2020 has been a doozy of a year. If you’re struggling with your mental health right now, you are not alone. Stress and anxiety about Covid-19, quarantine, the economy and civil unrest can be overwhelming for anyone. Lockdown and quarantine gets isolating and depressing. Information and social media overload, trying to figure out what is truth and what are rumors and misinformation can cause us to experience stress, anxiety, fear and depression. Learning self care strategies to support your mental health is key to coping with your emotions during a crisis.
When you’re going through uncertain times, it’s easy to let your emotions take over. Uncertainty can lead to intense emotions that can be difficult to control, possibly leading to unhealthy weight gain and drinking or drugging. However, with the right coping skills and support, it’s possible to balance out our emotions during uncertain times.
8 Tips to Manage Your Mental Health During a Crisis
1. Develop and stick with a routine. Daily (and even boring) routines can be very beneficial during a crisis. They provide a level of control during uncertainty. However, it is okay if you need to vary your routine. If you need to cut back on some activities, that is okay. Many people are in a state of trauma right now and it is difficult to think and process.
Simple structure works. Get to sleep at the same time each night and eat healthy meals. Make time to move in some way, either a walk outside or an exercise video. Practice some meditation and mindfulness. Sticking to a routine can prove surprisingly effective at maintaining good emotional balance in uncertain times.
2. Stay connected. Quarantine makes it very easy to isolate ourselves. You’re going to have to be more intentional about connecting with your friends, family, church and support networks. You need these connections now more than ever.
3. Practice self care. A good self care routine goes a long way towards counteracting fear, stress and anxiety. In addition to healthy eating and exercise, keep up a daily spiritual or devotional time. Take a social media detox either by limiting it, deleting apps from your phone or even just tuning out for a few days or longer. Doomsday scrolling is toxic to mental health.
4. Creativity improves mental health. Many people find that getting creative can help them to express their emotions. It can also prove a great distraction from negative thinking and gets you away from your phone. There is nothing greater than losing yourself in a creative hobby. Think about starting a new hobby such as crocheting, knitting, drawing, painting, gardening, coloring…the list goes on. Getting creative can really help to balance out your emotions in tough times. It will take your mind off everything.
5. Learn something new. Putting your energy into learning something new is another good way to distract yourself from thew news. It enables you to focus on something else. There are so many things you can learn about. Have you always wanted to learn a new language? Play a musical instrument? Learn some new art techniques? YouTube has a plethora of learning opportunities that you can explore.
6. Focus on what you can control. If you only focus on what you can’t control, it’s going to cause you to feel helpless, depressed and anxious. But if you switch your focus to the things you can control, you will feel more confident and empowered. Start by writing down what you can change about the situation right now. Even if it’s only the way you respond to the situation, there is always something you can control.
7. Limit the amount of news you watch. During a time of crisis, it’s natural to want to stay informed. But a steady stream of bad news (aka doomsday scrolling) can have a negative impact on your mental health. So try limiting your social media and news consumption and see just how much calmer you feel.
8. Journaling for mental health. Journaling is a time honored way of expressing your thoughts and feelings. It will help you to get the mental junk out of your head and find clarity for your life situation. It’s one of the best forms of mental health therapy that you can do.
9. Don’t be afraid to seek help. If you’ve tried most of these and nothing seems to work don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Sometimes we need that outside help to help us reorient our thinking and overcome negative emotions that come from a crisis. There is absolutely no shame in seeking help! It can help put you on a healthier path.
These are just 9 things you can do to become emotionally balanced during a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic. By focusing on the things you can control and taking care of yourself, you’ll be in a much better position mentally.
How to Heal After Trauma
It’s not exaggerating to say that in 2020, many of us are in a state of trauma. When you’re going through a severe crisis like this, emotional scars and PTSD often remain. If you don’t deal with these emotions, these scars can affect your life in a number of negative ways leading to stress, anxiety and destructive habits.
Here’s six things you can do to heal your inner self and reclaim your life.
1. Pay attention to your body’s signals. You know your body better than anybody else and it’s important to pay attention. By listening to how it is feeling, you’ll be able to identify what you need to do each day to make you feel better. I’ve noticed that since beginning a regular yoga and meditation practice, I notice these signals much faster and now I know what to do.
Begin by writing down your physical symptoms and what’s on your mind. This will give you the best idea of how to make yourself feel better when you’re suffering emotional distress. In order to heal from a crisis, we need to recognize what our body wants and needs.
2. Acknowledge your trauma. It’s common to think that the best way to deal with trauma is to just bury it and move on. This is actually very harmful. It’s more important to acknowledge that it’s there. Acknowledge your trauma without judgment or commentary. It’s there. But don’t dwell on it. Go through it and process it..then let it go. Journal about the negative experience and how it makes you feel. Then analyze your entry. Why does it make you feel that way? What could you do or act to feel differently?
3. Practice self love. It’s so important to be kind to yourself when you’re healing from crisis or trauma. This means eating healthy food and getting some gentle exercise. It also means making time to do the things that you love. Taking some dedicated time each day will help you to reduce stress and stay calmer. Dwell on the positive. Post positive affirmations and quotes where you can easily see them. The more positive things you dwell on, the stronger you will become.
4. Set healthy boundaries. It’s essential to set healthy boundaries in life. If you’re healing from past trauma, you may have developed the habit to try and please other people. But if you don’t set or maintain healthy boundaries for yourself, that creates a toxic situation. Examine your life and consider where you can set boundaries. Do you find yourself saying yes to things you want to say no to? If you do this, it’s okay to be firm and recognize that it’s OK to say no. Don’t allow people to overstep your boundaries, shame or manipulate you; set personal limits and distance yourself from them.
5. Believe in yourself. Do you currently believe in yourself? When you believe in yourself, you won’t let the opinions of others bother you. Things will bounce off you and you’ll find it easier to heal from trauma.
6. Make sleep and downtime a number one priority. In order to heal your inner self, it’s important that you feel energized, in control and relaxed. If you’re not getting enough sleep, it can lead to a host of emotional and physical issues. Therefore, you’re going to want to make sure you make sleep a number one priority. Practice good sleep hygiene. Go to bed at the same time every night. Turn off the electronics a few hours before to decompress. Play calming music. Listen to a guided meditation. Make sure your bedroom promotes healthy sleep. Anything you can do to improve your sleep, is going to make it easier for you to heal.
As you can see, there many things you can do to heal your inner self after a crisis or trauma. The above are some of the most effective ways to start healing and become more emotionally balanced.
And remember that trauma does not have to define you. You are an overcomer!
Disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional or counselor. Please reach out to a qualified professional if you are struggling.