May is Mental Health Awareness Month, where we dedicate 31 days to awareness and education about how mental and emotional health impacts everyone – including patients and the providers who care for them.
Mental health (also called behavioral health) includes the emotions and behaviors that affect overall well-being.
Sadness, fear, worry, and other emotions can affect us during or after challenging situations, like dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, the loss of a family member or friend, or many things we see happening around the world and in our communities in the news.
While it’s natural to experience these situations and emotions, intense feelings or longer periods of stress can negatively affect our health and well-being.
Here are five tips to cope with stress in a healthy way:
1. Take breaks from news stories, including social media.
While it’s good to be informed, constant discouraging news and information can be distressing. Consider limiting the time you watch the news, check social media, and disconnect from your phone, TV, and computer screens for a while.
2. Take care of your body
Activities that can help manage and reduce stress levels include eating well, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, moving more and sitting less, engaging in meditation practice, limiting alcohol intake, and avoiding smoking. Also, keep up with regular health appointments with your primary care physician to ensure you’re receiving the proper care at the right time.
3. Take time to unwind.
It’s essential to engage in activities and hobbies you enjoy, whether that’s getting outdoors to enjoy the warmer weather, reading a book, or listening to your favorite playlist.
4. Connect with others.
Talk to people you trust about your feelings and check in on how they’re doing. Getting (and staying) involved in your community or faith-based organization can also help with feelings of loneliness and alleviate stress.
5. Get professional help if you need it.
If stress stops you from functioning well and feeling your best, professional help can make a difference. Taking care of our mental health is just as important as caring for our physical health, and specialized providers are here to help.
Vytalize Health offers Behavioral Health Integration for partner physicians and their patients. With this service, you’ll collaborate with a clinical social worker and psychiatric consultant to create care plans for your patients. Interested? Contact us here!
Resources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)