Health Wise: Let’s Stop Pretending to be Okay
I know we’re all tired of hearing the term “COVID-19”, but here we are still dealing with the way the world changed because of it. The bad news slowed down some, but the good news isn’t coming fast enough. More than ever in most of our lifetimes, we are faced with the need to find calm despite uncertainty, and to face the fact that certainty may not come anytime soon.
This week, we want to ask you to take a look at your mental health as well as that of your kids, students, and/or clients. What are you/they feeling?
Since some things have gone back to (a new version of) normal, we may feel pressured to say we are okay, when really, many of us are still pretty far from okay. When the pandemic first started, it was widely accepted as okay to be scared and anxious, but as the status quo continues, many people may feel like they “should” no longer feel those things. For those of us who are still feeling those things, we may feel ashamed or frustrated or we may feel like impostors, hiding from ourselves and others and just pretending to be okay.
As mental health professionals, we are here to say: all of your feelings are valid and you do not have to pretend.
We strongly believe that everyone deserves to have their thoughts and feelings heard, and we also know that a lack of emotional validation can lead to long-term conditions like anxiety and depression. That said, we understand that mental health isn’t the easiest topic to discuss for some people. It’s often easier to discuss coughs and fevers than negative emotions and thoughts. But, mental health is health. The mind and body are one system, and what effects one inevitably effects the other.
So, are you willing to ask yourself “how am I feeling?” and then move towards addressing your mental health needs? Or do you know someone who may benefit from doing so? If so, here are some things to try:
- Talk to yourself: Have a conversation with yourself in writing, in your head, or even out loud. Journaling can give you a chance to let your feelings flow out of your head and onto paper (or a notes app). Mindfulness activities can help you process what you’re feeling as well - like doing a body scan, getting in touch with your senses, or just letting your thoughts flow without judgment. Actively give yourself permission to feel whatever you feel and think whatever you think, without assigning judgment to the thoughts/feelings or yourself.
- Talk to loved ones: Start a mental health conversation! Ask loved ones how they feel, and let them know they are not alone. Try not to hold back on sharing what you feel either. Allow yourself to speak your truth, even if it feels uncomfortable. Try doing a mindful experience together, like meditation, art, or a game, to allow yourself to relax, connect, and open up.
- Talk to a professional: Consider counseling. Sometimes, it’s hard for us to open up in depth to those in our lives, especially if we feel like a burden or we struggle with trust. Therapy can help get a conversation started. A counselor can help with everything from talking about mild stressors to guiding you through pre-existing conditions like anxiety, depression, PTSD, OCD, etc. that may have been worsened by this pandemic. And they can help you come up with ideas for how to do #1 and #2 above!
If there’s anything we hope you take away from this email it’s this - anything you are feeling is important and you have every right to feel it, talk about it, and get support while navigating it.
We hope this email empowers you and those in your life to get help if you need it!
Wishing you well on your mental health journey.