With the continuing day-to-day reality of COVID-19 and the recent unrest across the country, it’s only natural to feel overwhelmed, anxious, worried, depressed, scared, angry, or impatient sometimes. Over the last few months, our nation has been grappling with a major health crisis, a rise in unemployment and a myriad of financial challenges. While it’s not always possible to control everything that comes your way, there are healthy things you can do to protect your mental well-being and how you think, feel, and react during these trying times. Self-care is more important than ever.
Cut Back on the News
While it’s good to be informed, overexposure to upsetting information and data can cause anxiety, stress and sleeplessness. Try limiting how much news you read and watch. Commit to “checking in” at a set time each day, or even just one day a week. Turn to reliable resources for content you can trust. And when the news gets to be too much, take some deep breaths to quiet your mind.
Take Mental Breaks
Even as the country reopens, many of us will be working from home for a long time to come, whether full-time or part-time. Either way, it’s important to get up from your desk [or off the couch] so you can unplug and free your mind. You’ll feel refreshed, more creative and more productive. So go for a walk around the block or the office, brew a cup of tea, stretch your body, chat with a coworker, walk the dog, play a video game, get a snack, take a nap, or just find a quiet corner to meditate.
When will this end? Will there be a vaccine? When can we go back to normal? While coping with uncertainty isn’t easy, it’s important to be flexible, patient and compassionate with yourself and others. And while some days it’s tempting to let things slide — eating right, exercising and getting a good night’s sleep should all be priorities. And until we get the “all clear,” give yourself more peace of mind by continuing to wear masks, practice social distancing and wash your hands often.
Write It Down
For most people, emotions are all over the place these days. To help manage your feelings, try keeping a journal. Writing down what’s going on in your life, even for just 20 minutes a day, can help ease your mind. By putting thoughts on paper and giving a voice to your feelings, you can “let go” of them, as well as see and understand them more clearly and the reasons for any emotional upheaval. It’s a great mind-reset.
Social distancing is a challenge for sure, but it is vital to keeping us all safe. Just as staying connected to family and friends helps to reduce feelings of isolation, depression and loneliness. There are still plenty of ways to stay in touch “from a distance” that will improve your mood. Video chat. Snapchat. Send texts. Update your status on Facebook or post a tweet on Twitter. Start a virtual book club, cooking class or film fest. Pick up the phone or mail an old-fashioned card — there’s no limit to all the creative ways you can stay close to loved ones.
One day we'll look back on all this and have a million stories to tell about how we coped and survived it all. Until then, keep looking forward, keep making plans, and keep your mind open to a new tomorrow.
Meg Schutte is a Bank of Hope Blog contributor.
The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Bank of Hope.