September 6, 2022
Living with a chronic condition, like kidney disease, can affect more than just your kidneys. At Somatus, we recognize that mental health is an essential part of our overall well-being. That’s why our clinical experts assess both your physical and emotional health during the health screening process and develop a plan of action to help.
“In some cases, that help looks like a motivational interview between a member and a Somatus social worker to help identify personal care goals and find motivators to reach them,” says Jama Dean, Director of Training at Somatus. “In other cases, it could mean connecting the member with trained mental health professionals who can provide the care they need.”
When life deals you challenges, it takes time to come to terms with them and sort out what they mean for your future. Below are some insights our care team members share with our Somatus community every day on maintaining good mental health.
Depression Doesn’t Define You
According to the Cleveland Clinic, depression is one of the most common complications of chronic illnesses. Consider these tips for coping with depression and taking control of your mental health:
- Don’t underestimate the importance of an 8-hour night’s sleep! Improve your sleep health with habits like removing electronic devices from the bedroom.
- Try sticking to a healthy diet as recommended by your doctor or dietician and stay active on a regular basis to boost your mood.
- Go outdoors! Seeing trees and flowers and breathing in their scent is calming and can improve your mood. Going outside also improves your level of vitamin D, which has many benefits for the body and mind.
- Think about what makes you happy and make time for yourself. Whether it’s going on a walk or reading a book, “you time” is important to your mental health.
- Remember, you’re not alone! Speaking with somebody or confiding in someone can help lessen the burden. Socialize with friends and family or ask your Somatus care team about programs like the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) Peers Program.
Dealing with Anxiety
It’s normal to be afraid when you first find out you have a chronic condition. And it’s normal to feel anxious. Here are a few anxiety-management tips from our care team if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, or if you’re experiencing an anxiety attack:.
- Recognize your symptoms – Stay put and let your brain recognize the symptoms. Some common symptoms of an anxiety attack include shortness of breath, sweating, and dizziness or feeling faint.
- Breathe – This is the most important step to take when you experience anxiety! Try to regulate your breathing by inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth; take longer to exhale than inhale.
- Bring yourself back to the present – Touch and feel things around you. Look around and speak out loud about things you can see, touch, smell, and taste.
- Divert yourself – You can distract yourself by doing things like counting backwards by 3s, reciting lyrics of a favorite song, or thinking about a pleasant memory or beautiful scenery.
- Inform someone – Some of your friends or family members may not know how to deal with anxiety attacks. When you’re not having anxiety, share these tips with the people you love for the next time you or they experience an anxiety attack.
Find Your Support System
With a chronic illness, it helps to have at least one person who will be there for you. To feel calm—and ease your stress—try to reach out to a friend or loved one each day to catch up. Talk in person if you can, at a coffee shop or on a walk, or by phone or video calls. These talks do not have to be all about your health, though it is nice when someone asks how you feel. The point is to connect about your issues and theirs, so you both feel that someone cares. Giving support helps you too.
You don’t have to go on feeling anxious or depressed. It’s a sign of strength to seek help! Talk to your Somatus team, who can refer you to someone who can help. No matter the case, we recognize the importance of mental health and prioritize those who are struggling.
Please let us know how we can lend our support on your health journey. You can reach us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 855-851-8354.