For the month of May let’s focus on mental health. Many of us set goals or expectations throughout the year at work or in our personal lives. However, if these expectations are unrealistic, they can potentially set us up for disappointment, depression, anxiety, addiction, or other mental health issues that can interfere with our daily lives. This month is all about helping your employees find healthy ways to take care of their mental health. Here are 3 simple tips to get started. You can find more by visiting kp.org/mentalhealth.
Set realistic, personal goals
“The desire to be our best self is the first and honest step towards real, positive change,” notes Britany Alexander, MD, psychiatrist Kaiser Permanente. Though people in your life may have ideas, it’s best to stay true to yourself. Choose something that you want to tackle in your life. You’ll be more likely to follow through on your commitment if it’s a personal goal, not someone else’s.
Make it achievable
When you decide to make a change, it can be tempting to set many aggressive goals at once, like going on a diet, exercising every day, and drinking lots of water. Dr. Alexander says to resist the urge to take on too much. People tend to become discouraged and quit quickly if they miss their mark on unreasonable targets. Instead, make small, achievable goals that set you up for success.
Take it step by step
Remember that small changes can add up to real results. “Taking too big a of a leap at any point in your life could result in discouragement, and that could ultimately lead you to disappointment,” says Dr. Alexander. Be kind to yourself by being realistic and focusing on progress, not perfection. If you don’t make it today, show up again tomorrow. You’re worth a second, third and fourth chance.
You can use the links below or attached flyers to access Wellness Webinar and Resources for your employees. Take advantage of this month’s Wellness Challenge by sending us a picture of you participating in any of this month’s activities on the Wellness Calendar. Simply share the calendar with your employees and they can submit a photo or let us what they have been doing to THRIVE. We will have random drawings for prizes and winners will be featured on next month’s e-newsletter. Send your name, agency, and photo or description of how you have been THRIVING to kpncalcalpers@KaiserPermanente.onmicrosoft.com
Please remember that all resources are available to all employees regardless of their health plan
Self-Care Tools at Your Finger Tips
To support your total health, Kaiser Permanente members have access to Calm and myStrength apps. These wellness apps can help you navigate life’s challenges, and make small changes to improve your sleep, mood, relationships, and more. It’s self-care made easy, designed to help you live well and thrive. They’re not intended to replace treatment or advice, but they can help you build resilience, set goals, and take meaningful steps toward becoming a healthier, happier you. Access the apps or find other helpful resources by visiting kp.org/selfcareapps.
Calm — an app for meditation, mental resilience, and sleep
Calm is the #1 app for meditation and sleep — designed to help lower stress, reduce anxiety, and more. Kaiser Permanente members can access all the great features of Calm at no cost, including:
- The Daily Calm, exploring a fresh mindful theme each day
- More than 100 guided meditations
- Sleep Stories to soothe you into deeper and better sleep
- Video lessons on mindful movement and gentle stretching
myStrength — an app to improve your awareness and adapt to life
myStrength is a personalized program that helps you improve your awareness and change behaviors. Kaiser Permanente members can explore interactive activities, in-the-moment coping tools, community support, and more at no cost.
- Mindfulness and meditation activities
- Tailored programs for managing depression, stress, anxiety, and more
- Tools for setting goals and preferences, tracking current emotional states and ongoing life events, and viewing your progress
How to Practice Mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness means being fully present in the moment. The goal is to be aware of your thoughts and feelings and accept them as they are — which can help you manage your emotions, and feel happier and healthier overall. There is no one right method, place or time to practice mindfulness. You can be mindful for three minutes or three hours. You can practice mindfulness in your bedroom, your car, the train or the office. You don’t need a yoga mat or any other special equipment. It doesn’t need to be as quiet as a library. You just need to be able to focus your own thoughts quietly. That makes mindfulness a perfect practice for just about anyone. It’s easy to fit into your life today — you can even do it right now.
- Dedicate a period of time (try for two minutes or more) where you can focus on yourself. If you need a reminder, leave a post-it on your mirror, a note on your fridge, or even send yourself a calendar invite for a short mindful moment.
- When your “mindful moment” arrives, pay attention:
- How does your body feel? Notice the “answer” you find, and then let it pass on.
- Are any thoughts coming up? Notice what they are, and then let them pass on.
- Notice your breath. Are you breathing slow or fast? Are your breaths deep or shallow? If you need to “pay attention” to anything as you practice, keep lightly focusing on your breath.
- If your mind wanders, and it will, gently bring it back to the moment. This will happen over and over. For a long time, your mindfulness practice may not be staying in the moment — instead, it will be returning to the present over and over.
- Move past judgements like “I can’t do this,” or, “This is silly, I have too much to do.” It’s okay to think those things, but don’t let them distract you. Notice the thought, acknowledge the thought, and set it aside. Then, return to the present.
And that’s it. Sounds easy, right? Well, not quite — but it’s called a practice because results come over time. If you found your first mindfulness exercise helpful, or found it left you just a little more relaxed, you can try setting a new goal for yourself — perhaps two minutes a day, or five mindful minutes a day for a week… or more! You can find more helpful resources at kp.org/mentalhealthandwellness.
Coping with Loneliness
The need to stay at home and limit contact with others during the pandemic has changed how we interact with each other, but it can be lonely and isolating at times. Loneliness can take a toll on both our mental and physical health. Try these tips to stay connected with friends and family.
Reach out virtually
A smartphone or computer can be a lifeline for social connection. Call, text, or video chat with friends and family. Older relatives especially may feel cut off and will value your call. Maybe you could host a virtual family gathering or happy hour with friends using an app like FaceTime, WhatsApp, or Zoom. You could also explore apps that let you play games with others. Games can be a fun way to connect with friends. And they’re also a good way to relieve stress.
Take care of your health
When you’re stuck at home, it may be easy to spend a lot of time sleeping, snacking, or watching TV. You’ll probably feel better if you try to stay on a normal routine. So, try to get up and go to bed at your usual times. And remember to eat healthy foods and be active.
Look for ways to help
Being a helper can keep you connected to others. For example, older adults in your area might need basic supplies or simply someone to check on them. Just take precautions, like keeping your distance from others and washing your hands well after you go out.
The May challenge is to be positive. Some people seem to always be happy. Others rarely smile. Having a positive outlook on life can be as important to your health and longevity as exercising and eating right.
Here are some habits to work on this month:
- Look on the bright side: If something doesn’t go your way, ask yourself what good might come of it.
- Keep good company: Surround yourself with positive people to help elevate your mood.
- Thank others: Recognize the positive things that other people do with a sincere “thank you”. Both you and the other person you thanked will feel better.
- Be kind to yourself: Don’t say anything to yourself that you would not say to a good friend. Try and counter any negativity about yourself with encouragement and support.
- Be grateful: Make a list of things you are grateful for and come back to it on a rainy day!