health can be a journey. Journeying while struggling with mental health challenges, however, can be almost impossible.

In 2015 I traveled to Puno, Peru, to work on a research project as a part of my graduate degree in international public health. Before enrolling in the degree program, I had spent the better part of the previous two years traveling and living abroad in some capacity and was excited to have the opportunity to travel as a part of my career.

As my departure date to Peru creeped closer, I started seeing a therapist at the university health center to talk about concerns I had about traveling. I had experienced acute depression that year for the first time and was nervous it would creep back in while I was in a low-resource setting abroad. My in-person therapist told me many students feel this way before completing fieldwork abroad and I would be fine to push through.

I didn’t want my fears around my mental health to stop me from traveling. I wanted to be “strong.” So off I flew to Puno. Continue reading Traveling with Depression: How I Should Have Prepared

How Caregivers Can Avoid Burnout and Stay Mentally Healthy

daughter taking care of sick mother

“In dealing with those who are undergoing great suffering, if you feel ‘burnout’ setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself. The point is to have a long-term perspective.” – Dalai Lama

I once worked with a client named Patrick who came to therapy feeling anxious and overwhelmed by what he had recently been experiencing. As a young professional he was trying to balance all the facets of his life. He was dating and trying to maintain a healthy social life. Patrick was also struggling with caring for his aging mother who had several medical and emotional issues to sort through.

As many therapists will tell you, caring for others is one of the greatest experiences we can have as humans. There is research that caring for others and demonstrating compassion outwardly, such as volunteering, may help us feel better within ourselves both physically and mentally.

Nonetheless, we also know caring for others can sometimes be a daunting and even thankless experience. Many of us who find ourselves caring for others often lose our balance. We even begin to view our self-care as being selfish. We may say to ourselves, “I can’t take this time off. What will happen when I’m gone?” Continue reading How Caregivers Can Avoid Burnout and Stay Mentally Healthy

How Sleep Deprivation Hurts Your Mental Health

woman asleep at desk

Many of us wear our lack of sleep as a badge of honor. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2013 sleep deprivation was responsible for 72,000 crashes and 800 deaths. The numbers may be slightly underreported; the real number could be closer to 6,000 fatalities.

Many of us look at sleep as a barrier to success, fun and self-fulfillment, even though sleep deprivation is physiologically and psychologically dangerous. Lack of sleep has been cited as cause in disasters such as the Chernobyl meltdown, the space shuttle Challenger explosion and the Exxon Valdez oil spill. It’s time to face up to the risks associated with our culture of sleep deprivation. Continue reading How Sleep Deprivation Hurts Your Mental Health

In 2017 I Am Making My New Year’s Resolutions About Mental Health

woman hopping 2017 new year

2016 was not the best year for most people I know, myself included. One of the few good things that’s happened this year is that — after years of convincing myself not to — I finally made a commitment to see a therapist.

After some discussions with my therapist, I decided to avoid making concrete New Years resolutions I can’t keep. No, I’m not going to cut cheese from my diet. I’m most likely not going to make full use of that gym membership I’ve been eyeing.

And that’s OK. Struggling for perfection is stifling and utterly exhausting.

Instead I decided to focus on mental health resolutions I can actually keep. I’m hoping they will make 2017 a happier and less stressful year. Continue reading In 2017 I Am Making My New Year’s Resolutions About Mental Health

4 Mental Health Resolutions: Try Something Different This New Year

woman hopping 2017 new year

Now that the new year has started, many of us are deciding on some of the classic New Year’s resolutions: weight loss, eating healthier, getting in shape, etc. These can be great goals.

They only focus on physical health, though. What about mental health? Continue reading 4 Mental Health Resolutions: Try Something Different This New Year

The Mental Health Issues People Living with HIV Deal With

HIV/AIDS red ribbon

Being diagnosed with HIV is no longer the end of a life. For those with access to appropriate treatment, being HIV positive is the beginning of a life with different challenges.

As a psychotherapist, I have seen how these challenges affect the mental health of those who live with HIV. Using my experience, I outlined the mental health issues these people tend to deal with. By learning about them, you can — if you live with HIV — improve your mental health or more effectively support people who live with HIV. Continue reading The Mental Health Issues People Living with HIV Deal With

5 Therapist-Approved Strategies to Get the Most Out of Your Work Day

woman desk relaxing

Most people spend more waking hours at work than they do with their friends and family. It’s an unfortunate reality in which most of us live. Because we’re stuck at work so much, it can be hard to find ways to make every day productive and enjoyable.

Being riddled with deadlines, dealing with co-workers and battling through work-related stress can be difficult to do, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to feel better at work. Here are some straightforward tips to help you make the most of your time at work so you can make the most of your time at home, too. As a therapist, I have coached my clients on these strategies and seen great results. Continue reading 5 Therapist-Approved Strategies to Get the Most Out of Your Work Day

Healthy Wedding Planning: Managing Life Before and Happily Ever After

bride wedding planning drawing

You’ve most likely seen the movies that make fun of wedding planners for being over the top. Maybe you’ve watched shows about Bridezillas who have lost touch with reality. And there’s a good chance you’ve read a few articles that said you can easily reduce stress if you follow “10 steps” while planning your wedding reception.

While most of the aforementioned are well-intended, the majority miss the big picture of successful wedding planning and fail to acknowledge the long-term mental health benefits of prioritizing and being disciplined during this incredible experience.

Energy and expectation management along with work and life integration extends far beyond the days leading up to the wedding, the wedding reception itself and the honeymoon. Consider the following guidance if you are interested in achieving fulfillment on a consistent basis, not only for a single chapter of your life. Continue reading Healthy Wedding Planning: Managing Life Before and Happily Ever After

Keep Calm and Marry On: Wedding Planning’s Impact on Mental Health

rings notebook flowers wedding planning

He or she popped the question, and now you are on your way to happily ever after! Time to have fun registering for gifts, picking out wedding colors, and telling the world how happy and excited you are to have your fairytale wedding.

But wait. Continue reading Keep Calm and Marry On: Wedding Planning’s Impact on Mental Health