May: Time for a Mental Health “Tune-Up”!

Moving Ahead Program May Mental Health Tuneup 2017

Our Moving Ahead Program has over 1,500 alumni, all who are welcome to visit St. Francis House at any time and seek us for support and resource advice in perpetuity.

The Alumni Resource Center bulletin board on the 4th floor hosts a new topic each month. This month’s is from Danielle Porcello, our Moving Ahead Program Counselor.

We all know how important taking care of our health is.

Most of us try to have a physical at least once a year, visit the dentist for a cleaning every six months or so, and complete a myriad of other daily tasks, like washing our hands or brushing our teeth, all with the intention of staying well.

So with all this time devoted to taking care of ourselves, why do so many of us neglect our mental health?  Just like you would make a doctor’s appointment to “check-up” on your physical health, you should plan to “tune-up” your mental health and self care routines periodically—and now is a great time to start!

What is Self Care?

Really, self care is just a fancy way of saying “healthy relaxation.” It is a way for us all to cope effectively with the stresses in our lives.  Being able to recognize when you are feeling stressed, fatigued, or overwhelmed is an important first step in addressing your self care needs.  You know yourself best!

Think of self care as a multivitamin for your mental and emotional health.  Sometimes, taking care of yourself regularly can make you more resilient to difficulties down the line. Read below for more tips on how to address your needs!

Engage With Your Support Network

Take some time to connect with your support network when you’re beginning to feel stressed.  This could take the form of talking to a therapist, engaging in an NA or AA group, connecting with a sponsor, reaching out to a Church or community organization, and/or getting support from trusted family and friends.  Once you have your supports in place, don’t be afraid to let them know when you need a little extra help.

Build Stability

Next, you should focus on building a strong base for your mental wellness.  Just like a table can’t stand with only 2 legs, you can’t be mentally and emotionally strong without making sure you have a stable foundation in place.  This includes things like getting an adequate amount of sleep each night, making sure you are eating enough, and getting some physical activity in each day.  For many of us, these are the first things impacted by times of stress—that’s why it’s so important to be aware of our patterns, and to try our best to make positive changes!

Find What Works

Try spending some time finding things that help you to relax and unwind. Self care is all about taking the time to focus on whatever brings you relief from the stresses of every day life.  These are different for everyone, but you might try listening to music, taking a walk, reading a book, getting outdoors, writing in a journal, or venting to a trusted therapist or close friend.  Don’t be afraid to try different tactics until you find what works for you.

Add Self Care into Your Schedule

Between work, family obligations, and recovery focused activities, you may find yourself operating on a pretty tight schedule without much time to work on self care.  Schedule it into your day, just like you would any other appointment, and then hold yourself to it!  Taking 15 minutes to journal or read a book at the end of the day before bed can help you sleep better, and you’ll wake up feeling more focused and at ease.

Feeling ready to get started?

The best part of working on self care is that it can be done from anywhere, and is free!  If you need help jump starting your self care routine, make an appointment and stop by MAP on the 4th floor.  Ashley (acilenti@stfrancishouse.org) or Danielle (dporcello@stfrancishouse.org) would be happy to meet with you and help you come up with a plan to address your personal self care needs!