Minding Your Mental Health

Mental health is your emotional, psychological and overall wellbeing. It affects how you think, feel and act. It also helps in establishing how you handle stress, relate to other people, and make choices. Your mental health is not in a static state and requires your attention throughout your entire life.

If you have poor mental health at any point in your life, your thinking, mood, and behaviors could be affected. Family history, life experiences and biological factors such as brain chemistry can contribute to mental health issues.

 

Importance of positive mental health

When you care for your mental health, you’re caring for your overall wellbeing. Positive mental health promotes productivity at work and school, maintains your connections and relationships, and helps you to cope with the stresses of daily life.

There are many ways to maintain positive mental health.

  • Connect with others often
  • Be physically active regularly
  • Volunteer or help others
  • Get proper sleep
  • Eat nutritious meals
  • Talk about your thoughts and feelings
  • Create coping skills for stress

 

Early signs of mental health issues

There are early warning signs to look for whether it’s in your own life or someone you care about. While this isn’t an all-inclusive list, experiencing one or more of the following could indicate a mental health problem:

  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Self-isolating from people and normal activities
  • Changes in energy levels
  • Showing signs of apathy or disinterest
  • Feeling hopeless or helpless
  • Any unexplained aches and pains
  • Unusual irritability
  • Severe mood swings
  • Using substances more frequently (alcohol, smoking, drugs)
  • Inability to perform daily tasks

 

Quick note: If you need professional help, don’t be afraid—reach out. Discuss recommended courses of action with your healthcare provider.

Those with poor mental health or a diagnosed mental illness have increased chances of physical health issues such as stroke, diabetes, and heart disease. Your mental and physical health go hand in hand and are integral to your overall wellbeing.

COVID-19 Updates

The health and safety of our patients, staff, and community are of the highest priority to DFD Russell Medical Centers.

We are committed to taking all necessary precautions to actively reduce the risk of further transmission of COVID-19 in our community. Please reference this page and our Facebook page for updates regarding COVID-19.

5/11/20

To protect DFD staff and our vulnerable patients from the spread of communicable diseases, DFD will be taking the following precautions:

DFD will continue to see patients in Leeds and Turner on a reduced schedule. We require all patients wear a mask regardless of the reason for your visit. We will not allow individuals into the buildings without a mask.

Upon your arrival at DFD, please ring the doorbell. We will be screening patients at the door prior to their appointment, which includes taking your temperature and asking a series of questions. If an exam room is ready, you will be brought to one immediately. If not, we ask that you wait in your vehicle until one is available. Please note, we are limiting the number of people who enter our building; only the patient or the patient and a guardian will be permitted to enter.

Monmouth continues to be closed to well-care and is seeing those with respiratory illness only. We are not accepting walk-ins or taking paperwork to be completed at this time at any of our locations.

Thank you for your understanding and patience during these uncertain times.

 

3/21/20

Until further notice, DFD patients who have respiratory symptoms will be seen exclusively in our Monmouth location to minimize staff exposure and conserve Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). No well visits, behavioral health, or lab draws will be seen in Monmouth.

If your regular provider is located in Monmouth you can still receive care at our other locations and they will coordinate with their colleagues to keep you healthy.

Any chronic care or other face-to-face visits will be seen in either Leeds or Turner. Patients will be screened at the door for fever or respiratory symptoms.

All lab draws in Leeds and Turner will also be given an appointment time due to reduced staffing and the need to ensure we do not leave patients waiting in the waiting rooms.

We no longer have evening hours in any location and this will be the final weekend of office hours for the next 30 days. We will continue to have a provider on call to answer questions.

Thank you for your understanding as we do our best to care for our patients and staff while social distancing.

TeleHealth and Virtual Visits by Phone:

DFD Russell is working to expand access to most primary care and ALL behavioral health services by tele-medicine over the next several weeks.

Our goal is to continue to serve our patients by phone or computer to minimize disruption to care. Things are changing rapidly. Please understand our teams are working as quickly as possible to secure the technology and train staff in its use. We will continue to triage calls and determine the best way to safely meet patient needs.

3/18/20

DFD is putting additional safety measures in place and will be screening all patients who have a scheduled visit prior to having them enter the buildings. Please ring the doorbell and a staff member will meet you at the door.

Additionally, we are limiting visitors to those with scheduled appointments only. Family members will be asked to wait in their cars as we are trying to avoid leaving people in the waiting room or having more people in the exam rooms than necessary.

