Mental Health Well-being
Although there have been a handful of restrictions lifted since COVID-19 began our mental health continues to be at the forefront of impact. We may experience the mental impact of stress and concern related to the following: job loss or job change, financial concerns, child care limits, home security, working to balance work and family, partnership challenges, and helping take care of our loved ones. It is necessary to take care of both our mental and physical health as they go hand in hand tirelessly.
During this pandemic the stress experienced may be accompanied by and reflected through worrisome thoughts, feeling anxious or on edge, feeling irritable and angry, and depression. Because of the uncertainty of the pandemic you may find yourself experiencing multiple and changing emotions which in some cases may lead to feeling helpless.
During times of continued stress, it is worthwhile to remind ourselves of our ‘self-care’ needs. What’s equally as important as identifying our needs is committing to putting them into practice. Consider the choices available to you and work to make them an on-going priority.
Physical health monitoring: Attend your yearly physical exam, and all other medical appointments minimally by telephone as many offices are offering ‘telehealth’ services. Maintain your dental cleaning or schedule an appointment when it is safe to do so. If you do not have a physical exam scheduled contact your office to consult when to make an appointment. Review your medical conditions and medications with your doctor. Ask your doctor to explain the symptoms of your medical condition(s). Ask your doctor to review what the medications are prescribed for, if they need to be taken with food, and to review the potential side effects of the medication.
Physical health related to food and water: Consider making a priority of enjoying 3 meals a day and drinking the classic 8 glasses of water a day to enhance a healthy colon or ‘gut health.’ Your food lifestyle and preferences are worthy to discuss with your doctor. Your doctor can consult your medical records and provide recommendations of food choices that can enhance ‘gut health.’ There’s a lot of benefit with drinking adequate water that can result in more consistent and smooth bathroom habits (impacting energy level, the way your body feels and even your mood). Consult with your doctor if you have any bathroom habits you desire to be different or are uncertain if they should be different. Some medication side effects can impact bathroom habits that are worth discussing with your prescriber. Your prescriber can provide suggestions and may be able to make an adjustment if desirable. And last but not least… if able- move your body. Enjoy a walk, engage in some form of exercise (even stretching and dancing counts- crank the music!), or go to an area where you can breathe in fresh air.
Consider the effects of alcohol and other drug use: Alcohol and other drugs impact our mood, how we take care of ourselves, how we interact with others and can also disrupt the body’s natural desire to eat. Additionally, mental health symptoms of Depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety and other conditions can be exacerbated with alcohol and other drug use. If you have any questions or concerns related to substance use for yourself or loved ones there are professionals of substance use and mental health specialty who share education, guidance and support. If internet is accessible one can research providers in the area desired, one can contact their doctor’s office for referrals, or one can consult with their health insurance company for professionals accepting new patients.
Mental Health: If you are connected with a mental health professional maintain your appointments minimally by ‘telehealth.’ If you are unsure you would like to meet with a professional and have internet access conduct a search of the different mental health services or educational trainings offered in your area to learn more about them. Balance or limit your time related to news briefing and media. Consider establishing a routine that consist of a time to start your day, personal hygiene needs such as taking care of your teeth and bathing, meal times, alone time, socialization, and develop a night time routine. Make time to do the things you love. Perhaps you have a favorite TV series you look forward to watching, or have a book you want to start or finish. Consider spending time with pets or observing nature from your window, start or maintain a garden. If you have internet access consider reading about a topic you’re interested in learning more about, watch tutorials, or make time to listen to music.
Working from home – If you are working from home consider if you have the option to designate a space for work that is separate from the area you spend your ‘off-work’ time in. If you have concerns related to work needs or performance, share them with your direct manager. If you have questions, concerns or suggestions ask your manager to schedule time to discuss your thoughts. Do not wait for someone else to ask a question or make a suggestion because chances could be, they are also waiting for someone else to speak up or had the conversation privately. Some employers who are operating at full capacity have the ability to offer flexibility in some capacity or offer temporary alternatives amid the pandemic.
Additional resource access: For resources of interest or need, check in with your local Department of Social Services (DSS), mental health office, doctor’s offices, and if you have internet access visit your County’s website for resources that may be available or will become available in the future.
On-going self-care is necessary and should be prioritized. If you need assistance or support reach out to those people in your life you feel comfortable and respected by.
Until next time, remember… we cannot be our best for other’s if we are not our best for ourselves, and people do not know what we are going through unless they ask (and we tell them the truth), or if we tell them ourselves.