Anxiety

Focusing on Mental Health

I know last week I mentioned keeping my blog a respite from Coronavirus. But as things have intensified, I feel ridiculous for not addressing it in some way. I’m still ultimately trying to keep things positive and I’m taking my content calendar one day at a time.

One thing that I wanted to mention today is how important it is to take care of your mental health now. There’s a lot of uncertainty in our future and we’re facing a lot of new things as a society. I am imagining that this “new normal” can cause some mental health concerns as time wears on. Being diligent about this from the get-go will be extremely beneficial in the long run. And maybe you haven’t had the time to deal with other underlying mental health issues and have a little bit more free time to sit at home now to address it.

For me this is already impacting my mental health in a pretty big way and I want to take the best steps that I can now to try to get on top of it.

THERAPY

First and foremost, if you’re seeing a therapist, I’d do everything in your power to continue to do so. I know a lot of therapists are now holding sessions over the phone or computer. If you don’t already have one, but feel you need one, call around to see if anyone in your network is taking new people and/or ask friends and family for personal referrals.

I cannot emphasize this enough: if you are really struggling, seek medical help from professionals as soon as possible. I promise that while it can seem scary to reach out for help, it is WORTH IT and YOU are worth it!!! Here is a source to help you get in contact with help asap. 

JOURNAL

I’m including this because I know it’s helpful for a lot of people. Personally, I’m a terrible journaler, but not for lack of trying. Everyone is going to journal differently. You may want to get out all your fears on paper or maybe you’re going to journal just to focus on gratitude. Experiment and test to see if this works for you and how to best utilize it.

MEDITATE

At this risk of sounding like more of a broken record. MEDITATING WORKS WONDERS. It’s not going to work overnight, but with consistent practice, it is proven to help with all kinds of things from stress, sleep, interpersonal relationships, mood, anxiety, etc. I believe mindfulness is the key to life. I have experienced a dramatic change in my overall life and wellbeing by meditating daily. I cannot stress how ridiculously life changing it has been for me.

It’s not going to cure you of anything, but it is an extremely valuable tool to have in your back pocket. I can speak from personal experience that this Coronavirus situation is testing the limits of meditation for me. It hasn’t been perfect (I think I’ve had two full panic attacks this week alone), but I have muted/contained/stopped numerous others from happening.

Headspace is one of the best tools out there, in my opinion. It TEACHES you how to meditate instead of just throwing you into the darkness to figure it out on your own. I’ve already had three people DM me to say they have started meditating this week and already feel better.

A book I recommend in addition to using the app Headspace is 10% Happier by Dan Harris. 

GRATITUDE AND JOY

My brain loves to switch into “here is the worst case scenario” mode. I can obsess on it, going deeper and deeper into the darkness. Focusing on gratitude and finding joy, even in dark times, has really helped me keep my mood a little brighter. A few ways I’m implementing this:

– If I catch myself focusing on something negative that I can’t control, I force myself to think of one thing to be grateful for in that moment.

– When I find myself laughing or smiling or otherwise experiencing a moment of joy, I make a mental note of it acknowledging that moment of happiness. I learned this from Joy on Demand (which is currently $0 if you have Amazon Prime and the Kindle app).

– Share the happiness. It’s contagious! And when you share it, you’re not only giving a piece of it to someone else, I think it doubles how you process it!

DON’T ISOLATE YOURSELF

Just because you’re social distancing doesn’t mean you have to be completely isolated. Text a friend if you’re feeling vulnerable, call someone, get on Facetime. Even in the best of times, I have a tendency to shut down and go “inward,” which only makes the problem worse. Say what’s on your mind if you can, talk it out, or just have a super light Facetime sesh with a friend you know always makes you laugh. Make those meaningful connections and touch points.

