I work for a great company.
In addition to providing us the necessary information on how best to protect ourselves from COVID-19, they also sent a full document on how to protect our mental health.
To me, that shows a level of caring that addresses a very real issue that many of us might be overlooking. While we worry about ourselves, our loved ones, our colleagues or neighbors, we need to be aware of both our mental state and those around us in order to find help if needed.
Advice from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration offers a practical way to evaluate your behavior, thinking and emotional state.
For behavior, these are some things you must be experiencing:
- An increase or decrease in your energy and activity levels
- An increase in irritability, with outbursts of anger and frequent arguing
- Trouble relaxing or sleeping
- Frequent crying
- Excessive worrying
- Wanting to be alone most of the time
- Blaming other people for everything
- Difficulty communicating or listening
- Difficulty giving or accepting help
- An inability to feel pleasure or have fun
With regard to your thinking you may be:
- Having trouble remembering things
- Feeling confused
- Having trouble thinking clearly and concentrating
- Having difficulty making decisions
On the emotional side you might be:
- Anxious or fearful
- Feeling depressed
- Feeling guilty
- Feeling angry
- Feeling heroic, euphoric or invulnerable
- Not caring about anything
- Feeling overwhelmed by sadness
To combat these feelings the CDC recommends these actions to support yourself during these trying times.
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
- Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
- Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
For those facing a variety of issues personally and helping others in a variety of circumstances, the National Alliance on Mental Illness has an excellent document with ideas and resources.
If you fall outside of the serious mental health issue status but are filled with anxiety and worry, try to find some joy. Reading all of these amazing stories about how people are going out of their way to help others, is a wonderful source of joy.
And laughter always heals the soul. My personal favorite is looking at photos of people working at home with pets as co-workers. I laughed so hard at these photos that I literally fell off my Labrador's dog bed!