Mental Health Experts Share How They Strengthen Their Own Mental Health

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Sometimes it can be challenging to come up with healthy coping mechanisms that work best for you, find ways to self-soothe, and manage your physical and spiritual health all at once. But it is critical to address feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression. If shifting the focus to your mental and emotional well-being is new, it can be challenging to know where to start. To get inspired, we asked Mountainside’s medical and clinical team how they have been taking care of their mental health. Here’s what they had to say:

Jessica Budinich LMHC, CASAC-Advanced:

“I try to set intentions towards strengthening my mental health daily – whether in a smaller way or a larger way, depending on how I am feeling that day. In my routine, it’s important for me to attend workout classes as well as getting enough sleep to maintain my mental health. I try to add in painting when I have the time, specifically paint-by-number kits, as a way to incorporate mindfulness. For my social battery, I try to have at least one weekend day every month without any social plans or family obligations so I can recharge!”

Trista Galvin

“My self-care is typically some form of daily exercise like walking and jogging outside. I enjoy walking my dogs and spending time with my family. Lastly, eating a high-quality, plant-based diet and getting plenty of sleep are important aspects of maintaining my overall well-being.”

Kristin Hankins LPC

“I like to break self-care into measurable, and attainable tasks. I get a yearly physical to make sure I am taking good care of myself. As an adult, it’s really easy to let this slip one’s mind. Every 6 months, I use the time change to turn all of my hangers around in my closet. This helps me really know and see what I am wearing and what is just taking up space.  At least once I season I like to reorganize and clean out a closet or two in my home.  Once a month I like to get a pedicure. I challenge myself in those moments not to just zone out on my phone, but instead be present and notice what I am experiencing.  I do laundry weekly, and this includes folding and putting it away. I also give myself permission to pause and do nothing all day. Sometimes the pace of the world and life, in general, can be too much for me.  I rarely make plans too far ahead to give myself space to check in and see if I am up to whatever it is. Lastly, I’m also a huge proponent of a good night’s sleep and eating breakfast every day. ”

Courtney Hulse, LMFT:

“I try and stay connected to people as much as I can, and ask for help when needed. During the height of the COVID pandemic, when our need to physically distance ourselves has been at its greatest height, our need to connect with others has become even more vital. Our job as clinicians and managers is to help people learn how to take care of themselves; and therapeutic burnout and isolation have the potential to creep in and take over if we don’t take care of ourselves during this time. I count my blessings to be here at Mountainside where the team support and human connection are unsurpassed, and I value, beyond words, each person’s efforts in taking the time to connect with me on a personal level. My Mountainside team helps me take care of myself; and for that, I am truly grateful.”

Kollettia Kelly LPC

“I’ve been taking care of my mental health by traveling, spending time outside, making sure I get adequate sleep and spending time with family. This has helped me to recharge and maintain balance.”

Erin O’Neil, LCSW:

“I start with making sure I’m getting enough to eat and balancing my nutrition (which includes ample desserts), getting enough sleep, and regular exercise. They are each so important to making me feel grounded and energized every day. I love being outside and try to make sure that when I’m with my family, I’m really present with them. Playing games! I’m trying to learn how to play tennis, play badminton with my siblings, and roller skate (which is so much harder for me than it looked)!”

Lauren Peterson, LCSW, LADC, CAC, CASAC-Advanced

“Day to day life can be hectic so being able to break away from the hustle and bustle is important to me. I do this by taking time for myself after my kids are asleep by reading, listening to music, having a yummy treat, or watching a funny show/movie with my husband. I also spend a ton of time with my children either having play dates, going to attractions like museums or walking around the mall and just focusing on the quality time I have with them. They are so full of light and innocence – it brightens any darkest moments. Lastly, being able to travel, even if they are short trips, helps with unplugging from everyday responsibilities.”

Julia Purcaro LMFT, CASAC

“For me, it is all about making sure I have time to myself to relax, especially after work. This usually means watching TV, going for a walk, or in the summer being at the beach as much as possible. I have learned to allow myself to say “no” to plans when I am limited on the amount of time, I have for self-care without feeling guilty or making excuses. Cleaning is a big form of self-care for me, I feel better when everything is clean and I enjoy putting on music, not looking at social media or messages from people, and just taking care of my space and my home. Time with family and friends is necessary as well, I think it is about a balance between time alone and time with others when it comes to my self-care.”

Jennifer Schoonmaker RN

“Everyone’s definition of self-care is different. For me, it includes doing things I enjoy and feed my soul. The self-care activities I practice vary and include walking, hiking, reading, listening to music, exercising, cooking, gardening, spending time with family & friends, getting a massage, a manicure or pedicure. Sitting on my front porch having coffee and watching the sunrise. The options really are endless!”

Daniel Sexton, CASAC 2, LMHC, ICADC, M.S.:

“I try to treat myself when I can and not feel guilty for doing so.  I have a big, sweet tooth, so after a long day I might treat myself with something nice from my favorite café like a cookie.  I also ensure I have the time to do things I enjoy doing like play video games or read.”

Shannon Tallon, LMSW, MSW:

“Self-care! Holding myself to a consistent sleep routine is important – it helps me feel re-charged and able to maintain balance.  Going outside, listening to music, and baking helps me with being present with myself, and mindful.  And lastly, having a good laugh!”

Lisa Westerson, LCSW:

Gardening helps me manage my mental health by allowing me to see the fruits of my labor and enjoy the outdoors. It also allows me to practice acceptance and accept imperfection when things don’t turn out as planned. In the garden with me typically are my two dogs, Lexi and Zoey, who keep me busy, provide never-ending joy, and remind me that being present is the most important thing. Lastly, I like to run and am a member of an online running support group that provides connection and support. Running is my mood stabilizer. I just started a virtual run across Iceland that I am looking forward to participating in over the next few months.”


“I have committed to meditating and taking short walks early in the morning before my family is up, noticing now how in May, the spring in New England, the colors of green the trees leave. If I keep my focus up on the sky, it also helps to align my posture.”

Jillian Zeitler, LPC, LADC:

“I engage in my own meditative and spiritual practice, spend time with friends and family, cuddle my pup, and play with my niece and nephew. In addition to these extra things that help me feel happy and grounded, I actively try to practice mindfulness and self-compassion on a daily basis to keep my mind and heart well.”

The diverse self-care tips for mental health above highlight that there is no one correct way to take care of our mental health. Whether you are a healthcare worker, a parent, or someone in recovery, we each have to do more of what nurtures our own mind, body, and spirit. Thank you to our Mountainside team for their input!

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, Mountainside can help.
Click here or call (888) 833-4676 to speak with one of our addiction treatment experts.