June awareness focuses on mental health, wellness

  • Published
  • By Vera Ensalaco
  • 445th Airlift Wing Director of Psychological Health

The month of June highlights several awarenesses: Men’s Mental Health, National Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and National Employee Wellness Month. That gives us a few to discuss this month! So how do we wrap it all up into one? You really can’t but here are some things for you to think about.

This past month I have been out for knee replacement surgery. It wasn’t an easy decision to make though it was a truly necessary one. The pain I had prior to surgery was permanent and would get worse; the pain after is temporary and will get better, as long as I take care of myself. My surgeon tells me that it was genetics and running that was my undoing.

A little self-disclosure from me. A little over five years ago I lost my adult son. There is not a clear way to address significant losses such as these. What I chose to do was run. I wanted to run out of my body so this was the closest thing I could think of to do.  I ran pretty much daily. When I lost the ability to run, I needed to find another way to deal with my grief. In addition, I saw a grief counselor, have a close, safe circle of support, and looked for other ways to exercise. I mention this not to say my way is ‘it’ though with PTSD, mental health wellness, for men and women alike, there are always things that we can do.

Some ways to support mental and emotional well-being are to talk with a friend, family member, trusted colleague, pastoral member, healthy online support systems or a professional. You are not in this alone. You’re not expected to cope alone. Sharing experiences and encouraging others helps with our own coping (kind of like what I just did in this article). Make time for activities that improve your well-being such as exercise, meditation, connect with your passions, and nature.

Some things that you can do physically are to eat well and get rest.

There is evidence that the ‘super agers’ or those that have matured into their 80s that have the memory and faculties of those 20 or more years younger than them. They achieve this with some simple practices such as regular exercise targeting mobility, balance, and coordination; good dental hygiene – it makes sense that what goes into your mouth reaches systemically throughout your body, that includes your brain; mental activity is as important as physical. Super agers challenge themselves by reading, taking classes, and learning new skills; Social activity and engaging with others regularly has been shown to that can increase happiness, reduce illness, and assist with staying cognitively intact longer. These are just a few things that you can do.

Please take care of you.  Reach out as needed via phone at (937) 257-6267 or email at vera.ensalaco@us.af.mil. We need you here.