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Fighting Covid's Mental Game

Self Care

Months have passed since the first case of covid made its appearance in Huron County. We have moved past spring and summer. Fall is upon us and winter will be here before we know it. Time is flying by. How have you adapted to the ‘new normal?”

As I talk with people during this pandemic, a specific theme continues to emerge. Everyone is stressed. People are stressed over their health, the possibility that they might get covid-19, losing their job, putting food on their table or keeping a roof over their head. The list of stressors is long. You name it, someone is stressed about it. Everyone is stressed.

Since everyone is stressed, have sympathy and empathy towards others. We are in this pandemic together. You don’t know what other people are going through. Your neighbor could be furloughed from their job. A friend might be in an intensive care unit. Your coworker might have had a parent die. Yelling, screaming and arguing with people does not help the situation. You could be adding more stress to their life. Everyone needs support right now.

When I say everyone, I mean everyone. You need support too. Have self-compassion. Self-compassion means being kind and caring for oneself. It is reasonable to admit that you are stressed, overworked and need support. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It actually takes real strength to ask for help. It takes a self-aware person to recognize that they are in a tough situation and need support. People who say that they are fine all the time may be the ones who need the most support. No one is okay all the time. Being okay all the time is not normal. Normal includes times where life is not okay.

All lives have moments of greatness and difficulty. People experience highs and lows. It means that they are fully functioning human beings. For many during the covid-19 pandemic, this may be a time of struggle. People are struggling too with masks and socially distancing. People are struggling with not being able to physically touch one another. You are not alone. The struggle is real. It’s a tough time.

In addition to self-compassion, we need self-care. Self-care is the ability to take care of ourselves. How can we give support if we don’t’ have anything to give? Are we running on fumes or do we have a full tank to give from? Many of us are running closer to empty. Self-care is important because if you are running on empty, how are you able to perform at work, take care of your child or handle your responsibilities? If you are barely getting by, how are you able to produce high-quality work or be fully present with your family? Self-care is important.

Self-care is a very personal activity. People must know themselves. Each person is unique and must find their own activities that refill their soul. Each individual needs to discover what activities breathe life back into them. What works for one person, may not work for another. Try out as many things as possible to see what works best for you. Here are 3 activities that people use to re-energize themselves. Try each out and see what works for you.

  1. Connect: Call that person you’ve been meaning to talk to but haven’t. Connect with a person that you care for. Really have a conversation with them. Find out how they’ve been handling and adjusting to life during this pandemic. Share how you’ve adapted, as well as your ups and downs. It could be a friend, partner, parent, grandparent or mentor from years ago. Connect with people that you care about regularly.
  2. Physical activity and movement: The doctor’s recommendation is 30 minutes per day for most of the days of the week. In addition to the physical benefits, there are mental and emotional benefits to movement. Research has shown that physical activity and movement have been shown to lift moods and help relax people. The physical activity and movement you get should get your heart rate up and be enjoyable to you. Go for a walk with your dog. Go squat or deadlift. If you are a fan of Yoga, there are hundreds of free YouTube videos on Yoga. Get your body moving on a regular basis.
  3. Mindfulness: Mindfulness is where you focus on being aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment. There are many types of mindfulness exercises like deep breathing, guided meditation and imagery and other practices that relax the body and mind. When you are in the present moment, it’s difficult to think about the future or past events. When you are fully present in the moment, it is difficult to be stressed. This is because you are in the here and now. Using mindfulness can help ease the stress.

The current pandemic environment can be stressful. The new normal is something that will take to adapt to. Many people are stressed. Practice self-compassion and self-care to help manage stress. 3 techniques that can help include connecting with others, physical activity, and practicing mindfulness. We will get through this pandemic. We will persevere.

Chris Rabanera, LMFT
Scheurer Behavioral Health