Mental Health

By: Jolie Wiener

November 02, 2020

Mental Health is especially important in 2020 - a year of being isolated and quarantined.

Mental health not only speaks to our physical health, but also our emotional well-being.  COVID-19 has limited our abilities to physically attend gyms and gather with friends and family. These factors have an affect on our overall health outcomes.

Many people have found themselves gaining weight and experiencing depression while living under these circumstances, which can lead to severe, long lasting health conditions like high blood pressure and worsening the symptoms of diabetes. Poor mental health can lead to poor life choices. Here are some ways to better manage your mental health:

Depression & Diabetes

Depression can exist without a diagnosis, especially in those with a diabetes diagnosis. Up to 45 percent of mental health conditions and cases of severe psychological distress go undetected among patients being treated for diabetes. It is important to check for these symptoms:

·        Loss of interest or pleasure

·        Change in sleep patterns and appetite.

·        Having a hard time concentrating, especially on small tasks

·        Little to no energy

·        Nervousness

·        Sadness

·        Suicidal thoughts

·        Withdraw from friends and activities that once sparked joy in you

It is common to experience depression after a diabetes diagnosis, or a diabetes scare. According to the CDC, only 24% to 50% of people with diabetes who have depression get diagnosed and treated. People living with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes are at increased risk for depression, anxiety and eating disorders, which all have impacts on physical and emotional mental health. Treatment with therapy, medicine or a combination of the two is usually very effective, but can also create a sense of overwhelm by having to track blood sugar levels, dosing insulin, planning meals and staying active. Managing diabetes means making lifestyle changes to your daily routine. Breathing, relaxing, going for a walk, and finding other ways to unwind can help you manage your stress and anxiety, and ultimately your diabetes.

Yoga is becoming more widely used, and is a great way to help manage Type 2. Try practicing regularly for 30 days and see if you experience a change in your daily mood levels, and strength of your body.

Additionally, eating an adequate amount of nutrients every day and limiting your intake of processed foods is vital. Try some diabetic-friendly recipes and be mindful of what you eat.

Adequate sleep and hydration are other important parts of a healthy lifestyle to help mitigate, and manage depression.

Managing Daily Stress & Anxiety

Therapy is a great way to manage your stress and anxiety. Talking through your fears and concerns with a professional therapist can make a positive impact on your overall mental health.

Remember, you are never alone. If therapy is costly or you are not covered through your insurance, talking with a trusted friend or family member can be a good alternative. Make sure you establish boundaries and create a safe, trusting space to truly open up and find solutions to the concerns you are experiencing.

Practicing mindfulness and being present in the moment is also a way to manage your stress and anxiety. Mindfulness is an integrative, mind-body approach that helps people manage their thoughts and feelings and mental health.

Using techniques like breathing, mediation and yoga can help you become present in the moment and lessen your feelings of being overwhelmed. A simple, yet effective practice of mindfulness can be done while sitting in your chair. Plant your feet on the ground and simply start to breath in through your nose and exhale out of your mouth. Focus your attention on your body. Where do you experience tension, or pain? Is it in your neck, shoulder and back? Is it in your abdomen, hips, legs? A combination of both? With each breath out, think as if you are releasing this tension from these problem areas of your body. Overtime, you will experience a sense of relief and easiness from mindful practices. However, it is called a practice and to experience these positive impacts, mindfulness needs to be conducted often.

So, take the time to reflect on ways you can make modifications to your lifestyle and daily routine to keep yourself happy and healthy year round!

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