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Better Understand Your Mental Health: 5 Common Questions Answered with a Physician Assistant

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

Maintaining our mental well-being is a crucial aspect of leading a fulfilling and balanced life. However, at times, we may find ourselves in need of additional support to navigate the complexities of our inner world, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. We sat down with Joseph Shepherd, PA-C, founder of All Health Consulting and a good friend of the Resolve Wellness team, to answer popular questions regarding mental health. Joseph explores the signs that indicate when we may require mental health assistance, discusses practical changes we can make to improve our well-being, provides guidance on initiating conversations about mental health, offers resources for online support, and sheds light on how mental health difficulties can manifest physically.


Our goal is to empower you with knowledge and tools to prioritize your mental health, support others in their journeys, and foster a greater understanding of the intricate connection between our minds and bodies.


 

*This blog post is not to be used as medical advice and if you are struggling with mental health, seek advice from a professional.*


Written by: Joseph Shepherd, PA-C. Joe has a bachelor's degree in Allied Health Sciences with a minor in Psychology and a master’s degree in Physician Assistant Studies. He is passionate about all things health and follows a model of health which focuses on wellness promotion and disease prevention. He believes that health is wealth, food is medicine, and social connection is therapy.

 

How Do I Know If I Need Mental Health Support?


It's important to recognize when we might need assistance maintaining our mental well-being. Here are some signs to look out for:

  • Apathy: Neglecting your self-care, not exercising, not getting ready for the day, lacking in personal hygiene, staying up too late, distracting yourself with technology, and being negative or mean to others

  • Withdrawing from friends or loved ones

  • Overeating or undereating

  • Oversleeping or undersleeping (poor sleep quality)

  • Starting to be negative, jaded, gossiping, or having negative self-talk

  • Suicidal thoughts (ideation), or thoughts that the world would be better off without you

  • Ultimately, not feeling 100% you or the person you know you are capable of being

If you find yourself not thriving physically, emotionally, or mentally, it's perfectly okay to seek support.


What Changes Can I Make to Improve My Mental Health?


To enhance your mental well-being, try implementing the following practices into your life:


Create a routine or schedule

Plan out your days, including time for shopping, exercise, and self-care (journaling, taking a bath, meditating, massage, a sound healing session, acupuncture, or spa).


Surround yourself with positive people

Friendships and companionship can positively influence your life. From providing support and purpose to combating loneliness, connection is essential in our lives. Consider meeting new people through platforms like Facebook (Facebook Groups), Meetup, or Bumble BFF. It can be scary to put yourself out there, but you never know what wonderful people are waiting to meet you, but remember, take precautions, and be safe when meeting new people!


Be vulnerable

Opening up to people you trust makes a world of difference in processing emotions and fostering closer connections. If you don't have a trusted individual in your life at the moment, consider seeking a therapist who can help you heal from your past traumas, insecurities, and worries or fears.


Take care of your physical body

Just as our mind can influence our body, our body can, in turn, influence our mind. Engaging in mindful activities and exercise increases our energy and mood. Try exposing yourself to sunlight, participating in regular movement or exercise of your choice, and attempting to avoid or limit substances that can interfere with your mood, such as alcohol or drugs.


Take care of your emotional well-being

Be intentional with your time and use it to regularly check in with yourself to reflect on your feelings. Limit opportunities for comparison, such as by taking breaks from social media and reading self-help books instead. Limiting quick dopamine hits (a dopamine detox) can also improve your long-term well-being by practicing self-control and curbing addictive tendencies. Try to refrain from things that you frequently turn to for instant gratification, such as online shopping, social media, TV, etc. Lastly, prioritize your sleep and sleep schedule!


Repair tarnished relationships

This one might be the hardest to accomplish for some people, but it can be beneficial for closure, healing, and rekindling meaningful relationships. This can mean apologizing to someone you’ve hurt, reaching out to somebody that you haven't spoken to in a while, or even forgiving somebody who hurt you and having a conversation about it if it's safe to do so.


Tap into a spiritual practice

If this is your thing, try praying, meditating, sound healing, or focusing on something beyond yourself.


How Do I Talk About My Mental Health Difficulties?


This is not easy; it takes vulnerability and trust. Find a therapist or mental health provider with whom you feel comfortable opening up. If you have insurance, call the number on the back of your insurance card or reach out to your primary care provider to obtain a referral.


Online resources:


Talk to your primary care provider, a health coach, or even a health consultant like myself! You can contact me through my website.


How Do I Support Someone Who Is Struggling With Their Mental Health?


Here are some ways to offer support to someone facing mental health challenges:

  • Ask them how you can help. Some individuals may benefit from advice and feedback, while others simply need someone to listen.

  • Schedule regular outings with them, whether it's a coffee date, a walk, or an activity that promotes overall well-being.

  • Be consistent and dependable, and remind them that struggling with mental health is a normal part of life. Share your personal experiences of overcoming challenges to provide reassurance.

  • Remember that individuals experiencing mental health difficulties do not want to suffer and appreciate your support.


Can Mental Health Difficulties Manifest Physically?


Yes, mental health difficulties can manifest physically due to the complex interplay between our body and mind. Stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health factors can impact various organ systems, including the nervous, cardiovascular, endocrine, and immune systems. Consequently, mental health disturbances may affect sleep patterns, blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, digestion, and our ability to fight off infections. Differentiating between symptoms related to an organic process and disruptions in mental health can sometimes be challenging, as the brain is intricately linked to the body.


Take the First Step Today


If you or somebody you know is struggling, this is your sign to reach out for help. My goal is to help you reach the pinnacle of your health in all areas, and I do this by creating a comprehensive health plan for you in the comfort of your own home. Contact me today to get started on your health journey!



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