COVID-19 makes impact on mental health in the U.S.
Take charge of your own mental well-being through self-assessment
If you’ve not felt like yourself lately, you’re not alone. According to a survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in June 2021 over a third of U.S. adults reported feeling depressed compared to 11% reported in March 2020 in a comparable survey from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to strain our mental health after long periods of physical isolation from loved ones, disrupted work and life routines, and so much more.
Even when we know we’re feeling off or depressed, knowing what to do and finding help can feel overwhelming. It’s especially hard given that a mental health issue or condition isn’t as obvious as a broken bone or other physical injury. That’s why experts like Dr. Jim Polo, Regence executive medical director, suggest starting with a moment of reflection.
“Taking some time to evaluate your mental health and how you’re feeling can help identify where you can make positive changes. It’s all about finding and maintaining balance in life, which has been especially hard during the pandemic,” says Dr. Polo. “From there you can decide to adjust based on what is best for you. Being aware of mental well-being can also help you better support loved ones and your community, which may bring you more joy and balance.”
Mental well-being self-assessment
Make sure to look at all aspects of your life to see where you can make change to feel better. Below are a few key areas.
- Value you. Value yourself and give yourself kindness and respect. Avoid criticizing yourself and make time to do little things each day that bring you joy. This could include doing a crossword puzzle, gardening, or playing an instrument.
- Healthy diet. Feel better by choosing nutritious food and avoiding junk food and sugary treats. Drink water, at least half your body weight in ounces each day, and more if you are exercising.
- Exercise. Physical activity is good for mental well-being since it releases endorphins in your brain that improve mood and help decrease anxiety and depression.
- Rest. Get plenty of quality sleep, at least 6-8 hours a night.
- Surround yourself with good people. A good support network can improve your mental well-being. Connecting with others to support each other can benefit mental health.
- Volunteer. Donating your time to a cause that you believe in can improve your mood and sense of self-worth.
- Manage stress. Stress is a natural part of life and finding ways to reduce its impact will help improve your mental well-being. There are many stress management tools that can help reduce stress and improve your mental well-being. Examples include breathing exercises, journaling, or just taking a walk.
- Rejuvenate. Relaxation exercises can be as beneficial as physical exercise. Mindfulness with meditation may help you feel calm and enhance your outlook.
- Set realistic goals. Decide what you want to achieve in your professional and personal life, then create a realistic plan to be successful. Be careful to set milestones in the timeline that are reasonable. Celebrate your accomplishments and be flexible as you progress toward your goals.
- Talk with someone. For some people talking with a professional offers substantial benefit to help with rebalancing mental well-being. Receiving appropriate care can help to align and return to balance allowing you to live a full, rewarding life.
“Ups and downs are expected in some degree,” Polo says. “But if you find that these feelings are lingering or it’s starting to affect your ability to work, go to school, or enjoy life with family and friends, it’s time to seek out additional support.”
Regence members can access a spectrum of behavioral health resources
Whether you need occasional emotional support or ongoing mental health care, Regence has a variety of programs to prevent, identify and treat mental health and substance use disorders. Regence members who want to understand what is available under their health plan can sign in to their account on regence.com, or call us for help finding the right behavioral health resources.