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Emotional Wellness in Times of Stress

Featured Speaker

Linda Murphy, LCSW

Linda Murphy, LCSW

About this Podcast

About This Podcast

Our mental and emotional health can influence how we think, feel, and behave toward ourselves and others. It can also affect our ability to cope with stressors and to overcome challenges.

Listen as Linda Murphy, LCSW discusses the importance of maintaining a healthy mind and healthy body to help you stay emotionally well.



Melanie Cole (Host): Our mental and emotional health can influence how we think, feel, and behave towards others and ourselves. It can also affect our ability to cope with stressors and to overcome challenges. My guest today is Linda Murphy. She's a licensed clinical social worker with Behavioral Health Services at Aspirus Medford Clinic. Welcome to the show, Linda. What is even emotional wellness? What's the definition of that?

Linda Murphy (Guest): Well, the definition is just trying to be able to handle stress well on a daily basis. Having a positive self-image and staying physically healthy as well.

Melanie: So, let's get some tips right out there at the beginning because in these stressful times, people are always looking for ways to help bolster their mood and their feelings of emotional wellness. So, what do you tell people every day about that?

Linda: Well, I think it's very important to laugh often. Just get together with friends. Life is very stressful. We're very busy, and we don't often make time to spend time with friends and just laugh. It can lift our mood. It can just give us a better, overall well-being about life.

Melanie: So, keep going. Give us lots of tips. Whatever you tell people.

Linda: Okay. The next thing would be to do frequent feelings checks. You know, just kind of figure out how you're feeling. If you're feeling negative, try to identify where that's coming from and what you can do to eliminate that or to take some control to make it better. Next thing I'd suggest is to try to focus on the positive. Most of us seem to get bogged down in the negative on day-to-day events, so try to focus on what's good in your life. It's very easy to think about all the bad things. So, try to put your energy towards the positive. Take care of your physical self. Get exercise. Eat healthy. You know, the healthier we eat, the better we're going to feel. If we eat a lot of junk food, we just don't feel very good, we don't give our bodies the right energy that it needs. Another thing would be to try to practice some relaxation exercises. Take a little time every day to just do a little meditation. Yoga is great. Take a bath, get a massage--something that will help you just be calmer and just connect, just for a little while. Another thing is to stay socially connected, that goes along with the laughing regularly. You know, involve yourself with other people, projects, maybe in the community helping other people. Research shows when we help others, it makes us feel better about ourselves, just giving to others or spending time with family, friends. Another one is practice mindfulness. We hear this a lot lately, and mindfulness is basically just staying in today. So many of us are always thinking about the future or the past that we forget to just stay in today. All we have is today. So, it is very important to try to just do what we need to do in our world today. Another thing is to try to channel your feelings productively. If you get angry or overwhelmed, harboring negative emotions towards other people, try to find ways to decrease those feelings and you'll feel better. A good example is if you're harboring some resentment towards somebody for a long period of time, you know, you might just have to say, "This is not doing me any good," and try to let it go and find a positive way of dealing with it. Avoid all-or-nothing thinking. Things rarely happen all the time or never, so, you know, that's when we get into that black-and-white thinking and we forget about the lots of shades of gray in our lives. So, try to avoid that and think more realistically. Try to just think about a personal development journey. You know, take control over some areas of your life that you can. Start small, but if you're feeling like life is very overwhelming and out of control, just try to find one thing you could take control over that would make you feel better about yourself.

Melanie: So, Linda, when we're talking about some of these, and these have been great tips that you just gave, what do you tell people that, you know, that negative self-talk, especially with woman, and you said try and be more positive. We talk to ourselves negatively. We look in the mirror and say "Ugh, God, when did I get so fat?" or "Look at those wrinkles!" We do that all the time. How do we stop that negative self-talk and also, how do we stop the feelings of regret? People have regret for anything. Little small things, "Why didn't I stop and get gas yesterday?" to big things, "Why didn't I tell that person I love them?" So, how do we stop the negative self-talk and how do we stop those feelings of regret?

Linda: You are right. Most of us women do; we are our own worst enemies. We're always putting ourselves down, and, again, try to focus on what we do like about ourselves and if we don't like something about ourselves, to make a plan of how to get control over that. You know, of course losing weight is always number one. All of us think we could lose at least ten pounds, but just start maybe walking a couple times a week. Nothing big, just start small. We often make these huge goals for ourselves and then we fail. So, start very small so you can feel successes, and then success will build on success. The other one about the regrets are, you know, we have to learn to let those things go. You know, we have to recognize we're only human. We make human mistakes every day. We all do. You know, when you start talking to other people and hearing their stories, you realize that they do the same things we do, they have the same feelings, negative and positive. So, that's why it's good to talk with other people to get a perspective on that. Just realize we're only human. We're not perfect. We make mistakes.

Melanie: As a licensed clinical social worker, people reach out to you, but some people see reaching out as a sign of weakness, and you just said talk to other people. What do you tell the people that say "Oh, I don't need other people to help me with this feeling I have or this issue," and explain the importance of reaching out and that it's not a sign of weakness?

Linda: Well, that is a tough one because there's still that stigma, but I do encourage people to talk and just how simple it is just to talk to somebody about your feelings and how much better you will feel just to get it out. You know, people often, in this area, sometimes rural areas it stays at home--what happens at home, stays at home and they don't go outside and look for help until it gets to the crisis point. So, once they've learned they can talk, then they do feel a lot better.

Melanie: Well, it is so important. So, really, wrap it up for us with some of your best advice about connecting face-to-face with people and making new friends, and hanging out with the friends and family that you do love, and managing your stress--all of these together, wrap it up for really good, solid, emotional wellness.

Linda: Well, I think you have to evaluate what works for you. You know, we're all different. For some people, church is the answer. They want to join a church where they’re connected spiritually. You know, other people may want to take a walk in the woods with a friend or their spouse, and that's how they connect. You know, you need to find what works for you. If you like to exercise at home or do a little yoga at home, or go to the gym where you are around other people and there's music and activities, you know, that's what's important. But, really recognize what works for you, and if it works for you, you're going to stick with it longer and be successful.

Melanie: It really is great advice and so important for this coming year. Thank you so much for being with us today, Linda. You're listening to Aspirus Health Talk and for more information, you can go to www.aspirus.org. That's www.aspirus.org. This is Melanie Cole. Thanks so much for listening.