Dr. Gail Saltz is a renowned psychiatrist, columnist, bestselling author, podcaster, and TV commentator. Her insights have been featured in such publications as The New York Times, the Associated Press, Women’s Health, Psychology Today, Mental Floss, Yahoo!, and many more. She has appeared on popular television broadcasts, such as CNN, Good Morning America, The View, Dateline, 20/20, MSNBC, and The Oprah Winfrey Show. She currently serves as a Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the New York Presbyterian Hospital, Weill-Cornell Medical College, and a psychoanalyst with the New York Psychoanalytic Institute.

In this episode, Dr. Saltz sits down with Christina to discuss a wide variety of topics covering all areas of mental health. During the conversation, Dr. Saltz focuses on the impact of societal changes, the rise of anxiety and depression, and the influence of political and social environments on an individual’s well-being. She emphasizes the importance of reducing stigma around mental health and provides practical advice for parents concerned about the impact of the pandemic on their children’s emotional development.

Read on to gain fresh perspectives and profound insights into the current landscape of mental health with practical advice from this visionary thought leader and mental health expert.

Tips for Managing Stress

Information overload and the current state of the world is causing increased stress and anxiety. Dr. Gail Saltz, psychiatrist and media expert specializing in well-being, relationships, and anxiety, shares practical tips for managing these feelings in daily life.

With the overwhelming influx of news and its impact on stress levels, it’s more important than ever to be mindful of how we consume information. Dr. Saltz suggests limiting exposure to constant news alerts and social media updates, opting instead for a trusted news source at specific times of the day. Creating boundaries around news consumption, especially before bedtime, can help improve sleep quality and reduce stress.

It’s also critical to learn and develop healthy coping mechanisms for managing stress. Dr. Saltz recommends activities like aerobic exercise, paced deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation to alleviate anxiety and promote relaxation. Seeking support from trusted individuals is also helpful, and Dr. Saltz encourages everyone to consider psychotherapy as a beneficial tool for managing stress.

Christina has found that regular exercise and the use of a weighted blanket have been instrumental in managing her own anxiety. She emphasizes the impact of exercise on her overall well-being—even skipping one daily 30-minute exercise routine noticeably affects her anxiety levels. Additionally, she finds that using a weighted blanket during moments of heightened anxiety helps calm her down and improve sleep quality.

Dr. Saltz agrees that the use of weighted blankets can be an effective coping tool, particularly for individuals experiencing nighttime anxiety. She explains how worries often intensify when trying to sleep, especially for women aged 55 and above. Weighted blankets can help alleviate this anxiety and promote better sleep by providing a sense of security and comfort.

By incorporating these practices into daily routines, individuals can take proactive steps towards reducing overall stress levels and enhancing their ability to navigate life’s challenges with greater ease.

Overcoming Loneliness

Another issue that has a direct negative impact on mental health is loneliness—a significant public health issue affecting people of all ages. Christina and Dr. Saltz discuss practical strategies for combating loneliness and fostering meaningful connections.

Intentionality is important when addressing loneliness, particularly for individuals in their 50s and beyond who may have less natural opportunities for social interaction. Dr. Saltz suggests joining groups or clubs based on shared interests or activities to meet new people and build connections. Communities such as religious groups, exercise classes, or book clubs, help give individuals a sense of belonging. 

Moreover, Dr. Saltz encourages individuals to be proactive in rekindling relationships that may have drifted apart. She advises using emotive language to express a desire for deeper connections and initiating contact with friends or acquaintances, even after periods of silence.

Another useful tool in combating loneliness can be technology. Apps like Bumble Friend facilitate platonic friendships. Despite potential downsides, such apps offer opportunities for individuals, regardless of age, to connect with others who share similar interests or are in aligning chapters in their own lives.

The bottom line is to be intentional about making connections and finding common ground as a basis for building relationships. Ultimately, by taking proactive steps to engage with others, whether through in-person activities or digital platforms, individuals can overcome feelings of loneliness and cultivate meaningful connections in their lives.

