Category: Stress Management

How Does Our Mental Health Change as we Age?

Thank you to JaNae Gregg, UNC Student Volunteer and Guest Blogger.

The aging process comes with many changes for our bodies, but a common change that gets overlooked is how our mental health changes.  The change in our mental health can be misunderstood for the common physical changes that can occur from aging. Some of these symptoms can reveal themselves as lack of motivation, fatigue, and forgetfulness.  One way to be able to recognize when a symptom is cause for a mental health concern includes: stable intellectual functioning, capacity for change, and productive engagement with life. When fatigue and lack of motivation begin to interfere with how a person interacts within their daily life, then it could become a possible warning sign that they are suffering from poor mental health.  It is easy to misinterpret physical changes with mental health since the two typically go hand in hand with one another. For example, if a person suffers from heart problems or diabetes then they are more likely to develop poor mental health. On the other hand, people who suffer from depression and/or anxiety are more likely to develop physical problems that could include lack of energy, trouble concentrating, and memory problems.

Coping with the changes that occur while aging should be a part of everyone’s long-term lifestyle.  This could be done by expecting and planning for changes to occur (at any stage of life), maintaining strong relationships with family and friends, and a willingness to stay excited and involved with life.  By taking preventative measures to help mental health early on in life, then there is a higher chance of having better mental health in the future.  

Following these steps can be very beneficial for mental health, but sometimes the changes and loneliness that occurs with aging is hard to combat.  It is important to recognize if these changes reach a point of being too much to handle. The most sure sign of poor mental health or loneliness is when it becomes an interference to a person’s daily life.  There are a variety of ways to help decrease feeling lonely, these strategies include: staying active, look for new social outlets and contacts, make friends with people of all ages, continue to set goals and work towards them, and learn to recognize and deal with signs of depression.  Having strong emotional and social support are two of the biggest factors that can help with mental health; it is also associated with reduced risk of physical illness and mortality.

Mental health is just as important as a person’s physical health.  If you or someone you know suffers from a mental health disease or just isn’t feeling themselves, it is wise to seek outlets that can be beneficial to help improve their well-being.  Seeking counseling can be very beneficial, but there are many other ways to help improve mental health. Starting a new exercise routine, eating a healthier diet, finding a hobby, and being social are all great simple ways to begin to improve mental health. 

Contact Covell Care at (970) 204-4331 to learn about our counseling services for you or a loved one.   

Source: https://www.psychologistanywhereanytime.com/psychologist/psychologist_aging_and_mental_health.htm

The Sandwich Generation: Caring for yourself while caring for others

Guest blogger Maya Stiles, Covell Care Intern and Colorado State Student.

Many caregivers may find themselves to be “Sandwiched”; not in a yummy snack but in fact something completely different. “The Sandwich Generation” is as a phrase used to describe people roughly between the ages of 30-50 years old who are taking care of a child, while also caring for their elderly family members. These “sandwiched” people can often find themselves being pulled in every direction by providing emotional, physical, mentally and financial support.

While caring for your family can be one of the most rewarding and uplifting things, it can also cause immense stress and take a toll on you emotionally and physically. In order to care for others, you must also take care of yourself. Below are four tips to take care of yourself while
caring for others…

  1. Take Regular Breaks- We often feel like we cannot spare a minute in our day, but if you break it down by 10, 20, or 30-minute increments; you find that it becomes much more achievable.
  2. Get enough Sleep- When life starts getting crazy, good sleep seems like the first thing to go out the window. However, in order to take of others, you must prioritize yourself. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night will ensure you are rested and ready to provide quality love and care to others.
  3. Laugh often- Plain and simple- laughter is the best medicine. Keeping things light by utilizing humor is a great way to release stress and take care of yourself and others.
  4. Be aware of Burnout- Taking care of others is a full-time job and can be even more demanding when paired with other jobs and life responsibilities. Everyone needs support, even when it is hard to ask for help.

