Beginner’s Guide to Focusing on Mental Health

Beginner’s Guide to Focusing on Mental Health

These days, many people focus on their physical health. But few give much attention, if any, to their mental health.

What does mental health refer to? Mental health describes a person’s overall psychological health and well-being. It has much to do with the way you feel about yourself, your ability to manage your emotions, how you deal with challenges and the relationships you nurture.

While most people will experience mental health challenges at some point in their life, those who give no attention to their mental health could experience anxiety and depression. If focusing on mental health is a new topic for you, here are some tips to help you along:

Don’t Isolate

Nothing keeps our mood elevated like the feeling of being connected – truly connected – to other people. While texting and social media have their place, be sure to spend quality face-to-face time with friends and loved ones.

Make R&R a Priority

Are you someone that burns the candle at both ends? Most people are. Good mental health requires you to get enough leisure time so you can rest and contemplate. If you’re guilty of being “too busy,” start spending more time relaxing.

Eat Healthy

Have you ever noticed when you eat processed comfort foods, you tend to feel unwell physically and mentally? Sugary foods are bad for our mental health. That’s why it’s so important to eat wholesome, nutritious foods like grassfed meats and organic fruits and veggies!

Stay Active 

Physical activity is as important for your mental health as it is for your physical health. Regular exercise can relieve stress, elevate mood, and even help you get a better night’s sleep.

These are just some of the ways you can ensure your mental health is optimized. You may also want to speak with a licensed mental health therapist who can provide tools and a safe space to work through what’s troubling you.

If you’d like to explore treatment options, please give my office a call.


Mental Health Effects of Excessive Screen Time

If we’re honest, most of us would admit we look at some form of digital screen more than we do the face of our friends and loved ones. From our phones to iPad, laptops and flatscreen TVs the size of an entire wall, screen time for most people is definitely on the rise. But what exactly are the mental health effects of all of this screen time?

Sleep Deprivation

Without realizing it, many of us are hampering our natural sleep cycle with so much screen time. Our electronic devices emit a blue light that interferes with our production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Screen time before bed will make it very hard to fall asleep. And a lack of quality sleep can cause our mood to dip and make it hard for us to deal with everyday stressors.

Impaired Social Skills

There is a bit of irony when it comes to screen time. We’re on our devices more and more as a way to connect with others. And yet, in reality we are alone when socializing digitally. Fewer real-life social interactions can lead to social anxiety and loneliness.

Poorer Emotional Regulation

Too much time on our devices affects our ability to register and process our emotions. Exposure to aggressive or violent media, for example, can impair our emotional judgment of real life events. It can also trigger our own aggressive tendencies. 

Lower Self-Esteem

Social media platforms are where we go to compare ourselves to others. Often when scrolling through our timelines, we perceive everyone else to have their act together, to be happier, healthier and more successful. Doing this day after day can take a real toll on our self-esteem.

Finding Healthier Alternatives

If you think you’re spending too much time in front of your screens, there are some steps you can take. First, make a commitment to keep TVs and all other devices out of your bedroom so you can ensure a good night’s rest.

Make dinner time with the family a “screen-free zone.” 

And finally, take up some new hobbies, connect with old friends and try to get outdoors more. Your mental health will thank you.



When is it Time to Ask for Help?

Depression is a complex mental health issue that varies widely between individuals. This is why it can be difficult for some people to recognize what may be a situational discomfort that may pass on its own, and what may be more serious and require professional help.

The Difference Between Mild and Serious Mental Health Issues

In order to measure the seriousness of a mental health issue, most mental health professionals look at what impact it has on the person’s everyday life. They also take into account the events that led to the issue.

Mild mental health issues are typically less persistent as well as less disruptive to an individual’s everyday life. Serious mental health issues, on the other hand, are often so severe that they negatively impact that person’s relationships and performance at school and work.

As an example, feeling pressure at work about an upcoming deadline will make just about anyone feel stressed and anxious. But if your anxiety becomes so great that you begin calling in sick to work to avoid the project and responsibilities, that would be seen as a disruption in your everyday life. Severe anxiety can lead to panic attacks and that is definitely a reason to seek support.

