Spring has sprung, hope is in the air and we seem to be closer than ever to resuming life as usual in the United States and can see the light at the end of the tunnel. If we continue on the right path, the situation is likely to be much better in the summer and even the new normal in the fall.
May is also Mental Health Month, a time to recognize that millions of Americans are living with a mental illness. It is also a time to rejoice in resiliency and offer hope and care to those who are struggling with depression, anxiety or other issues that may be impacting their everyday lives. Mental Health Awareness Month could not be arriving at a more appropriate time. The weather is getting nicer, the school year is approaching its end, and it is time for a much-needed spring awakening in regard to mental health. I think we can agree that this year has wreaked havoc on our mental health, particularly on our most vulnerable populations.
Elite Life Care Services (ELCS) and Elite Guardian Services is always here to help our clients in navigating today's complex healthcare and life care related challenges and needs.
During the month of May, Elite Life Care Services joins the national movement to raise awareness about mental health. Established in 1949, Mental Health Month sought to put a spotlight on the importance of mental health and wellness. Each year we continue to fight against the stigma associated with mental health, provide support for those with mental illness, as well as advocate for policies on behalf of those with mental illness and their loved ones.
While 1 in 5 people will experience mental illness over the course of their lifetimes, everyone will face challenges that can and will affect their mental health. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the mental health of people of all ages. Now, more than ever, it is critical to reduce the stigma around mental health struggles, because that stigma often prevents individuals from seeking help.
Reentry Anxiety: 7 Ways to Deal With Stress About Post-Pandemic Life
With all U.S. adults now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine and vaccine passports on the horizon, we’re closer to “normalcy” than we've been in a year. But if you’re feeling reentry anxiety about a post-COVID-19 world rather than excitement, you’re not alone.
This type of “reentry anxiety” is essentially the stress that people feel as it pertains to getting life back to normal. This might include the stress that comes with going back to work at your office instead of from the comfort of home, waking up earlier for a long morning commute, or the anxiety of feeling obligated to attend social events and family gatherings again. The thought of engaging in these activities may be especially anxiety-provoking with the huge weight of pandemic-related grief on our collective shoulders.
People who already deal with a diagnosed anxiety disorder may experience this type of added stress as well as those without those disorders. So here are a few expert-backed tips to keep in mind to help you cope as our world changes—again.
1. Focus on what’s in your control.Often when people feel anxious it’s because they’re feeling a high level of uncertainty about the things that are out of their control. So it’s important to remind yourself of what you actually can control about a particularly stressful situation.
If you’re planning to meet up with friends for the first time in a while, start by writing a list of the relevant factors that you have control over, such as getting your vaccine (or trying to as soon as possible, depending on your local rollout), social distancing, holding the gathering outside, and wearing masks. This will help you recognize what areas of your life you can focus on. Another way to deal with that uncertainty is to think back to uncertain times in your past (like, say, when you first started lockdown). It’ll remind you you’ve been resilient before—and that you can rely on the same resilience now.
2. Make a bucket list of the things you’re excited to do again.
Creating a post-pandemic bucket list is a way to shift your thinking from what you’re anxious about in the future to the positive experiences that could be waiting for you, creating a sense of hope and optimism in the process. Your bucket list doesn’t necessarily have to be extravagant or adventurous; it could be just as fun to list the doctor’s office visits, haircuts, and nail salon appointments you’ve put off during the pandemic as it might be to come up with all the places you’d like to travel when it’s safe to do so. The point is to push yourself to realize that there will soon be new possibilities for joy and, yes, some normalcy.
3. Accept whatever you’re feeling.
Don’t judge yourself for whatever feelings you have. You might be excited to reenter the world, perhaps with new goals and a new perspective on life, while still mourning a loss due to COVID-19. It might be stressful to realize you have those seemingly incongruent emotions, but it’s totally normal and it’s important to let yourself feel everything. The key thing to remember is to go easy on yourself, and be accepting and compassionate of the things you’re feeling.
