How to Take a Mental Health Day Without Staying Home (And How to Decide If You Need One)

We all have those days, right? The ones when you feel like everything requires more effort than usual, when you feel exhausted before even starting your routine, when you just don't want to move.

You go back and forth in your mind on whether to call out of work or skip your classes, mentally debating the consequences of taking the day off.

So how do you know when you should push through or give yourself a break?

Read more to find out

Defining Mental Illness: A Counselor’s Perspective

Throughout my graduate program, I completed many courses dedicated to teaching students how to identify, diagnose, and treat various mental health concerns. This was the bulk of the program, which makes sense given that this curriculum is vital to becoming a counselor.

From these courses, I learned how to recognize symptoms of diagnostic categories. This knowledge guides my differential diagnosis, meaning, once I narrow down the symptoms to one category, I compare criterion from a few related disorders to figure out which diagnosis fits best at that particular time.

I also learned about treatment modalities, how to implement them, and how to select effective treatments for specific problems and clients. And I learned about types of assessments, when to administer them, how to score them, and how to relate them to the client’s situation.

So, this all sounds relatively comprehensive, right? Well there was one big question that never got answered.

What is mental illness?

Help Me Help You: A Guide for Loved Ones

Clients often share with me that they wish their loved one knew how to help them through a tough moment with mental health.

Whether they have trouble asking for the help, or if the loved one has trouble offering it, the end result is the same — idleness.

There is the client, stuck in the problem, and there is their loved one, not sure what to do. If either of these examples sounds familiar to you…

Keep reading for tips

Stress-Reducing Strategies You Can Do in 10 Minutes or Less

Are you tired of waking up early, dropping off your kids at school, commuting to your job, dealing with pesky bosses or co-workers, just to come home and feel exhausted as you cook dinner and drag yourself to bed?

If this is your daily routine and you love it, then don't bother reading this. But if this isn't cutting it for you, I can help you out of that cycle.

Believe it or not, our most valuable form of currency is time. If I told you that by investing 4 hours a day into your mental health, you would see major improvements, you'd probably tell me, “sure, but I don't have 4 hours a day to devote to that.” Neither do I. But I do have 10 minutes, and that's all I need.

How to spend your 10 minutes

Comforting Your Child During a Meltdown

One of the commonalities among all of the parent-child clients I work with is not knowing how to talk about difficult emotions. This often shows through aggressive or passive communication — in other words, the parent and child may shout at each other (aggressive) or completely shut down emotionally and not voice how they feel (passive). Both of these communication patterns steer away from healthy resolution.

Remember that the purpose of any type of communication is to express something. If we feel that we are not able to do so, whether it is due to our own limitations or the other person not listening, we can feel invalidated, rejected, and perhaps even isolated. So, when I am told about or witness a child having a “meltdown” (or what the parent refers to as a tantrum), I see three problematic things happen…

Learn about them here

Creating a Crisis Coping Kit - Part 1

What is a crisis coping kit? Well, pretty much how it sounds! It’s a box (or a bag) filled with items that helps your child manage and communicate with you about difficult emotions. These items can be store-bought things, such as a sand timer, bubbles, or a fidget toy, or they can be things you create with them, like self-affirmation cards, a “coping-catcher” paper game, or a list of supports.

In this Part 1 blog post, you'll learn what goes into a coping kit and how you can make one for your child.

Create your own coping kit

Creating a Crisis Coping Kit - Part 2

Part 1 talked about how to start creating a coping kit with your child, beginning with store-bought items. These are relatively inexpensive and easy to find. The coping kits are extremely customizable depending on your child’s interests and needs.

In Part 2, you'll get some ideas for materials you can make with your child as a fun activity or (probably much needed) one-on-one bonding time.

Materials you can make