Mental Health Blog
Daily 6 Minute Self-Care RoutinePosted by Alicia Kirkman on 2/8/2021
Daily 6 Minute Self-Care Routine
Make a habit out of nurturing your mental and physical health each day.
Follow these two simple practices to begin this journey.
Gratitude Practice for Mental Health
Spend 3 minutes writing (our thinking) about what you are grateful for.
Here are some ideas:
- What is something you are looking forward to?
- What did you accomplish today?
- What is your favorite food? When was the last time you ate it?
- Who is someone in your life that you are grateful for? Why?
- Think back to a happy memory. Who was there? How did you feel?
- What books, music, television shows, or movies are you grateful for?
- Name something that you are grateful that you have.
- What is the best gift you have ever received?
Gentle Yoga Practice for Physical Health
Spend 20 seconds holding each of the poses below.
While in these poses, focus your mind on your breathe and
how strong your body feels as you move through each move
Looking for more self-care ideas/ support? Visit the FamilyMeans blog page. FamilyMeans provides mental health support to parents, students, and faculty in your school district. Make an appointment today with a school-based counselor by calling 651-439-480 or visiting FamilyMeans.org
FamilyMeans Website - https://www.familymeans.org/articles/2021/02/05/6-minute-self-care-routine/
Move for your Mental HealthPosted by Alicia Kirkman on 1/5/2021
Move for your Mental Health!
As virtual classes continue, and the weather gets colder, your children might find it even harder to get up and move throughout the day. Professionals recommend 5 minutes of activity each hour to support good mental and physical health. Encourage your children to move in a way that is fun for them, making it something to look forward to rather than another item to add to the to-do list.
Information provided by FamilyMeans Counseling & Therapy, providing school-based mental health support in our school district. Learn more and make an appointment at FamilyMeans.org.
Facebook Post Link - https://www.facebook.com/FamilyMeans/posts/10157322769952003
Holiday Activities to Ignite 5 Senses and Promote MindfulnessPosted by Alicia Kirkman on 12/11/2020
Distance learning, changes to holiday plans, being apart from family and friends, staying safe at home – our lives are challenging right now, and likely, everyone in your family could use some holiday cheer. Get your 5 senses working with these fun holiday activities! Spend some time with your family reflecting on feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations that come with each activity.
Look at lights! Go for a walk/drive and see homes and businesses aglow with festive light displays.
Play your favorite holiday tunes! Have each person in your family choose their favorite holiday song. Play the music while you make dinner together, or have a dance party!
Get comfy! Grab your favorite soft sweater, or wrap up in a blanket. Take time to notice the feeling of the material on your skin. Appreciate the warmth and comfort that it provides.
Make a special meal or treat! Take time to prepare something delicious together. Be mindful of each bite and how the food makes you feel, memories it brings, or appreciation of the nourishment it will bring to your body.
Scavenger hunt for some good smelling items – holiday spices, candles, flowers, or foods. Reflect on where the smells take your memories, or how they make you feel
Encourage your children to practice this reflection on feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations daily, prompt them if you can! This type of mindful thinking helps to take a break from life’s stressors, slow down and take notice of themselves. If you are noticing that your child’s behavior is changing, sleep is disrupted, or just need some extra support, schedule an appointment to meet with our school-based therapist. Providing sessions via telehealth to support students, parents, and families.
FamilyMeans School-Based Therapists are wishing you joy, love, and laughter this holiday season.
World Mental Health DayPosted by Alicia Kirkman on 10/7/2020
October 10th is World Mental Health Day, a time dedicated to creating awareness about mental health issues around the world. This year, each and every one of us is experiencing more challenges as a result of Covid-19. That is why now, more than ever before, it is important to take inventory of your own mental health and work towards making improvements for a healthier life.
Follow the guide below, provided by FamilyMeans therapists, to help in taking inventory of your mental health. This is great practice for children as well, and as a parent you can support them by reading the steps aloud and helping them to understand the feelings and emotions that may arise.
