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“To be able to care for the people you love, you must first take care of yourself. It’s like the advice we’re given on airplanes: put on your oxygen mask before trying to help someone else with theirs. Taking care of yourself is a good goal on its own, and it helps you support the people you love.”
This advice from the National Alliance on Mental Illness is the cornerstone of self-care. Sometimes we’re so focused on taking care of everyone else or the busy routines of our daily lives that we don’t even realize we’re putting ourselves last.
These tips can help you focus on self-care.
Pay attention to the signs of stress—You may feel stress bubbling up inside you, making you feel sad, angry, or anxious. But stress and other mental health conditions like anxiety can also affect you physically. Headaches, muscle tension, upset stomach, and trouble sleeping can all be signs of stress.
Take a break—If you feel stress or pressure starting to get to you, disengage. Walk away from the computer, go outside, drink a glass of water, count to 10, or practice some deep breathing. Sometimes all you need is a quick change of scenery or a moment to yourself.
Take time for yourself—Making time for yourself can help. Take a walk, take a nap, or take a bath. A little private, quiet time can be enough to give your brain and body a break.
Know when to say when—Do you overcommit yourself? We often say yes to everyone and everything and forget to say yes to ourselves. Sometimes, saying no is the best thing you can do for your mental health.
Keep up your social life—When we’re busy, time with friends often suffers. But those social connections are so meaningful. Even short meetups, scheduled phone time, and Zoom or Facetime calls can help you feel connected.
Make time for the things you love—Taking care of a partner, kids, and a full-time job can make it hard to find the time to do the things you enjoy. Setting aside even a small amount of time every week to paint, draw, sing, sew, or sink into another favorite hobby can give you a mental lift.
Sleep!—Are you delaying your bedtime because you have too much to do? Lack of sleep can make mental health conditions worse.
Get some exercise—Exercise doesn’t just benefit the body. There are also documented mental health benefits. Run with the dog, dance in your living room, or play tennis with a friend. The endorphin release can improve your mood.
Relax—Yoga is another way to get exercise that is beneficial to your mental health.
Eat right—More and more research shows a connection between the food you eat and how your brain functions. Focusing on eating lean proteins, whole grains, and fresh fruit and vegetables may help keep your body healthy while keeping your mood more stable.
Ask for help when you need it—Raising a hand isn’t always easy, especially when you feel like you’re the glue keeping everything together. But ignoring mental health issues won’t make them go away. In many cases, they’ll only get worse and more dangerous.
Using your benefits
You have mental health care through your TRS-ActiveCare plan. You can see a therapist or psychiatrist, and mental health visits are covered at the same rate as medical health visits. You can also make a TRS Virtual Health appointment through Teladoc®.
Your plan also includes inpatient and emergency mental health care when you need it.
Find an in-network therapist or other mental health provider by calling a Personal Health Guide at 1-866-355-5999, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or on the BCBSTX app, available in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
Keep in mind: Staying in the network will always keep your costs down. Some plans don’t cover out-of-network care at all unless it’s a real emergency.
Depending on the service, you may also need prior authorization. You can get information about copays, coinsurance, and other details of your plan.