GEA - Ways to Prioritize Your Mental Health
GEA - Ways to Prioritize Your Mental Health
Serving Veterans and Government Employees Since 1965
 

GEA - Ways to Prioritize Your Mental Health

May 7, 2024
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In recent years, mental health has become a popular topic of discussion. There is more emphasis on maintaining good mental health, bringing awareness to signs and symptoms of disorders, and destigmatizing getting help. In this blog, we discuss ways to help prioritize your mental health as well as mental health in the military.   

How To Prioritize Your Mental Health 

Just as we need to maintain our physical well-being by exercising and eating healthy, we must also keep up with our mental health. Here are four habits to help you improve your mental health. 

Maintain a Healthy Diet 

Eating well is not just good for your physical health, but your mental health as well. Diet and nutrition influence brain chemistry and gut health. Recent studies have shown that gut issues like IBS and other functional bowel problems contribute to anxiety and depression. This research shows that irritation in the gastrointestinal system can send signals to the central nervous system and trigger mood changes. To help support a healthy gut and an overall healthy diet, you can do the following: 

  • Reduce your intake of processed foods  
  • Take a prebiotic and probiotic 
  • Try to stick to a diet of whole foods, concentrating on more fruits and vegetables 
  • Add more fiber to your diet 
  • Check with your doctor to see if you have any food intolerances and remove them from your die

Regularly Exercise  

Like how a healthy diet affects your physical and mental health, so can regular exercise. Research suggests that physical activity boosts the hormones that make you feel satisfied and happy. It does not need to be intense exercise. A walk or yoga class is all that is needed to get your heart rate up and your body moving. Though it can be hard to get up and move your body when dealing with symptoms of a mental illness, there are ways you can make exercise a part of your routine, such as the following: 

  • Finding an exercise you enjoy and look forward to 
  • Making movement a commitment by scheduling exercises in your calendar 
  • Focusing on how exercising boosts your mood after 
  • Bringing a friend along to hold you accountable 

A Good Night’s Sleep  

The quality and length of sleep impact how our bodies and mind function. It is proven that poor sleep worsens mental health disorders like depression and anxiety. A common cause of sleep problems is the lack of a sleep schedule and habits. Some examples of good sleep habits you should add to your routine include the following:  

  • Having a set bedtime and sticking to it 
  • Finding ways to wind down before bed, such as listening to calming music, meditation, reading, etc. 
  • Avoiding caffeine 6 – 8 hours before bedtime 
  • Putting away all electronics an hour before bedtime 
  • Regularly exercising 

Set Boundaries at Work  

Work may contribute to an increase in stress levels which can impact mental health. Additionally, with the popularity of remote work, the separation between work and home life has gotten blurry. If you feel overwhelmed or anxious about work, set boundaries that protect your time outside of work. Some example boundaries include what’s listed below: 

  • Honestly communicate with your boss about workload and bandwidth 
  • Do not check emails or perform work duties outside of work hours 
  • Use your PTO to try and relax and not think about work  

Meet with a Mental Health Professional 

If you’re struggling with your mental health, consult with a professional. While making changes to your daily life and habits may help improve your mental health, a professional will help you explore treatment options to better help.  

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.  

Mental Health in the Military 

Being exposed to highly stressful situations and potentially extended periods away from home, military personnel and veterans can face unique challenges to their mental health. The most common mental health concerns amongst military personnel are post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and alcoholism. 

Though it’s just as important to have good mental health as it is physical, some individuals may find it difficult to reach out for help. However, expert help is available, whether you’re an active member or veteran. We’ve listed some important resources below.  

  • Confidential Counselors: Confidential counselors are available for service members and their families through Military One Source at 1-800-342-9647. This is an excellent first stop for information and advice. 
  • Primary Care Providers: Your primary doctor can help discuss concerns and treatment options. 
  • Behavioral Health Care Providers: These providers work at primary care clinics and are available on many military bases so you can seek a specialist’s advice without leaving the base.  

The Brandon Act 

In 2021, The Brandon Act was signed. This bill allows service members to seek mental health treatment and requires a mental health evaluation as soon as a service member self-reports. The Brandon Act also allows military members to seek help confidentially and outside of the chain of command, if necessary. Additionally, this bill mandates that the Department of Defense provide annual training on how to recognize when a member may need a mental health evaluation.  

This legislation is designed to protect the mental health of military personnel and aims to reduce the stigma associated with seeking help.  

 

Supplemental Plans: So You Can Focus on What Matters Most 

Don’t let medical costs get in the way of receiving help. If you’re seeking mental health resources from your primary care provider, you still may be on the hook for medical costs, such as prescriptions and co-pays. A supplement plan may be able to help cover out-of-pocket costs. If you’re a TRICARE or CHAMPVA member, our TRICARE and CHAMPVA Supplemental plans at GEA can help with co-pays, prescriptions, and more. So you can help focus on what really matters. Visit our website to learn more. 

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