We will not be taking walk-ins for any reason (including paperwork or to schedule) please call ahead.

 

Staying Healthy When Dealing With Stress

In times of high stress and uncertainty, it’s easy to let our routines and healthy habits fall to the wayside. But if we let anxiety and stress overwhelm us, our health could suffer. This is the opposite of what your body and mind need! Let’s talk about some easy ways to focus on nutrition and mental health during overwhelming times or a crisis.

 

Healthy Eating

It may be tempting to stock up and binge on non-perishables such as chips, cookies and crackers, but these are mostly void of nutritional value. A consistently nutritious diet (with a few treats here and there) is critical for maintaining bodyweight, avoiding illness, and minimizing stress. Here are some food choices to focus on:

  • Healthy fats: avocados, eggs, nuts for satiety and mood regulation
  • Lean proteins: help to balance and boost serotonin levels
  • Bananas: rich in B vitamins for nervous system function
  • Citrus fruits: shown to decrease stress; Vitamin C boosts immunity
  • Dark, leafy greens: regulate cortisol and blood pressure

If you’re spending more time at home with your family, now is a great time to try new foods and recipes. Coming together to create a meal is a perfect way to bond and stay connected.

 

Exercise

If your local gym, fitness center, or group class isn’t accessible, you don’t need to forfeit your physical activity efforts. When you keep with your exercise routine—even if the activity looks different—you’re helping your body and mind. If you don’t have access to your favorite instructors or equipment, try these at home:

  • Take daily walks around your house or neighborhood
  • Use trails for hiking and safe roads for running
  • Strength train using bodyweight or items around the house
  • Take advantage of streaming apps or social media for home workouts

Keeping your body moving lowers stress and risk of illnesses and maintains your bodyweight, all of which are essential to your health. Don’t forget that yard work and other household chores also get your body moving!

 

Mental Health

A healthy diet and exercise are essential, but your mental health is just as important especially in times of unease. If you’re having anxious thoughts and feelings, reacting to stress in a negative way, and are having trouble sleeping, then your mental health may need your attention.

Try some of the following when you’re stressed or anxious:

  • Step outside: fresh air and Vitamin D are good for boosting mood
  • Deep breathing: focused, mindful breathing eases anxiety and stress
  • Meditation: consistent practice can keep your mind calm and centered
  • Stretching: loosens muscles and brings awareness to any tension

There are many ways to address your mental health, some may work for you and some may not. This is okay! Find what works and adopt them into your routine.

Additionally, getting proper sleep is vital to your overall health. When we are asleep, our body is restoring muscles from exercise, digesting the meals we’ve enjoyed, and improving our memory and cognition.

Adapting to a new routine in a time of stress may take some time. Be consistent and patient with yourself. Keeping your body and mind healthy are the best things you can do in a time of uncertainty.

If stress or anxiety is impacting your day-to-day life, reach out to a medical professional right away.

Nutrition: 101

Nutrition—what does it actually mean? Yes, nutrition is the biological process of providing your body with proper foods for growth and function, but it’s also more than that. Nutrition is about making informed decisions to better your physical, mental and emotional health. Let’s discuss some manageable ways to focus on nutrition for you and your family.

 

Healthy Eating

While there are many different resources out there, the USDA recommends that your meals consist of:

  • half vegetables and whole fruits
  • one quarter whole grains
  • one quarter protein
  • some healthy fats (such as nuts, seeds, olive and coconut oils)

Food choices will be different for everyone and dependent on food access, affordability, traditions and cultures, and food preferences (including vegetarianism, veganism, etc.).

With this new way of approaching food, your main focuses will be to eat more nutritious foods, trying a variety of nutritious foods and being careful not to restrict certain foods or go on fad diets.

When you start to eat more fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats, you’ll start to see that:

  • your digestive system works more efficiently
  • you feel less hungry between meals (preventing junk food snacking)
  • your energy increases

As your body grows accustomed to new and nutritious foods, you’ll see that you start eating less refined carbohydrates and refined sugars which contribute to poor diet, weight gain, and illnesses.

Try this: Include at least one new nutrient-dense food into every meal.

 

Physical Activity

Keeping your body active lowers your risk of many illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and depression. When you eat and drink, you’re taking in calories that your body uses for normal functioning. However, Americans tend to eat larger portions than needed—and usually more refined carbohydrates and sugars—leaving an excess of calories just waiting to be burned!