Something else to keep in mind is the context around the mental health issue. It is perfectly normal to grieve after losing a loved one or to feel anger and resentment after discovering your partner’s infidelity. While it can definitely be helpful to speak with someone during these times, you may not necessarily be experiencing a severe mental health crisis that would warrant help.

It is important to mention that the events of one’s life need not be “serious” in order for you to reach out for help. Whatever it is that you are going through and whatever feelings you are experiencing, they are valid.

Warning Signs of a Serious Mental Health Crisis

The following are some red flags of a mental health crisis that warrant asking for help:

  • Feeling sad or “down” for long periods of time (particularly without an inciting incident)
  • Noticeable mood swings from very high, like euphoria, to very low, like deep sadness or depression
  • Excessive worry
  • Feeling empty or apathetic about life
  • Engaging in self-harming behaviors, like cutting
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Changes in appetite, sleep or sex drive
  • Constant fatigue
  • Thoughts of suicide

If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s time to reach out and ask for help. While the days seem dark right now, they can and will get brighter. I’d love to help you get there, so please get in touch with me so we can set up a time to speak.


Give the Gift of Mental Health: 5 Present Ideas

The holidays are just around the corner, and many of us are struggling to come up with gift ideas our friends and family will love. With so many people dealing with stress and anxiety these days over the recession, layoffs and threat of nuclear war, the best gift you can give this season is the gift of mental health.

With this in mind, here are some very thoughtful, practical and creative gifts ideas for loved ones who may be struggling with stress or anxiety:

1. Weighted Blankets

Weighted blankets have been shown to decrease a person’s anxiety. The weight of the blanket applies gentle pressure to the body, eliciting the same response as a hug or cuddle. These blankets are also great for helping people with sleep issues.

2. Art Supplies

Some people, adults and children alike, have a hard time expressing how they feel through language. But expression through art helps people get their feelings out.

Why not head to your local craft store and get your loved one something to help them tap into their creative side. It could be a paint set, adult coloring book, or modeling clay. Creating art has a meditative and calming effect as well.

3. Journal

Some people need to write things down in order to process them. You can find really nice journals for under $20 for that person in your life who is introspective and needs to get those thoughts, feelings and ideas onto paper.

4. Meditation & Mindfulness Subscription

Practicing mindfulness and meditation has been shown to provide mental, physical and emotional benefits. But it can be hard to get started with the practice. Help your loved one find Zen and calm with a subscription to a meditation and mindfulness app.

5. Mind Over Mind

There are many wonderful mental health books out there. One I recommend is called Mind Over Mind, which uses proven Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) exercises to shift an individual’s feelings, thoughts and behaviors.

And if you or your loved one would like to explore CBT with a licensed therapist, please reach out to me. Sometimes talking to someone can really make all the difference.


4 Tips for Reducing Stress While Moving

Whether it’s across town or across country, moving is one of the most stressful experiences a person can go through. Everything takes longer and weighs more than you initially thought, and the internet provider never seems to have any openings to come out to your new place and get you hooked up!

It’s no wonder people absolutely dread moving.

If you have a big move coming up, here are some tips to help you reduce the stress:

Accept Reality

No move in the history of mankind has ever gone off without a hitch. It is important to expect the unexpected and to go with the flow as best you can.

Give Yourself Plenty of Time

One of the biggest reasons people get stressed while they’re moving is because they didn’t give themselves enough time. While a small apartment may take two days to fully pack up, a three or four bedroom house you’ve lived in for over a decade may take closer to a week or two. It’s always best to give yourself more time and not less.

Be sure to give yourself plenty of time with other aspects of moving as well. For instance, setting up the utilities in your new home, researching the right moving company, and giving your old home a thorough clean. These projects will all take time as well.

Stay Organized

Keeping stress at bay will require you to stay organized. From buying moving supplies to labeling boxes to packing, organization will help you stay in control when things could easily spin out of control. So make lists and use a day planner to stay on top of your tasks.

Ask for Help

Don’t feel you need to do everything by yourself. If you need help, ask for it. Sometimes even just having some company from a friend or family member while you pack can lift your spirits. And try and plan ahead. Give your loved ones a heads up a week out so there is more of a chance they can say “yes.”

