Managing Stress and Anxiety in Uncertain Times

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, and this year it comes with an added layer of significance. As we all continue to adapt to the challenges of living through a pandemic and focus on maintaining our physical health, it is important to monitor our mental health as well. The National Alliance on Mental Health is raising awareness with the You Are Not Alone campaign. With shareable resources and tools, the campaign is promoting ways to stay connected with our communities because no one should ever feel alone.

As front line workers, pharmacists are caring for their patients’ health in addition to their own. It is important to practice steps for managing stress and anxiety and share this advice with patients as well. The community pharmacist’s role in mental health has been highlighted due to their prime positioning for interacting with patients to recognize symptoms and monitor progress. Using care plans, pharmacists can even individualize treatment plans for their patients and guide them through lifestyle changes that will improve their overall mental health. In addition, practicing MTM with patients that are on psychiatric medications can help a pharmacist understand underlying factors affecting adherence and result in improved patient outcomes.

During this hectic time, it can be easy to forget about making time for mental health. There are many tools and resources online that can give you ideas on how to incorporate it into your schedule. The CDC has a section on their COVID-19 page that specifically addresses ways to cope with stress, and outlines different situations and ways to approach them. Take time for your own mental health and remember the simple, easy steps you can take to be kind to your mind. Some ideas include:

Limit your news intake.

Consuming too much media surrounding the current pandemic can be upsetting and cause your mind to focus on the negatives. While it is important for pharmacists to stay up-to-date on policy changes and regulations, try to take breaks from emotionally charged videos and articles.

Get to sleep on time.

While it may not always be easy to get to sleep early, be mindful of prioritizing your body and mind’s time for rest.

Eat a balanced diet.

Fuel your body with nutritious foods that will make you feel better and give you the energy to get through the day.

Stay active and get outside.

Getting fresh air is a cleansing way to reset your mind, and staying active is important for your health and helps to release endorphins.

Calm your mind.

Try meditation or yoga as a way to refocus your mind and relieve stress.

Take a break from your phone.

Screens in general, that is. Give your eyes a rest.

Check in on your team and your patients.

Pay attention to those around you and be there for support.

Notice changes in your own behavior.

Be aware of how you are feeling and give yourself time to ‘recharge’.

This month is a reminder of the importance of mental health. You may not always be able to follow all the steps above, and that’s ok. Choose an activity that relaxes you and make time for it this week. Remember to spread awareness and always check in with those around you.

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