I recently saw someone on social media refer to this as a “great pause’ and while I think it is wonderful that many people are viewing this time as an opportunity to spend more time with their family and to appreciate the simpler things that life has to offer, there are many people going through a very different, and traumatic, journey.
In just the United States alone, 1 out of every 5 people suffer from a mental illness and 1 out of every 25 people suffer from a severe mental illness. For those who are afflicted, it is oftentimes difficult to get through the average day without feelings of anxiousness, irritability, depression, etc. Add in a global pandemic and many of what they were told were “irrational” fears have now come to life. The feelings of isolation, fear, grief, loneliness, financial worry are all very real right now and we need to find a way to cope.
So how do we take care of our mental health while also acknowledging that it is a very scary time and that there is a lot that we don’t know? That is an uneasy feeling for anyone, let alone someone who struggles with mental health issues. Like all other things in life, I do believe it comes down to balance.
“The secret of your success is found in your daily routine” by John C. Maxwell is a great quote that is quite applicable at this time. I find that if I get up and get dressed, I have a more productive day than if I lie around in my pajamas. Also, keeping to a schedule (while of course allowing flexibility) for meals will not only keep you focused on what you are doing but can also make for more predictable blood sugars. Just these small steps can lead to less mental anguish.
Prescribe Yourself a Daily Dose of News
Try to limit your news consumption to a level that works for you. Many of us wind up leaving the television on and that can be very unhealthy to listen to and watch all day long. Either allow yourself a certain amount of time watching or pick a few times throughout the day to do a quick check-in. Also, make sure you pick one or two reliable sources that you trust and stick to those news mediums.
Stick with Your Mental Health Care Plan
If you are on medication, make sure you continue to take your medication as prescribed by your healthcare provider. If you are experiencing difficulty or feel the medication isn’t working properly, make sure to call your doctor as they are still available to take their patient’s phone calls and available for teletherapy. And if you haven’t sought professional help in the past but feel the need to do so, check with your health insurance to see what affordable options are available to you. There are also free hotlines that you can use:
- Mental Health America Hotline: Text MHA to 741741. Mental Health America is a nationwide organization that provides assistance through this text line. You will be linked to someone who can guide you through a crisis or just provide information.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255. Crisis intervention and free emotional support are available, which is helpful when you need confidential assistance during a time of emotional distress for you or a loved one. The helpline is open 24/7, and a live online chat is available as well.
- Crisis Text Line: Text CONNECT to 741741. Specialized crisis counselors are just a text message away on this free, confidential 24-hour support line. To further protect your privacy, these messages do not appear on a phone bill. The text line also provides services and support if you are upset, scared, hurt, frustrated, or distressed.
Control What You Can
Many of us are sitting at the edge of our seat on a daily basis waiting for the next big piece of news to be released. Will there be antibody testing available soon near me? Are they opening my state sooner than I’d like? Are my children’s schools going to open back up this year? While these are all valid questions and concerns, we cannot allow them to take up too much space in our minds. Whatever the case will be, you will navigate the situation and do what is best for you and your family. A great quote to remember is “If it’s out of your hands, it deserves freedom from your mind too.” – Ivan Nuru ”
Keep Your Mind and Body Active
This hasn’t been easy for any of us despite what your experience has been. Whether you’re dealing with the loss of a loved one or simply needing a ten-minute break from your toddler, your emotions are valid. Give yourself a few minutes a day to have a small pity party but then try to move on. Get active by taking a bike ride, going for a walk or take a road trip and get lost on a new adventure. Exercise your mind by staying connected to friends and family. And when you’re alone, try out a challenging crossword puzzle or start a journal. Keeping busy will not only keep you from feeling lonely, but it will also be beneficial to your overall wellbeing.
This pandemic is affecting us all differently but there is no doubt it has been mentally and emotionally challenging for all. Make sure to acknowledge that while mental illnesses may be invisible, they are very much real and should be treated with care. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to make yourself a priority during this challenging time.
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