Is moving fun? Nope. But if you give yourself plenty of time, stay organized, ask for help and accept the fact that sh*t happens, your move will go much more smoothly.


7 Tips on How to Make Moving Less Stressful

How Your Self-Esteem Affects Your Mental Health

Having a low self-esteem is something many people of all ages deal with. While a low self-esteem is not considered a mental health condition itself, the way we think about ourselves directly impacts our mental health and overall well-being.

What is Self-Esteem?

Self-esteem refers to the way people feel about themselves. Someone with a healthy or high self-esteem thinks positively about themselves and their abilities. They believe they are deserving of respect and have no problems setting healthy boundaries.

Individuals with low self-esteems do not feel very good about themselves. They constantly measure themselves against others and always come up short. They may not think they are worthy of love and respect and will typically not set healthy boundaries, allowing others to take advantage of them.

How Does a Low Self-Esteem Affect Mental Health?

The following are some ways a low self-esteem can impact a person’s mental health:

Poor Relationships 

Human beings are wired for connections. But when we have low self-esteem, we tend to not put ourselves “out there” socially and even tend to isolate, which can lead to poor relationships and loneliness.


Studies have indicated low self-esteem in childhood can lead to addictions later in life. Mandy addicts use alcohol and other substances as a way to cope with negative feelings about themselves.

Depression and Anxiety

Living with low self-esteem day after day, week after week, can very much take its toll and eventually lead to the development of depression and anxiety.

How to Build Your Self-Esteem

Building self-esteem is important for mental health and to live a happy life. But it’s not necessarily easy to do it. It’s not like losing weight where you can say I am going to eat less and move more.

That is why I recommend working with a trained therapist who specializes in helping people build their self-esteem. A therapist can help you identify your core negative beliefs and determine where they came from. He or she can then help you develop a new, realistic self-esteem that reflects who you truly are.

If you or someone you know is suffering with low self-esteem and would like to explore treatment options, please get in touch with me.


Mental Health Benefits of Gender-Affirming Care

Gender-affirming care focuses on an individual’s physical, mental and social health needs. This care is absolutely lifesaving for transgender, gender diverse, and nonbinary people.

In order to fully understand what gender-affirming care is, we must first understand what it means to have a “gender identity crisis.” Gender crises happen when someone’s internal sense of gender is different from their sex or when they do not fit into the traditional expectations of gender identity or expression.

Historically, transgender, gender diverse and non-binary individuals typically experienced considerable health disparities due to discrimination and systemic biases, as well as less access to healthcare. But recently there has been a real push for gender-affirming healthcare, and in fact, research has strongly suggested that inhibiting individuals from receiving this form of healthcare can have immense negative health outcomes.

Benefits of Gender-Affirming Care

The following are just a few of the ways gender-affirming care can benefit transgender, gender diverse and non-binary individuals:

Improved Body Image and Self-Esteem

Gender-affirming care includes hormone therapy and surgery. These medical treatments help an individual’s physical attributes align more with their self-identified gender. This results in more self-esteem and a healthier body image.

Improved Mental Health

Gender-affirming care has the power to significantly improve a person’s mental health. This, in turn, results in a lower suicide rate, lower rates of depression and anxiety, as well as lower incidents of self-harm.

These benefits are now being reported in large-scale studies, such as the one in 2021 that illustrated a significant link between access to hormone therapy and lower rates of depression, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts among transgender youth un the US.


Improved access to gender-affirming care has a strong ripple effect throughout the trans community. When one individual has a positive experience with a particular treatment or provider, more individuals in the community are apt to seek the same care and receive the same benefits.

Gender-affirming care also means getting help from an ally in the mental health community. If you would like to seek treatment options, please get in touch with me.


Gender-affirming care improves mental health for transgender youth

Celebrating Juneteenth

Juneteenth is short for “June Nineteenth” and marks a very important day in American history. This is the day federal troops entered Galveston, Texas in 1865 and took control to ensure all slaves were freed. Juneteenth is thought to be the longest-running African American holiday. It became an official federal holiday on June 17, 2021. 

While slavery was abolished over 250 years ago, there is lingering trauma that has been passed down through the generations in the black community. As we celebrate Juneteenth this year, it’s important to focus on the overall mental health and well-being of the community. 