4. Reintroduce activities slowly.
After being cooped up in our homes for so long, you may feel like you never want to take your freedom for granted again. It might be tempting to plan a get-together, a restaurant outing, and a road trip all in one week. But you may want to hold off on making too many plans too fast. Instead, take things slowly. Ease into new activities by seeing one friend at a time or planning shorter local trips (if it’s safe in your area). Be gentle with reintegrating into society or you’ll risk burning yourself out by over-committing to everything all at once.
5. Stay informed, but disconnect when you need to.
Staying informed is important, especially when it comes to updates in your community that will help you safely start doing more in the world again. But being too plugged in to the news or social media can contribute to anxiety, depression, and general stress. That’s why it’s a good idea to notice when your doomscrolling is no longer productive—and to start taking steps to step back. You can filter the information you take in by limiting the time you spend scrolling on social media, getting your information from only reliable news sources (rather than your Instagram feed), and remembering to take time away from screens can help ease some of the anxiety about what’s to come.
6. Accept that your life may have changed quite a bit during the pandemic.
You may be coming out of lockdown with your life—your body, your job, your relationship—seriously different than when you entered it, and that could be contributing to the anxiety you feel. But accepting that reality, and the idea that things may never return to how they used to be, is crucial. When you accept your reality, it will be easier to take control and plan your next steps intentionally. That understanding will also help you remember that, over time, the anxiety that comes with reintegration will lessen.
7. Reach out for help if you need to.
If you’ve tried to manage your anxiety but find you’re still not making progress, it might be time to evaluate how severe your anxiety really is and possibly work with a mental health professional. If your anxiety is beginning to affect your work life or your relationships with friends, family, or romantic partners, those are signs that it’s time to chat with a professional. And if you find that you’re experiencing physical symptoms, such as headaches, tightness or tension in your neck and shoulders, stomach aches, or difficulty sleeping or concentration, those are also signs that it’s time to seek help from a mental health professional. Getting back into the world may seem like just as big of a life-changing transition as it was to switch to remote work, hold all your weekend chats over Zoom, and stock up on face masks. While some people may find it unbelievably exciting, others are likely finding the idea of reentering society to be quite stressful or maybe both. Whatever you’re feeling, it’s important to acknowledge and accept where you’re at and, if needed, find some productive ways to feel comfortable safely returning to your pre-pandemic activities.
ou read that right — cleaning can actually decrease feelings of stress. During this time of COVID-19, many are feeling particularly stressed, and getting organized may help establish a positive, healthy foundation where you spend the majority of your time (especially right now). On the other hand, having too much clutter can actually negatively impact your sense of home — and can cause some serious stress.
If you're one of the 77% of Americans who suffer from symptoms of stress, decluttering may be one way to relieve some of them. Plus, you'll end up with a clean house as a result. Here's what you should know about the connection between clutter and stress — and how to get started on spring cleaning.
Take a moment and picture one of the closets in your home. Is it jam-packed full of clothes that you never wear anymore (but keep telling yourself you might one day)? If so, you're not alone.
Let's move onto your desk drawers, kitchen cabinets, or your garage. Are these spaces neatly organized, or are they bursting at the seams with anxiety-inducing clutter?
Clutter is no stranger to most households in the US. One study of middle-class American families found that 3 of 4 garages are so packed with storage that there isn't any room for an actual vehicle. Unfortunately, clutter can do more than just waste space — it can negatively impact your mental health. Too many possessions can cause stress, which if left unchecked, can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression down the road.
When clutter takes over your home, your living space ceases to be a place where you can feel comfortable and relax (called your sense of home ). Instead, it becomes an energy drain that brings down how you view your overall well being. What's more, managing the sheer volume of possessions in your home can actually elevate stress hormones. Other ways clutter can lead to stress include:
While there are certainly reasons to save some important items, such as a few special toys your children loved or a sweater that reminds you of a memorable moment, you can't save everything. Too many stored items can take over your home — and your mind. A clutter-free home, however, is one you can take pride in. You can look around and recognize the hard work you've put into keeping it clean, organized, and most importantly, yours.
