It may seem like anxiety has become the price to pay for living in our COVID-19-altered world. It is a universal health condition that many of us experience to varying degrees at different times. However, anxiety and stress are difficult friends to deal with: a little of either is fine, but too much can turn into a series of unintended consequences.
If you feel like you’re stuck in an endless cycle 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, you can more safely navigate this uncharted road. Carle offers a team of compassionate and knowledgeable providers to guide those managing their mental health and help navigate the potholes and dead ends that can get in the way of our path to good mental health. Team members at Carle Behavioral Health Bloomington, Carle Bloomington at Hershey, Carle Champaign at Mattis, and Carle Monticello offer simple advice that can help reduce anxiety and keep stress at healthy levels.
Try these 10 tips to improve mental health:
Focus on self-care. Self-care must be purposeful and planned. Get out your calendar and commit to yourself. – Kevin Krippner, PhD, Mental Health Physician, Carle BroMenn Outpatient Center Do everything in moderation, including moderation. Practicing moderation can help you live a more balanced and 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 with others around you and reduces blue light exposure from electronic devices. – Pamela Warren, PhD, Mental Health Clinician, Carle Monticello Work on sleep hygiene. Keep your sleep hours within the same range every night and morning. – Sharon Klingman, LCPC, Carle BroMenn Outpatient Center Connect with people and nature. Connecting with others creates a sense of belonging that helps stave off loneliness and depression, and time outdoors enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells of the natural world helps reduce blood pressure, muscle tension, and stress levels. – Brent Sylvester, PhD, Mental Health Physician, 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 stresses you may experience. – Jody Poultney, LCSW, Mental Health Physician, 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 time to participate in activities that we enjoy and make us laugh is vital to our well-being. – Hudson Riehl, PsyD, Mental Health Physician, Carle Champaign on Mattis Take a walk every day. Mental health and physical health are linked more than people think. When we get moving we feel better. – Kim Klepec, LCSW, Mental Health Physician, 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 hormones that make us feel good, lower blood pressure, and relax us. – Judy Ronan Woodburn, PhD, Mental Health Clinic, 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 at Hershey
For many people, stress management can be done simply by adjusting and increasing the stress management and self-care that is already being done, says Kevin Krippner, PhD, mental health physician, Carle BroMenn Outpatient Center. “Try incorporating tips like the ones shared into your daily routine and see if the suggestions help reduce anxiety, worry, and improve overall mood.”
If after making an effort to reduce stress and anxiety levels you still need more help, don’t hesitate to contact your primary care provider to discuss this and consider starting or resuming counseling. A wide range of experienced psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists and clinical nurse specialists are woven throughout the Carle Health system, offering individualized support and assistance as needed.
If it’s a family member, friend, or co-worker you’re concerned about, consider attending a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) class. Carle supports MHFA training and offers classes throughout the year at various locations in the service area. This national program of the National Council on Behavioral Health teaches community members how to recognize and support those who may have a behavioral health or substance abuse problem. There is a class focused on helping adults and another that focuses on the needs of youth ages 6-18.
Talking about mental health issues should be as easy and normal as talking about physical health issues and concerns. No one has to get stuck in an endless cycle 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 problems. If stress and anxiety start 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.