This is too much
Since March, our country has been through one of the most stressful times in modern history. As a society and as individuals, we have done an admirable job of demonstrating fortitude, resilience, generosity, and resourcefulness. However, the chronic stress of 2020 has left its mark on most of us. While some are willing to be more vulnerable, many of us want to convince others (and ourselves!) we are okay. When we are asked how we are doing we are quick to respond that we are just fine.
We have all tried to be flexible and keep our heads above water with work, family, our social needs, and stress levels. If you have not taken an assessment of your mental health and the mental health of your loved ones, it is time to do so. While it is terribly upsetting, we must look at the reality: over the past year, teen suicides, divorces, and alcoholism have accelerated and are expected to continue going up.
While the direct connection to a financial blog may be difficult to see, this is the time in our lives that goals and plans--both financial and other--could be derailed. It is important that we give ourselves, our loved ones, and everyone around us grace for the struggles that we are going through. Reach out to those you worry about, ask for help if you need it, and do not be afraid to recommend or to get professional assistance.
It can be difficult to know where to turn for help. Read below for some ideas.
Meet your most Basic Needs
This sounds like it should be easy, right? When we are stressed, self-care is something we often neglect. It can feel self-indulgent to take care of yourself but there is no question that self-care is important. Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating too much junk? Are you drinking enough water? And are you getting regular exercise? These practices can help you withstand the chronic, ongoing stress of this time.
Meditation and Time-Outs:
There are countless apps—many free—to help guide your meditation practice. Whether you are a beginner or a pro, using an app can help you engage in the practice. Regular use is key. Look for apps that include breathing practice and muscle relaxation.
Much like taking time to meet your basic needs, taking time to do things you like—or even taking time to just do nothing—are often dismissed during times of stress because they seem like a self-indulgent waste of time. However, spending 30 minutes a day doing something just because you enjoy it can have a measurable positive effect on your mood and mental health. During these 30 minutes, it’s okay to be selfish. Do not use your time to do something nice for someone else, or to do something productive. Just use it for fun and/or relaxation. Common pleasurable activities include taking a bath, taking a nap, reading a book, or watching a favorite TV show.
Seek Out Support:
Men in particular struggle with this. If you are lucky enough to have a good friend, give them a call and agree to talk honestly about your feelings and challenges. You may feel a little silly but it will do you both a world of good. Loneliness and isolation are at an all-time high right now. Chances are that your friend needs support just as badly as you do.
There is absolutely no shame in seeking out professional mental healthcare. Private, video-based sessions (i.e., “telehealth”) are more accessible as ever since professionals have had to adapt to providing care during COVID-19. Many are covered by insurance. In-person appointments are available in many offices now if you prefer; however, repeated research has demonstrated no significant difference in quality of care if you feel safer pursuing professional help via video. Whatever avenue you choose will be helpful.
COVID-19 will end one day. This stressful time will not last forever. Be kind to yourself and to one another while we wade through these days.
-Susan Rathmell, PhD Psychologist-