Self-care 101

There are ways to manage, copy with the stress and strain of everyday life

  • Friday, July 20, 2018 10:49am
  • Life
Manage, set aside your time with purpose and intention. COURTESY PHOTO

Manage, set aside your time with purpose and intention. COURTESY PHOTO

By Angela Nugent, MultiCare Health System

Mental illnesses – including depression and anxiety – are among the most common health conditions in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than 50 percent of our population will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime.

Although many people are familiar with physical ways to take care of their health, mental health or emotional health – while equally important – is sometimes ignored.

The World Health Organization defines mental health as, “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and can make contributions to his or her community.”

Making our mental health a priority can boost our ability to be resilient and elevate our overall well-being. In short, our emotional state matters.

The mind-body connection

The mind and body work together for overall wellness. For example, prolonged stress can increase cortisol in the brain, which weakens the immune system and increases the risk of getting sick. Compromised mental health can also contribute to more serious health issues such as heart disease, obesity, stroke, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Likewise, physical health conditions can sometimes increase the risk of mental illness.

Raise your mental health awareness

Caring for mental health begins with personal awareness. Many factors can impact mental health. One of the most common of these factors is stress. While stress is part of life and can help with productivity and accomplishment, prolonged exposure to stress can lead to increased symptoms and lack of self-care.

The following symptoms are commonly linked to prolonged or elevated stress:

• Sleep disruption

• Feeling anxious, worried or depressed

• Increased irritability

• Changes in appetite

• Difficulty concentrating

• Decrease in activity level and/or social connection

Ideas for self-care

Although we can’t control the stressors or events that occur in our lives, we do have a choice of how we react, care for ourselves and manage our mental health through such events.

Investment in self-care enriches coping skills, energy level, sense of well-being and the ability to create balance. It can be helpful to think in terms of “fine tuning” or adjusting lifestyle to include the following:

• Managing time with purpose and intention. Prioritize needs, unplug from devices when possible and schedule downtime to maintain the ability to decompress from the stress of life.

• Choose healthy behaviors, including getting enough sleep, exercising and eating well. Avoid alcohol and drugs and get help for substance abuse issues.

• Practice relaxation through deep breathing, meditation (even 5-10 minutes to start or end the day can help) or being in nature.

• Find ways to validate and care for your emotions (journaling, spending time with supportive friends, helpful self-talk).

• Include activities that bring joy and fun.

Asking for help: A key component of self-care

For many people, self-care adjustments for enhanced mental health are possible and empowering. But if you have symptoms of mental health distress, and those symptoms persist despite lifestyle changes, further assessment is advised and available. Speak to your primary care provider and/or consider seeking support from a therapist.

Asking for help when needed is a sign of strength and reinforces self-care and overall well-being.

Angela Nugent is a licensed mental health counselor. She has worked for MultiCare for 24 years. She continues to provide therapy services while also managing primary care behavioral health integration and general counseling services, two behavioral health outpatient programs within MultiCare.

MultiCare Health System is a not-for-profit health care organization with more than 18,000 employees, providers and volunteers. Learn more at multicare.org.

More in Life

‘Celebrate:’ Pacific Ballroom Dance performs holiday concert Nov. 29-30

Program features 140 dancers, and a special guest

Auburn Symphony Orchestra Chamber Series comes to Kent, Auburn

Musicians to perform works by Beethoven, Britten and Loeffler

Auburn library November listings | KCLS

Events for adults, families and children

Joey Jewell is an established Frank Sinatra impersonator. COURTESY PHOTO
Joey Jewell’s Tribute to Frank Sinatra and Friends returns to the Auburn Ave Theater

Jim Kerl’s Swing Session big band and Jewell take you back to the heyday of Las Vegas and the reigning king of the strip

Seattle International Comedy Competition continues at the Ave

The 39th annual Seattle International Comedy Competition returns at 7:30 p.m. Friday,… Continue reading

Auburn Avenue Theater seeks production crew

Paid positions offered in specializes stage areas

Vintage warplanes from the World War I era. COURTESY PHOTO, Museum of Flight
Museum of Flight: a weekend of military events for Veterans Day

Sunday, Nov. 11 free for veterans and active military, programs include concert, patriotic ceremony, World War I aviation presentation

The Buffalo Soldiers of Seattle received the Veteran’s Award for Best Non-Motorized Entry at last year’s Auburn Veterans Parade. The 53rd annual parade returns to Main Street on Saturday, Nov. 10, and will feature more than 200 entries and nearly 6,000 participants. RACHEL CIAMPI, Auburn Reporter
Auburn-area community calendar | Nov. 1

Events, benefits, entertainment, program listings

Auburn High School Theatre Department presents fall show, ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’

Cox, school’s new theatre arts teacher and alumnus, making directorial debut

Most Read