May 2021 Blog
Have You Been Taking Care of Your Mental Health?
If you feel you may have gotten a form of mild obsessive-compulsive disorder due to the pandemic and the cleaning rituals that were started, you are not alone. I am right there with you. But for those who have battled a true obsessive-compulsive disorder for years, the pandemic may have worked against years of therapy.
The pandemic has done us harm in many ways. This has been one long period of unpredictable stress for many. The days and weeks seems to blur one into another. We may find we have a lack of motivation and energy. How hopeful we feel can change daily. We are exhausted. We are sick of thinking about and talking about COVID. It has caused disruptions and uncertainty about our future with many hardships being faced. Financial problems, COVID illness and death, job loss, school-age children learning from home, childcare issues, parents working from home, juggling even more responsibilities, travel restrictions and not seeing family and friends. The horrible list goes on.
Many people admit their mental health has gone on a downward spiral and seems to hover in a caution zone. Some days it may be in a red zone. It is true that we’ve been traumatized. Some experts think this is the normal adaptive response to the stress caused by the pandemic and the changes to our lives that some people are experiencing. Learning to cope is of upmost importance. The mental impact of over a year dealing with quarantine is not good. This was new to all of us, and it is hard to know what to do sometimes.
Do we continue to take deep breaths and hope that we may be out of this situation sometime this year? That’s a start, as we struggle to make sense of this situation and the upending it has done to our lives. There will be a time to learn how to re-socialize and re-enter the world and it will be soon.
Will there be some things that may forever change once we reach herd immunity? I’m sure there will be. Will the shaking of hands be gone forever? I’m okay with that. Are you going to feel you need space when people get too close at the store? That’s when the shopping cart will come in handy.
Take small steps when you can to manage your risks, like still having masks and hand sanitizer and washing your hands. If you’re lucky enough to have an office that has implemented safety policies, then the transition back there might be easier. It would be nice to see our office friends again and have lunch in our conference room like we used to, even if it is behind plexiglass. I miss our lunches together so much!
What are some things we can do for a positive impact on ourselves?
Practice mindfulness. Things such as meditating, praying and/or focusing on the positive things in your life daily.
Keep a routine. Focus on the things in your control. Do activities you enjoy whether it’s watching a movie or walking outside with your family or pets. Talk to family and friends regularly.
Take a break from the news. Too much social media isn’t good for anyone and neither is reading, watching or listening to COVID news.
Listen to your body. Eat healthy, get some exercise, try to get enough sleep, stretch and breathe deep.
The virus has had an impact on our mental health, and it is time to recover it. Anxiety is a completely normal response to stress, but if it becomes too overwhelming, please talk to someone. Your primary care provider is a great start for help. There are many other resources that are only a referral or a click away. Be kind to yourself and get help if you need it. After all, May is National Mental Health Month.
There is a light up ahead and excitement will be in our future. We can do this. Be patient even though it is getting extra hard. Hang in there a bit longer. Please.