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Published on May 31, 2022

Your Mood, Your Move: Improving Your Mental Health and When to Seek Help

 brunette woman smiling with eyes closed

By Cody Miller, EvergreenHealth Staff Writer

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five adults in the U.S. is living with a mental health condition, yet mental health is still a difficult topic to discuss. It's time to change that.

Just as important as physical health, mental health has a great impact on your quality of life, well-being and happiness. Mental health, or mood, is how you recognize your own abilities and deal with life stressors physically, cognitively and emotionally.

Common Symptoms and Self-Care

Understanding what you are feeling and how it is affecting your life is the best first step toward figuring out how to move toward a better peace of mind.

Common symptoms of mental health challenges include:

  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Worriedness or feelings of hopelessness
  • Uncontrollable emotions
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Fatigue

Some common symptoms can be tempered simply by stepping away from a stressful or triggering task or environment; taking a break; going for a walk; or doing a quick exercise to divert your attention. That's why it's important to be mindful of your moods and learn what self-care approaches work well for you.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, anxious or panicked more and more often, it is probably time to take a day off and ask someone close to you to take something off your plate, if possible. Asking your partner or loved one to take your toddler to the grocery store to give you some alone time to decompress, for example, can help. Also, taking a walk to the park by yourself could give you a kind of mental vacation from common stressors that could be affecting your overall mood.

Some other simple tools are:

  • Eat a healthy meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Find a new playlist or podcast you like
  • Get outside for some fresh air
  • If you're feeling panicked, do some jumping jacks until the feeling subsides
  • Write down your thoughts in a journal or share them with someone you trust
  • Turn off the notifications on your phone, even for a short time
  • Treat yourself by going to bed early and getting a good night's sleep

Self-care can be understood like a battery. Many of us go about our daily lives with our batteries on empty. If you went around with your cell phone's battery on empty all day long, you would probably be worried and begin looking for a charger. Self-care techniques are the chargers for your battery. Recharge your mood by taking the first step in improving your mental health.

Common Diagnoses and Seeking Support

In a recent podcast, 'Taking the First Step: A Discussion on Mental Health," Rebecca Mass-Krajewski, ARNP, EvergreenHealth Primary Care in Redmond, shares that the most common mood conditions are depression and anxiety, but they are not mutually exclusive. Sometimes anxiety and depression symptoms can show up at the same time and to different degrees, such as a 50/50, 70/30 or 20/80 split, which is why seeking professional help is an important step to overcoming mental health conditions. Click here to listen to the podcast.

Primary care providers (PCPs) don't just screen you for things like diabetes and high blood pressure, they also screen how well you are taking care of yourself and how your overall well-being is.

If you are experiencing mental health challenges and aren't finding relief in self-care strategies, schedule an appointment to see your PCP, and be sure to bring up your mood early in the appointment.

For more serious mood conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder or bipolar disorder, your primary care doctor can learn your symptoms and get you connected with a specialist.

Quality of life and well-being begin with your mental health, and you don't have to go it alone. To find an EvergreenHealth PCP who is right for you, please visit www.evergreenhealth.com/primary-care-physician or call our 24-hour nurse hotline for a personalized recommendation at 425.899.3000.

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