COLORADO SPRINGS — The hesitancy around seeking mental health care - especially if you're struggling - is nothing new. It doesn’t matter if you’re a military veteran, someone going through a mid-life crisis, break-up with a loved one, the death of someone close to you, or you’re a parent trying to help a child through their struggles.
Lynnay Carona, a licensed clinical social worker with UCHealth Primary Care – Fontanero in Colorado Springs, says the first step in overcoming that hesitancy to seek help is to verbalize it to someone - anyone. “That's a conversation you should have. It’s like when your body is sick, where do you go? You go to the doctor if you have a stomach ache or a cold. Mental health is as integral a part of taking care of yourself as the physical self.”
Lynnay really emphasized to me that having a conversation with someone you think may be struggling with mental health concerns - kids or adults - needs to focus around asking a question and then listening. “Start with listening, rather than starting with talking. You want to check in and say, ‘Hey, is something going on?’ or ‘What is going on?’ You want to use open-ended questions instead of yes-or-no questions.” Then listen.
Lynnay also has some advice on some at-home exercises you can try to calm anxiety. She explains, “One tool you can use at home if you, (or your) child seems to be having racing thoughts is an exercise that we use to help slow down that anxious brain, and that’s to give the brain a challenge. One easy starting point is to recite the alphabet backward. When you have an anxious brain, it wants to keep going and going and ruminating over anxious thoughts. It can be very difficult to redirect that process. You have to challenge the brain to do something that redirects it away from the anxious thoughts and gives it a little bit of a workout. If you’re a numbers person, you can try counting backward by threes from 100; that is going to give your brain a little bit of a challenge and it’s going to require it to redirect away from the anxious thoughts. If you or your child is experiencing more physiological symptoms of anxiety such as a racing heartbeat or the cold or hot flashes, one of the ways that we can ground our body is to slow down our breathing and make it very rhythmic. A very successful breathing method is called box breath. That's where you do a four-count breath, hold for four counts, then hold four counts out, and then four counts to hold. Do that nice and slow and rhythmically and that’s going to ground your body and slow your heart rate. The breath is nature's anti-anxiety med.”
Reaching out for help can be as easy as contacting the Colorado Crisis Line for free, anytime. You can visit the Crisis Line’s webpage, (HERE [coloradocrisisservices.org]) https://coloradocrisisservices.org/ [coloradocrisisservices.org]
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