Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Just breathe: It's Mental Health Month

By ASHA MURPHY, MA, LPC-S, NCC | Office of Behavioral Health Staffer

It's May, and May is Mental Health Month! As a mental health professional, I often experience Mental Health Month as both validating and daunting. Thoughts pop up like, "Am I taking care of my own mental health enough?" "Am I more stressed than my clients seem to be?" "Am I self-caring enough?" 

Then, I pause, just breathe and ask myself if there is some audience I’m trying to win over. The answer is almost always, "Well, no." After this fundamental realization,  I remind myself that sometimes hairstylists have bad hair days, professional athletes get injured, some of the best authors get writer's block and farmers lose the occasional crop. Having expertise and/or receiving a paycheck for a job does not imply we are superhuman. Rather, it's simple: we cannot evade failure and that's OK.  

Brene' Brown says in her "The Gifts of Imperfection": "Healthy striving is self-focused: 'How can I improve?' Perfectionism is other-focused: 'What will they think?'" I believe we cannot fully support our clients, patients, spouses, children and friends without thoughtful insight into our own thoughts, feelings and lives. Here's to living this month with thoughts and actions related to self-fulfillment, giving ourselves grace and filling ourselves up.

Here are some helpful journal or thought prompts to help you care for your mental wellbeing (from Port St. Lucie hospital's page):

  • Talk about your day.
  • Identify things you're grateful for.
  • Write a list of your coping mechanisms.
  • Describe a goal.
  • Write about how different you were five years ago.
  • Write a letter to your body.
  • List and describe your emotions.
  • Write about how you'd describe yourself to a stranger.
  • Describe the best compliment you've ever received.
  • Write a message for yourself on bad days.

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