Nurturing Your Mental Health
Written by Robin Ewy, LPC
The year 2020 has taken a toll on most of us. God made us for community, and the political/social climate and Coronavirus have thrown us for a loop. We are not meant to be alone yet social discord has caused division and mandated social distancing necessitates isolation. Both situations can lead to loneliness and, for some, feelings of helplessness. Have you been feeling tired, frustrated and/or sad lately? Have the events of this year kept you from enjoying life? If not, count yourself as lucky. If so, you are not alone.
We have had to rethink our work schedules and have additional worry for ourselves and our family and friends. From the limitations of staples like toilet paper and disinfecting wipes to the loss of loved ones, it is more than a lot of us can handle on our own. And, it is sometimes physically and emotionally hard to reach out for assistance.
Society focuses a lot on physical help and there are many resources available to help us. We are reminded to pay attention to what we put into our bodies and to move every day. When we have a runny nose, sore throat or cough, we go to a medical doctor for help with our symptoms. Did you know that recurring headaches, fatigue and stomach upset could be signs of mental dis-ease?
We deal with persistent feelings of sadness, anger or frustration in different ways. Some people keep those feelings inside and it affects eating and sleeping habits. Some people process those feelings externally and become violent towards others. In both instances, it affects relationships with ourselves and our loved ones.
When our mental health is compromised, a number of cognitive functions and activities are affected including the ability to listen, form and maintain good relationships, and feel, express and manage a range of positive and negative emotions. Poor mental health can also affect our adaptability to change and use effective coping skills.
Our mental health is important for us to handle this time of uncertainty. Some ways to benefit your physical and mental health are:
- Exercise and Physical Activity can greatly improve a person’s mental wellbeing. Even a short 10-minute walk will increase alertness, positive mood, release healthy endorphins into the body and boost our energy.
- Diet and Good Nutrition is vital for a healthy body and mind.
- Sleep and Relaxation is often compromised when a person is suffering from a mental health condition or illness but is vital to our body’s functional well-being.
- Communication and Socialization with friends and family can be a challenge right now. Gathering outdoors at a safe distance or utilizing social networking via FaceTime, Zoom, or telephone calls/text can greatly benefit our wellbeing.
If you find that you need to speak with a professional counselor regarding your mental health concerns, mental health care professionals are available via telehealth or in person. Please check out these websites to find a therapist near you that meets your needs.
Self care is critical. We cannot effectively care for others if we are not well.
As we all continue to navigate 2020 and look forward to 2021, take a moment to remember that you are not alone in your struggles, there are many people who want to support you in your mental health journey. I invite you to meditate on the below verse, reflect on your soul and how you can continue to nurture it.
3 John 1:2 Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.