- Find a comfortable space where you can lay down. Perhaps this is your bed, couch, or even the floor with a few pillows. Move around a bit to get comfortable. Then lay still with your hands on your stomach or chest.
- Focus on your breathing. Take a big, deep breath and hold for three seconds, exhale completely, pushing all the air out of your lungs. Do this two more times. Feel your hands move up and down on your chest/stomach as you breathe. Take as much time in this step as you wish, connecting with your breath and finding calm.
- Now move your attention to your body. Start at the top of your head and move your thoughts down your body until you reach your toes. How does each body part/muscle feel? Do you have any tightness or tension? Are you warm or cold, hungry or thirsty? Feel the heaviness of your body against the bed, couch, or floor. Appreciate your body and what it has done for you today.
- What is your emotional state? How are you feeling in this moment, perhaps relaxed or calm? Maybe the weight of the day still lingers, making you feel stress, anxious, or sad. If you are in a good mood spend some time with this feeling; smile and reflect on why you are happy. If you are in a bad mood, take a few more deep breathes and begin to think of ways that you can improve this mood. Maybe taking a bath, going for a walk, or connecting with a friend or family member.
- Slowly begin moving out of this relaxed state by gently moving your fingers and toes, then move up to larger actions such as moving your head back and forth to stretch your neck, and stretching your arms and legs. In your own time, come to a seated position.
Reflect on how this exercise made you feel. Do you feel empowered and ready to take on the day? Or did this practice bring up emotions for which you need more support? As we celebrate World Mental Health Day, we hope that you found some time to take inventory of where you are at with your mental health. FamilyMeans provides therapeutic counseling to support children, teens, and adults through any mental health challenge that they face. You are not alone. Visit FamilyMeans.org or call 651-439-4840 to learn more and set-up an appointment today.
Back to School Mental Health TipsPosted by Alicia Kirkman on 9/9/2020
Back to School Mental Health Tips
As we begin the new academic year, parents, students, teachers, and school staff are faced with uncertainty and worry. Whether you are starting school in-person, online, or in a hybrid model, there are added challenges that can affect your mental health. Here are some tips from our clinicians on how to support your mental health during this challenging time.
Fear/Anxiety Surrounding Contracting COVID-19 – Keep following the good measures that you have been practicing to keep safe (wash hands, wear a mask, socially distance). Limit the information you receive. Too much news can be overwhelming, only take in what is needed from trusted sources. Also, sticking to routine (which includes some time for fun) and maintaining healthy behaviors such as getting enough sleep and eating healthy is important.
Online Virtual Learning
Increased Screen Time – Time staring at a screen is not good for our mental or physical health. However, increased screen time is a necessity for online learning. Set boundaries regarding screen time, such as no screen usage 2 hours before bed or for every one hour of screen time, get 10 minutes of physical activity.
Isolation/Peer-to-Peer Interactions – Keeping relationships with friends and family is so important while we socially distance. They are your support systems and even small interactions can help to combat feelings of isolation/loneliness. Stay connected virtually by planning an online game night, or after school homework session.
Hybrid Model (part in-person, part online)
Routine Changes – Routine is so important to good mental health. Having established bed time and wake times will help you to sleep better and have more energy throughout the day. Keeping the same routine both when you are doing online and in-person learning will help your mental health immensely.
Coping with Change – Going from time together in school to online classes can be hard. Acknowledge this challenge and talk with a trusted person about your feelings surrounding these changes.
FamilyMeans Counseling & Therapy can help to support the mental health of individuals and families no matter what challenges the new school year brings.
Did you know that FamilyMeans Counseling & Therapy provides school-based mental health services in 5 school districts on both sides of the St. Croix River?
Stillwater 834 | North St. Paul/Maplewood/Oak Dale 622 | Hudson | New Richmond | Prescott
Supporting the mental health of students is more important now than ever before.
