Expert Tips for Staying Mentally Fit
By Welltok Marketing
Time magazine published troubling new statistics on the percentage of Americans reporting serious mental distress. It has increased roughly 700% from pre-pandemic to today, which is alarming to say the least.
With around 70% of Americans experiencing moderate-to-severe mental distress in April 2020 alone, staying mentally fit especially during this pandemic is a huge priority. Here are some expert tips from a few of our Connect Ecosystem Partners that we found incredibly helpful and wanted to share with you – from managing anxiety to getting a restful night’s sleep.
The annual Stress in America report from the American Psychological Association (APA) found that regardless of age, more than half of Americans believe this is the lowest point in our nation’s history that they can remember. So, what can you do?
- For yourself: rather than letting fear be your compass, practice making peace with the unpredictable. Make a list of times when things happened that you couldn’t have planned for and it worked out, perhaps better than you could have imagined. Pull out the list when you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed. Not only will you feel calmer about where you’re headed, you’ll also feel more confident about your current state.
- For others: you can help someone slow down their stress response in the moment by asking them to close their eyes and notice what’s going on around them: the sensation of their feet touching the ground, the weight of their hands in their lap, the quiet hum of an air conditioner or heater. Have them take 5 deep breaths and offer them a drink of water, which eases an upset stomach and dry mouth. When they’re ready to talk, be sure to do more listening than speaking.
- For the world: join like-minded individuals working towards a greener planet or gender equality or whatever issue is causing the greatest anxiety. That may mean exercising your civic duty by getting involved in a campaign or contacting your elected representatives. Or it may not be political at all: You can find great comfort and purpose in joining a book club, small business association, or any group that gives you a reason to turn off the news, leave your house, and connect with others.
Nutrimedy shares tips on sticking to a healthy diet
Did you know that about 80% of adults change their calorie intake due to stress? About 40% of us increase calories, and 40% go down. Here are some ways to help combat inconsistencies with your diet.
- Avoid overeating when stressed or bored. Ask yourself if you are eating because you are actually hungry or for another reason.
- Maintain a regular eating schedule and stick to a routine.
- Create a meal plan each week to decrease the frequency of trips to the store and reduce stress about what’s for dinner.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration can alter your mood and energy levels.
- Have healthy, filling snacks easily accessible to prevent reaching for empty calories like chips, candy or soda. Nuts, seeds, yogurt and avocados are all good options.
- About 90% of the body's serotonin – sometimes referred to as “the happy chemical” – is made in the digestive tract. Help support your gut microbes with a healthy, plant-rich diet.
Better Night’s best practices on getting your Zzz’s
Unfortunately, the wavelength of light emitted by our personal devices (laptop, phone, iPad, etc.) is very stimulating to the brain, and can disrupt your sleep. Learn how to restrict your usage in practical ways so that you can get the rest you need.
- Practice the 1-hour rule. Go ahead, use your electronic devices all day if you want. But during the hour before bedtime, it’s time to go au naturel. Log off, power down, utilize sleep mode and make it happen. That includes the TV, too, especially if it’s a very large screen or located within a few feet of you.
- During the hour before bedtime, you might read a book, stretch, pray or meditate, chat with family members, or enjoy a light snack. Other people enjoy simple self-care routines, like applying aromatherapy oils or trying out a relaxing home facial product.
- If you can’t do without your devices, blue light blocker glasses have special yellow-orange colored lenses that block out the stimulating effects of the blue light on your brain. This allows you to be on your device right up until bedtime, if you want to or need to. Blue light blocker glasses might sound a little strange, but they’re commonly available online and are fairly inexpensive.
- Make sure you’re not swapping out one unhealthy habit for another. The last hour before bedtime should not be used for potentially stressful activities such as paying bills or completing homework. And, some evening treats, like a cocktail or caffeinated beverage, will only keep you awake.
- Additionally, avoid physically exerting activities such as working out or highly involved home improvement tasks, since these could make it hard for you to fall asleep.
Too many individuals have suffered from mental health distress, and they are looking to employers, health systems and health plans for support. Let’s work together to help those who need it most now more than ever.