There’s no denying that we’ve all faced a challenging year. From social unrest to a world pandemic and then add on financial stress and being on lockdown, no one has dodged the mental strife.
It’s at times like these that we need the experts to step in and help us out. This article is a breakdown of the most common advice that mental experts will share with those under excessive stress.
1. Don’t Consider Yourself to Be Abnormal
It’s easy to compare ourselves to what we see in Zoom meetings or on social media. Measuring our normalcy against these often misleading snapshots of other people’s lives is hardly fair.
According to the experts, feeling overwhelmed in high-stress situations is not abnormal. High levels of toxic stress hormones can seriously harm us.
Physical exhaustion in itself can cause a decline in mental and emotional well-being. If we were completely unaffected by stress, especially in toxic doses, we would actually be less normal than most.
2. Self-Care is Different for Everyone
Self-care is self-preservation.
What it looks like depends upon the individual. Since no two selves are exactly alike, it’s reasonable to expect each self-care routine to be unique. Self-care is personal, so put the “self” into your self-care.
Some of us need high-energy, fast-paced stimulation such as high impact physical exercise. Others of us need only a good book and a quiet nook.
Your self-care needs can vary from day to day. Some days you need fun, other days you need relaxation.
What’s important is that you find what works and do it!
This may require some trial and error, so here’s an excellent place to find some self-care inspiration: 134 Activities to Add to Your Self-Care Plan.
3. Limit Your Triggers
Stress triggers are sensory input that causes an intense stress reaction. These reactions trigger the nervous system to produce toxic stress hormones — negatively impacting our mental and physical health.
To help us get through difficult times, we may need to place some rules into effect that safeguard us from stress triggers.
When we are already battling stressful circumstances, the last thing we need is a bombardment of bad news or negative emotions.
Many people spend way too much time scrolling their phones on social media or watching the latest news videos. This can stress a person out even more.
Spending time with toxic people can also cause us to feel drained. Limit your time with people who tend to stir up drama, pessimism, or a judgemental attitude.
In this busy world, it can be a challenge to meet our financial and professional needs. Yet, it’s essential to set limits to your work routine.
Rest is a vital part of a productive life. Leave work where it belongs and make time strictly dedicated to rest and recovery.
4. Prioritize Mental Health like You Do Physical Health
The mind-body connection isn’t merely a feel-good notion designed by a new-age fringe element. It’s a real thing, and failing to recognize the effect of poor mental health on our physical health can cost us dearly.
Our brains are the control centers of our bodies. Whatever sensory stimuli we take in is first processed by our brains. Our brains send signals to our various body systems. The systems then respond by producing multiple chemical and electrical reactions.
Our brains interpret these reactions as feedback, which can either promote health and well-being or exacerbate problems. For this reason, we must learn to focus on our mental and physical health equally.
5. There’s No Shame in Needing Professional Help
Overcoming self-stigma isn’t always easy.
Especially in the face of societal programming saying that mental illness makes us flawed. (Or that mental illness is a guarantee that we will live a life of loneliness and isolation.)
If you recognize the signs of depression or anxiety, there is no shame in getting the help you need. Waiting until the symptoms get really bad makes it more expensive, takes longer, and may cause them to become a chronic illness.
This survey shows that more and more Americans are turning to therapy for their mental health. While some may feel like getting professional help shows weakness, the facts prove that this idea is becoming less popular.
6. Write Things Down, Then Read Them
At times, we can’t even vocalize our feelings. Writing them down can help us first to see our concerns. From there, it is then easier to identify the actual problems we are facing.
This makes differentiating between actual problems and mental noise easier. We can look at our thoughts and feelings more objectively.
Writing things down can also help take some of the chaos out of life. If we make a list of problems and a list of possible solutions to those problems, we can then create a plan of action to follow.
7. Contact One Person Each Day
Staying connected is critical to maintaining our mental and emotional well-being. It may be difficult, but calling, texting, or video conferencing with even one healthy contact each day can help.
Isolation is a form of torture, so why do we tend to withdraw when under mental or emotional duress?
We may feel apprehensive about reaching out.
But consider this:
Shutting ourselves away could cause us to miss out on a conversation with someone who needs interaction as much or more than we do.
That would be sad because the most helpful interactions for us are often with those who need that interaction also.
The mental health industry is feeling the effects of the trying times we live in as well and want to help. Hopefully, the above advice can help you to stay mentally strong and even help others to do the same.
Susie is our General Manager and has been with Copper Beech at Auburn for ten years! Susie is a huge asset to our team. In Susie’s spare time she enjoys spending time with her family, her three boys, and her dog Gunner.