Friday, May 1, 2020
May is National Mental Health Month which seems like just as good a time as any to remind you that caring for your mental health is just as important as caring for your physical health.
We are facing a public health crisis with the outbreak of COVID-19, and each of us is coping in different ways.
During these strange times, in addition to watching out for our physical health, we also need to be doing everything we can to take care of our mental health and introduce some self-care into our daily routines.
Self-care is critically important and usually the last thing we consider in our daily lives. In this especially stressful and isolating time, it is imperative that we begin to find safe ways to take care of ourselves and others.
This idea of self-care looks different for everyone. Here are a few ways you can protect your mental health during this time of physical distancing and change.
- Keeping up with a regular diet and exercise routine. If you are looking for safe ways to stay active, there are many free workout channels on video platforms like YouTube, as well as smartphone apps for running, yoga, and more.
- Take A Nap. Catching up on sleep and recharging your body is a great way to practice self-care. Rest, recharge, and get ready to continue the rest of your day with energy.
- Practice meditation and mindfulness. Help keep your brain "trained" through meditation - the practice of mindfulness and concentration that can allow you to gain important insights about yourself and the world around you.
- Read a book or magazine. Reading provides a break from the real world, a chance to walk away from all the ugliness for at least a little while. Whether you are getting lost in a fantasy novel, solving a mystery, or learning about the newest parenting techniques, reading can provide a much-needed escape from reality.
- Free write or journal. Set a timer and take 10 minutes each day to write yourself a letter. While you can choose to write about anything, make sure to include the things you love and admire about yourself and maybe include a few things you want to remember about your time during the pandemic.
- Take time to laugh. Laughter is said to be contagious. Shared laughter creates bonds between people, increasing happiness, and a sense of togetherness. A good belly laugh can actually relieve tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes. Have a virtual hang out with a funny friend, watch a comedy, or check out some cute videos online and get the laughter rolling.
- Try something new. Do something you have never done before. Whether it’s putting together a puzzle or painting a picture using your energy to try something you’ve always wanted but never made the time for.
Most importantly, it is okay to not be okay during this time. It is okay to ask for help. Here are a few ways you can reach out for help during this difficult time.
- Talking with a friend. If you are struggling, consider opening up to a trusted friend, partner, or family member. It might be scary at first, but chances are the person will be glad you told them how you are feeling and will be happy to support you and lend a listening ear.
- Talking with a professional. If you think you could benefit from professional help, many mental health providers are currently offering telehealth services. The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse has a free helpline available. 1-800-273-8255.
- Be gentle with yourself. If you are working from home, be as gentle with yourself as you can. Do what you can to maintain a healthy work-life balance and give yourself breaks when you know you need them. Try not to hold yourself to unrealistic expectations when it comes to focus and productivity.
Whatever it means to you, there is no better time than now to make your mental health a priority.