It might seem like anxiety has become the pay-to-play price for living in our COVID-19 altered world. It’s a universal health condition many of us experience to varying degrees at varied times. However, anxiety and stress are tricky friends to manage – a little of either is okay, but too much can blossom into a host of unwelcome consequences.
If you feel like you’re stuck in an endless loop of anxiety and stress, it’s time to address it for your well-being. By working together with behavioral health experts and your personal support community, it’s possible to navigate more safely down this unfamiliar road. Carle offers a team of compassionate and expert providers to guide those managing their mental health and help maneuver around the potholes and dead ends that can obstruct our path to good mental health. Team members from Carle Behavioral Health Bloomington, Carle Bloomington on Hershey, Carle Champaign on Mattis and Carle Monticello offer a simple tip that can help reduce anxiety and keep stress at healthy levels.
Try these 10 tips to boost mental health:
- Focus on self-care. Self-care should be purposeful and planned. Get out your calendar and commit to yourself. – Kevin Krippner, PhD, mental health clinician, Carle BroMenn Outpatient Center
- Do everything in moderation, including moderation. Practicing moderation can help you live a more balanced, less stressful life. – Burgundy Johnson, DO, psychiatrist, Carle BroMenn Outpatient Center
- Unplug from electronics after dinner. It’s important to take a break from phones, email and social media every day. Unplugging helps you connect to others around you as well as reduces exposure to blue light from electronics. – Pamela Warren, PhD, mental health clinician, Carle Monticello
- Work on sleep hygiene. Keep sleep hours within the same parameter every night and morning. – Sharon Klingman, LCPC, Carle BroMenn Outpatient Center
- Connect with people and connect with nature. Connecting with others creates a sense of belonging that helps fend off loneliness and depression, and time outside taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the natural world helps reduce blood pressure, muscle tension and stress levels. – Brent Sylvester, PhD, mental health clinician, Carle BroMenn Outpatient Center
- Use art in all its forms. Anyone can be creative and the process of creating art takes you away from any daily worries or stress that you might experience. – Jody Poultney, LCSW, mental health clinician, Carle BroMenn Outpatient Center
- Maintain a healthy work/life balance. Leisure time should not be optional, we all need time to relax and recharge. Taking the time to participate in activities that we enjoy and bring us laughter is vital to our well-being. – Hudson Riehl, PsyD, mental health clinician, Carle Champaign on Mattis
- Go for a walk every day. Mental health and physical health are tied together more than people might think. When we get moving we feel better. – Kim Klepec, LCSW, mental health clinician, Carle BroMenn Outpatient Center
- Spend time petting and/or playing with a friendly animal. Studies show that interacting with furry friends and other pets releases “feel good” hormones, reduces blood pressure and relaxes us. – Judy Ronan Woodburn, PhD, mental health clinician, Carle BroMenn Outpatient Center
- Be kind to yourself. Don’t be too hard on yourself. We have to allow ourselves to be perfectly imperfect and grant ourselves grace. – Cheri Miller, PsyD, Carle Bloomington on Hershey
For many people, managing stress can be done by simply fine-tuning and increasing stress management and self-care that is already being done, Kevin Krippner, PhD, mental health clinician, Carle BroMenn Outpatient Center says. “Try incorporating tips like the ones shared in your daily routine and evaluate if the suggestions help to reduce anxiety, worry, and improve overall mood.”
If after making an effort to reduce stress and anxiety levels there’s still need more help, don’t hesitate to reach out to your primary care provider to discuss it and consider starting or resuming counseling. A comprehensive array of experienced psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists and clinical nurse specialists are woven throughout the Carle Health system and offer individualized support and assistance as needed.
If it’s a family member, friend or co-worker that has you worried, consider attending a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) class. Carle supports MHFA training and hosts classes throughout the year in several locations throughout the service area. This national program from the National Council of Behavioral Health teaches community members how to recognize and support those who may have a behavioral health or substance abuse issue. There is a class focused on assisting adults and one that focuses on the needs of youth ages 6 – 18.
Talking about mental health challenges needs to be as easy and normal as talking about physical health challenges and concerns. No one has to stay stuck in an endless loop of anxiety and stress.
By focusing on what’s most important – you, your health and your loved ones – you can help prevent more serious mental health issues. If stress and anxiety begin to feel overwhelming no matter what you do, talk to your primary care provider. And always, if you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 or call 911.