Navigating Stress, Anxiety, and Depression as Patient Advocates

As patient advocates, we dedicate ourselves to supporting others through their healthcare journeys. However, amidst our commitment to others, it's crucial not to neglect our own mental health. Stress, anxiety, and depression can creep into our lives, affecting our well-being and our ability to effectively advocate for others. I wanted to share personal insights and practical tips I learned to help manage these challenges.

Recognizing the signs

First and foremost, it's essential to recognize the signs of stress, anxiety, and depression within us. For me, it often starts with feeling overwhelmed, experiencing racing thoughts, or struggling to find joy in activities I once enjoyed. Once I acknowledged these signs it was the first step toward proactive management.

Self-care strategies

One of my most powerful tools in managing stress, anxiety, and depression for me is self-care. While it may seem indulgent or unnecessary in advocacy work, prioritizing self-care is essential. Whether it's carving out time for exercise, meditation, or hobbies, finding activities that nurture my mental health and spiritual being has been crucial.

Setting boundaries

As patient advocates, we often feel compelled to say "yes" to every request for assistance. However, when I learned to set boundaries, I became vital for preserving my mental health. I was finally okay with saying "NO". When my plate is full or when a particular task would compromise my health in any way the answer has been "NO!" Setting boundaries has allowed me to focus my energy where it's most needed and sustainable. Now, for me, "NO" is a complete sentence. It does not need an explanation.

Seeking support

We advocate for others, but it's equally important to seek support when we're struggling. I had to understand that reaching out is a sign of strength, not weakness. Once I learned that sharing my burdens with others could provide release and different perspective, it became a must. Finding support through friends or support groups has been so helpful.

Mindfulness and meditation

Practicing mindfulness and meditation has become powerful tools for managing my stress, anxiety, and bouts of depression. Each day I take a few minutes to center myself. I focus on my breath and cultivate a present moment awareness. This has been my saving grace. It has significantly reduced feelings of overwhelm and restored a sense of calm.

Healthy lifestyle habits

I realized that maintaining healthy lifestyle habits also plays a significant role in managing my mental health. Prioritizing nutritious meals, regular exercise, and adequate sleep gives me a strong foundation for good emotional health. Additionally, food and mood journaling taught me about my body. It gave me the tools I needed to understand how food affects my body.

Cultivating gratitude

While helping others, cultivating gratitude can be powerful. The time I take each day to reflect on the things I’m grateful for helps tremendously. Whether it's the support of loved ones or small moments of joy, tapping into seeing that daily shifts my perspective. It has helped to foster that strong resilience in the face of difficulties as I advocate.

Professional support

Finally, sometimes it’s essential for me to speak to someone for help. I know if stress, anxiety, or depression become overwhelming despite my best efforts, seeking professional support is essential. Whether it's therapy, counseling, or medication, there is no shame in reaching out for help. Just as I advocate for others to receive the care they need; I know I must prioritize our own well-being.

In conclusion, as patient advocates, it's crucial to prioritize our mental health amidst the demands of the service and work we do. By recognizing the signs of stress, anxiety, and depression, practicing self-care, setting boundaries, seeking support, and implementing coping strategies, we can effectively manage these challenges and continue to advocate for others with compassion and resilience. Here’s a gentle reminder, taking care of ourselves allows us to better care for those we serve.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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