Taking Care of Your Emotional and Mental Health

Paula M. Becker

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Note from Executive Director: During this challenging and unpredictable time, I asked my wife Paula, a clinical psychologist, to develop some useful ideas that might be able to assist you and the people you love in this unexpected journey.


Paula M. Becker
licensed psychologist
Lakeville Behavioral Health
paulambecker@pbeckerlbh.com

Limit Exposure to Information

It is important to stay informed and know what the current instructions are and any updated content about how to stay safe for yourself and for those you love. However, limit your time online looking at websites, or watching and listening to news shows that continually review statistics and give predictions. Sometimes it is hard to know how much is too much. If you notice that your body is tight, you are clenching your jaw or that your mind keeps going over the same things, these are some indications that it would be good to limit your exposure.

Create a New Schedule

If your normal schedule is disrupted because of the current limits on movement and connection, create a new schedule that gives you a sense of normalcy and control over your time. Do things you enjoy and take your time to savor the experience.

Maintain Connection Safely

Keep connected to family and friends. Talking on the phone has become a lost art, but this may be a great opportunity to revitalize the use of the phone call! Meet a friend and go for a walk outside, keeping appropriate distance. Letter writing has also become a thing of the past, but this also may be a chance to connect in a way that has meaning and is often greatly appreciated.

Begin or Create a Gratitude Journal

One of the things that increase anxiety is a focus on what is lost or how the future might unfold in fearful ways. Writing about what we are grateful for in our own lives helps us shift focus to that which feels uplifting and supportive of life. Having created this kind of practice also can make us more mindful and aware of the wonderful and life-giving things that are happening as people help one another get through this time.

Acknowledge that this is a Scary time for Everyone

Validate the idea that we are sharing this experience with the whole of humanity and that feeling some anxiety is normal. Knowing we are not alone is often helpful. There is a wonderful prayer called a “Meta Prayer” that simply asks good things for you and others.

  •             May I be happy,
  •             May I be healthy
  •             May I be at peace
  •             May I be safe

Repeat this for each of those you love, and for those you struggle with, and finally for all people everywhere.

Be in Nature When Possible

Research is telling us what most of us have always known…Being in nature is calming and revitalizing. When weather permits, going for a walk, sitting on a park bench, listening to the babble of a stream are all things that feed us, calm our hearts and lift our spirits.

Meditate and Pray

If you are a meditator, this is a good time to extend the time you spend. If you haven’t ever meditated there are many places online that can help you get started. A very simple meditation is to simply sit comfortably with a straight back and observe the movement of your breath as it goes in and out of your body. Begin this for 5 minutes at a sitting and then add minutes as you are able. Prayer is also an important way to bring your focus onto God or a Higher Power, trusting that no matter the circumstance you are loved and cared for.

Music and Books

In our busy lives we often become disconnected from things that can nourish our lives. Music is a wonderful way to connect to something deep within and help us feel a larger connection to others. People are offering videos on FB and YouTube and there is easy access to wonderful music online and on radio or in your own stockpile of CD’s or records. This may be a great time to listen to music that is soothing or uplifting for you. Books offer a different experience but are also very enjoyable. Try out something new or recommit to those books sitting by your night stand. Poetry can also provide a sense of connection to others especially in times of darkness and fear.

 

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