Putting Your Mental Health in Order
Experts suggest steps to de-stress and find a more balanced life
By Serena Gordon
FRIDAY, Sept. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Living without stress may seem nearly impossible these days. Technology beckons at all hours for you to read just one more tweet or text. Politics are polarizing. Costs are rising, but salaries not so much.
That makes it all the more vital to find some balance in your life, mental health experts say.
"We're stuck in a continuing worry cycle by staying glued to the 24-hour news cycle," said Karol Ward, a New York City psychotherapist, author and member of the National Association of Social Workers. "We fear if we're not plugged in, we'll miss something. This leaves us in a constantly adrenalized state," she explained.
"Over time, this causes adrenal fatigue and sleep disruptions, which have a whole spiraling effect as we then caffeinate during the day to try to stay awake," she said. "Constant stress and worry take us out of the natural rhythm of our bodies, and we lose the ability to gauge when we're really tired and need to rest."
Other experts agree. "Stress makes us fatigued and can cause physical complications," said Shawn McClintock, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. "Stress leaves you more vulnerable to depression and anxiety. And, it can cause us to age quicker. Stress can also cause difficulty in relationships."
The first step on the path toward getting your mental health in order is to "get some sort of movement," Ward said. "Get out in the sunshine. Walk the dog. Go swimming. Figure out how your body wants to move -- don't tell yourself you have to run five miles today."
McClintock added that yoga can be a great way to relieve stress, and he also recommended paying attention to your diet. "Eat more fruits and vegetables and things that are good for you like green tea and yogurt," he said.
Both Ward and McClintock strongly advocated "unplugging" sometimes, too.
"It's important to have time where you turn off that connection," McClintock said. "If you're at the beach, take the Bluetooth out of your ear and be with the beach."