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Ladies: Connect with each other to improve mental health

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Women are natural caregivers. They juggle motherhood, careers and relationships. And when their calendars fill with activities and they find themselves exhausted, their selfless nature causes them to delay or cancel some of the things that directly benefit them, like a pedicure appointment, a night out with friends or a scheduled doctor’s appointment.

Scheduling time with friends is an important part of staying well mentally, according to Jenny Nelson, a residential case manager at Linden Oaks Behavioral Health at NCH. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services office on Women’s Health, more than 1 in 5 women in the U.S. experienced a mental health condition in the past year – such as anxiety and depression.

Jenny offers these tips:

Make it a priority (at least bi-weekly) to get together with other women.

“Sometimes you need to be that person in the group who takes the initiative and schedules it,” Jenny says. “Once a week is ideal, but that’s not likely the case because schedules get so busy with work, kids and households to run.”

Don’t view this as selfish time.

“As women, we think it’s selfish to say to our spouses, ‘Hey, I’m leaving the kids at home and going out to dinner for two hours,’” Jenny says. 

“But it’s not selfish because it helps us to take better care of ourselves so that we can take care of our families.”

Schedule play dates if you have little ones.

“While the kids play, the moms can talk,” Jenny says. “Be intentional about time.”

Go for a walk with a friend.

“Walking and talking is using two coping skills,” Jenny explains. “It releases endorphins and is a meditative way to get in touch with someone.”

Grab a bite to eat with a buddy.

“My two favorite things are coffee and food,” Jenny says. “It never hurts to just get coffee or go out to dinner at any restaurant. Everybody has to eat.”

Create a group chat.

“If someone doesn’t respond, don’t take it personally,” Jenny says. “Some women have a lot going on in their lives. You have to accept people where they’re at.”

Have a variety of social groups.

“You can have church friends, mom group friends, work colleagues and neighbors,” Jenny says. “You can pour into these different groups and cultivate relationships that make you feel positive.” 

Benefits of connecting with women:

  • You get a break from either work or managing something at home. 
  • You can discover that you’re not alone. A lot of women have the same struggles.
  • When you’re helping others with issues, it puts your own issues in perspective.
  • Encouraging others is helpful to them and makes us feel good.
  • Humans crave connection, so it fulfills a basic need.
  • In addition to your spouse or parents, other women can give advice and provide an outside sounding board and diverse support system.
  • A safe group allows you to let out and validate your emotions.

How to help other women in your group:

  • Make sure you’re providing sound feedback.
  • Suggest a therapist or an evaluation if you see that someone is suffering.
  • Ask open-ended questions, like “How are you doing?” 
  • Listen with intention.
  • Make yourself available.
  • Build trust.

NCH cares for patients with psychiatric, emotional, substance abuse and other behavioral or mental health issues. To schedule a free, confidential assessment or appointment, call 847-HEALING.

Learn more at nch.org/behavioralhealth.

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