What’s going on, Sequoia Counseling community! I am in a great mood today because it is the 4th of July holiday weekend ! This is a time to celebrate our country and the freedoms and gift we have to live here. As I think about the concept of independence, I also think about our ability to live independently, without relying upon the care of others. What can we do to live our best lives and prevent future health/mental health issues? The answer is to develop lifestyle habits that target your whole person health!
A 2009 study of 23,000 adults found that basic life habits such as eating healthy, not smoking, exercising 3.5 hours a week, and maintaining a healthy weight resulted in an 80% reduction in chronic disease! Specifically, the researchers concluded that 93% of diabetes, 81% of heart attacks, 50% of strokes, and 36% of cancers would be prevented! That is amazing news!
One of the most common emotions we experience as we emerge from the pandemic is anxiety. Psychologist Dr. Ellen Hendriksen comments that anxiety is particularly triggered by the high levels of uncertainty we face- uncertainty about vaccines, society reopening, new normal workplace, and the COVID-19 virus and variants.
I also believe that a high level of anxiety comes with the unfinished business that we had pre-pandemic. What goals, decisions, or projects were put on hold? What conversations and relationship growth were avoided, stunted, hindered, or forgotten due to relational distancing? Perhaps old depression or anxiety symptoms are re-surfacing with thoughts of returning to pre-pandemic living. To be certain, the pandemic and its effects had a depressing and anxiety provoking effect on some level for everyone. How can we best thrive in this new phase?
Life during 2020 has been very challenging. We were forced to make changes to our routines that we weren’t expecting, we experienced significant losses, and we continue to live with unnatural, difficult, and scary circumstances that are in many ways beyond our control and without a clear end in sight. Researchers are studying how people around the world are thriving and preventing problems with depression, anxiety, stress, alcohol abuse, etc. that are becoming more common due to the pandemic, its effects, and coronavirus or health-related worries. How do people successfully cope?
I've been thinking a lot lately about how 2020 has been a year of change and growth. For most people, the challenge to adjust creates stress and worry. As time passes by, we may have a sense that there's not enough time to do everything we need and want to (which can add to stress and feeling discontented). How can we avoid these time pressures and feel satisfied with the moments we live? For this reason, I want to offer 3 ways to continue building hardiness and resilience (in other words, the ability to remain calm in the face of crisis and recover quickly) so that stress levels stay manageable and not overwhelming. This important conversation also applies to the anxiety and worry we may feel with the holiday season/end of year, ongoing pandemic & prolonged stay at home/distancing recommendations, and presidential election.
Social comparisons can lead to strong anxious feelings, low self-esteem, and hesitation to take risks or engage in personal growth. At the same time, social comparisons can help us determine what is normal or healthy and help us to improve our performance and behaviors appropriately. When does comparing ourselves to others become harmful and unhealthy? How can we stop comparing ourselves in unhelpful ways?
Lifestyle Medicine Week: Day 2, Workplace Wellness
How common are mental health conditions and high stress levels in the workplace? Eighteen percent (18%) of the adult population reported a mental illness in 2016; 71% of adults reported at least one symptom of stress. Pre-COVID statistics from the CDC report that 63% of Americans are part of the US workforce. Mental health concerns in the workplace can result in absenteeism, negative impact on productivity and profits, increased costs to deal with the issue, and adverse effects on employee morale. A 1995 study noted that some types of jobs, such as secretaries, teachers, managers, and healthcare workers, can have higher levels of stress than others. It would be advantageous to plan strategies to take care of yourself and your staff in the workplace and also identify ways to address, prevent, and minimize stressors and other risk factors for mental health conditions.
(Video transcript follows) There are many benefits to having a positive outlook and not dwelling on negativity. But how do you stay “positive” when feeling hurt, upset, or worried? As in the photo gallery above, these people may experience uncertainties, but respond with courage, joy, and hope. Here are some ideas to support a positive thought process:
I remember accidentally hitting myself in the mouth with a medicine ball while at the gym- I was so in “the zone,” I didn’t stop to think that it would bounce when I slammed it down. My first reaction was to look around to see if anyone noticed ! Then I grabbed my workout towel, pressed it to my mouth to hide the blood and walked briskly to the bathroom.