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Nurturing Our Mental Health In This (Temporary) New Normal

 

 

Driving by a taped off playground this morning I couldn’t help but think to myself how quickly life can be turned upside down.  These are trying times, and the challenges facing our world right now have created an incredibly stressful situation for everyone.  “Physical distancing and isolation measures, and the closure of schools and workplaces, are particularly challenging for us, as they affect what we love to do, where we want to be, and who we want to be with,” said Dr. Hans Kluge, the WHO’s regional director for Europe.  “It is absolutely natural for each of us to feel stress, anxiety, fear, and loneliness during this time.  At the World Health Organization, we consider effects on our mental health and psychological well-being as being very important consequences of COVID-19,” he added.

 

The impact of this pandemic on our mental health is a very critical part of the collective shockwave we’re experiencing.  Which is why we decided to dedicate our monthly blog post to discussing some mindful approaches to nurturing our mental health.  Below you’ll find three suggestions we came up with for easing some of the strain on our psyches that could be associated with isolation and the overall disruption of our day to day lives.  

 

  1. Try implementing a routine…

 

You’ve probably heard this a thousand times in the last week, but there’s a reason the word ROUTINE is being shouted from the rooftops.  In a time of uncertainty and chaos, your daily routine can introduce a bit of power and predictability back into your life.  Having regularity in your schedule can anchor you through the comfort of daily practice. Whether you’re leaning into existing healthy habits or hoping to implement some new ones, consistency can ground you in something dependable and predictable.  We may not know what the coming weeks will bring, but we can know our routines… which is a good place to start.

 

And if possible, we recommend incorporating some exercise into your routine.  Movement is medicine, and taking care of ourselves physically can provide payoff with our mental health as well.  Here are a few of our favourite local businesses that are offering free online workouts on their instagram accounts:

 

 

  1. Introduce some mindfulness around your media intake…

 

We recommend minimizing your news and social media intake to once or twice a day, perhaps in the morning and evening, for a short designated window (perhaps 10 – 15 minutes).  We also recommend being aware of where your information is being sourced. There’s a difference between staying responsibly informed and getting caught in an obsessive panic-spiral, which is really easy to do during a global pandemic.  “Your brain is built to problem solve, and when you’re already feeling fearful, it naturally seeks out stimuli in your external environment to reinforce the feeling of fear,” says Dr. Janine Kreft, Licensed Clinical Psychologist. 

 

Kreft goes on to explain, “the brain then deletes, distorts and generalizes all incoming information that does not align with your current emotional state or beliefs, so if you spend a significant amount of time following the news, it reinforces more reason to worry— thus creating a vicious cycle”.  Sticking to consistent but brief check-ins with reliable, trustworthy sources can help you find that balance between responsibly informed and freaked the frick out.  

 

  1. Create space for the imperfect…

 

Speaking from my own experience, this one has been the most challenging.  The expectations I had for myself during these long days at home have not matched the lower output I’m producing.  If you’re like me and you’re struggling with productivity during this time of high distractibility, try to soften back and make space for your new process, whatever it looks like.

 

Lisa Olivera, Licensed Family Therapist wrote in a post yesterday, “we (all of us) are currently going through a collective traumatic experience, […] of course you aren’t as productive, of course you’re feeling foggy, or wondering how you can possibly go through so many waves of emotions all in the same day, this all makes so much sense in the context of our circumstances.”  Remember that, now more than ever, you don’t have to get it perfect. Now is a time for tenderness and patience… starting of course with ourselves. 

 

You are not alone, sweet thing…

 

The uncertainty of the future can have a major impact on our health and wellness, in particular our mental health.  So I’ll leave you with this last thought… It’s normal to feel anxious, fearful, frustrated, devastated, and whatever other waves are crashing through you right now.  Please know that you make sense, your emotions are valid and you are not alone. Thank you for reading this post, I hope it gave you some ideas or at the very least helped you feel a little lighter and calmer.  Signing off and sending you all so much love. ♥️