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Taking Care of Your Mental Health During a Pandemic

Mindfulness

Well, I certainly never imagined I’d be writing a blog post with THIS title. And I am willing to bet you never thought you’d be reading a blog post like this.

But here we are.

So, let’s take some deep breaths together (I swear I am doing this as I type!) and dive into how we are going to take good care of ourselves during an unprecedented time in our world. Because we need to take care of ourselves. SUPER important. For me, I need to take care of myself so that I am available to my clients and other loved ones who are going to need support. I bet you need to take care of yourself too, for similar reasons (maybe without clients, but then again I don’t know your life).

Practice Radical Acceptance, as much as you can.

Radical acceptance is the act of truly embracing and accepting reality for what it is, right in this moment. That means not fighting the truth or hiding from it or ignoring it. Radical acceptance is being stuck in a bad traffic jam and not getting pissed or aggravated, but instead accepting that yep, you’re stuck in traffic, and you’re now late to the thing, and you’re not happy about it but this is what it is.

We are all going to need to be practicing radical acceptance because things are going to be hard for a bit. We are not even sure how hard, which takes me to the next tip:

Don’t Future-Trip, as much as you can.

Future-tripping is what our awesome, handy brains to do scan for any sign of danger and sound an alarm to our whole body. Future-tripping can be immensely helpful and thus it’s why our brains haven’t evolved out of that particular feature. It’s alive and well and ready to tell you all the thousands of ways you are potentially screwed.

You know who really loves to future trip? The media. Oooh-boy, it’s like their favorite thing. So we’ll talk a bit about this in a minute but first if you’re not going to future-trip, what are you gonna do?

Practice Being in the Moment, aka Mindfulness

This is all the rage, this mindfulness, and for good reasons. It’s SUPER helpful WHEN we practice it. Also, it’s way less complicated than it needs to be. Do stuff like this:

  • When you’re washing the dishes, say to yourself out loud or in your head (again, I don’t know your life), “I am washing the dishes.” Helps you stay present and focused on what you are doing in the moment. Hugely helpful at calming your nervous system.
  • Practice breathing exercises. There are a ton of them out there, including YouTube videos.
  • Do 5 Things I See, Hear, Feel, Smell. (You can throw in taste too if you’re eating!) Engages your senses and grounds you in the moment. Right now I see my cats in the window, my glass of water, my backyard through the window, etc. Pro tip: Feel is what you physically feel (not emotions). I feel my fingers on my keyboard, my legs on my chair, the cool air on my arms, my glasses on my face. You get the idea!

Figure out a social media diet that works for you.

Me? I’ve been doing WAY too much social media, and it’s clear that it is not helping me or the rest of the world for me to be doing so. So I have enacted some rules around times of day that I will give myself permission to check social media and the news, and the rest of the day I am filling with other activities such as crafting, working, walking outside, baking and mauling my cats with my love.

Practice TONS of self-compassion.

Y’all. This is a rough time. This meets criteria for Everyone is Being Traumatized. So please, please, be nice to yourself. If you end up eating cake for days in a row because you’re so freaking stressed out, let yourself off the hook, okay? It’s not a big deal and we have bigger fish to fry. When you’re ready to put the cake down, you’ll put it down.

Kristen Neff has an amazing book, podcast and TED talk that you need to check out! She’s done her research and turns out, the whole self-esteem movement wasn’t really what we all needed, it was self-compassion. So, if you’re flailing for stuff to listen to right now, give it a go. She is very fun and easy to listen to.

If you’re wondering why the hell I’m focusing on self-compassion right now, it’s because of what I said originally — taking care of ourselves is going to be of the utmost importance as we likely will need to be taking care of others, too.

I know there are a million great things we can all be doing right now, but I for one am overloaded on long articles and I’ll bet you are, too. I’ll likely be posting more in the near future including links to some awesome resources I’ve seen so far out in the world, so hold fast!

Take good care,

Wendy


March 17, 2020