Our mind and body are directly connected, physically and emotionally. When one of these elements suffers, the other does as well. For example, did you know chronic pain is closely related to depression? This also means that by taking care of our physical needs, we can more successfully navigate mental health needs as well. Here are some ideas to consider:
1) The Trilogy (Sleep, Diet, Exercise)
As many of my clients know, I’ll often ask about self care and use the examples of this trilogy (sleep, eating, exercise) to check in on. I have an entire previous blog entry on sleep! Sleep is vital to both our physical and mental health. Check out that entry to get some tips to help improve your sleep! How have you been eating lately? Are you getting three meals a day? How is the quality of those meals? For this, I recommend also checking with your primary care provider and see if a referral for a nutritionist is appropriate for you to assist in improving meal intake. Finally, exercise! As Elle Woods of Legally Blonde has taught us, “Exercise gives you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy!” I didn’t put these in separate sections because these are areas we all know we’re supposed to take care of and struggle with, but the little reminder is nice. Of course, also check in with your primary care provider on all of these areas. Speaking of primary care providers…
2) Get a primary care provider- then go see them!
Primary care providers are the key to your entire healthcare journey. They identify concerns before they become serious, provide recommendations for the above trilogy, and even refer you to other providers who can further help with your concerns, like myself! Also, some mental health concerns are rooted in physical health concerns, so my clients will often hear me ask them to check in with their primary care provider to rule out those concerns.
3) Go to the Dentist!
Ok, I don’t have a specific study linking oral hygiene to cause mental health symptoms (other than the oft reported anxiety about visiting with the dentist). However, when I ask about self-care, I also ask about hygiene. This comes up because during periods of depression or severe mental health concerns, sometimes dental hygiene falls by the wayside, and eventually this can lead to severe dental concerns. Plus, having a healthy smile can help boost your confidence! If you find you have anxiety about going to the dentist, address this with a mental health provider. Your teeth and gums will thank you for it.
4) Review Your Insurance Benefits!
Your insurance may cover services you never thought would be covered – like massages, nutritionists, and more! Most insurance companies also have a wellness incentive which can improve your rates. Also, reviewing your benefits will prevent any surprise bills (which no one wants) if your physician refers you for a service.
5) Listen to What Your Body is Telling You!
When was the last time you checked in with your body? Focused on posture? Noted where there is tension or pain? Checked for unexpected changes you may need addressed? There is a great mindful way to accomplish this, and it’s a skill called “body scanning.” Here is a great article with sound attached to help you get started with the practice of body scanning. Check in, listen, and pay attention. Your body will thank you for it.
Being in touch with your body and its needs will help you to build up armor to fight mental health symptoms as they arise. Try these tips for better health – your mind will thank you for it!