May is Mental Health Awareness Month

​The past year has been hard on our mental health. Social isolation, anxiety, depression, grief, substance abuse, domestic violence, and suicidal ideation have escalated. For healthcare workers, university faculty and staff, front line essential workers, and all those who interact with others, there has been the fear of infection and of unknowingly bringing COVID home to one's family or household. Even a year after the first cases in Tennessee, the influence of this virus impacts all aspects of well-being: physically, emotionally, occupationally, economically, socially, spiritually, and culturally.   

The good news is that there is greater awareness that we all need to be incorporating regular self-care into our lives for our own mental well-being. Here are six  recommendations for continued mental fitness. 

  1. "You must Nourish to Flourish": Set daily attainable goals for well-being.
  2. Find a minimum of 10 minutes each day to devote to your resilience; more is even better
  3. Discover the right match of self-care activities for you and do them regularly. Chose activities that give you a break from the constant stress. Try various exercise routines, walking the dog, meditation, yoga, mindfulness, prayer, gardening, connections with others, music, therapy, improved nutrition, reading, sleep, or other forms of restoration.
  4. Consider getting the COVID -19 vaccination when the opportunity presents itself. While won't allow us to stop masking or social distancing, it could offer some peace of mind. It is one step closer to returning to normalcy.
  5. Connect with friends and family.  Having a support network of friends and family can help people get through periods of trauma and improve our ability to respond to stress
  6. Get quality sleep to rechange physically and mentally.

Assess your own mental health. Work/Life Connections-EAP has several on-line anonymous screening tools available for Vanderbilt faculty, staff, and family members by signing into your Health and Wellness Portal or visiting our online screening tools.