Eight Ways to Support Your Mental Health

October 10, 2017

Iona is committed to fostering good mental health in older adults and caregivers. In honor of World Mental Health Day, which is observed on October 10 every year, we’re sharing what we do day in and day out.

Here at Iona, our team of psychotherapists (all who are licensed clinical social workers) help people cope with a number of mental health issues including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Anger
  • Interpersonal conflicts
  • Loneliness
  • Grief, and other issues

Additionally, we also host support groups, moderated by licensed professionals, for older adults and caregivers who would benefit from sharing their experiences with others in similar situations, like caring for someone with dementia or coping with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

We all face satisfying and challenging times during our lives. Though you may not have much control over these changes, what you can control is how you deal with them. The better you can cope with challenges, the better your mental health.

And sometimes you may need some help with that. If you’re concerned about your mental health, one thing that can help is talking about it with someone you trust, like a family member or friend, your doctor, faith leader, or a psychotherapist, as well as with a support group.

Medications, if needed, can complement the effect of talk therapy, and your doctor or a psychiatrist can help you consider the options. There are also activities that you can do on your own that can help.

Eight simple ways to support your mental health right now:

  • Go for a walk, or enjoy some other kind of exercise
  • Get enough sleep
  • Meet up with friends or family for a coffee date or other social activity
  • Do hobbies and activities that tap into your creative side and engage your mind
  • Do things that make you feel useful and helpful to yourself and others (like volunteering)
  • Keep a list of things for which you’re grateful
  • Engage in spiritual practices that are meaningful to you
  • Treat yourself, like getting a massage, having a nice meal, or listening to your favorite music

This list is by no means exhaustive, and if you have strategies you’ve found helpful we’d love to hear from you. Let us know how you support your mental health in the comments!

2 thoughts on “Eight Ways to Support Your Mental Health”

  1. Social or physical activities do help, but loneliness and depression seem to go together.
    Any suggestions?

    1. Thank you for your comment, Beverly. Iona’s Psychotherapist, Mental Health & Support Group Program Manager Bill Amt says:

      You make an important point that loneliness and depression often go hand in hand. As we age, our social networks can shrink as family and friends whose company we’ve long valued are less able to get together and talk on the phone, and may have even passed away. Similarly, we may not be able to get out of our home as we once did and become socially isolated. Such losses of long-time relationships affect us emotionally and can lead to depression.

      In addition to physical, cultural, spiritual, and other activities you can do on your own that can improve mood, I recommend also calling Iona’s Helpline (202.895.9448) for more information about other activities with other people, like Iona’s Active Wellness Program at St. Alban’s. Also, Iona’s Resource Guide (https://www.iona.org/resource-guide/) has a section about adult education, arts, recreation, and exercise programs in the region, as well as sections about Villages, volunteer opportunities, and other ways to connect with new people who may, possibly, become a friend.

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