Americans are experiencing higher levels of stress now more than ever. According to the American Psychological Association, 47% have elevated anxiety levels, 44% report feeling more frequent bouts of sadness and 39% report a growing sense of anger since the start of the pandemic. Additionally, 2 in 3 adults (67%) say the number of issues America is facing is overwhelming them and making them more anxious and depressed, especially those who closely follow news events and watch politically slanted news programs.
To combat increased stress — the source of some of these issues — one leading health plan is making recommendations to its members. Brand New Day's Harmony Plan, which is dedicated to helping those with mental health issues, says the effects of stress can have severe adverse consequence on our lives.
“When parents are stressed, for example, their children oftentimes take on that stress and it can manifest itself in myriad ways e.g., a decline in academic performance, loss of concentration and conflicts with others,” says James Pratty, M.D. Medical Director of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Brand New Day, which operates in 16 counties throughout California. “The impact of stress can also negatively impact your relationships with coworkers and friends.”
Pratty says that those suffering significant stress often experience a decline in the quality of their sleep.
“Periodic insomnia, mid-cycle disrupted sleep patterns and getting fewer hours of quality sleep each night are common,” he explains. “These conditions drive up anxiety which , in turn, places the individual at increased risk of depression or other mood disorders.”
Stress also can impact our general health where increased blood pressure, irregular pulse and interruptions in the digestive system are prevalent.
To combat stress, Brand New Day advises its members to follow some basic guidelines.
“it’s important to make getting a good night’s sleep (seven hours) a priority and there are specific steps to achieve that,” advises Pratty. “For instance, avoid taking blue screen devices to bed, don't exercise right before you hit the sack, refrain from eating at least three hours before you head to bed and read a book instead of watching TV to help get your mind off of the day’s worries.
“Another effective way to relieve stress is what we call “mindfulness,” which we recommend our members follow for 10 minutes two times per day to be effective,” he reports. “The first five minutes can be devoted to meditative reading (e.g., a spiritual book, poetry, song lyrics) followed by five minutes of deep breathing exercises.”
Brand New Day also recommends following a Mediterranean diet high in veggies especially of the dark green variety and fish as a good source of protein and eliminating processed foods; and incorporating exercise into your weekly routine e.g., brisk walking, bicycling, swimming, etc. for at least 30 minutes 3 to 4 times per week.
Brand New Day has distinguished itself from other health plans tailored for those with varying medical conditions.
In addition to Harmony and its standard Medicare plans, Brand New Day offers the Embrace Plan for members with heart disease, hypertension and/or diabetes; the Bridges Plan for members with dementia and Alzheimer’s; and the SelectCare Plan for members residing in community living, assisted living, long-term care and nursing homes.
For qualifying members, the plans cover transportation to and from medical appointments; vision, dental and hearing aids; 24-hour/day nurse and physician line; and health nurses and life coaches. In addition, members with chronic illnesses are not only treated medically, but in a variety of other ways including education about the member’s chronic or ongoing medical conditions and avoidable risks, nutrition, exercise, self-testing and monitoring, medication adherence to doctor orders, preventive care planning and linkage to community support programs.
Brand New Day's personalized approach is designed to keep its members healthy and independent and its team of caring healthcare professionals share one common goal -- to improve the overall well-being of each member by offering members "healthcare you can feel good about."
For more information about Brand New Day, visit BNDHMO.com or call (866) 255-4795.