Though they differ, mental and physical health are entwined and play a major role in influencing each other in every stage of a woman's life.
"Our mental health largely impacts how we react to stress and how we interact with others, and can have long-term implications on our daily choices," said Elizza LeJeune, LMSW, Clinical Social Worker, Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services-Northwest Clinic. "A recent study conducted by Blue Cross Blue Shield found that depression increases the risk for many physical health problems, including hypertension, type 2 diabetes and heart disease."
Christy Buck, Executive Director, Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan and founder of the "be nice." program, emphasizes that in a world where women are constantly pressured to be on the go, it's important to take time for yourself.
"Self-care, mindfulness, adequate sleep, therapy, or exercise are all components that can help prevent burnout or the development and progression of a mental illness," said Buck, noting women are more susceptible to mental illness.
"If you notice a change in your behavior or personality lasting two weeks or longer, invite yourself to open up to someone and get help."
LeJeune encourages women to seek out support through friends and family—and to do one stress-relieving activity a day, whether it's journaling, meditating, working on a hobby, or coloring in an adult coloring book.
"We as women tend to be judgmental towards ourselves," said LeJeune. "Once a negative thought crosses your mind, challenge it by asking yourself if you would say this to a friend. If it's too mean to say to a friend, then it's too mean to say to yourself."
While recognizing symptoms of a mental health disorder can feel scary and overwhelming, seeking professional help doesn't have to be.
"Just like a physical illness, a mental illness is easier to treat when caught at the onset, but that's not to say it's too late for someone with a severe mental illness," Buck stresses.
"There is ALWAYS help and hope. Recovery is possible!"
Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800.273.8255(TALK)
Crisis Text Line 741-741
Network 180 network180.org
Pine Rest 866.852.4001
Forest View Hospital 800.949.8439
Written by Sarah Suydam, Staff Writer for West Michigan Woman.
This article originally appeared in West Michigan Woman.