Feelings of stress and anxiety can crop up seemingly out of nowhere. As they creep in slowly, you may begin to feel as though you’re struggling to keep your head above water. As we age, the demands of life and responsibilities keep growing, and the adjustment periods can lead to stress as we learn how to manage everything.
As the topic of mental well-being has been in the spotlight more frequently in the past few years, the World Health Organization (WHO) has taken notice. In fact, WHO included “burnout” in its list of International Classification of Diseases, a diagnostic tool for medical providers—though the guidelines won’t go into effect until 2022.
Here are four tips from experts at Riverview Health on how to manage feelings of burnout:
1. Make an appointment with your primary care provider.
Prolonged periods of extreme stress not only affect your mind, your mood and your relationships—it can have serious effects on your physical health, according to Riverview Health chief medical officer and family medicine provider Eric Marcotte, MD.
“Stress and fatigue can lead to problems with your respiratory system, heart and gastrointestinal issues,” Dr. Marcotte said. “It also can lead to high blood pressure, which takes a toll on your entire body and can lead to a heart attack or stroke or put you more at risk for other diseases.”
By making an annual appointment with a primary care provider, you can stay on top of your health—even if you feel fine. Having annual baseline results from blood pressure, weight, cholesterol, blood sugar and other preventive screenings will help you and your provider know if something is off in the future.
2. Take mental health days.
Whether it’s taking time off from work or going for a night out to take a break from your kids and responsibilities at home, too few people take advantage of mental health days. A large reason for feeling hesitant to take time for yourself is the dreaded feeling of guilt.
Guilt that you’ll let down your employer. Guilt that taking a day off to do nothing makes you appear lazy. Guilt that taking a break from your family means you don’t love them.
If you’re constantly operating in stress-mode, you’re not doing yourself, your coworkers or your family any favors. Allowing yourself to step back and decompress helps you refocus and return to a happier, healthier state of mind, which those around you will notice.
3. Invest in personal wellness coaching.
Professional wellness coaches can help you improve your overall health and well-being by establishing a partnership through conversation that facilitates progress, discovery, change and growth.
The wellness coach at Riverview Health is credentialed through the American College of Sports Medicine as a certified health and wellness coach (CHWC) and is trained to help patients develop and implement personal wellness plans by:
» Accepting and meeting you in your current state of health
» Addressing all elements of well-being
» Asking you to take charge
» Guiding you in doing mindful thinking and doing work that builds confidence
» Helping set realistic goals, as small victories lay the foundation of self-efficacy
Sessions are designed to help you learn new skills, strategies and tools to make healthy, sustainable behavioral changes.
4. Discover employer-based counseling services.
Despite how it may feel when you’re overwhelmed at work, your employer doesn’t want you to feel that way. Many companies are investing in their employees by offering free counseling services as part of their benefits packages. While services may vary from employer to employer, you don’t have to have experienced a catastrophic life event to seek counseling. In fact, many employer-based counseling programs offer multiple counseling sessions for an unlimited number of life stressors— whether it’s related to work, home life or something else.
And though these services are brought to you by your employer, counselors offer a safe space and are bound by privacy laws to never share anything with your employers. Check with your company’s human resources department to ask what kinds of mental health and wellness benefits they offer.
Ready to make a change? To find a primary care physician, visit riverview.org/doctor, or to learn more about wellness coaching, visit riverview.org/classes.