You’re Working Out For Your Body Now Try A Emotional Workout For Mental Health

By Juli Fraga: As the pandemic continues, so does the mental health crisis. Many of us are struggling with the grief and trauma the coronavirus unleashed, as well as stressors such as mass shootings and climate change. With so much suffering, there is a greater need for therapy, but many psychotherapists — myself included — can’t meet the rising demand.

When new patients contact me, I help those in crisis find emergency care and connect others with counselors or group support. But when capital “S” stressors such as unrelenting anxiety, depleting depression and insomnia roar loud, some patients want more immediate help. This might explain why many prospective patients ask me: “What can I do now to improve my mental health?”

One possible solution, says clinical psychologist Emily Anhalt, is to add an “emotional workout” to your self-care regimen. “Just like working out prevents high blood pressure and heart disease, emotional fitness can be a proactive stance toward stress management,” says Anhalt, the co-founder of Coa, a gym for mental health.

In Coa’s virtual classes, Anhalt and her team teach exercises called “emotional push-ups,” which are small ways to work on yourself each day. “The purpose is to strengthen your mental health muscles so that you’re in a better position to face life’s challenges,” she says.

Self-care tools can be helpful, especially when barriers such as high-deductible insurance plans, high co-pays and living in remote areas can make mental health care difficult to afford or access. And while the pandemic isn’t solely to blame for the lack of therapists, it’s certainly made things worse, says Vaile Wright, the senior director of health-care innovation at the American Psychological Association.

Why You Need To Add An Emotional Workout For Mental Health

With too few mental health resources, we need innovative ways to make psychological care more accessible, she says. If you’re waiting to see a therapist, can’t afford mental health care or have recently finished therapy, emotional exercises are one way to strengthen your psychological muscles. While these workouts aren’t meant to replace individual or group therapy, Anhalt says they can promote resilience and help you feel empowered. Originally published at The Washington Post

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