Health checkup: Community support and emotional intelligence

Jamie Brazell; photo by Ariel Shumaker

Jamie Brazell, a local certified sex therapist and group practice owner of Out of the Woods Therapy, shares her thoughts with Xpress on the perks of a rotating playlist, the need for community to combat loneliness and the importance of emotional intelligence.

What are some techniques you use for maintaining your mental health?

Taking care of my mental health is absolutely essential for me to keep doing what I’m doing. I feel very grateful to have built a solid support system of friends/chosen family, an absolutely fantastic therapist, a wonderful partner and all sorts of awesome relationships in the community. We live in such an individualistic culture, and there is so much isolation and loneliness as a result of that. There’s a whole lot of talk about “self-care” — and yes, self-care is important. But it’s also important to have connections and community. This is the most important part of my mental health care. Otherwise, I also love writing, reading, meditation, playing games with my 8-year-old, coloring books, taking singing lessons, arts and crafts and hanging out with my cats.

What is your favorite way to approach your own physical health? 

I like to mix up a variety of activities that I actually enjoy. I also aim to get at least 30 minutes of movement each day. I have an exercise bike at home (a Schwinn — not a Peloton!) and I’ll listen to a different playlist each time while riding. I also enjoy Pilates, yoga, walking outside and I have recently started taking aerial silks classes to give myself an extra challenge. Otherwise, I eat breakfast, lunch and dinner with the focus on nourishment, and I allow myself treats. I am not a superrigid person in general, and therefore my approach to physical health has room for flexibility.

What is one book, podcast, documentary or article related to mental or physical health that you’d recommend, and why? 

This one is tough because it’s hard to pick just one! I really love Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive by Marc Brackett, director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. This book explains why emotional intelligence is incredibly important, dives into the nuances of emotional experiences and gives a very practical and research-based approach to how we can improve our emotional intelligence. I heard the author speak on Brené Brown’s podcast, “Unlocking Us,” and I just had to order the book immediately. I also added it to the syllabus for a course I teach on family resilience.

Editor’s note: “Health checkup,” is part of our 2022 Wellness issues. These short Q&As feature local residents offering insights about their individual approaches to maintaining their physical and mental health. Hopefully, the wide range of perspectives provide readers with ideas and tips for their own well-being. Be on the lookout for more online and in next week’s Wellness Issue, Part 2. 


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