Here is a list of mental health tips to help you build your inner strength and get through these stressful times. We can use social distancing and the stay-at-home order or self-quarantine as a purposeful time for reflection and growth.
Help others – When we help others, we find our dignity and that feels good. A simple act of kindness goes a long way. Whether you offer to shop for a neighbor, donate to a charity that helps supply the elderly or homebound, make masks, offer wellness tips, write a blog like I am doing here, share your smile when you are out getting essentials, offer to make a meal, whatever it is, helping others gives us a sense of purpose and value.
Be honest with yourself and others – Being cooped up can bring out the worst in nearly everyone. Each person has moments when they aren’t at their best, so drop the judgment. Don’t judge others and ask them not to judge you. Everyone is entitled to their feelings, including children. Listen and allow both parties to be heard. Give each other the benefit of the doubt and room to breathe. It is essential to move with grace even though blowups. Do this by communicating with an open heart. Agree to do your best to avoid arguments. Take a time out. In other words, do your best to be compassionate and on your best behavior. This will help everyone’s mental health.
Ditch Energy Vampires – You know who and what they are. Avoid people and tasks in your life that are draining your soul. Whether it’s toxic relationships or parasitic habits that lead to addictions, compost what does not serve you and focus on what does. Complainers are blamers and drainers.
Have a retreat space – Your own, personal retreat space is so valuable. Most people are working from home, if they are working at all. If at all possible, separate the workspace from your sleeping and relaxation space. If you are lucky enough to have a park nearby and are able to get out… GO FOR IT, always keeping in mind social distancing, and taking all the proper precautions. If you are living in a city, space is at a premium, so get extra creative. If you have children, help them identify a place where they can go to retreat. Pillows and blankets make magnificent forts for kids and their stuffed animals to help de-stress. It is good to know that even when we are almost living on top of each other, we have our own special place to be alone. It helps to make a schedule with your housemate when each of you need alone time in the kitchen, living room, etc. Be respectful.
Natur-ize when you cannot socialize – Spend as much time as you can in Nature. Nature can absorb negative energy and help you through just about anything. Nature holds no judgment. You can cry, scream, run, climb a tree and allow yourself to feel free. Like a tree, you can get rooted, balanced, and be encouraged to branch out of your discomfort in search of inner peace, guidance, and strength.
Turn off the news and tone down social media, unless it’s positive – There is a lot of scary, negative, and overwhelming information regarding this pandemic. Yes, it is vital to stay informed, so choose sources you trust for up-to-date information without bombarding your nervous system. Resist repeatedly checking several times a day. You don’t have to know how many people got sick or died every hour. Instead, connect with loved ones through the phone and social media. Listening to soothing classical or new age music is much better for your mental health. Even though libraries and bookstores are closed, you can still visit them online. Libraries are full of free eBooks, movies, and music for you to download. It is crucial to counterbalance dreadful news content with hopeful information and things that bring you joy.
Stimulate your mind – Maybe now is the time to immerse yourself into a new hobby or art project, learn a foreign language, cook new recipes, or learn how to play a musical instrument. Read great novels or self-help books, watch educational films, and lighthearted movies that make you laugh. (My stepmom is on her 10th puzzle.) Find fun things to do that will keep you busy, unplugged from the news, and engaged. You can even play games online with people from another continent.
Music can enhance your mood and your memory – While you are dancing, sing – and while you are singing, dance! Singing and dancing are proven ways to improve moods. All the systems in your body will thank you.
Laughter and love are exceptional medicines – The more you laugh, the better you feel. Get some good joke books, watch a good comedy, and help others laugh. Take a break from the outside world. Smile and say, “I love you” at least ten times a day. Say it to yourself too. It’s hard not to smile when you say I love you.
Eat This, Not That – Consume foods that boost your mood and your immune system, and this will reduce anxiety. Foods high in selenium, vitamin D, Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, B vitamins, Zinc, Proteins, and Probiotic micro-organisms are excellent choices. Eat a diversified diet that is low in processed foods and provides plenty of fresh, plant-based foods; fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds and whole grains, healthful fats, and quality meat and dairy. High-quality supplements are also a good idea. Stress eating is terrible for our bodies. We find ourselves over-indulging or the opposite, forgetting to eat. Neither is the correct answer. If you find yourself falling into either trap and eating crap, it’s time to do your research or speak with a nutritional coach. If you are vegan, it is especially essential to beef up other areas of your diet. Avoid the use of alcohol and other addictive substances. If you haven’t already, try using CBD oil. It can really help you chill out.
Stay hydrated – Sip stress away. The link between water and stress reduction is well documented. All of our organs, including our brains, need water to function properly. If
you’re dehydrated, your body isn’t running well — and that can lead to stress.
Stick to a healthy routine – We are naturally creatures of habit. Most people are now having to cope with figuring out a new routine, so they do not drive themselves and others crazy. As we adjust to this new confinement, finding a routine can be challenging but
rewarding. Journal writing is a great way to help identify the best times of day for you to do what you do. Write a schedule that is varied and includes time for work as well as self-care. Each of us is wired differently. Knowing your natural biorhythm will help you figure things out. If you are not familiar with it, Google “biorhythm” and find out how the “body clock” affects symptoms of illness. (link below)
Go to bed and wake up at a reasonable time – Sleep 7-8 hours, not 4 or 12. Too much sleep can often be as detrimental as not enough, and a possible sign of depression. If you find you are sleeping too much, or not enough, it’s time to get help.