Back to School Tough DecisionsPosted by Alicia Kirkman on 8/11/2020
Tough Decisions and the Emotions That Come with Them
August always has a buzz about it. We all are trying to cram in those last summer activities; stores bustle
with shoppers buying school supplies; and sports/clubs begin meeting to prep for the new year. There is
excitement and anticipation in the air. But, this year is different and promises to be like nothing we
have seen before. As parents, we are feeling stress and anxiety as we try and answer the questions: Do
we send our kids to school? Do we keep them home? Do we juggle a hybrid option? What if I send my
kid(s) and they get sick? What if I don’t send my kid(s) and they get further behind in their studies? How
am I supposed to work with the school schedule in flux? How do we all keep our sanity?
These are tough questions, and it is overwhelming. You are not alone. Every student, parent, teacher,
and school staff person is feeling the same way as the school year approaches. There seems to be so
much pressure to get schools open, yet how are we going to do this safely and productively? How are
you going to make the best decision for your family?
The FamilyMeans Counseling & Therapy team urges you to take on these challenges one step at a time.
You don’t have to make every decision at once, and looking at the bigger picture can be overwhelming.
Start by gathering information on your specific district and building. Understand the facts and
requirements, then think about/discuss with trusted others how do you really feel about sending your
kid(s), or ourselves, back into the building. Trust your gut. No matter what decision you make –which
feels best for the moment-- you are brave and strong to carry out that decision.
When it comes to other people’s decisions, be mindful. Each family is faced with these tough decisions,
and you don’t know all the deciding factors for different families. Maybe there is an underlying health
condition. Maybe there are older family members for whom they care. Maybe there is fear and anxiety,
or even anger No matter what the reason for a family’s decision, it is their choice and what works for
them. Honor it and understand that there is no one-size-fits-all option.
If you or your family are struggling with these decisions, or the emotions that come along with this
difficult situation, FamilyMeans is here to help. Our clinical staff can provide individual, couple, or family
therapy sessions to help you work through life’s challenges such as this. Learn more or set-up an
appointment today by calling 651-439-4840 or visit FamilyMeans.org!
Written by Melena Nelson
Mental Health Guide to ThrivePosted by Alicia Kirkman on 7/15/2020
Mental Health Guide to Thrive
Express appreciation, journal, 3-5 positives a day.
Move your Body
Dance, run, walk, sports, yoga. Get Moving!
Develop a Family Media Plan.
Develop daily schedules for meals and sleep.
Choose positivity, self-reflection, active listening.
Meditate, calming breaths, listen to music.
Stay in relationships with friends and family.
School-based and outpatient Counseling & Therapy services are currently being provided via telehealth by FamilyMeans. If you or your child are in need of support, please contact the School-Based Supervisor, Diane Cragoe at 651-789-4054 or DCragoe@FamilyMeans.org.
Anxiety. Depression. Suicidal thoughts. Isolation. Family pressures. Stress. Real Life Issues.
Support is here. Contact us today. Insurance or payment plans accepted. No one turned away
FamilyMeans.org | 651-439-4840
Mental Health in the SummerPosted by Alicia Kirkman on 6/11/2020
Mental Health in the Summer
Last month we talked about checking in with your own mental health and the mental health of your children. As we move into summer, we often see kids, teens, and their families take time away from counseling to enjoy the summertime. But, let’s be real. This summer is like no other summer past. You’ve been cooped up since March, trying to juggle life, work, distance learning, and all that is going on in the world. And the things we normally look forward to in the summer are now either restricted or canceled. Can you say “bummer”?! This summer is the perfect time to focus on the mental health of you and your children/teens.
There is a lot of anxiety, worry, stress, feeling hopeless or down, disrupted sleep, and lack of social engagement. These are all symptoms of bigger mental health conditions if left untreated. Clinicians at FamilyMeans are equipped to handle these types of topics, along with many others, in order to help you and your loved ones feel better, even during this most unsettling time. This summer is especially a great time to help children and teens work through any anxieties they may have about the world or the thought of going back to school in the fall. Good mental health takes time and dedication, and in the summer your child might have more time to focus on their mental health. Summer is a perfect moment to begin good practices that will help in the school year ahead. They will be ready to jump in when it is time and conquer anything that life throws them. Please contact us today to set a telehealth appointment, FamilyMeans.org or 651-439-4840!