Barriers To Mental Health Care 

Historically, the African American community has been faced with certain barriers that have made seeking mental health services challenging. 

Socioeconomic Disparities 

It is common for members of the black community to experience socioeconomic disparities that make it hard to finance mental health treatment. Recent data suggest that 11% of black adults in this country have no form health insurance.  


It is common for people in the black community to have negative attitudes and beliefs about mental health issues and treatment for those issues. In fact, one study found that 63% of black people still believe that admitting to struggling with a mental health condition is a sign of personal weakness.  

As a result of this lingering stigma, people often feel shame for having a mental health condition and choose to not seek help for fear of being bullied or scorned.  


People of color often prefer to speak with therapists within their own community. Speaking with another person of color, who understands the microaggressions and burdens you face on a daily basis, can be tremendously helpful for healing.  

Currently, the psychology workforce is predominantly white, which often makes it difficult for BIPOC people to find a therapist they feel comfortable with. It is hoped that in the coming years, more young people of color will take an interest and the initiative to become a trained and licensed therapist. 

Making a Commitment 

This Juneteenth, it is important that people in the African American community make a commitment to their mental health. It may be helpful for you to get on the phone with a few potential providers and ask some questions to get a sense of their level of cultural awareness. What is their history of treating people of color? How sensitive are they to the plights black people face today? 

When you find a provider that can meet your needs, you can begin the journey of healing. 



How Finances can Impact Your Mental Health

Not since the great depression have so many people collectively been dealing with financial hardship. The Covid pandemic locked down nations and caused people to lose their livelihoods. It is not surprising, then, that we are also seeing increases in the rates of depression.

There have been other studies that also linked depression and anxiety with financial burdens. In fact, this study suggests that individuals with depression and anxiety are three times more likely to be in debt.

It’s a Vicious Cycle

Solving any problem requires clear thinking and an ability to take action. The problem is, when financial burdens cause a person to become anxious and depressed, they live in an emotional state that makes it almost impossible to solve their financial problems.

For instance, when people feel depressed, it is common for them to also feel overwhelmed and out of control. They tend to want to avoid problems because they simply can’t bear the weight of it all. 

Depression and anxiety can also make it hard for people to get proper sleep. This, in turn, creates mental fog, making it incredibly hard to figure out a solution to any problem.

Talking to Someone Can Really Help

No, I’m not talking about a financial planner, I’m talking about speaking with a therapist. A licensed therapist can help you find some calm in the storm. Working with a therapist often brings the kind of clarity that can help you heal from depression and anxiety and get your financial life back in order.

There is nothing to be ashamed of. Most of us have, at one point (if not currently), experienced trouble with our finances and felt depressed and anxious. It is a common part of living in these modern times when the economy seems to be going against us most of the time.

If you or a loved one has been having a hard time financially and you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, please get in touch with me. I would be more than happy to help you deal with your current situation.


Neurodivergence’s Impact on Mental Health

When we speak about human behavior or ways of being in the world, we have traditionally described someone as having normal behavior or abnormal behavior. Recently, mental health experts have begun to look at things in a broader, more inclusive scope.

What Does Neurodivergent Mean?

Neurodivergent is a term used to describe someone who either behaves in a specific way or processes information in a specific way that differs from cultural norms. It is an important shift in the mental health community because it allows clinicians to discuss diagnoses, such as autism, in a way that doesn’t portray the diagnoses as an illness or problem to be dealt with. In addition to autism, there are other diagnoses that may be considered a form of neurodivergence such as ADHD, any learning disability, dyslexia, and Tourette’s syndrome.

Benefits of Neurodiversity

Much of the world has embraced cultural diversity. We have been taught that diversity is our greatest strength. Well, people are finally starting to realize that this concept goes beyond just cultural diversity and should extend to the diversity of thought and being as well. Neurodiversity can actually be beneficial to society because different ways of thinking and looking at the world bring different perspectives and insights to the table.

Temple Grandin is a perfect example. Temple is autistic and it is her very unique perspective and way of thinking that allowed her to revolutionize the practices for the humane handling of livestock.

Instead of stigmatizing children who have been diagnosed with a “mental handicap,” we must encourage them to embrace their differences and share their unique insights and perspectives with the world.