Journal Writing – is not just for little girls. It is an exceptional tool for me and millions of others. Writing helps express your feelings, both uploading and downloading. Writing can reduce stress, help dump the crap that is holding you back, and recharge your batteries. Focus on writing what you are grateful for instead of what sucks in your life. Work toward manifesting a better life for yourself. You never know until you try. Some of my journal writing turned into a published body of work.
Anne Frank, a teenager who wrote a diary while hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam, has been a great role model and mentor to help me survive troubling times. Her writing, while confined to a small attic for two years, has inspired countless people over many generations.
Self-Care Toolbox – It could include: a journal, dumbbells, essential oils, turmeric, herbal teas, supplements, a favorite pillow and blanket, Epson salts to put in your daily bath, candles, playing cards, downloaded mediation music and rock a roll; you get the picture. Your self-care toolbox is things you rely on to make you feel better. Choose items that are easily accessible. Use it like a ready first aid kit, when feeling overwhelmed. If you have children or are living with other people, help them gather a self-care toolkit. Share when needed.
Find things you can control and keep in control – In moments of significant uncertainty and feeling overwhelmed, it’s essential to manage your personal space. Organize your bookshelf and paperwork, purge your closet and drawers, and clean under the bed. Cleaning helps to anchor and ground us when everything around us is chaotic. Add useful items you find to your toolbox. You never know what might be under the bed.
Dress for success and personal hygiene – Bathe, brush those pearly whites, take off the PJs and get dressed in clothes that make you feel good. Wear bright colors. What we wear on the outside impacts our insides.
Exercise every day – When we’re stuck inside, we may lack the motivation to get our blood pumping and our breath puffing. Sweating and breathing hard is good for us. Cleaning our living space from ceiling to floor is a workout, just like lifting weights. Put on some dance tunes and get down! If you can get outside, do it! Take a walk or run every day. Don’t fall into that lazy trap!
Meditate and be mindful of your breath – There are all kinds of ways to still your mind. From Kundalini meditation to music mediation to walking meditation, the list goes
on and on. Learn to still your mind by doing mindless tasks as you utilize your breath and ease anxiety. Breathe – so simple, so powerful, especially deep belly breaths. Sigh often and give it some sound!
Acceptance – We (the entire world) are in this together. Most people who contract COVID-19 experience mild to moderate symptoms and recover. Yes, it is a challenging time, but this time shall pass. Accept everything about yourself in this situation without question, blame, or self-doubt. Remind yourself that “I am doing the best I can at this moment.” Even if you are not, that’s okay. The more you say it to yourself, the better you will do. There is no roadmap to predict what is going to happen in life. The virus is here to remind us to never take our precious lives for granted. More things will happen, so it is essential to remind yourself to always take care of yourself. If you cannot accept yourself and the situation, then accept you may need help, and get it. Find someone you trust that can help you feel safe and help re-connect to yourself.
Let it Go – Almost everyone in the world is struggling with disruptions in their daily lives. Remind yourself daily that this is temporary, even though it feels like there is no end to the uncertainty. Let go of those terrifying thoughts that paralyze you and remember to use your Self-Care Toolkit. When we let go of negativity, there is room for positivity to grow. Expect that there will be surprises and do your best to be flexible; like a tree in a hurricane, stay rooted and grounded.
If you have children – Allow them to be your teacher. Now is not the time to punish; it is time to help our children feel loved and safe. Create an environment for emotional connection and support. Your children don’t need to hear the news. Remember, our mental health affects our physical well-being. Like you, children do better when they have a routine and have their own self-care tool kit – a full toy box, books, stuffed animals, etc. Dive into art and music projects. If you are not sick, being loving and affectionate is the best thing for you and your child’s mental health.
Pets – The most magnificent companion of all, can be your pets. Dogs get you moving and outside, lessen allergies and asthma, and helps build your immunity. Petting reduces stress and keeps you in the present. Our pets lessen loneliness and isolation and are great listeners. They love you unconditionally and give you a purpose.
Express emotions – Reach out for help. Now is not the time to bottle up your emotions. Find healthy creative outlets. There is no shame in asking for help. If friends and family are not enough to support you now, that’s okay! Get professional help. Most health insurance
companies cover mental health, and if you do not have health insurance, there are programs to support you. There are mental health professionals, coaches, nutritionists, online support groups, and other services available to assist you. There is no shame in asking for help. Humanity is positively kicking in big-time right now.
Any time there is a crisis, we can either choose to go dark or learn from unfortunate circumstances. It’s a choice we get to make. This is an opportune time to get to know who you are, what you love to do and to hone your purpose in life. It is a time of reflection and a time to create a new normal that serves all of life-kind. Dig deep for answers and ways to resurrect our existence to live more in harmony with each other and Nature. What can you do to improve yourself, your family life, your home, your relationships, your communities? How can we, as just one species on this plant, help take care of the Earth, our world? How might this scary situation, at the sacrifice of so many, bring more peace and justice to all of us?
If you feel like you need support, I am taking on a few new clients on a sliding fee scale.
Click on the link and schedule a complimentary consolation.
Click for a gift from me – a free eBook of my “memoir of sorts,” Living Like the Future Matters, which contains more tips on how to stay well, and find your inner strength even after you have been through hell.
Thank you all for taking the time to read this. I hope these tips help you stay well through these uncertain times. Please leave your comments below and let’s have a conversation on how we can support one another’s mental and physical health.
Take care of yourself,
Many Blessings and Big Love