Are You Practicing Good Emotional Hygiene?

It’s likely that every morning you take a shower, brush your teeth, and wash your face. These are part of a good hygiene routine.

Are you practicing emotional hygiene as well? It is just as important as your physical habits and can lead to improved overall well-being.

Just like dirt or oil builds on our bodies, the worries of life pile up too, and can build to a point where it weighs you down emotionally. It’s important to give yourself a mental “scrub” and talk to a professional about what is troubling you.

A huge number of Americans are seeking some kind of treatment for mental health issues according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2021, 21.6% of adults sought mental health treatment, up from 19.2% in 2019.

While more people are going to therapy, especially in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, nearly half the population believes seeking therapy is a sign of weakness. However, taking care of your emotional health is no less important than taking care of your physical health, and will actually make you a stronger person.

The Benefits

Emotional hygiene doesn’t always involve talking to a therapist, you can talk to someone you feel safe confiding in. It can include mindfulness, meditation, adopting a positive attitude, exercise, or even scheduling time for yourself. Whatever you do to relieve stress is part of an emotional hygiene routine. Here are how those actions can benefit you:

  1. Improved mental health — According to the World Health Organization, mental health is "a state of well-being in which the individual realizes their own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community." Taking care of your emotional well-being can help you achieve this state, leading to a happier and more fulfilling life.
  2. Reduced stress — Per the American Psychological Association, chronic stress can have a negative impact on your physical health, as well as your mental health. Taking care of your emotional well-being can help lighten the weight daily stressors bring and make it easier to enjoy life despite them.
  3. Better relationships — When you take care of your emotional well-being, you are better able to connect with others. Psychologist Guy Winch wrote, "When we feel good about ourselves, we are better able to be present with others and connect deeply."
  4. Improved self-esteem — Winch also wrote, "When we care for ourselves emotionally, we feel better about ourselves and our abilities." This can lead to increased confidence and self-worth.
  5. Improved productivity — When you're not distracted by negative emotions, you're better able to focus on the task at hand and get things done.
  6. Improved resilience — Taking care of your emotional well-being can help you better cope with difficult situations and bounce back from adversity.
  7. Improved overall well-being — When you take care of your emotional well-being, you're better able to enjoy life and all it has to offer.

It is difficult to maintain physical health without the emotional component and vice versa. When both mind and body are in sync, working toward your overall health, you have a better quality of life and can do so much more for yourself and those you care about.

We Are Here to Help

AltaMed is here to help you with your holistic health needs. That includes your emotional health. The behavioral health clinicians with our Behavioral Health team speak English and Spanish and are trained to help you cope with life stressors and get you through a rough time.

We offer short-term therapy to help you develop and strengthen your coping skills. We can also link you to mental health services if you need long-term services. Call us today at (855) 425-1777 to learn more.

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How to Stay Mentally Healthy as We Age

Even with the miracle of modern medicine, growing old is not a given. Seeing our “golden years” requires work. Eating right, exercising, and getting plenty of sleep are all part of the physical preparation for living longer. Staying mentally sharp is equally important.

The challenges that come with aging – physical limitations, chronic health conditions, and social isolation – can harm our mental health. But there are steps seniors can take to stay mentally strong and maintain their overall well-being.

Below are some commonsense approaches that will help seniors continue to live fulfilling lives.

Staying sharp

  1. Stay physically active — Physical activity is not only good for your physical health, but also your mental health. Exercise releases endorphins, which can improve your mood and reduce stress. According to the NIA, older adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical fitness per week, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming. Here are some activities you can do at any age.
  2. Stay socially engaged — Isolation can have a negative impact on mental health, so it's important for seniors to stay engaged. This can involve joining a social group, volunteering, or simply spending time with friends and family. Social support can help seniors cope with stress and improve their overall well-being.
  3. Practice mindfulness — Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment, without judgment. This can help seniors reduce stress, thereby improving health. Mindfulness techniques can include meditation, deep breathing, or simply taking a few moments to focus on the present moment. Mindfulness can improve mental health and cognitive functioning in older adults.
  4. Maintain a healthy diet — Eating a healthy diet can also have a positive impact on mental health. A healthy diet should include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. Avoiding processed foods and sugary drinks is also recommended.
  5. Seek professional help if needed — If seniors are experiencing mental health issues such as depression or anxiety, it's important to seek professional help. According to the American Psychiatric Association, mental health treatment can be highly effective for seniors, and there are a variety of treatment options available.

