By Harveen Sodhi, MD
Because of the stress we have all been under in the past year, this is a good time to take stock of your mental health. I want to provide information that may help you or someone you love. Beyond the statistics, facts, and helpful tips, this is intended to encourage a pause. A moment for you to assess where you are internally, not necessarily the person you depict to the outside world. I encourage you to take some time for self-reflection.
If you can take away anything from reading this, I would encourage you to lean into vulnerability. Take account of where you are and where you want to be. Aim for a wholesome version of yourself with balance in your work and your personal life.
Remember, you are not alone in this journey called life. Our hospital has many resources, and if you need support or help, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. It is time to break the stigma.
What is Mental Health?
Mental health involves our emotional, physical, and social well-being.
Mental health statistics:
- 1 in 5 American adults experience mental illness
- 1 in 20 adults experience serious mental health disorders
COMMON MENTAL HEALTH CONDITIONS
19% anxiety disorders
4% dual diagnosis
3% bipolar disorder
1% borderline personality disorder
What can you do?
Firstly, seek professional help if you feel you need it.
- Mood journaling. If you can, take 3-5 minutes a day to write whatever prominent thoughts are preoccupying your mind. This journal you do not need to share with anyone, so I encourage utmost transparency with yourself.
- Exercise. Regular exercise can improve mood, especially for those suffering from anxiety and insomnia.
- Diet changes. Avoid or limit caffeine, alcohol. Avoid drugs. These can exacerbate, or worsen, symptoms.
- Deep breathing. Therapeutic ‘count of four’ breathing can be very helpful. How do you do this? Count to four on your inhale. Pause for a count of four. Then exhale for a count of four. Four is not a magic number, but it helps focus your mind if negative or anxiety-provoking thoughts flood your mind.
- Positive affirmations. Find ONE THING you like about yourself and repeat that to yourself several times a day, or at least the first thing in the morning and when you are ending your day.
- Sleep matters. I encourage appropriate sleep hygiene. Give yourself a set time at night where you consciously avoid any stressful topics to ponder or discuss. Avoid gadgets, caffeine, regular alcohol intake at bedtime.
- Medications. Talk to your doctor. Medications may be helpful to you.
Harveen Sodhi, MD practices family medicine with Medical West Hoover Health Center.