May is mental health month. Mental health is as important as our physical health and affects our physical health either positively or negatively. Mental illnesses are common and treatable. One common mental health illness is Anxiety.
We all live with some stress, which can increase anxiety.
Do you experience:
• feeling tense and angry, frustrated,
• experiencing mood swings
• being depressed and discouraged,
• lashing out at others.
These feelings may be normal if they only happen occasionally. If you have some concerns about yourself try taking a screening at http://mhascreening.org. It will not be a diagnosis but could be a helpful tool in talking with your doctor or someone you love.
We are better able to cope with stress and anxiety if we take care of our body. This means eating healthy, exercising and getting enough sleep. Limiting alcohol and quitting smoking if you smoke can improve heath and mood. Doing some physical activity helps so consider taking a walk (or walking the dog), bicycling, jogging, dancing, playing a sport with your children or friends for fun, or working in the yard and/or garden.
Take a stress/anxiety break and participate in an activity you enjoy such as listening to music, watching a movie, taking a bubble bath, reading a book, or working at your favorite hobby. Consider trying relaxation exercises which can help reduce the tension. Meditation and prayer can be helpful too. Another idea is to have a box with special family items that are important to you, just looking and touching them may help relieve some stress.
Monitor your stress and anxiety by recognizing symptoms of stress and how you are reacting to it. To help with coping you may find that writing down what your “stressors” are and listing possible ways to handle each one provides direction and assistance in dealing with them. Examine your list, determine priorities and decide on what solutions or changes will work best for you.
Avoid isolation as it is important to communicate with family and friends. Don’t talk yourself out of seeking help. You are not helping yourself.
If you are experiencing excessive stress or anxiety, it is important to seek some outside help.
Community resources are available to help in these situations. Check with your family doctor, a local mental health clinic, clergy, or lay support groups. Get help before it adversely affects your physical health.
Writer: Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension Family, and Consumer Sciences
Reviewer: Jami Dellifield, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences
Mayo Clinic Staff, (2016). Stress Management. Available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987?pg=2
Mental Health American. (2016). Mental Health Month. Available at http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may
National Institutes of Health. (2016). Depression. Available at http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml
Web MD. (2014). Depression: What is it? Available at http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-treatment-options