As we continue to live our lives during a deadly global pandemic, we must take care of our mental health. Now more than ever, the mental health community needs to come together and show the world that no one should ever feel alone. We may be practicing “social distancing” and physically isolating ourselves to protect others, but we can still come together as a community and as a human race.
“We are stronger together than we are alone”
During this trying time, it is easy to say what not to do. Don’t spend hours reading the news, don’t consume yourself in social media, don’t break social distancing rules, and although these “don’ts” are essential, it is also just as important to focus on the “do’s” during this time.
What can we “do” to take care of our mental health?
Label and recognize what you are feeling: Emotions can be confusing, but learning to sit with them, understand them, and work through them, is a healthy way of coping with negative emotions. Chronic negative emotions can potentially affect our mental health, so we must be able to label our emotions and recognize what, how, and why of our feelings. Are we feeling stressed, angry, sad, or apathetic? If so, is there a trigger or a reason? Have we felt these emotions before? If so, what triggered them? How did we cope with them?
- Remember the importance of social distancing and quarantine: Although it may be challenging to stay at home and keep away from your regular daily activities, loved ones, and friends, it is essential to keep in my the “why” behind our “stay at home orders.” We are not only protecting ourselves, but we are protecting the world. We are practicing social distancing for the greater humankind. We want to stay physically healthy, and we want to protect others. When we act for the greater good, we often feel a sense of pride and satisfaction, which can boost our mental health.
- Virtually connect: We may be physically isolated during this COVID-19 pandemic, but that does mean we have to be disconnected from our loved ones and the rest of the world. There are so many great free video conferencing platforms available to virtually connect with friends, family, co-workers, and support groups. We can also positively engage in social media platforms to connect with like-minded individuals. Forming connections, even virtually, can boost our mental health.
- Practice a daily routine: Even if we are staying at home or are out of work, we can still practice a healthy daily routine. Adopting a regular sleep/wake cycle, preparing meals, exercising, and virtually connecting with our loved ones are healthy daily routines that can help us feel energized and connected.
- Adopt creative outlets: Whether it is music, writing, painting, cooking, or photography, creativity can boost our moods and improve our concentration. We can channel our negative emotional states into creative outlets, and in the meantime, potentially create something beautiful.
- Remember that this is temporary: This, like everything, is fleeting. The present is never permanent, and this stressful time will eventually pass. Although it is crucial to stay present, we can also allow ourselves to look forward to the future.
- Engage in random acts of kindness: Everyone is hurting in one way or another during this time, whether it is financially, physically, or mentally. Reaching out to others and engaging in random acts of kindness can not only bring joy to those we are helping but can also create positive feelings within ourselves. Helping others creates a ripple effect of kindness, gratitude, and positive energy.
- Seek online therapy and support groups: It is essential, even during these confusing times, that we continue our therapy. Although therapy may look different today as most of us engage in online virtual therapy with our therapists, treatment teams, and community support groups, we must still take care of our mental health and seek out treatment during this time.
This trying time is unknown territory for our country, for the world and ourselves. We are unsure how long we will remain idle and apart from our loved ones. Sometimes the unknown can be the most stressful aspect of this current pandemic. We need to increase awareness about the importance of being kind to ourselves while focusing on our mental health during COVID-19. We must give ourselves love, patience, kindness, forgiveness, and space during this time. We must take care of our mental health and our physical health and we must learn to appreciate the present moments of stillness while looking hopeful towards the future.
At Casa Palmera, our goal is whole-person healing; we treat the whole person and not just the disorder. Our dedicated treatment team goes underneath the surface of a presenting problem to determine the underlying triggers and address the root so that it doesn’t manifest itself in other ways. Our goal is not to treat the wound with a Band-Aid but instead develop a permanent solution to problems that are preventing you from living your happiest and healthiest life. Our clinical staff works with you to develop an individualized treatment plan that includes therapy approaches for your specific needs, as well as tools that will improve your life on a holistic level. Learn more about Casa Palmera here and see how Casa Palmera’s programs can help you transform your mind, body and soul.
Kristen Fuller, M.D., is a clinical content writer and enjoys writing about evidence-based topics in the vital world of mental health and addiction medicine. She is a family medicine physician and author, who also teaches and contributes to medicine board education. Her passion lies within educating the public on preventable diseases including mental health disorders and the stigma associated with them. She is also an outdoor activist and spends most of her free time empowering other women to get outside into the backcountry.