Remember, you can’t exercise your way from a bad diet. This means that if you’re looking to lose weight, exercise alone will not work. The harmony of eating healthier foods and moving your body will help you maintain a healthy weight. Try to keep the following in mind:

  • Walking helps your body to digest its food
  • Muscles need carbohydrates and protein for energy and muscle repair
  • The more intense the exercise, the more calories you burn

When adopting healthier lifestyle habits, it’s also important to learn to listen to your body. For instance, if you’re recovering from the flu, your body needs rest and fluids more than it needs intense exercise.

Try this: Incorporate 30 minutes of exercise into your daily routine. This could mean taking the stairs, parking at the far end of parking lots, and walking around your office building during lunch—any movement is better than no movement.

 

Emotional Health

Emotional health is another important aspect of your nutrition. Emotions can greatly affect food and exercise choices. There are many different reasons for this including stress, family celebrations and obligations, and “emotional eating.”

A quick note on emotional eating: everyone has experienced eating while bored, stressed or otherwise emotional. If you have trouble controlling emotional eating, please speak with your health care provider right away.

Eating healthy meals and snacks will help fuel your body appropriately making exercise easier and better for your body. Exercise can:

  • increase your overall energy and boosts your mood
  • help you sleep better at night
  • reduce stress, anxiety, depression symptoms
  • increase self-esteem and confidence

Consider your emotions when you crave “junk food,” or when you don’t feel like exercising. Is there something going on in your life? Will you feel better after exercise, a healthy meal, or rest?

Try this: Keep a record or journal of how exercise and healthy foods make you feel. This information can serve as motivation if you need a boost.

 

Adopting a nutritious lifestyle will be different for everyone. Take it one step at a time, be patient with yourself, and enlist the help of a friend for extra accountability. If you need support and guidance to get started, speak with your primary care provider.

“Ten Tips for Adults” Nutrition Education Classes

Now Open for Registration!

 

DFD Russell Medical Centers is excited to announce a new nutrition education series, “Ten Tips for Adults.”

Educate yourself with healthy, affordable eating and nutrition habits that will benefit you and your entire family through these interactive and engaging classes.

 

Each class is led by a trained nutrition professional from Healthy Androscoggin, where you’ll receive simple, easy-to-follow tips based on the USDA’s “10 Tips Nutrition Series” with themes focusing on “Eating Better on a Budget” or “Choose My Plate” healthy eating guidelines. All classes feature food demonstrations and tastings, take home “10 Tips” handout, and a whole lot of fun!

 

This program is flexible and adaptable for participant needs.

Interested in attending one or all of the “Ten Tips for Adults” nutrition education class series? Check out the details below:

 

Ten Tips For Adults: 4-session series

WHEN: January 21 and 28, February 4 and 11
TIME: 12pm – 1pm
WHERE:
St. Mary’s Nutrition Center
208 Bates Street, Lewiston
INFO: Register by contacting Emily Smith: smith@cmhc.org or (207) 786-1669

 

Ten Tips for Adults: 2-session series

WHEN: January 29 and 30
TIME: 5:30pm – 7:30pm
WHERE:
Lewiston High School (Adult Education)
156 East Ave., Lewiston
INFO: Details and course registration: https://lewiston.maineadulted.org/classes/

 

Ten Tips for Adults: “Eating Better on a Budget” 3-session series

WHEN: January 27, Feb 3 and 10
TIME: 2:00pm – 3:45pm
WHERE:
Dempsey Center
29 Lowell Street, Lewiston
INFO: Details and course registration: https://www.dempseycenter.org/programs/ten-tips-for-eating-better-on-a-budget-lewiston/

 

Ten Tips for Adults: 2 session series

WHEN: February 26 and 27
TIME: 5:30pm – 7:30pm
WHERE:
Lewiston High School (Adult Education)
156 East Ave., Lewiston
INFO: Details and course registration: https://lewiston.maineadulted.org/classes/

Is Stress Harming Your Health?

Not only is stress a nuisance, it’s harmful to your health. Let’s talk about some common causes and treatments so you can be more present for the important things in your life.

What is Stress?

Stress is a natural response made by our central nervous system. Our brain tells our adrenal glands to supply our body with cortisol and sends us into “fight or flight” mode. This response once helped humans evolve and escape danger, but these days it’s causing an epidemic of chronic stress.

 

Did you know? A reported 77% of people experience stress symptoms every day.

 

Is Stress That Bad?

