In February, New Year’s resolutions are top of mind for more than 40 percent of Americans1, and—no surprises here—physical health improvements like weight loss or increased exercise, are among the most common goals2. What’s not top of mind, however, is just how much physical health relies on your emotional well-being. With more than 43.8 million adults in the U.S. experiencing a form of mental illness each year3, it’s time for us for rethink our New Year’s goals and take emotional health as seriously as we take our physical health.
According to research, perceived stress can increase an individual’s risk of type two diabetes4 and heart disease5, and loneliness and social isolation can be as deadly as smoking 15 cigarettes per day6.
With a commitment to holistic health care—supporting both physical and emotional wellness—Cigna®, now together with Express Scripts®, is encouraging everyone to both get their annual check-up and discuss all elements of health with their health care provider. This means not just physical but also emotional – as the two are connected. The initiative mobilizes Queen Latifah, Nick Jonas, and Ted Danson to inspire individuals across the country to prioritize their emotional health in 2019 and beyond.
“We took a lot of care in choosing Queen Latifah, Nick Jonas, and Ted Danson as ambassadors, ultimately partnering with them because of their authentic connections to our message,” said Stephen Cassell, vice president of global branding at Cigna. “Hearing how passionate they are for the cause brought the campaign to life for us, and we think it will do so for a lot of other people, too.”
STEP 1: Check In and Open Up
Annual check-ups are often the first step in preventive care, helping identify health concerns before they’re an issue. Even though these services are covered under most health insurance plans, Americans only go at half the recommended rate7.
“It’s easy to forget to check in with yourself,” Nick Jonas said. “Emotional stress can really take a toll on your body, so always have regular check-ins with your doctor and other health care professionals in your life who can help you become the best version of yourself.”
Taking the first step to schedule your annual check-up this year is important, but simply getting it on the calendar is not enough. Having candid conversations with your health care provider about both physical and emotional well-being is critical to whole-body wellness.
“Sometimes it’s necessary to take a step back and really evaluate how you’re feeling,” Queen Latifah said. "That way, discussions with your doctor now can help set you up for health success in the future."
STEP 2: PLAN in 2019
As the new year kicks off, Dr. Stuart Lustig, lead medical director for child and adolescent care at Cigna, recommends using the "PLAN method" as an easy way to create a regular system of managing your emotional stress in 2019:
- Period of time to unwind: Set aside a designated time each day to slow down and relax.
- Location that is stress-reducing: Designate a physical place to take a break, whether it’s the gym or a coffee shop.
- Activity to enjoy: Choose an activity, but make sure it’s easily accessible, practical, and affordable.
- Name of person to talk to: Find someone you are comfortable opening up with who will offer support, regardless of whether it’s a friend, family member, or health care provider.
Adopting at least one of these four stress prevention techniques will help you be proactive about your emotional health, while improving your relationship with yourself and others.
“Making your emotions a priority not only benefits you, but those around you, too,” Ted Danson said. “The best gift you can give your loved ones is taking care of your health—body and mind—so that you can live your best life with them.”
1 Put Your Imperfections Behind You: Temporal Landmarks Spur Goal Initiation When They Signal New Beginnings, Sage Journals, November 2015, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797615605818
2 This Year’s Top New Year’s Resolution? Fitness!! Nielson, January 2015, https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2015/2015s-top-new-years-resolution-fitness.html
3 Mental Health Facts in America, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Accessed January 2019, https://www.nami.org/NAMI/media/NAMI-Media/Infographics/GeneralMHFacts.pdf
4 Stress, Lack of Sleep Can Increase Your Risk of Developing Diabetes, Cleveland Clinic, October 2018, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/stress-lack-sleep-can-increase-risk-developing-diabetes/
5 Study unveils how stress may increase risk of heart disease and stroke, Science Daily, January 2017, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170111183921.htm
6 Testimony before the US Senate Aging Committee, Perspectives on Psychological Science, Holt-Lunstad J., Smith T.B., Smith M.B., March 2015, https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691614568352
7 Preventive Health Care, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, September 2017, http://www.cdc.gov/healthcommunication/toolstemplates/entertainmented/tips/preventivehealth.html
Actors have been paid for their appearance. Appearance does not imply an endorsement of Cigna's products and services. The information provided here is for educational purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice and is not a substitute for proper medical care provided by a physician.