June 18, 2024

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Safeguarding your emotional health is an important component of an overall healthy lifestyle.

Dr. Ellerie Chen of Highland Family Medicine discussed how we can do just that Tuesday during News 8 at Sunrise.

“The way I like to talk about emotional health with my patients is it’s how we relate to others and it’s how we relate to ourselves,” said Dr. Chen. “Oftentimes we’re talking about it because it’s not going well. I think the most common things that I see range from anxiety to depression. Sometimes phrases like – how are your stress and worry – or – how are your blues right now – are a little easier for people to connect with.”

Dr. Chen said there are negative consequences when we don’t take care of our emotional health. “It can have a lot of impacts and some of it is stuff you may not notice or you may not label as emotional health. Certainly, your relationships with other people can suffer. How you talk and think about other people can suffer. It can affect your relationships at work or your friendships. But it can also manifest as physical symptoms. Often people have aches and pains that get worse when they are feeling stressed. For me, it’s oftentimes a stomach ache or sometimes even a headache when I’m feeling pressure or stress. Your digestion can suffer. Your sleep can suffer. I wonder if any of our viewers have had any of those experiences, as well? They’re quite common.”

There are several steps you can take to improve your emotional health. “

Sometimes the simplest advice works the best,” noted Dr. Chen. “Make sure that you’re sleeping at least 7 to 8 hours a night. I can’t function on much less than that, unfortunately. Make sure that you’re getting outside and you’re exercising. The official recommendation is half an hour five times a week. Sometimes I like to prescribe looking at a tree. Studies have shown that looking at nature helps us to relax. There’s something in our lizard brains that looking at nature just helps to calm us down. Also, just talk to someone. Oftentimes my recommendation for anxiety or stress will be talk therapy. So that can be talking to a therapist or if that’s something that you’re not comfortable with even just finding someone trusted in your life where you can just get all of those worries out. And then finally come in and talk to someone like me at Highland Family Medicine to possibly talk about medication. But I think for a lot of people trying all of those other steps first – throwing in things like prayer and meditation can help improve your emotional health quite a bit.”