It’s hard to imagine how normal life was just a few weeks ago. Can you believe it hasn’t even been one month since the ‘Stay at Home’ order went into effect in Ohio? So many aspects of our lives have changed since the end of March and now we are in this surreal limbo – without certainty of what the rest of our year may look like or how the changes implemented over the last 3 weeks may impact the course of our lives.
I hesitate to even type out those words – fearing it’s only my own anxiety speaking. I can only image how others are possibly experiencing similar ‘worst case scenario’ thinking right now though and so I want to bring some validation for you all. We are in uncertain times, and with uncertainty comes anxiety and increased stress. Considering the threat we are collectively experiencing (A.K.A. The physical, emotional and economic impact of COVID-19), it makes sense that our bodies are responding and attempting to protect us. Maybe you’ve noticed these changes, maybe you haven’t. Let’s explore a little, shall we?
I am going to be honest with you all…
Even being a trained and licensed mental health counselor, I am not immune to the stress we have all found ourselves under amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. I think it is safe to say we are all feeling the impact of these worldly changes to some degree and these changes have thrown us off balance in many ways.
It is far too easy to get caught up in the daily ‘breaking news’ headlines which feed into what seems like a failing sense of security. I know I have fallen into this trap as of late, and am doing what I can to dig myself out of it.
A colleague recently told me their mantra for how they are staying sane during these trying times: Focus on what is true today.
Do you have enough food?
Do you have a roof over your head?
Do you have running water?
Are you able to connect with loved ones, even from afar?
This mantra can be seen as a gratitude practice as well. When we are placed in times of uncertainty, we must remember what is true, what we can control and the silver linings within the chaos. For additional reading on this topic, check out this great article by the Harvard Business Review. The author puts a name to our current collective experience and provides easy to follow guidelines for how to cope.
Be well and stay safe,
Social distancing can look and feel a lot like isolation, but let us not forget about our loved ones, communities and our own self-care. With so much fear, stress and anxiety being felt during the impact of these uncertain times, I want to take a few minutes to review what could be helpful for us all right now:
I hope these tips will provide a good start to re-connecting with yourself and your world. You can also check out a previous post of mine for additional info. I would love to hear your thoughts and what has been beneficial for you in these times.
Be well and take care.
Research has shown that there are a number of ways to naturally improve your mental health. This is great news for anyone who struggles with any level of anxiety or depression on a daily basis and doesn’t want to take medication to help treat it. As we go into the new year and you’re thinking about resolutions, perhaps taking control of your mental health is on that list of yours. If so, I hope you try out some of these tips!
1. Practice Mindfulness
This may seem odd to those of you who are unfamiliar with mindfulness, but research has shown time and time again what great benefits come from a regular mindfulness practice. In fact, in just 8 short weeks of engaging in a consistent mindfulness practice, you will actually be changing the way your brain operates! That could mean less anxiety, depression and insecurity and improved overall well-being!
Perhaps the ‘typical’ mindfulness practice is shown as a formal meditation; however, there are so many other ways to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life! Check out my previous post about the little ways to practice this skill: https://www.katiemariecounseling.com/blog/mindfulness-how-to-be-present-in-a-fast-paced-world
2. Engage in Regular Physical Activity
Exercise doesn’t just help out your heart and body, it gives your brain a boost too! Research shows that getting exercise on a regular basis is actually just as effective in the treatment of anxiety and depression as the usually-prescribed anti-depressant medication is. So next time you decide to go for a jog or lift some weights, know that you aren’t just helping out your muscles, you are giving your mental health some TLC too!
3. Make Sure You are Getting Enough Sleep
When was the last time you actually got the recommended 8 hours of sleep? Thats not just a number pulled out of thin air. Sleep studies have shown slower cognitive functioning and an impaired immune system from getting just 7 hours or less! Your body actually needs that 8 to 9 hours every night in order to function properly. Do your brain, and your body, a favor and get some quality Z’s tonight.
4. Fuel Your Body
A not-so-well-known fact about mental health is that the neurotransmitters that impact our moods are actually created in our gut. What does this mean, you ask? Basically, the foods we eat can directly impact the way we think and feel. I actually found this out first hand so I’ll share some of my own story here. I used to suffer from depression back in the day and truly never thought I would get out from underneath that dark cloud. One day, I decided to stop eating wheat due to some other health reasons and found that I actually had energy, mental clarity and the gloomy fog had begun to lift. Now this isn’t to say that wheat/gluten is the root of all evil - but for me and my body, cutting it out of my diet was a miracle helper. Every body is different. Paying attention to your body’s unique cues can go a long way to helping you make nutrition choices that will actually do your mental health a great deal of good.
My challenge to you: Start keeping a log with number of hours you slept, how much exercise you got, what you ate and how you felt, and how often you practice being mindful. You might be surprised with the connections between your mental state and taking part in these natural remedies.