Bonus: Routine is key to good mental health, especially for developing minds. While at home this summer here are some tips for keeping a normal feeling routine:
- Have some structure to your day – kids need structure (which a school day usually provides). Keep it loose and flexible but predictable at the same time. If your kids are into artwork – have them help you create a fun artistic calendar for the family.
- Get a library card and use curbside service
- Try out the many trails we have here in Minnesota and Wisconsin
- Build a fort inside on a rainy day
- Find new virtual tourist attractions and learn about a new place together
- Be active – get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day – have a dance party, go for walks, go to the park, play sports, learn a new sport, investigate nature, etc.
- Play! Do something fun for yourself, or with your kids – be goofy and run around together
- Get outside–each and every day–make it a family outing. Create a scavenger hunt to do while on a walk or watch for birds, plants, or bugs. Make it a game of whoever spots the most wins a prize or the pride of winning.
- Limit screen time to two hours or fewer – use these hours wisely. Help teach your kids how to spread out their allotted time throughout a day – if they are younger – create a fun and artistic schedule for them on when they want to use their screen time.
- Keep your therapy appointments. Telehealth calls are available until in-person appointments can resume.
- Let yourself or your kids have an ‘off’ day – we’re all human and have bad days once in a while – let them have one and work it out of their system. Help them create ways to improve their mood – what makes them happy? Excited? Create a ‘mood box’ of items around the house that helps them improve their mood so when they need ideas they can go to this box for inspiration.
- Break the rules! Okay, not all the time, but once in a while. Let your kids see that there is some flexibility within your rules on occasion.
- Keep all the rules that you set out for your kids for yourself too – model the behaviors you want them to do – it will be hard but you can do it!
Supporting the Mental Health of StudentsPosted by Alicia Kirkman on 5/13/2020
Supporting the Mental Health of Students
As we all continue to work through these challenging times, the mental health of our students remains a top priority. The transition to virtual learning, changes in daily routines, the inability to hold special events like prom and graduation, and more, are producing many new and challenging emotions in our students such as anger, disappointment, and anxiety. Helping them to work through these emotions is important for their mental health.
Did you know that New Richmond Schools have school-based therapists available to provide mental health counseling? And that they are available via tele-health services to provide mental health support to you and your children in the comfort of your home? Contact your student’s guidance counselor for more information and set-up an appointment!
Advice from our specialized therapists on ways to support your child’s mental health.
Focus on Self-Care
Changes in routine has likely impacted your child’s self-care practices. Are they getting enough sleep, eating healthy, exercising, spending time off screens, and getting outside? This can be difficult to do! Try out our self-care challenge, a printable guide to help you improve your mental and physical health, great for all ages!
Re-Imagine Special Events
As the school year comes to a close many of the usual special events have been postponed or canceled. Your child may be missing out on a traditional prom, graduation, or simple end of year celebrations. This likely has them feeling disappointed and sad. Get creative in finding ways to celebrate and have fun to help ease the emotions they have. Host a virtual celebration with family/friends, get dressed up and take photos or drive-by family/friends, and create new traditions such as a special meal or outing.
Arrange Time with Family and Friends
Social distancing is hard. Your children may be feeling isolated and lonely. It is important that they find ways to safely connect with people that they are not quarantined with. Help to set-up video calls with their family and friends, encourage letter writing or crafting that they can share with others.
Be Open about Your Emotions
Much of how your children learn to manage their emotions come from watching you, especially at a young age. As age-appropriate, discuss the thoughts and feelings that you are having during this challenging time. It can be helpful for your child to know that you are sad, disappointed, or having anxiety too, and how you are working through these emotions as well.
Speak with a Counselor
Sometimes you need the support of a professional. School-based therapists can help your child in individual sessions, or your family in a group session, to work through the emotions that come with the changes in our world today.
May is mental health awareness month, and a great time to focus on your family’s mental health. As a mental health support provider in our schools, FamilyMeans provides excellent resources and support to New Richmond families. Find additional resources and learn more by visiting www.FamilyMeans.org.