Are you prioritizing your mental health?
Updated: Dec 4, 2020
We are in the last month of the year and what a year it has been! From the pandemic to social justice issues to the loss of jobs, loved ones and famous leaders, this year has thrown a lot at us. It should come as no surprise that all these events are having an impact on our mental health. There have been many reports of people feeling afraid, stressed, more irritable, depressed, lonely etcetera. Some are becoming increasingly worried about whether their business or job will survive. Familial violence has also increased since people who previously were able to get a break from their home situation when they left to go to work or school are now in the company of their abusers 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
Mental health and trauma will be the focus of two upcoming podcast episodes of The Good Health Cafe. The first will be released next week when Ruth Baah-Gyebi, an Ontario based psychotherapist and CEO of Elpizo Counselling Services, stops by the cafe to discuss the topic of mental health and what the experience of seeing a therapist is like.
Until then here are some of my favourite strategies for managing mental health and well-being during the pandemic:
View the glass as half full - Find the positives instead of the negatives in a situation. For example,
Negative thought: “oh no, woe is me... I can’t get to participate in my activities as usual”
Positive thought: “it’s great that so many of the activities I normally do have been able to be modified for the virtual space, that I have reliable internet in order to participate and that my commute time has been reduced to zero.”
Try new things - candle making, arts and crafts from the dollar store and podcasting are all things that I tried for the first time this year.
Recognize that physical distancing is not the same as social distancing - while we should not be gathering with people outside our households that certainly does not mean that we cannot connect with others. Zoom parties may not be the same as in person ones but they still allow us to see each other's faces and there is an abundance of activities that can be done online such as games, virtual meetups and paint nights. People and companies are being creative in the ways they find to engage us.
Set boundaries to preserve your mental well-being - sometimes we just need to turn off the news or not scroll through social media. If you find what you see there too distressing, do not expose yourself to it more than necessary, if at all. The same goes for people! If there is someone who tap dances on your nerves and they don’t live in your house then the pandemic has created a nice artificial boundary for you, “sorry sis, I have been so busy trying to juggle all these life changes, I haven’t had a chance to be in touch as much ;-)”
Take breaks - take a pause to go for a walk. If you have some vacation time, use it. Do what you can to give yourself a chance to rest and recharge.
Reflect - if things haven’t been going the way you like or you’ve been laid off or something else use the opportunity to pause, reflect and decide what you really want to get out of life and map a plan to get there.
Seek help - counselling services are available to you and now that everything is virtual you can access it from the comfort of your own home.
Reconnect with old friends and make new ones - call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while to see how they are doing. Check in on the elderly, especially those who may not be tech savvy, the call would mean a lot to them.
As we head into the holiday season, which will no doubt be difficult for many, I urge you to consider making your mental health a priority. If you plan to buy some gifts consider the following:
gift a visit to a mental health professional
time - our most valuable resource which we can use to call family or friends to offer emotional support or keep their company
books and other resources - being educated on the ways to recognize emotional distress and how to address it would be helpful to you or someone you know
Acquiring and implementing useful tools to handle the challenges life throws our way will last much longer than a piece of clothing or some other item which is easily discarded or tossed aside.
Give yourself and others the gift of mental health this season!
Have you been prioritizing your mental health lately? Send me a message to let me know how.
Be on the lookout for my conversation with Ruth on next week’s podcast.
See you in the cafe soon!