The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health

The impact of social media on our mental health, particularly on younger generations, is another factor that cannot be ignored.

Body insecurity, fear of missing out, and a constant need for validation through likes and followers are just a few of the detrimental effects of social media on mental health. Despite understanding that social media presents curated images, individuals still internalize these visuals, leading to feelings of inadequacy and comparison.

Dr. Saltz emphasizes the importance of parental involvement in managing children’s social media usage. She recommends delaying access until later in high school if possible. Open communication and dialogue with children about their online experiences are crucial. Instead of lecturing, parents should engage in discussions, encouraging children to question what they see and form their own opinions.

A growing trend on social media is to filter or adjust images to present a more “perfect” version of oneself. Dr. Saltz suggests addressing underlying insecurities and motivations behind the use of such tools. Rather than outright prohibition, parents should foster an understanding of self-image and encourage healthy exploration of identity.

“How Can I Help?”

Dr. Saltz is passionate about providing relevant information and practical tips to address and improve mental health issues. Through her podcast, “How Can I Help?” Dr. Saltz addresses mental health issues head on. In response to the increased need for mental health support, she released this podcast during the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic. It gave her another platform to respond to questions from listeners struggling with various mental health issues, aiming to provide helpful insights and advice to a broader audience.

Despite the podcast’s initial focus on pandemic-related concerns, Dr. Saltz continued the show post-pandemic due to ongoing mental health challenges and the persistent shortage of mental health professionals. 

So, what factors are contributing to the rise in anxiety and mental health issues? Dr. Saltz attributes some of the increase to improved awareness and reduced stigma surrounding mental health. However, she highlights the significant impact of current events, such as the pandemic and divisive political and social environments, on mental well-being.

Dr. Saltz and Christina discuss how societal changes, including shifts in political discourse and increased polarization, have contributed to heightened stress and anxiety. They reflect on past eras when differences of opinion were more accepted and less polarizing. Dr. Saltz emphasizes the need for respectful dialogue and the importance of fostering understanding and tolerance despite differing viewpoints.

Mental Health Issues Among Children

Christina and Dr. Saltz discuss the potential long-term effects of the pandemic on younger children’s social and emotional development. Many children experienced disruptions to their social development during this time due to missing out on preschool or kindergarten.

The challenges posed by the pandemic-related disruptions to children’s education and socialization are evident—but Dr. Saltz shares that while there may have been setbacks, children have the capacity to catch up and overcome these challenges in their social and emotional development. 

Dr. Saltz advises parents to be vigilant for signs of anxiety disorders in their children—things like persistent worries, trouble sleeping, or changes in behavior should not be ignored. Early intervention and treatment for anxiety disorders is key. This can include psychotherapy and, in severe cases, medication. 

Reflecting on Accomplishments and Looking Ahead

As the episode comes to a close, Christina asks Dr. Saltz about the greatest accomplishment since turning 50. Dr. Saltz reflects on her book “The Power of Different: The Link Between Disorder and Genius,” which explores the neurobiological connection between mental health issues and unique strengths. The book has resonated with educators, families, and individuals struggling with mental health challenges and is a valuable resource to many.

In the next 10 years, Dr. Saltz envisions herself continuing her work, including television appearances, podcasting, and writing. While acknowledging the challenges of aging in appearance-conscious industries, Dr. Saltz emphasizes the importance of experience and wisdom in her field. 

Additionally, she looks forward to further exploration with her husband now that their children are grown—and maybe they’ll have grandchildren to enjoy in the future!

This episode touches on the importance of meaningful work, personal relationships, and the joys and challenges of parenthood. Dr. Saltz’s insights provide a hopeful perspective on navigating both personal and professional life with purpose and resilience.

For more information about her work, check out Dr. Saltz’s website https://drgailsaltz.com/

See her full interview here:

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