While talking about mental health can make people self-conscious or worried that there’s something wrong with them, one way to think about it is that it is essentially the same as physical health. When you think about it this way, it’s easy to understand how being mentally healthy can include connecting with friends, and pursuing fun hobbies the same way being physically healthy can include drinking enough water and getting exercise. When we don’t take steps to stay mentally or physically healthy, we can start feeling bad and getting sick.

When our thoughts and feelings are upsetting us, it can feel overwhelming and like it’s never going to get better. Getting lost in the “what if” line of thinking can make uncomfortable feelings worse, so it’s important to practice noticing when you’re getting upset so you can take steps to take care of yourself. One tool that can help you get out of your head and back into the present moment is to do a grounding exercise. These can be adapted to fit your preferences and you can even make up your own. They essentially involves noticing your body and what’s going on around you.

5 Senses Exercise

Start by taking a deep breath and centering your attention on your body and your physical surroundings. Take some time to notice:

  • 5 things you can see
  • 4 things you can touch physically
  • 3 things you can hear
  • 2 things you can smell
  • 1 thing that you know is true about yourself

Most people who have suicidal thoughts do not complete suicide or even make an attempt. These thoughts can be a wake-up call that you’re completely overwhelmed and need help. Please reach out to someone. We’re here to answer your call.If you’re at a point where you’re feeling bad or unlike your old self, it’s better to try to get support sooner rather than later. Anxiety symptoms can start in elementary school and many people with depression report their symptoms started in middle school. Experiencing a significant challenge or trauma symptoms can happen at any age and the sooner you can get support, the more likely you are to be able to process what happened and figure out healthy ways to cope.

It’s important to remember that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of because it is a medical problem, just like heart disease or diabetes. With the help of counseling, peer support and sometimes medication (not always), the vast majority of individuals living with a mental health diagnosis continue to function in their daily lives. If you want to speak to someone about all the treatment options available to you, please contact us directly.

In Washington State, if you are above the age of 13, you do not need the permission of your parent/guardian to talk with a mental health provider; however, it may be a good idea to let them know because it could show up on insurance. An assessment should be performed by a Licensed Mental Health Professional. They will consider multiple aspects of a person’s life including medical, and mental health history, substance use history, and tools to help assess cognitive function. Contact us to find out where you can get an assessment.

Self Harm

Self-harm or self-injury refers to hurting yourself on purpose. This behavior is a sign of emotional distress and lack of coping skills, and not necessarily a sign of a mental health condition. It is not uncommon for people with overwhelming anger, frustration, or pain to feel the urge to self-harm because they want to feel the pain-killing hormones that are sometimes released when bodies are injured. Sometimes people self-harm because they feel numb and the pain allows them to feel something real or visible.  

Self-harm is more common during adolescence. Shaming and judging people for their behavior doesn’t address the underlying pain and may make things worse. People who self-harm are not necessarily trying to kill themselves, but they are in emotional distress. Their behavior should be taken seriously, as they may also have suicidal thoughts. 

Things to Try if I Feel the Need to Self-Harm
  • Hold an ice cube in your hand until you can’t hold it anymore
  • Take some deep breaths and try to focus on how the sensations in your chest and stomach change. Emotions are caused by brain chemicals that don’t stay constant, and you may notice that the feeling changes or lessens as you observe it. 
  • Get high-intensity exercise. Exercise can release negative emotions and create relaxation and exhaustion that may give you a break from your distress.  
  • Find someone you can talk to about how you’re feeling who will listen without judgement
  • Share your experience with a supportive peer or adult can be comforting and relieve shame. You don’t have to go through this alone. 

If you or someone you know is hurting themselves, it is important to identify the underlying feelings and begin to learn alternative coping skills. If you need help finding support or someone to listen to, please call us at Teen Link. You don’t have to go through this alone. 

Stress & Anxiety

Stress and mental health challenges are not something to be ashamed of. Talking to someone about what you’re feeling is actually the best way to make the shame dissolve.

It’s impossible to know how to do something you’ve never learned, so it’s okay to ask people for ideas. Whether it’s sharing your favorite breathing trick for when you feel panicked or a go-to image to relax when you’re doing public speaking, everyone has had to find ways to deal with stress and bad moods. Learning more about what you’re experiencing, finding supportive people to help you navigate it, and identifying what additional resources you need are part of managing your health as you become an adult.

Signs of Anxiety

  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep or waking up with racing thoughts
  • Dreading something so much that you think about it all the time, and makes you feel paralyzed and unable to focus on daily activities
  • Obsessive thoughts about something going wrong or being unsafe
  • Recurring physical sensations of panic like hyperventilating, racing heart, difficulty breathing, and feeling like you’re going to die
  • Constantly avoiding things that trigger these feelings including people, places, or activities

nxiety can form in different ways. Some people have specific fears about things like dogs or needles, fear of social interactions or strangers, or fear of sensations and certain spaces (heights, the dark, etc.). Other times anxiety is mostly physical causing panic attacks or fainting. If you are experiencing anxiety that is not getting better with simple tools, it may be time to talk to a counselor about how to get better control of it – so it can stop controlling you.

Mindfulness Breathing

Try this when you’re feeling anxious and find yourself holding your breath or on the verge of hyperventilating.

  • Inhale to a count of 1, 2, 3, 4
  • Hold to a count of 1, 2, 3, 4
  • Exhale to a count of 1, 2, 3, 4
  • Hold to a count of 1, 2, 3, 4

If these sound familiar, please know that there are ways to help. Sometimes being mindful of how much caffeine and sugar you consume (chocolate counts too!) can dramatically calm your emotions throughout the day. You can start feeling better today by calling us at Teen Link and making a plan to get input from a counselor or doctor. You don’t have to keep feeling overwhelmed. Relief is possible, and you deserve to have it.