Stress during these unknown times can be overwhelming. It is normal to feel a whirlwind of emotions, but it’s important to understand how we can manage them. Our emotional, psychological, and social well-being make up our mental health. In turn, it affects how we think, feel, and behave. Mental health is important at every stage of life, childhood through adulthood. Our mental state can change over time due to stress, traumatic experiences, coping with difficult situations, and other life changes. In this post, we’ll explain why mental health is important, and how to manage it appropriately.
One’s mental state may be low due to a poor relationship, lack of support, or a life change but that does not mean they have a mental illness. That’s why it’s important to manage your mental health before developing a mental illness. On the other hand, having a mental illness does not mean we have a low mental health. One can have a mental illness and still maintain high mental health. This comes from learning coping mechanisms, providing/ receiving support, and engaging in activities that provide a sense of meaning to our life. Mental Health America states that, “1 in 5 people will experience a diagnosable mental health condition in their lives, and 5 out of 5 will be affected by a challenging time that affects their mental health.” The Center for Disease Control (2020) has provided some essential tools to help during these challenging times:
- Take time to reflect- Identify what you are feeling and allow yourself to be present with those feelings. Talk it out with someone you trust or journal how you feel. Identifying our emotions allows us to understand them and find ways to cope.
- Take breaks- Relax and unwind by taking time away from work, the news, TV or reading. Engage in “you time” with yoga, music, gardening, exercise, or a new hobby.
- Connect with others- Find ways to connect with family members and loved ones to get support and share feelings. Sharing our experiences helps us get through difficult times.
- Treat your body right- Eat well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. Also, get some fresh air when needed!
- Stay active- Get your body moving (even when you don’t want to) to reduce fatigue, anxiety, and/ or sadness.
- Create healthy routines- Organize your day by planning ahead. You can start small by adding to your existing habits, making changes, and setting time aside for yourself. Don't forget to reward yourself for every small accomplishment and remember you are doing just fine!
We can still maintain healthy connections and care for our well being during these challenging times. Remember, you are not alone! Reach out for help when your mental well being is affected and support those around you.
Author: Priscilla Hoady, B.S., RBT