duPont Manual's Mental Health Practitioner

Elise Christensen, LCSW

I am the Mental Health Practitioner here at Manual/YPAS. This is my second year in this position. Prior to working at Manual, I provided mental health therapy services at Seven Counties Services for 10 years. I obtained my Masters at UofL School of Social Work and am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. I know that the last 6-7 months have been difficult for many of you, for multiple different reasons. I will be providing Telehealth sessions throughout NTI 2.0 to help support the needs of our students. There is a google form that you (parent, student or teacher) can use to request a check in with a counselor or MHP (me), we will make sure that you have access to that form soon. I am asking that each of you please practice self care, as I said before we are all experiencing difficult times right now, and self care is a simple way you can begin to cope with your feelings and stress. Here is a link for some basic self-care strategies to get you started! I am looking forward to starting up my services again this school year.

Mental Health Tip #1

Calm your body calm your mind

  • Tip: Practicing meditation and relaxation helps you keep a healthy life balance, and will be calming in times of stress and anxiety

  • Tools: Using these tools or something similar will help your body and mind relax (check out my website for youtube videos or links related to these practices): Practice yoga; do a body scan where you focus on various parts of your body, noting tension and focus on relaxing those areas; and/or use progressive relaxation in which you consciously tense up and then relax areas of your body going from your toes to your head.

Mental Health Tip #2

Have an Attitude of Gratitude

  • Tip: Appreciation is good for you! When we focus on things that we are grateful for, we allow ourselves to move past bitterness.


  • Tools: Every day think of at least 5 new things you are grateful for. Consider keeping a gratitude journal so that you can look back later as a reminder! While you’re at it, how about thanking at least 1 person every day--an attitude of gratitude is contagious!

Mental Health Tip #3

Spend Time in Nature

  • Tip: Spending time in nature helps our mental health in numerous ways. Studies have found that walking in nature decreases levels of stress and anxiety. Some research has found that just being present in nature or even just looking at a picture of a nature scene or listening to nature sounds can have similar effects.



  • Tool: Research shows spending just 2 hours a week in nature can be beneficial. This can be all at once or split up throughout the week. So get outside!

Mental Health Tip #4

Self-Soothe with a calming box

  • Tip: Having tangible items to self-soothe and distract you from your stress and anxiety can be comforting

  • Tools: Use a box and assemble a toolkit of items to help calm you in times of stress. Could include Sudoku, crossword puzzles, pictures, notecards with affirmations, fidgets or a stress ball to squeeze, coloring supplies, etc.

Mental Health Tip #5

Belly Breathing for Peace

  • Tip: Slow down your body, slow down your mind. Focus only on your breath

  • Tools: Breathe through your nose with your mouth closed. Instead of shallow chest breathing, use deeper belly breaths by putting your hands on your belly and feeling it expand with each deep breath. While the air is filling your belly think or say a calming phrase, exhale the negative thought/message (i.e. inhale: calm, exhale: stress; say the words in your head or out loud while you breath slowly in and out)

Mental Health Tip #6

Using Calming Visualizations

Tip: Visualizations can help you accept and embrace the present as it is--right now.

Tools: The following are some visualizations that can calm you during stressful times:

  • Imagine your anxious thoughts being placed in a balloon and watch them float away

  • Think of a place or situation that you find relaxing. When you think of your calming scene, focus on all your senses to experience it more fully. What do you smell, hear, taste and how does your body feel? Imagining the scene in this way will help you find a deeper sense of calm.

  • I’ll post some YouTube videos to my website that will take you through some guided visualizations

Mental Health Tip #7

Practice a Beginner’s Mind

  • Tip: The key to mindful awareness is to look at things with a fresh, childlike perspective, noticing things in the here and now

  • Tool: Imagine yourself as a young child or think about a young child you know. How do they see the world? Everything is fresh and new, and a source of fascination. Intentionally practice looking at things in your life with a new, fresh and curious perspective. With a beginner’s mind, the world is full of possibilities, not problems.

  • Coping skill idea: do something you used to love doing as a younger child, maybe swinging, sliding, jumping rope, riding bikes, jumping on trampoline, etc. Try that thing when you’re feeling overwhelmed it will hopefully take you back to simpler times or at least make you laugh!

Mental Health Tip #8

Take a Mindful Moment

Tip: Consciously practice present-centered acceptance to be less reactive to negative thoughts.

Tools: These are some elements of how to calm yourself by mindful awareness:

  • Slow your thoughts down by conscious deep breathing

  • Be aware of thoughts and feelings without reacting to or fighting them

  • Relax your body by focusing on muscle areas that feel tense and consciously relaxing them

  • Accept your thoughts, noting them, without getting attached to them

  • Allow upsetting thoughts to come and go, watching them as you would a stock market ticket on a TV screen