We Are Here to Help

We offer short-term therapy to help you overcome any challenge. Our behavioral health clinicians speak English and Spanish and are trained to help you cope with life stressors. We can also link you to mental health services if you need long-term therapy. Call our Behavioral Health team today at (855) 425-1777 to learn more about our services.

Our AltaMed Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) also offers Behavioral Health services. The PACE Behavioral Health team includes multi-lingual, licensed staff along with a Board-Certified Chaplain. These providers work with your care team to identify a behavioral care plan. For more information, speak with your medical provider or click here.

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Cut Back on Screen Time to Boost Mental Health

We have access to more information than any generation before us. Nearly all of human knowledge is at our fingertips, twenty-four hours a day. But whether you want to find a new recipe, watch a viral video, or stay informed about current events, you need a screen.

For many people, screens have become an essential part of how we do things. We’re surrounded by them – in our pockets, our offices, our living rooms, bedrooms, and even on our wrists. We can decide, however, how much time we spend on them. Limiting screen time has been shown to improve our mood and help us engage with the people and activities that matter most.

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Ways to Manage Screen Time

We’ve made a habit at looking at our phones. Anytime we’re not having conversations, we’re gaming or scrolling through social media. Sometimes we need a little quiet time. That’s when we’re at our most creative.

Here are some tips for reducing the amount of time you spend on your device.

  • Manage news consumption — We are constantly bombarded with news. While it’s important to stay informed, we don’t need to know everything every second. It’s OK to pause the 24-hour news cycle.
  • Turn off notifications — Do you really need to know that someone posted a vacation photo or a picture of their meal? Keep track of appointments, but the social media updates can go.
  • Stay focused — If you’re looking at your phone while watching TV or worse, spending time with someone, what does that say about what you’re doing? Maybe you need to find another activity or reexamine how you conduct relationships.
  • Just eat — Mealtime should be for meals. You should savor your food. Pay attention to the conversations you’re having and notice when you’re getting full. When eating at home, make it a rule to put away your screens.
  • Set screen-free times and zones at home — It’s a good idea not to look at screens right before bed. It makes it hard to fall asleep because of the light given off by your devices. So, don’t look for at least half an hour before bedtime. See if you can make that last longer. Also designate certain parts of the house or apartment as screen-free.
  • Find screen alternatives — Go for a walk, meditate, read a book, sit outside, or find another activity that doesn’t involve looking at your device. Sitting in silence with your thoughts gives you an opportunity to process and reflect on your day.
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Benefits of Less Screen Time

Prying yourself free of your device gives you the opportunity to do different things. Here are five benefits to less screen time.

  1. Improve physical health — Putting down the phone and turning off the TV give you a chance to move. Movement can help prevent obesity and conditions related to excess weight. You’ll have more time to exercise and play. You can also get better sleep with less screen time.
  2. Discover new things — You live in Southern California where there’s always something to do. Get out and explore what’s around you. It also gives you the opportunity to try new hobbies.
  3. Connect socially — Face-to-face connections are vital to making ourselves and others feel cared for. We show our children and loved ones what’s truly important when we put our phones down and spend time with them.
  4. Boost your mood — Time spent on a screen makes it easier to withdraw and become depressed. Once you’re off the phone, you’re more inclined to engage socially with others. It can also help to eliminate feelings of anxiety and depression.
  5. Build community — With the phone out of your hand you can build stronger connections with:
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Neighbors
  • Coworkers

Mental Health Is Part of Your Health

AltaMed is here for you, and we’re committed to your mental and physical well-being. To learn more about AltaMed behavioral health services, call 855-425-1777.

Are You Practicing Good Emotional Hygiene?