Remember, you cannot take care of others unless you take care of yourself first. Keeping these four self-care practices in the back of your mind can provide you with some relief and support. However, If you feel like you need some extra support or resources please refer to Covell Care’s services and resources at https://www.covellcare.com.

References:
https://caregiveraction.org
https://www.caregiverstress.com/stress-management/
https://www.drnorthrup.com/how-to-care-for-yourself-when-caring-for-loved-ones/

Exercise as Medicine: Activity as Depression Management

Guest blogger Galen Friesen, Covell Intern and Colorado State University graduate.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 18% of the population every year. The process of treatment for mental conditions can be frustrating and extremely stressful; but a viable treatment option exists innately within every single person.

Exercise is always an option regardless of ability level, experience, or life circumstance. Exercise looks slightly different for every person, and can be tailored to meet individual needs extremely well. Public health recommendations for exercise (150 minutes hours to 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise [1]) have been shown to be scientifically effective at treating depression [2]. Analysis of 80 studies also shows that benefits of exercise can even be obtained regardless of duration, as long as a consistent frequency is maintained [3]. This means that something as simple as a daily walk can help combat depression, as long as it is a consistent practice. So if long concentrated exercise sessions are not a good fit for you, consistent physical activity is still an option, if frequency is emphasized.

The main takeaway of the relationship between exercise and mental health is that exercise is an effective and proven way to mitigate symptoms of mental illness and there are seemingly endless different ways to go about exercising, so there is guaranteed to be a form of exercise that suits each individual differently.

Sources:
[1] HHS Office, & Council on Sports. (2019, February 01). Physical Activity Guidelines for
Americans. Retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/be-active/physical-activity-guidelines-for-americans/index.html
[2] Exercise treatment for depression: Efficacy and dose response. (2004, December 27). Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0749379704002417
[3] Craft, L. L., & Perna, F. M. (2004). The Benefits of Exercise for the Clinically Depressed. The Primary Care Companion to The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry,06(03), 104-111. doi:10.4088/pcc.v06n0301

Wellness & Mobile Practitioners

Guest blogger, Colorado State University Graduate and Covell Care Intern, Hailey Jungerman.

Being a mobile practitioner there are a number of health factors to keep in mind. You are constantly on the go, but not being active in the sense of physical activity requirements. There is also a high chance that you are eating in between appointments while in the car. On top of that you may also be stressing about making it to your next appointment on time if one runs over, or there is traffic. All of these, and I am sure you know, and many more are stressors. All these can also pose serious health problems. Chronic stress can cause issues such as high blood pressure, racing heart, weakened immune system, depression, headaches and so many more (Pietrangelo and Watson). They also state that “Chronic stress is also a factor in behaviors such a overeating or not eating enough, alcohol or drug abuse, and social withdrawal.”

Symptoms of chronic stress include (Pietrangelo and Watson):

  • irritability
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • headaches
  • Insomnia

If you are experiencing any of these, it is important to know how to relieve stress. Stress management techniques vary. Some can be more effective than others. It will depend on you and what you are comfortable with. Many of them have health benefits beyond just relieving stress.

Some evidence based stress management techniques include (Darviri and Varvogli):

  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation: leads to a decrease in stress and anxiety as well as decreased blood pressure, heart rate, and decreased headaches.
  • Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction: positive impact on mood, stress and anxiety reduction.
  • Guided Imagery: can help in stress reduction, pain management, preventing relapse of smoking, and treatment of depression.

These are just a few strategies that could help to reduce your stress. It is important to find something that you enjoy and that works for you. Listening to books on tape, podcasts, or light music while you are driving are great ways to relieve stress in between appointments. Finding time to workout, take your dog for a walk, or making time for hobbies are other great ways to find a work-life balance and reduce stress. Ask Covell Care about our employee stress management!


Works Cited :
Darviri, Christina and Liza Varvogli. “Stress Management Techniques: evidence-based procedures that reduce stress and promote health.” Health Science Journal (2011): 74-89.
Pietrangelo, Ann and Stephanie Watson “The Effects of Stress on Your Body.” 5 June Health Line. 30 April 2019.

