This is a difficult time that we are living through right now. There is so much uncertainty in the air about the COVID-19 pandemic and feelings of uncertainty can amount to stress and anxiety.
Since founding the Mental Health Missions website a few short months ago, the goal has been to provide education and information about mental health, well-being, addiction, and social justice issues. While the goal remains the same, the times we are living in have changed. There is no disputing that current events are impacting the mental health of people across the globe.
Mental Health Missions is committed to remaining a resource for providing relevant and supportive information during this difficult time. There is an area of the website dedicated to “Mental Health in the News.” Under “Current Events” you can find links to articles and news stories that discuss how coronavirus is bringing up anxiety for many and how to cope with these feelings during tense times. If you are in need of immediate help in the moment, please visit the Help & Resources Page.
So many of us are living through something that we never could have imagined and the changes we have encountered have come about suddenly and without warning. Just like that, people are working from home, school has been cancelled, and social/physical distancing orders are in place. It is a lot to take in.
As all of this is happening we cannot forget to recognize and praise those who are working on the frontlines to help battle the pandemic. The doctors, the nurses, the grocery store workers, the delivery drivers, there are so many people who are integral to keeping our society operational. These are the true heroes throughout all of this.
While we all are probably feeling a little stir-crazy right about now, there are some small things you can do that can help to lift the burden of stress. Research shows that feeling purposeful can be a protective factor during challenging scenarios. In order to feel as though you are making a difference consider the following:
• Establish a routine. For many who have recently transitioned to working from home, everyday life can feel a bit unstructured. Although you can stay in your pajamas all day, it is helpful to get dressed (even if in a more casual manner) in order to maintain consistency and routine.
• Stay connected. This is a tough one with all the calls for social/physical distancing. Lucky for us, we have lots of technology channels that allow us to stay in touch. And, if it isn’t through one of the more advanced networking platforms, the phone is a good, old-fashioned way to check in with someone and say “hello.”
• Move around. When we are home all day, it can be easy to become a couch potato and not exercise but it’s important to keep the blood flowing and it’s good for your health! While many people live in places where there are mandates to stay at home, if you are able to safely go outside for a walk or a run, physical activity can be beneficial for mental well-being. There are also multiple options for workouts that are being streamed online. If you have a membership to a local gym or fitness studio, inquire what options are being offered to customers remotely.
• Foster or adopt a pet. With more people than ever staying at home, animal shelters are seeing an uptick in traffic. Adopting a pet can add to and enhance life. If you are helping to save the life of another being, it can make yours that much sweeter.
• Help those in need. Never underestimate the power of how good it feels to help others. If you have friends, family, or neighbors in your community who are elderly or part of another vulnerable population, ask how you can help [if you can do so safely]. This might be picking up groceries, delivering prescription medication, sending a handmade thank you card to those who are working on the frontlines, or just having a chat with someone who is seeking connection.
• Evaluate your mindset. When we are cooped up inside and feel restricted, it can be easy to focus on those limitations; however, perspective can be very powerful. Look at the opportunities having to pause presents to you. That might be having more time with family who you rarely get to see, picking up a book you have been wanting to read, catching up on your favorite TV shows & movies, taking up a new skill, or exposing your mind to something completely different than you have encountered in the past. Check out the following virtual opportunities:
• Give, if you can. There are countless organizations that are committed to supporting those in need. From providing medical workers with the appropriate medical supplies, to feeding those who don’t have enough to eat, to helping restaurant workers whose jobs have been displaced, to supporting pet owners who have been afflicted with coronavirus. Here is a list of [some] organizations that you may want to consider making a donation to:
• Project Cure
• Red Cross
• Feeding America
• Food Research & Action Center
• James Beard Foundation
• Meals on Wheels
• Opportunity Fund
• Humane Society of the United States
• American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
• Ask for help. The uncertainty many people are feeling right now is beyond measure. This may have to do with not knowing where the next meal is coming from or worrying about paying the rent on time. So many people, companies, and organizations are coming together to help. If you are someone who is in need, please make that ask. Remember, help can only be provided if the need is known.
• Practice Gratitude. That can be easier said than done when there is a lot of bad news around us all the time but focusing on the positives and feeling thankful can be advantageous to mental well-being. Even just a small bit of gratitude for something minor can be impactful. For instance, saying to yourself “I feel lucky that I got to talk to my family today,” can be of great comfort to your mind amid all the tension.
• Wash, wash, wash your hands!
As we look ahead, it is important to be mindful that these rough waters, which we are navigating will eventually calm. In the meantime, look after yourself and those around you. The human spirit is remarkably resilient and it is often the most challenging of times that showcase the incredible strength of humankind.
Founder, Mental Health Missions