May is Mental Health Awareness month so it seemed fitting to talk about how we’re all maintaining our mental health during these challenging times.
I don’t beat around the bush when it comes to talking about my anxiety and the battle with mental health that I’ve struggled with over the past few years. I’m quite open about those struggles because I’m of the belief that if we don’t talk about it, the stigma against talking about it will remain. However, opening up about my challenges and asking for help did not come without challenges of their own.
Let’s cut to the chase about emotions and feelings during the Pandemic.
Your feelings are valid. Any feelings you have during this #quarantinelife are 200% valid. In the words of Olaf from Frozen “You feel what you feel and those feelings are real.”
Don’t undermine your own feelings. Last week, I cried when my favorite summer race was canceled. It seemed beyond trivial and I felt silly in the moment. There are so many people that are so worse off than us – what about all those healthcare workers? What about… what about…
Stop. Stop comparing yourself. Stop undermining your own emotions. Mourn the loss of experiences if you need to. Be angry if you are. But don’t undermine your feelings.
Your feelings are 100% valid. Our experiences are our own, and even if others have it “tougher” than you, that does not invalidate how YOU are feeling.
I’ve been saying this on repeat lately.
So how do we do it? How do we keep up our mental health during challenging times?
Ask for help
Whether you need more support from your partner, or whether you need some chemical brain support from anti-depressants, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you don’t ask, people can’t help you and you will keep suffering.
Take time for you
Find time to turn off. Take a bath. Go for a run. Take time for yourself. If you’re constantly on for everyone else, you’re going to burn out. Figure out what self-care looks like for you and do it. Regularly. For me? It’s curling up with a good book. Going for a long run. Having quiet time.
Find a tribe
Over the past year my tribes have evolved. Lately, while I have a great group of gal pals from our school community, I’ve missed people to run with. I’ve missed people to work out with. I miss my workout tribe(s) that encourage me and just lift me up with all the positive vibes. I was about to rejoin Body Back when this whole Pandemic started but alas, I lost my job…and well… #priorities. But my friends who have been around, our group text keeps me sane. From venting to curing frustrations with silly gifs, having someone who is not my husband to vent to is everything.
Give Yourself Grace
You are not superwoman. In fact, none of us are. In this Popsugar article, one Brooklyn-based Therapist says:
“I think the thing I want people to realize is that it’s actually really potentially harmful to our mental health to say that this is now the time to be productive. Because what you’re actually doing is you’re creating unrealistic expectations for people and you’re setting them up to fail. Again, these are not normal circumstances and so why would we be asking more of people when things have gotten harder for most of us? It doesn’t make sense.”
How about that. Stop trying to do #allthethings. Yes, I started my own business, but I’m taking it slow because hey my ADHD 7 year old is home 24/7 and requires a lot of attention and a lot of my energy. Probably why this blog has taken me 2 days to finish and it’s after 10 pm at night. Grace. Give it to yourself if things you envisioned doing don’t get done on your timeline. Find other things – read more. Start needlepoint (I started, I need to pick it back up! It’s so calming!). Bake. Find something that occupies your brain without making you feel like a big fat fail whale if you don’t finish.
Take a Social Media Break
Listen, I’m as much of a social media junkie as anyone else. I love connecting with friends but there is a HUGE FOMO life out there and the comparison trap is so very real on social media. If it’s impacting you and making you feel less than, stop. Take a break. Turn it off. Whatever you need to do but if it “triggers” you (I seriously hate that word and feel like it’s overused – every flipping post in all the mom groups have a stupid #TW) – delete the app. Stop using it. Just take a break. I have this book on my Kindle and I really really need to read it because I think it would be REALLY good for my sanity.
So let’s make a pact. Let’s talk about how effed up the world is. Talk about how hard it is not seeing friends regularly, and for me, not being able to plan our summer trips north to visit family we haven’t seen since Christmas. It’s hard and makes me cry. There. I put it out there.
We’ve now celebrated all of our birthdays in quarantine and while they weren’t what we planned (especially Ethan’s party in March), it’s okay to mourn the loss of those experiences. Being upset is a-okay. Let’s stop trying to be brave and pretending everything is hunky-dory. It’s not.
Talk about how much you hate your anti-depressants but how they keep you feeling normal (I hate mine. hate them. They make me gain weight. But if I didn’t take them I’d be an emotional wreck like Sadness on Inside Out. Let’s just talk about it to whoever we can. It’s okay. It’s okay to not be perfect. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, lonely, sad, and just… unsettled. It’s okay to not be productive. It’s okay to mourn the loss of our normal routines. It’s…okay.
How are you coping? How are you dealing with mental health during the pandemic?