When you’re thinking about your everyday health, it’s common to first consider how you’re feeling physically. In other words, is your back aching? Do you have a bad cough? Are you getting your steps in? But your mental health—though sometimes overlooked—is just as important as your physical health.
In fact, they’re very closely linked. Your physical health can greatly affect your mental well-being, and vice versa, making them go hand in hand.
However, oftentimes barriers can prevent you from properly taking care of your mental or emotional health. Some of these, including stigma, cost of care or access to it, can cause you to ignore symptoms you’re having or simply put this piece of your well-being on the back burner.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. So, that makes it the perfect time to take a closer look at your mental well-being, how it affects your overall health—and why it’s so important!
How common are mental health challenges?
Did you know about one in five adults in the U.S. is currently living with a mental health condition or illness1?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over one in five youths (ages 13 to 18) also deals with a mental health issue, or has at some point in their life2. Experts suspect these numbers could even be higher, since many cases go unreported.
Though hundreds of mental health conditions exist, some common ones people often battle include depression, anxiety or stress. Others can include eating disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or substance abuse and addiction disorders.
What are some ways you can prioritize your mental well-being?
We all have difficult days. But learning how to take care of your emotional, psychological and social well-being can be critical to your overall health, happiness and quality of life.
Here’s a few ways you can support your health, practice self-care and make your mental well-being a priority:
- Try to exercise regularly. Moving for just 30 minutes a day can boost your mood and improve your health. You can stretch, take a walk regularly or do any activity you love.
- Eat healthy, balanced meals. A balanced diet can improve your energy, boost your mood and help you feel better throughout your day.
- Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water can help too, along with improving your focus. You may also want to limit caffeine, such as in soft drinks or coffee.
- Make sleep a priority. Quality sleep is really important for both your mental and physical well-being. To make sure you’re getting enough, try things like sticking to a schedule, skipping screen time before bed and creating a dark, relaxing sleep space.
- Stay connected.Be sure to reach out to friends and family members who can give you extra emotional support when you need it.
- Talk to a therapist or counselor. Sometimes talking things through with a counselor or therapist can be helpful and let you gain new coping skills to improve your mental well-being.
How can you decide if therapy is right for you?
If you’re not sure whether you should try including therapy sessions into your well-being routine, you’re not alone. Many people aren’t clear on the benefits or when it might be necessary for better health.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), seeing a counselor or therapist can be a good idea when something in your life is causing you distress and is interfering with parts of your life. For instance, you might notice you’re thinking about an issue a good deal of the time. Or maybe you’re experiencing emotions like being overwhelmed, fatigued, very worried, disinterested, unmotivated, apathetic or even hopeless.
What are some benefits of incorporating therapy into your wellness routine?
Making time for your mental health is just as important as preventive care for your physical health. Plus, research supports that the mind and body are linked. So, treating your emotional health can boost how you feel physically. It can also make you feel poised and ready to handle any health issues that may arise.
Here are some other benefits it offers:
- You can learn more about yourself. By talking things out, your therapist can help you hear things from a fresh, unbiased point of view. This may help you connect the dots differently and gain new perspectives about yourself.
- Therapy can help you clarify and reach your goals. If you’re feeling lost or aren’t sure of your goals, you can discover ways to get back on track and go after what you want.
- You can address things which might hold you back. You might benefit from guidance around limiting behaviors or how to make a change.
- You can learn how to get more from your personal relationships. By identifying difficulties in relating to others, you can address them and try to form more fulfilling relationships.
How can you find a trusted provider?
When you’re ready to take care of your mental well-being, you’ll want to know how to access the care you need. Nowadays, you’ll likely be able to find in-person and virtual options in your health benefits. If you’re not sure how to connect to mental health resources, checking your benefits summary is always a good place to start. For instance, you can see if your benefits include telehealth, or online and digital resources for counseling with a therapist or gaining support from a health coach. You may even have access to wellness programs or an employee assistance program.
Meritain Health® has several programs, point solutions and one-of-a-kind tools and resources aimed at improving mental health. We can also point you to in-network virtual or in-person providers, or walk-in services, like those you’ll find at MinuteClinic®. Afterall, we realize that your mental health is just as important as your physical health.
If you need help finding a provider or seeing what you have access to, give us a call!
This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice.