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The COVID-19 pandemic has left many of us feeling out of sorts. Many have a hard time describing their own mental state right now. We’re feeling anxious, fearful, exhausted, lonely, frustrated and a host of other emotions. There has, in addition, been a physical toll. This emotional heaviness is across the board. You are not alone. So, what do we do? How do we practice self-care and keep our mental wellness tank full?

We have all gone through difficult times in our lives. Take what you’ve learned by going through those challenging times and apply those techniques to what you are experiencing now. Take a walk, exercise, connect with others, talk with a licensed counselor.

Social distancing can take a toll. Reducing social interaction can have similar effects as grief. There is an adjustment period. In many respects, those who have experienced loss must mitigate the feelings they are experiencing now because of social distancing and isolation.

It’s important to remember, no matter what we’re going through, others are experiencing a difficult time with us. If we make an effort to care for ourselves, extend support and kindness to others, and maintain respect – there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Remember, there are rewards to conquering obstacles. We’ll be stronger in the end.

Practicing self-care is key to maintaining both our physical and our mental health. We all know the importance of taking care of ourselves. The challenge is taking the time and maintaining the discipline to do so. Speaking to a licensed counselor can be an enormous help in this area.

– Eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
– Get plenty of exercise and sleep.
– Maintain a routine. Our routines have been disrupted. Readjust and establish a new routine that fits your new schedule. – – – Healthy eating, exercise, and sleep should be a part of this new routine.
– Practice relaxation. Self-reflection, or deep breathing exercises.
– Unwind. Listen to soothing music, read scripture, think about the things that bring you peace and a sense of thankfulness.

– Stay connected to those you care about. Make phone calls or a video app to interact with others. Write letters.
– Media coverage these days is wrought with controversy and agitated voices. Take a break. Protect yourself from being overloaded.
– Spend time outdoors. Put a chair on your patio. Ride a bike around the block. Find ways to get some fresh air and sunshine.
– What are some activities you have always enjoyed? Add one or two to your new routine.
– What are some skills you always wanted to learn? Order a book from Amazon or go to YouTube University and start your own class!
– Look for ways you can serve others in your community. Serving others is an amazing way to feed your mental wellness!
– Reach out for help. If you need to see a doctor, make an appointment. Reach out to a counselor. Avoid self-medicating.
– Be kind, compassionate, respectful, and patient. Everyone is going through a difficult time and sorting through a myriad of complicated emotions.

You may have heard of a mental wellness tool called mindfulness. Mindfulness is something we all can cultivate and it can be an amazingly transformative tool to help you navigate challenging situations and uncomfortable environments. In general, mindfulness is paying careful attention to our presence in the moment by being aware of our body’s physical sensations, our emotions, and our thoughts. By being aware and listening to this information, we are able to make clear, wiser, and thoughtful decisions about our experiences rather than reacting suddenly.

For example, because of the ongoing pandemic we may be experiencing uncertainty, insecurity and feel anxious, fearful, and frustrated. There may be anger and confusion mixed in as well. These are all natural responses. Rather than reacting, mindfulness can help us acknowledge the circumstances without us being carried downstream by our many strong and complicated emotions. Mindfulness helps us find a balance of calm so that we can see more clearly. We can identify those things we can control and those things we cannot. Mindfulness helps to clarify the best way to proceed so that our next steps are meaningful and measured.

Licensed counselors can help you cultivate mindfulness so that it is a part of your daily routine. But there are certainly informal ways to help introduce it in your daily practice. In fact, you will probably notice you practice certain aspects of mindfulness naturally.

You can begin by simply being aware of whatever you are doing at any given moment. Preparing coffee in the morning, for example. Notice the sensations, the smells and aroma, the sounds, the tastes and colors. We often live our lives mindlessly and just turn on auto-pilot while we move mechanically through our routines each day. Try taking a moment and experiencing every part of it. This is certainly not all there is to cultivating mindfulness in your life, but it’s a starting point.

Mindfulness is an easy way we can take care of ourselves during this time and it is something anyone can do and learn. It can have an immediate transformative impact on your life.

Shield-Bearer is open and continues to provide services to those who are struggling to manage their stress and other related issues. This world-wide event has only exacerbated mental health issues that were already present. Our counselors are here to help whether it’s through tele-health or in-person appointments. We have a wide range of resources and can help point you in the right direction.

Thad Cardine
Shield-Bearer Counseling Centers
(281) 894-7222