How To Overcome Stress & Maintain Mental Health: Insights From Two Licensed Clinical Social Workers

Episode #1065: A recent American Psychological Association study found that over 80% of Americans are experiencing stress from multiple sources. In this episode of the Arete Coach Podcast, host Severin Sorensen is joined by Sally Rhoads, LCSW and Carolynn Lee, LCSW to discuss the heightened feelings of stress people are experiencing from the effects of COVID-19, financial challenges, and global unrest. Tune into this episode for an overview of current research regarding stress, helpful tips for managing stress, and suggestions for executive coaches, business coaches, and life coaches on how to help clients mitigate stresses they may be experiencing.



About Sally Rhoads, LCSW

Sally Rhoads is a licensed clinical social worker and executive coach out of Lexington, Kentucky. Sally has been a social worker for the past 40 years and holds a wealth of knowledge about mental health, mental disorders, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental well-being of the community. She has received two lifetime achievement awards and one licensed clinical social worker of the year award. Sally has a passion for helping others achieve greater mental health and is a skilled professional. Throughout her experience as a clinical social worker and executive coach, Sally has learned how to help people through trauma and clearly define the role of an executive coach versus a mental health professional in the healing process. Sally offers valuable insight to the mental health field and gives executive coaches guidance on how to navigate current mental health issues faced by the community.


About Carolynn Lee, LCSW

Carolynn Lee is a licensed clinical social worker that is compassionate about helping others improve society one person at a time. She has extensive knowledge of, and experience with, social justice and systems affecting marginalized populations. She has a passion for developing and implementing programs to support those in need and utilizes a collaborative approach to build strategic partnerships with a variety of organizations, institutions, and professionals. She helps her clients by using therapeutic interventions rooted in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Psychodynamic Therapy. She also serves as the Director of Victim Services and Amanda’s Center where she supervises the Victim Services Division of the Lexington-Fayette County, KY Sheriff’s office.


Key highlights

Today’s heightened state of stress

Timestamp 04:04


Severin Sorensen starts the conversation by asking Sally and Carolynn about the rate of stress they are seeing today. They both agree that stress levels today are greater as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sally states that she is “seeing people that are stressed at a level that is unprecedented… people are experiencing greater levels of uncertainty and distress, and that is affecting the entire family in a variety of ways.” Carolynn echoes these findings and states that “I’m seeing very much the same. We’re seeing people who are living at such levels of stress that they are operating from a place of fear…” The stress levels and fears that people have today greatly affect anxiety levels and decision-making skills, which have the potential to snowball into a variety of other factors for those who are stressed.


Tips for managing stress

Timestamp 07:59


Sally and Carolynn offer several tips and habits to help reduce the effects that stress can have on the body and mind. Sally recommends keeping a journal and Carolynn recommends journaling things to be grateful for each day. Exercise, progressive muscle relaxation, mindfulness, meditation, and positive intelligence are also discussed as ways to reduce stress.


Self-care and mental health maintenance

Timestamp 24:13


Carolynn offers insight into the importance of seeking professional help as needed. She states that “there are so many resources, really, truly, it just begins with a person making a decision that they’re ready for change.” Sally recommends that people monitor their “social media” intake because it can “be a source of depression.” She also shares insight from a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania regarding the effects of alcohol on the brain.


Sally also references the importance of combating loneliness and isolation. She states that “it’s important to reach out and start to build a greater support system…we can explore activities that are more creative that can help to reduce some of the isolation that people are experiencing.” Severin adds insight into the American Psychological Association’s review of common unhealthy coping mechanisms and mental health.


Relaxation exercises

Timestamp 38:02


Severin asks Carolynn and Sally for their insight on relaxation exercises such as yoga, prayer, mediation, and progressive muscle relaxation. Sally shares her belief that “yoga is a very effective tool for stress relief.” She also shares advice for those facing feelings of depression like getting a “complete physical” and actively seeking “mental health services and finding a good counselor.”


A letter from Lincoln on grief

Timestamp 56:02


Sally introduces, and Severin reads thereafter, a historical letter from President Lincoln to the daughter of his long-time friend William McCullough regarding the loss of her husband. Severin reads this letter, which offers hope and insight into the process of grief. One line from this letter reads, “perfect relief is not possible, except with time, you could not now realize that you will ever feel better.”


Referenced sources

https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2022/march-2022-survival-mode.


https://medicine.wustl.edu/news/covid-19-survivors-face-increased-mental-health-risks-up-to-a-year-later.


If you are in crisis, get immediate help


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals in the United States. (1-800-273-8255) for English, (1-888-628-9454) for Spanish, or LifeLine online chat available 24/7 across the U.S. at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/ TTY: 1-800-799-4889.

Disaster Distress Helpline

SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters. Call or text 1-800-985-5990 press “2” for Spanish.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Substance Use/Addiction/Mental Health

National Helpline and Treatment Referral Service Provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. 1-800-662-4357 or FindTreatment.gov Text your 5-digit ZIP Code to 435748 (HELP4U). Reply HELP to reach an information specialist. TTY 1-800-487-4889 (para español presiona el 2).

The National Alliance for Mental Illness The NAMI HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., ET. 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or info@nami.org, Text NAMI to 741-741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor to receive free, 24/7 crisis support via text message, NAMI HelpLine Chat on NAMI.org

More helplines (child abuse, violence, veteran support) are available here: https://www.cdc.gov/howrightnow/get-help/

Download the transcript

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