Let’s talk about mental wellness during the time of Covid19.
How is it possible that 8 months ago, Covid19 wasn’t even a thing yet. We were still eagerly anticipating the new decade, creating goals, planning business launches. Expecting graduations, wedding, and summer vacations.
How quickly our world has turned upside down. Now I have a favorite kind of face mask (whaaat?). I know how many ICU beds are in my state. Zoom calls aren’t just for fun anymore. And I know WAY more about epidemiology than I ever expected.
And all signs point to this “new normal” sticking around.
I’ve been sort of avoiding the subject, because of how heavily politicized the whole Covid19 thing has become. And we are going to stay way more than 6 feet away from any of that.
So why did I decide to bring it up? Because I honestly think that this is both the most challenging shared mental health crisis of our lifetime, and the biggest, most beautiful personal development opportunity of our lifetime. And since this blog sits squarely on the intersection of mental wellness and personal development, here we are!
Three Areas Of Struggle & Opportunity
I plan to talk about three specific areas I’m struggling with, and hopefully give you a couple actions points for each one. From what I can see, I am not alone in these feelings:
2. Disruption of Life Structures,
We’ll use the acronym MAXIMIZE to help us remember how to maximize our mental wellness during Covid19.
I am not a licensed therapist or mental health professional. If you are suffering and need treatment please seek the help of a professional. This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
1. Uncertainty & Fear
Enough said, right? There’s no playbook for mental wellness during Covid19. Maybe there is a historical pandemic that we can refer to, but the world was completely different one hundred years ago. All the variables are so different, including the disease! Rules, recommendations and government structures are changing on a daily basis. For example, last week the neighboring county announced parents could choose in person or digital learning for their own kids. Today, the same county said nope, in person ain’t happening. Again, I don’t care which side of the issue you agree with, but that 180 switch is what we’re dealing with. It’s easy to feel like there is no foundation under us. The situation continues to evolve and it’s difficult to make plans.
Couple that with fear of becoming ill ourselves, or our loved ones (near and far, we can’t even visit them). This is very stressful. We also have fear around income, jobs, overseeing our kids digital learning…on and on. As someone who also deals with diagnosed anxiety, it’s even more off the charts.
That doesn’t feel good to type out. My heart rate is going up, is yours? Let’s talk about some ways to MAXIMIZE our calm & peace.
M – Make your own new routines. Taco Tuesday. Board Game Sunday. Nightly bubble blowing in the backyard. Not fancy, at home – something you can control the recurrence of. If it involves the outdoors, even better!
A – Adapt and overcome! The Marine Corp. mission statement is a perfect mantra for right now. By approaching the situation from a “can do” direction, you feel empowered rather than victimized. If we get sick, we will figure it out. If the income drops even more, we will cross that bridge. We can adapt and overcome!
X – eXpectation adjustment. You guys, so many amazing events have been canceled. I can spiral out of control real quick when I start to list them. So, give yourself 5 or 10 or 20 minutes to mourn, and then start to adjust your expectations. Expect that things will be canceled, we will mostly be at home and school will look different than in the past. When we expect differently, we react differently.
2. Disruption of Life Structures
Have you been in a perpetual cloud of “what day is it? What month is it?” Yep, me too.
We have lost many of our reference points. Commuting to work five days a week? Not so much. That Mon/Wed/Fri gym class has probably been canceled. Your kids Thursday night sports class may not be happening. Churches haven’t been meeting in person in many areas. Allllll these life structures we built, to pass the time, to earn money, and to enjoy community, they’ve been changed or taken away. Even Friday night at the restaurant is impossible or very different. This is a huge part of the impact on mental wellness during Covid19!
Part of this references the last section, where I believe creating new routines is crucial. But I also believe that focusing on what hasn’t changed is the key to overcoming this area. So let’s continue to MAXIMIZE our calm & peace.
I – Invest in your relationships. Let’s face it, it can be difficult to be around our housemates ALL THE FREAKING TIME. And so, I think investing in different types can look different to different people. Maybe you need to call your mom, but take a time out from your spouse. Zoom call with grandma, then a movie for the kids so you can take a nap. Use the time we have to do what’s best for our relationships to come out stronger!
M – Mourn what’s gone & then move forward. Stuffing or ignoring feelings doesn’t work. It is so important to take time to miss what has changed, but don’t wallow. Look forward more than you look back.
We’ve played all the board games and binge watched Netflix until it’s not fun anymore. Our nightly walk around the block, well, we could pretty much complete it blindfolded. What to do with this feeling setting in of just…boredom. (And when someone as heavily introverted as I am wants to go aimlessly wander a mall, you know it’s serious.) Let’s finish our tips to MAXIMIZE calm and peace.
I – Invent something! It’s very easy to become only a content consumer, especially with how stressed we’ve all been. But I promise, if you take the time to be creative in some form, you will feel SO MUCH better. It doesn’t have to be beautiful or a masterpiece, just do it. Paint something, write something, draw something. I decorated the patio with sidewalk chalk and it felt marvelous. That is something I haven’t done since I was 10, but feeling the textures and seeing the picture come together just felt good. And yes, it looked like a 5 year old drew it, but who cares?
Z – Zany dancing. I’m talking about a good old fashioned DANCE PARTY! Choose a decade or make your own playlist and turn your living room into a club. Get the whole family in on it and dance your troubles away. Something about the music speaks to our minds, souls, and bodies and releases stress you didn’t even know you had. You’ll feel revitalized after just a couple songs and it will really help your mental wellness during Covid19!
E – Explore a new topic. My daughter and I have been working our way through National Geographic documentaries on Disney+. Not our usual entertainment choice, but so far we have learned a ton about ancient Egypt and the Mayan empire. Expanding our horizons and knowledge makes it easier to remember than the big wide world is still out there!
Wrapping It Up
I hope these suggestions for mental wellness during Covid19 were helpful to you as we seek to MAXIMIZE our calm in this tough time. Comment with your favorite, or anything else helpful you’ve discovered! Remember, at the end of the day, you’ve got this!