Rest. Restore. Renew.

When I take a mental health day, I don’t generally curl up on the sofa with a good book (although during the winter that’s about all I like to do) but rather I draw a 150 mile radius around Washington, DC where I live and head for a hideaway that looks appealing.  With my mind on overload from another iteration of health reform legislation and trying to decipher whether the public option will kill the deal, I headed to the Northern Neck of Virginia to clear my head.  Often thought of as the spawning ground of America (it’s the birthplace of George Washington and Robert E. Lee) the Northern Neck is a charming peninsula of coastal inlets and rolling farmland that juts into the Chesapeake Bay.

And there I found not only Hope, but Glory as well.

The Hope and Glory Inn is a quaint, comfortable spot in Irvington, Virginia just steps from the water, several wineries, thick green fields where horses roam and some pretty good crab cakes.  Formerly, a boys and girls school, the now very-adult inn hosts couples and singlets like myself who find that getting a good night’s rest and and eating a breakfast next to a bubbling fountain is a wonderful way to de-stress.

Few will argue that sound mental health ranks up there with physical wellbeing as a barometer of one’s overall health.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health today’s economy and economic stress can cause a whole host of negative health effects well beyond having a bad day at work.  Increased unemployment, loss of investments, home foreclosures and general malaise at the pump can persistently erode one’s sense of wellbeing.

Even if it doesn’t affect you personally, the downturn in the economy  mostly likely touches a close friend, co-worker or family member.

Collectively, our society needs hope.  We need to know that we will weather this economic turmoil.  But in the meantime, these problems can add tremendous stress, which in turn can substantially increase the risk for developing such problems as depression, anxiety, insomnia, irrational thinking and compulsive behaviors such excessive eating or gambling .

Symptoms may vary, but it’s important to pay attention to ongoing feelings of anxiety, sleeplessness, hopelessness and doom.  Excessive drinking, inability to focus, prolonged bouts of crying and nervousness are clear indicators that too much stress and uncertainty may be interfering with your ability to function at home, work or school.  And your overall health will start to suffer.

You don’t often think of the federal government possessing the same hand-holding comfort that a good friend or spouse provides when tough times hit but on their website are several resources and suggestions to weather these difficult economic times.   Check it out.  If not for yourself, someone around you who needs hope as well.

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