Tips to a Successful Spring Cleaning Include
Remove everything from the space, wipe down or vacuum the area, then put back only what you want to keep.
Designate one bag for trash and another one for items to donate to charity.
Turn the hangers around in your closet, and when you wear something, put it back facing the correct way. Wait six months, take note of what you didn’t wear, and consider donating it.
Get rid of items if you can't remember the last time you used them (even if you think you "might" in the future).
Ask your family to help — especially when it comes to decluttering their own spaces.
Be realistic about memory clutter, which are possessions you want to keep for sentimental reasons. Keep them to a minimum, and avoid keeping items solely out of feelings of obligation.
As you work your way through your home, notice how it feels to be in a clutter-free space. The next time you feel the urge to buy something, remember that feeling — and make sure the item is something that you truly need
Spring Safety for Seniors
Spring is a great time to take a fresh look at your older adult’s home to make sure it’s as safe as possible. Hazards add up over time and increase the risk of falls or accidents – a top reason for seniors to lose mobility or decline in health. Regular home safety check-ups reduce fall risk and help them stay as independent as possible.
Once or twice a year, go through this checklist of important safety updates to keep your older adult’s home in tip-top shape.
Ready to get serious about your health? If you’re looking to make a positive change in your life and aren’t quite sure where to start, begin by examining your habits. Are you proactive about your health? If not, are you ready to start? Check out these doctor-endorsed preventive health care tips to help you get started.
Preventive health receives less attention in America than it deserves. Staying proactive about your personal health not only helps your mental health, but it also helps to prevent developing diseases or chronic health conditions from worsening any further. Fortunately, you don’t have to go to a doctor for every kind of preventive health. Let’s take a look at a few things you can do to take control of your health:
1) Walk Everyday
The CDC recommends aiming for about 10,000 steps (5 miles) per day. If you work in a sedentary environment like an office, find ways to incorporate more walking throughout the day. Get up every hour and walk around the office. Park your car a little further from the building and walk the extra distance. Whatever you choose, find simple ways to take more steps every day without sacrificing work time.
2) Wash Your Hands
a surprising number of adults don’t do it or do it improperly. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your hands are generally clean. We handle bacteria-covered objects every day, from doorknobs to computers to our own housekeys. Worse, touching shared objects means that if the last person to use the item didn’t properly wash their hands either, the bacteria and grime are passed on to you. Wash your hands thoroughly several times a day, but especially in a few key scenarios:
3) Get Health Screenings
Several diseases or potentially dangerous health conditions, including several types of cancer, can show little to no symptoms. Without periodic health screenings and exams, this could mean that the diseases lie dormant until damage has already been done. Fortunately, your doctor is trained to look for any signs of something wrong during a detailed exam. Annual or biannual screenings will ensure that if a hidden disease surfaces in your body or a chronic disease grows worse, your doctor will catch it in time to begin treatment.
4) Watch Your Diet
Exact nutritional and caloric needs vary from person to person. However, any doctor will tell you that it’s difficult to go wrong eating a large amount of fruits, vegetables, and protein sources daily. Try cooking healthy recipes or opting for fresh produce instead of the all-too-common junk foods that abound in the stores. The more nutrients you’re able to consume, the healthier you’ll be in the long run.
5) Wear Sunscreen
Sunscreen is not exactly pleasant to apply before spending time in the sun. However, using sunscreen products in tandem with other forms of protection, such as sunglasses, umbrellas, and UV-reflective clothing, will significantly reduce your exposure to harmful UV rays from the sun. In turn, this will reduce your risk of skin cancer significantly. Stay protected when you spend time outside!
Take Charge of Your Health!
While doctors can provide invaluable services and help you choose the right path to health, the choice to improve is ultimately yours. No amount of doctor visits will help if you don’t take the initiative. Now is the time to start!