Days seem particularly dark of late. We are living through a pandemic, severe social injustice, civil rights violations and loss of jobs and businesses. This undoubtedly is affecting many of us in different ways; physically, emotionally, financially, changes to our community and how we communicate, just to name a few. Here are some suggestions to take care of your mental well-being:
Focus on What is in Your Control
While so much in the world seems out of our control at this time, there are ways you can bring control to your life. Realize that we might not be able to control our thoughts and feelings, we can control our behavior. Thoughts and feelings will arise. Acknowledge them and let them go. Ground yourself in the here and now. Other ways you can control your behavior might involve protecting yourself as best you can through wearing a mask and good hand hygiene. If you want to help with social injustice or civil rights, perhaps joining a protest march or volunteer in the community.
Engaging in the here and now allows one to focus attention outside of thoughts. It’s so easy to go on autopilot and let your thoughts take over. If you are doing activity, focus your attention on it and get out of your head. If you’re not doing anything in particular and you notice you are swimming in your thoughts, focus your attention outward. Look around the room. See how many colors you can identify. Then shift your focus to the shapes in the room. Spend a few minutes doing this.
Let Your Values Guide Your Actions
What do you want to stand for in this world? What sort of person would you like to show up for in your life? Your values might include being loving, respectful, courageous, honest, kind, open, etc. Allow these values – which are freely chosen by you – guide your behavior. Perhaps in service of your value of being loving, you spend time with a friend who is suffering. By acting in accordance with our values, our lives become more meaningful and purposeful.
Identify people who lift your spirits and are supportive, and be sure you touch base with them regularly. Family members and close friends can provide comfort during trying times. For some people, spirituality can be very beneficial. Although many houses of worship are closed at this time, there are many resources online such as religious services on YouTube that can help you feel supported.
Take Good Care of Yourself
Taking care of yourself in any way you can is beneficial to your mental health. Start or keep up with exercise. Eat nutritionally dense food. Try to get good sleep. Reduce or omit drug and alcohol use. During difficult times, we have a tendency to neglect taking care of ourselves, thus compounding the deleterious effects of living though such stressful times. Be mindful of this, and please take good care of you!