Short answer: yes. Some stress is good say, when you’re taking an exam or public speaking. But chronic stress, stress that is persistent, can exacerbate any present health conditions and potentially cause new ones such as:

  • Breathing conditions like asthma
  • Increase risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Upset the digestive system
  • Tighten muscles, particularly shoulders and back causing pain

 

If you don’t treat your stress symptoms, it will begin to harm your health. Constant stress can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and mental or emotional conditions such as anxiety and depression.

 

What causes stress?

There are different causes to stress: routine stress (work, family, relationships, money) sudden changes (loss of job, having to move, divorce, illness) and traumatic events (natural disasters, war/PTSD, serious accidents).

Everyone’s relationship to stress is different. What is stressful for you may not be to someone else. Trust your feelings and if you’re feeling stressed, seek help.

 

How can I treat stress?

As there are many causes to stress and potential outcomes if untreated, there are many ways it can be treated:

  • Recognize your triggers
  • Take time to truly relax
  • Get active and stay active
  • Eat a nutritious diet consistently
  • Talk with friends or professionals
  • Yoga, meditation, and breathing techniques will lower your heart rate

 

Stress is different for everyone and everyone manages differently. If you need help navigating your life through stress, reach out to your DFD primary care provider to discuss a treatment plan.

3 Tips to Healthier Eating This Year

The holiday season has officially ended—and with it all the rich, decadent foods. Whether you’ve made a New Year’s resolution or not, here are three tips to consider for healthier eating in 2020 and beyond.

 

Don’t Skip Meals

You may think that since you ate so much during the holidays, you need to deprive yourself to lose weight. This isn’t the case! Skipping meals will mess with your blood sugar levels leaving you tired, irritable and ready to binge on high-sugar foods. Stick to your regular mealtimes to keep your blood sugar stable and eat a small snack if you’re feeling hungry between meals.

 

Did you know? It takes 20 mins for your brain to receive signals that it’s full.

 

Slow Down

It’s easy to throw healthy eating habits to the wayside and overindulge during the holidays. If that sounds like you, it’s okay! Now is a perfect time to remind yourself to slow down and get back on track. Eating slowly is good for your digestion and weight maintenance and will deter you from grabbing seconds too quickly. However, if you let yourself indulge in your favorite treats once in a while (a small portion!), you’ll be less inclined to overdo it later.

 

Choose Wisely

Eat your vegetables first! They are full of nutrients and fiber and will help make you feel fuller before you reach for meats or rich foods. Having a small salad or bowl of soup before a meal is a great way to get in your servings of vegetables. Also, if you have a large portion of food, it doesn’t mean that you have to eat it all at once! Serve yourself a portion that meets your needs but won’t make you feel too stuffed and pack up the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

 

Do you have concerns about your weight or nutrition habits? Call your DFD primary care provider to discuss weight management. Our primary care providers, nurses and behavioral health staff can help with dietary assistance, goal setting, barriers to weight management, and ongoing support.

5 Tips for a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season

It’s officially the holiday season, meant for celebration, unity, and joy. And yet, it can also bring stress and exhaustion, compromising your physical and mental health. Here are five tips for staying healthy and happy during the holidays.

Keep Moving
You may be too tired from all the shopping or traveling, but it’s important to keep active! Science proves that exercising actually gives us energy by increasing blood flow, improving metabolism and releasing endorphins. If you’re feeling run down, take a walk to see the Christmas lights in your neighborhood, have a dance party while cooking, build a snowman—anything to keep moving. You’ll not only feel better, but you’ll also stay on track to meet your fitness goals.

Prevent Illness
This time of year, we come into contact with lots of people—and lots of germs. In order to stay free from the flu and other illnesses, wash your hands, get a flu vaccine, and stay home if you’re feeling unwell. If anyone you’re visiting is sick, stay away! You don’t want to ruin your holiday celebrations by getting sick.

Eat Well
With all the sweet treats around it’s hard not to indulge. But here’s the thing—it’s okay as long as you don’t overdo it. If you go into the season forbidding yourself to eat anything decadent, you’re bound to give in and over-indulge. Stay hydrated, eat balanced meals (vegetables, fruit, clean proteins and grains), and give yourself permission to enjoy your favorite indulges in moderation.

Pro Tip: Don’t show up to a party hungry! You’ll end up eating more and probably not the healthy stuff.