TAKE SOCIAL MEDIA AND MEDIA BREAKS

I think next to meditating, this is what is helping me the most. I gotta be honest, I had to really limit my Instagram use and mute a ton of people because if I saw one more person getting on a plane this weekend I was going to lose it. I can’t control what I can’t control. The minute I put my phone away and turned off the TV I could feel my body sighing in relief. It doesn’t mean I’m not informed, I still check in and get the important stuff. (I just don’t need to watch three hours of CNN showing lines at Costco and 100 articles about assholes hoarding hand sanitizer on Twitter.)

GO OUTSIDE FOR SUN

A glorious thing to remember is (at least right now/still), you can go outside. I have never been more grateful for neighborhood parks right now with open fields. I’ve been trying to get out multiple times a day to walk the dogs (waving to neighbors but keeping my distance of course), going for runs, and playing fetch with the pups. Like meditation, just being outside does wonders for our minds and bodies. Mix in exercise and you’re multiplying its effects! And, don’t forget, Vitamin D is also extremely important for our mental well-being!

PS Don’t forget to check in on your friends!!! Especially those that might be far from family, experiencing stress with job shifts, or live alone. Look out for one another. 

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16 Comments

Cristina - Memories of the Pacific

Thanks for the tips, Carly! I live in Spain and this confinement situation is certainly going to take a toll on our mental health. I’m receiving support messages from friends I have all around the world and I can assure that they make a huge difference on our days. They mean the world to me. Stay safe!

Reply
Elizabeth

Hi Carly,

Long time reader, first time commenter! Just wanted to let you know that HeadSpace is offering its App for free to anyone with an NPI (national provider identifier). Any mental health and physical health professional in the country should have one. It is important for everyone to be taking care of themselves and even more important that those who are taking care of others are attending to their own needs.

Thanks for addressing this on the blog!

Cheers,
Elizabeth

Reply
Kaitlin

Actually RNs, LPNS, CNAs- highly exposed people right now, often voluntold to work with suspected or confirmed cases don’t have NPI’s.

Only midlevels and above do- ie dentists, doctors, PA-Cs, nurse practitioners.

Reply
Kaitlin

For healthcare professionals:
10% happier meditation app is free for 6mos for you, go to their website for more info. This includes anyone in a healthcare setting (CNAs etc)

For doctors/anyone w an NPI: headspace premium is free for the rest of 2020 (info on their website).

A friend gifted me a month trial of calm and then I used the offer of a year free to healthcare workers (website for info. You must send them an email through your work email to verify)- then paid for a year after that.

I thought it was woo hoo crap tbh then I started doing it and it is absolutely priceless.

Calm has a female narrator for daily practice but you can choose others and lots of sleep stories/sound baths I really enjoy. I try to do 5min during my lunch break at work as well. Headspace has a male narrator. 10% happier has a variety.

Thanks for this helpful post Carly.

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Blood Tests

A fascinating article, hou advise friends. You always have very interesting things. I constantly go to the psychologist. It helps me understand myself. Thanks to this, I feel alive.

Reply
Annika

Carly, thank you for creating content that is not completely unrelated from what is happening right now. I must admit that it feels a little strange to me right now when bloggers/influencers carry on with their content as if nothing was happening. I really appreciate keeping things positive when the news are not and I believe that you are doing a great job juggling the two.
I just read through your post on working from home once more today when I sat down to work from home.
Best wishes from Germany
Annika

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Shannon Mahaney

Thank you for sharing this, Carly. It’s so easy to neglect our mental health during times of crisis. I am pregnant so keeping my stress/anxiety at bay is so important for baby. I plan to do some yoga and breathing exercises when I need it.

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Emily

Prayer helps me. It helps me remember that I’m ultimately not in control. It provides a sense of peace.

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Abby Nordgren

Thank you so much for this thoughtful post! Love how you spread positivity and joy.

Reply
Jennie

Hi Carly,

Thanks for having therapy at the top of your list! As a mental health counselor, I myself am offering telehealth/video sessions to my clients (and I know most therapists are doing to same) so that there is continuity of care even while we’re all practicing social distancing and/or “shelter in place.”

Take gentle care!

Reply