Health column: Resiliency needed to endure weather and lifeIt’s just a few weeks until the summer solstice — hard to believe, given the spring that we have — or haven’t — had.
By: Ann Busche, For the Budgeteer News
It’s just a few weeks until the summer solstice — hard to believe, given the spring that we have — or haven’t — had.
With record snowfalls in April and a chilly May, it takes some resiliency to endure our climate, and when spring doesn’t emerge like we expect it to, we can get a little grumpy.
It also takes resiliency to make it through life: Just like we have to endure a rough spring, sometimes we also have to endure a rough spot in life. It’s resiliency that enables us to bounce back from a loss or adversity, and having good emotional health is the key.
So, if the weather or something in your life is getting you down, here are some tips to maintain good emotional health:
Be physically active. Mental and physical health are closely related. Being inactive can increase depression, anxiety and stress. Look for little ways to increase your physical activity: Take a walk, go for a bike ride, or crank up the radio and dance! I love taking my dog for a walk; she runs with such pure joy and exuberance, it’s impossible to not laugh and be uplifted.
The goal for good mental health is 30 minutes of exercise per day, but every little bit helps. Along with exercise, making healthy food choices and getting a good night’s sleep will increase your physical health.
Be socially active. Stay in touch with family and friends, join a book club, play cards, visit a museum, or volunteer. Joining a group that meets on a regular basis around common interests is a good way to make new friends while keeping your mind active or learning something new. Giving of your time and talents through volunteering will not only benefit those you are helping, but it will benefit you as well.
Be mentally active. An active brain continues to develop and thrive no matter the age. Crossword puzzles or number games can give your brain a workout, but you can also keep your brain active through your senses by looking at artwork or listening to music. The saying “Take time to smell the roses” speaks to the need to engage the senses and let go of some stress, which is the next tip.
Reduce your stress and practice relaxation. Stress takes a toll on us; an emerging field in the area of public health is the impact of chronic stress on our physical health. Meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, or breathing exercises are good ways to decrease stress and positively impact conditions such as high blood pressure, anxiety or chronic pain.
Think positive thoughts. There really is power in positive thinking. Make the effort to stop negative self-talk and reframe it into something positive. For example, “This rain will never stop” can be reframed into a positive thought on how the rain is decreasing the fire danger or focusing on how the flowers will really grow when the sun does come out.
There are times, however, when you may need more help than these tips can provide. If you can’t sleep, if you feel down or hopeless most of the time, if you are using drugs or alcohol to cope, if you are struggling with daily activities at work or home life, or if you have thoughts of death or suicide, it is time to get professional help. Talk to your family doctor or call 211; both can help refer you to a mental health professional.
Ann Busche is the director of Public Health and Human Services for St. Louis County. Contact her at 726-2096 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org