Mental Health Awareness Month is observed every year in May, with the overall objective of raising awareness about mental health issues in the U.S. and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health.
Whether your stressors come from work, home, family or your social life, it’s challenging to manage everything life throws at you. Chronic stress negatively affects your overall health and results in lasting effects. In fact, stress can lead to serious mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, as well as heart disease, high blood pressure and more. Anxiety disorders are on the rise, with more than one in three adults reporting symptoms. Whether you’ve experienced anxiety before or it’s newly developed, you can combat anxiety by recognizing and reducing the symptoms.
Whether you’re currently facing an obstacle or have in the past, you’re not alone. Together, we can help each other bounce back from challenging situations, and support one another in our personal growth journeys.
Reduce Your Stress & Anxiety
Taking action when you’re stressed is the best thing you can do to help yourself. Once you’ve recognized your symptoms, you can take action in managing your stress and anxiety. Here are several ways you can reduce your anxiety:
- Get moving: Whether you take a walk or run a 5K, exercise releases feel-good chemicals in your brain (endorphins) that help reduce stress.
- Be mindful: Meditation and deep breathing are effective techniques to make you more resilient to stress and slow your heart rate.
- Disconnect: Take a break from technology. Consider trying something new after work to take you away from your devices such as arts and crafts, playing a new sport or volunteering.
- Breathe, be mindful and stay calm: Take a deep breath and accept that you’re anxious. Use visualization or meditation to stay calm.
- Don’t jump to conclusions: It’s normal to stress and worry about the future, but sometimes we find ourselves focused on the “what ifs.” Set the worry aside, talk it out or write it down, engage in some self-care and stay in the present.
- Fact check your thoughts: Pay attention to your thought patterns. Don’t fixate on worst-case scenarios, and try to rationalize your fears. Redirect or put a positive spin on negative or unproductive thoughts.
- Stay in your time zone: Anxiety is often a future-oriented state of mind. Stay present and try the 3-3-3 rule: name three things you see, three sounds you hear, and move three parts of your body. This mental trick can help center your body.
- Redirect and get active: Creative outlets such as playing an instrument or crafting can help redirect your focus, just as staying physically active can. When you are physically active, your body releases endorphins, which are chemicals that act as natural painkillers. Just five minutes of aerobic exercise can also spark anti-anxiety effects.
- Talk it out: Talk to a friend or family member. Sharing your feelings can also help to rationalize any fears. When you let others in, you cultivate hope and improve your sense of well-being.
Recognize When You’re Stressed
It can be difficult to identify when you’re under stress while you’re trying to keep up with your surroundings. A few telltale signs of stress or anxiety include:
- Change in your appetite
- Low energy
- Increase in colds or other infections
Recognize When You’re Anxious
When you experience anxiety, your body knows it. Take time to recognize the signs your body gives you when you’re feeling anxious:
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Skipping meals or overeating
- Feeling worried/ difficulty concentrating
- Headache/ Stomachache
- Avoiding social situations
- Feeling panicked
At Ethos, we realize that mental health is just as important as physical health. That’s why we offer multiple options so team members can decide what’s best for themselves and their families. The Ethos Mental Health Playbook outlines our medical plans, EAP, and mental health resources that are available to all team members at our organization.