Top 5 Ways How Seniors Can Lead Happier Lives

Thank you to Emma Jones, guest blogger who is part of the community team at Greenwood Homecare, providing a range of high quality care services. Emma is passionate about improving the quality of care that older adults receive in the UK and around the world. https://greenwoodhomecare.co.uk/

The word “seniors’’ is synonymous with everything that is negative. From retirement to elderly care and pension funds; everything about seniors sounds like a liability. Even worse, people in this age group are deemed as a sad lot and even those that try to put up a brave face are often begrudged their happiness. This is because the society considers them as individuals living on borrowed time; hence not allowed to indulge in the joys and pleasures of this time. The seniors themselves do not make the situation better either; they will often look back and only see the chances they missed in life.

Instead of counting their blessings, as it were, they will find it convenient to dwell on their past mistakes and feel sorry for their apparent ineptitude. All these culminate in one thing; a stressful life in old age. However, there are ways seniors can still salvage what’s left of their time on earth and stay happy, positive and motivated. The following are the top 5 ways for seniors to lead happier lives.

Work Less; Play More
The first strategy that seniors can employ to remain happy is to focus more on having fun as opposed to making money. After having lived decades, you have probably saved enough to help you get by; whether in terms of long-term investments or pension fund. This is not the time to focus on getting rich but rather keeping fit.

You can do with a little bookkeeping in your grocery store so as to stay in touch with the cash flow in your business but when the time comes for physical exercise, stop everything else and focus all your attention on it. Indulge in jogging, running, swimming and all the light forms of exercise that will keep you in shape as opposed to those that build your muscles.

Explore The World
Traveling is a mysterious form of adventure and it opens up our minds to greater realms. As a senior, you will find lots of happiness in exploring those enchanting tourist destinations you only read about in travel magazines. You will find it easy to interact with new people as you experience nature in the raw.

Traveling will set your mind at ease since you learn to embrace the aging process with grace as you surrender yourself to the inevitable. If you are more of the social guy, you will find a trip down to the Bahamas a great way to make new friends but if you are into the grander of Mother Nature, you won’t go wrong with a cruise to the Great Barrier Reef or spare sometime to visit the Scandinavian regions and experience the mystic Aurora.

Make Your Physician Your Greatest Friend
As a senior, one of the greatest challenges to your happiness is ill health. And since at this age your immunity will have taken as much beating as it can, you are likely to be bogged down by little conditions such as the common cold, flu or even headaches. It is therefore important to ensure you have your physician’s contacts close by so you can contact them anytime you experience such symptoms.

Having routine medical check-ups is one way to keep these infections at bay and lead a healthier lifestyle. During these checkups, your physician will also take the opportunity to recommend to you some nutritional and exercise tips based on your medical profile.

Let It Off Your Chest
Most seniors have lots of issues; both personal and social. And due to their age, most of them find it necessary to hide their feeling as they fear being judged and betrayed even further. It is important as a senior to understand and appreciate the good, old adage that a trouble shared is a trouble halved.

While you may not trust those around you, there is always that one friend that you can look up to. Remember that sharing your worries and agonies will not necessarily help you find a solution to them but it will take the burden off your shoulders and you will begin to feel more positive about life. Hold no grudge against anyone, forgive all and strive to be at peace with everyone.

Stay Away From Trouble
Seniors are revered members of the society and as such, they will usually find themselves arbitrating matters that often result in earning them more enemies. Unless it is a pressing need such as arbitrating disputes involving your will, try to stay away as far as possible from such feuds.

If at all possible, have a lawyer, another trusted member of the family or your close friend to help in situations in whose involvement may polarize your family or pit you against your near and dear ones.

Many may claim that happiness is a state of mind but for someone who has lived on earth for over 6 decades; it is more than just a matter of attitude. Adjusting your lifestyle to focus on things that calm your spirit is the only ideal way of staying happy as a senior.