Going through the process of obtaining long term disability benefits, can be a very stressful time.  If you were denied, are in a wait state after submitting an application or during an appeal it can be hard on your mental health and spirit. You can experience depression, anxiety and self-doubt, and these can all affect your physical health.

5 tips on self-care after a benefits claim denial or during an appeal

Here are five proven tips to help you stay healthy during this trying time:

  1. Be as active as possible. Even though you have a disability and are in pain, there are still ways to keep active. Walk, outside or on a treadmill, if possible; do stretching exercises that do not require putting pressure on your joints; or try some yoga positions.  Always consult your doctor before you start, and never do anything that hurts.
  2. Put down the phone, tablet or step away from the computer. Technology has perhaps never been more important, but too much use and screen time has been shown by research done by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health to increase depression and have a negative affect on self-esteem. Self-esteem is affected because users of social media draw incorrect conclusions about other users. These false ideas are that other people are happier, have more advantages and are more successful. This causes users to feel inferior, worthless and depressed. While we must communicate with others over the internet, we can avoid the social media depression hazard by creating a designated space and time for logging on to get necessary communication done. Once that time limit is reached, log off.
  3. Get plenty of quality sleep. Try to sleep eight hours a night. Naps do count as sleep but they can interfere with your ability to sleep through the night. Make sure to avoid caffeine after noon, and avoid screen time for two hours before going to sleep.
  4. Take a daily stress break. Even five minutes a day of sitting with your eyes closed in a quiet space and meditating can help your mental health.
  5. While too much social media can be a hazard to your mental health, investing in relationships can improve both how you feel and your ability to manage stress. Connect with people who authentically make you feel good and avoid those who take advantage of your or who tend to make you feel bad about yourself.  Accept help from family and friends when you need it. Be real about how you are feeling. Research shows that when you help someone else by being kind or contributing to a good cause, you increase your own sense of well-being. This in turn, improves your self-esteem and reduces the feeling of being along or isolated.  Sometimes being an active listener is the best way to offer help.

The most important thing you can do is to be aware of the fact that this is a hard time. Accept that things might not be perfect, but that you do have the power and ability to take care of your mental well-being.