Lower Stress
By visiting all your loved ones, attending celebrations, and meeting everyone else’s needs, taking care of yourself falls to the wayside. Our mental health is incredibly important and determines how we relate to others, make healthy choices, and handle our emotions. Meditation and breathing exercises are great for immediately reducing the feelings of stress, but any way that you choose to practice self-care will help keep your stress low.

Sleep More
You may be staying up late decorating or wrapping presents but don’t sacrifice a decent night’s sleep just to get things done. A lack of sleep can interfere with blood sugar levels and make you crave high-carb, high-sugar food choices that will derail your healthy eating and exercise routine. Sleep helps your body’s immune system to function properly, fending off germs and illnesses and keeps you well rested to better deal with the tasks ahead.

 

By keeping your health top of mind during this busy time of year, you can truly be present and enjoy spending time with your loved ones. Try to incorporate some—or all—of these lifestyle tips into your routine to stay happy and healthy during the holidays.

 

Are You Confused By Diabetes?

Let’s break down the basics of the three different types of diabetes.

 

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in early childhood or early adulthood. In Type 1, the body does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone needed in order to get glucose—taken from carbohydrates—from the bloodstream and into the body’s cells.

 

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is mostly diagnosed in adulthood and is the most common. In Type 2, the body does not produce insulin properly. In some cases, Type 2 can be managed—and prevented—by lifestyle changes, namely diet and exercise.

 

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes accounts for 10% of pregnancies in the U.S. The cause is unknown and doesn’t discriminate by age, race, or physical health. In this 10 % of pregnancies, half will develop into Type 2 diabetes.

 

Now that we have discussed the basics, let’s dispel some myths about diabetes.

 

True or False?

Eating too much sugar causes diabetes.

FALSE. While arguably not the healthiest choice, too much sugar will not result in a diabetes diagnosis. In those diagnosed, all carbohydrates from food—including candy, bread, and fruit—need to be accounted for in order to keep blood sugar levels stable.

 

True or False?

If you’re overweight, you will develop diabetes.

FALSE. While being overweight is a risk factor for diabetes, it’s only part of the picture. Individuals with a healthy weight can also develop the disease. Lifestyle changes to include exercise and a healthier diet is best in order to help prevent diabetes.

 

True or False?

If you have diabetes, it’s not your fault.

TRUE. Diabetes occurs because the body lacks functional insulin. This is not something that can be fixed organically and therefore is not your fault! If you have diabetes, you should not be embarrassed, ashamed or feel alone.

 

To learn more about diabetes, check out our Diabetes Management program. This program aims to help patients with self-care skills and their diabetes treatment plan.

Exercise-Induced Asthma or Vocal Cord Dysfunction?

Many young athletes are diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma but may, in fact, have vocal cord dysfunction. The problem? It is often difficult to differentiate between the two.

There are multiple irritants in the air that can trigger breathing problems in young athletes: pollen and airborne irritants, chlorine in pools, and nitrogen oxides, which are used on resurfacing ice rinks.

 

Symptoms of vocal cord dysfunction are similar to those of exercise- induced asthma, with shortness of breath, chest tightness and cough. However, the cough of vocal cord dysfunction tends to have a seal-like barking quality, and the athlete may complain of throat tightness and changes in the pitch of their voice. This is not present in exercise-induced asthma. Color changes of the skin may also be noted in vocal cord dysfunction–paleness or redness. In asthma, blue or purplish discoloration (cyanosis) can be present.

 

Vocal cord dysfunction has an abrupt onset and resolution of symptoms, whereas exercise-induced asthma requires 5-10 minutes of exercise and persists for 30-60 minutes without treatment. Pulmonary function testing (to show how well the lungs are working) will be normal in vocal cord dysfunction patients, while in exercise-induced asthma athletes the testing will typically reveal underlying asthma.

 

Treatment for vocal cord dysfunction is based on education of the patient, family and coaches; speech therapy, antihistamines and use of long-lasting acid-inhibiting medications (proton pump inhibiters) as needed. Relaxation therapy and breathing exercises also generally help reduce symptoms.

 

Exercise-induced asthma is treated with short-acting bronchodilator inhalation therapy (aerosol inhalers) such as Proventil/ Proair / Ventolin. Daily use can reduce the effectiveness of the medications and side effects may include tremors and fast heart rate.

 

If a young athlete is having breathing issues when participating in sporting practices or competitions, they should be evaluated by a medical professional to determine between the possibility of exercise-induced asthma or vocal cord dysfunction.