Take mental health days. There are days where I meditate, do yoga, or go for a long walk on the beach — just to completely decompress. If you don’t give your mental health break, you will eventually burn out.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Cali Estes, Ph.D. Cali is an author and highly sought after Addiction Therapist and Life/Corporate Coach who specializes in harm reduction and utilizes holistic approaches to treat addiction, as well as mental conditions holding her clients back from reaching their full potential.
Thank you so much for joining us Cali. According to Mental Health America’s report, over 44 million Americans have a mental health condition. Yet there’s still a stigma about mental illness. Can you share a few reasons you think this is so?
One reason people do not speak about mental health is that it is still considered taboo. A lot of times, we don’t know how to handle somebody who has a mental health disorder and are unsure how to treat them or act around them. I tend to notice that when we think of mental health disorders, we think of the crazy homeless guy that’s walking down the street with one sock talking to himself… But, that really isn’t true. There are a lot of people with high functioning anxiety in CEO roles or people who seem to be healthy suffering from severe depression. Because we don’t know how to respond to them, we may say or do certain things that negatively impact them. I think if we can end the stigma and focus more on mental and emotional wellness, we would have a healthier society.
Can you tell our readers about how you are helping to de-stigmatize the focus on mental wellness?
In an attempt to de-stigmatize mental illness, I try to participate in many versatile events. For example, I had the opportunity to speak at an event for This is my Brave with my favorite comedians. The event was meant to raise awareness towards mental health at the Comedy Store on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. It was a great opportunity to bring awareness to mental health and de-stigmatize it among many platforms.
Was there a story behind why you decided to launch this initiative?
My father has severe bipolar disorder, and my grandmother was a borderline personality disorder. I grew up in a household around mental illness. I didn’t quite understand it and didn’t understand how I fit in such a “strange” family, but it was impactful enough to change my course of life. I always wanted to help people and decided to study psychology to better understand what was wrong with my family. This is what prompted me to pursue a career in the mental health industry.
In your experience, what should a) individuals b) society, and c) the government do to better support people suffering from mental illness?
In my opinion, I think we should offer free services to help treat mental illness and provide it to everyone, including the people that cannot afford it. I think if we had more services available, we would be more understanding and accepting of mental illness.
What are the 6 strategies you use to promote your own wellbeing and mental wellness? Can you please give a story or example for each?
1. Take mental health days. There are days where I meditate, do yoga, or go for a long walk on the beach — just to completely decompress. If you don’t give your mental health break, you will eventually burn out.
2. Take some me-time. Each evening, I schedule myself 30 minutes of “self-time” where I can take an Epson salt bath with lavender. This helps me physically detox and mentally unwind. During this time, my attention does not need to be on the phone or computer or anywhere else.
3. Use soft mood lighting. To keep my mental-well being on track, I use soft mood lighting in my office and home. When I can I turn all the lights off and let the natural light and natural sunshine in, it boosts my mood. Being in a room with no windows and no fresh air is harmful to your mental well-being, so using soft mood light mimics the effects of natural light and is beneficial for your mental health.
4. Use an essential oil diffuser. Aromatherapy can be used to enrich mental and emotional health. I use essential oil diffuser with orange throughout the day to keep me productive and lavender in the evening to help decompress and relax. Essential oils can help keep you centered, focused, and relaxed.
5. Work out as much as possible. Since physical well-being is tied to mental well-being, it’s imperative that you work out as much as possible. For me, I mix a combination of cardio weights and yoga which makes me feel relaxed and focused. If I’m sitting for too long, I will get up and do 25 squats for a boost of serotonin and dopamine to get my thoughts on track. Those are the happy chemicals that make you feel excited to be doing what you’re doing.
6. Chat with a friend. Sometimes for emotional support, you can use a friend to talk to. Just conversing, laughing, and having a good time with a friend can make you feel better. Getting out of the house and seeing your friend is awesome and it’s excellent for your mental health!
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a mental health champion?
I always recommend anything by Dr. Wayne Dyer, and I love “The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom” by Don Ruiz.