Self-care may be the best medicine we have nowadays. Poor mental health is an invisible scar many Americans bear. Mental illness, stress, and other causes of mental and emotional strain are not seen as true health inhibitors, but the truth is, taking care of your mind is just as important as taking care of your body. In fact, 1 in 5 American adults experience mental illness each year – that’s 20% of the entire population. News media has done more in recent decades in highlighting the effects of mental illness in our country, validating its existence and those that these illnesses inflict; however, this has come with the commodification of “self-care.” Self-care is a practice in which one nurtures themselves back to mental health in times of crisis and anxiety. Self-care practices can be used in lieu of professional treatment if said treatment is inaccessible. These practices can look like preserving your physical hygiene, talking to friends, resting, or participating in a relaxing hobby—whatever feels good and healthy in the moment.
While the country and the world at large are thrown into the foremost unprecedented crisis of this generation, many are struggling to cope with their fears and anxieties about the present and future. Many peoples’ regular self-care rituals are now inaccessible to them due to self-quarantining and social distancing measures. While mental health therapists are opting to scheduling talk sessions through telehealth appointments, many Americans do not have access to these professionals and must rely on self-care treatments to assist in quelling their anxieties. Revisn has compiled a short but handy guide on how to advocate for your own mental health in these trying times.
Remaining aware of breaking news and important developments with COVID-19 and other pertinent stories is currently of the utmost importance. However, stepping away from the news is just as important. Please take care to stay on top of all the latest COVID-19 updates but do not overcrowd your head with too much of it. With constant live updates, misinformation spreads easily, sometimes maliciously. Do your best to only read sources you find reliable. Make sure you turn off your screens a few times a day so that you can get a break from the constant funnel of new information. Keep on top of your local government’s movements in response to COVID-19, and if the urge strikes you, you can become involved in the political process with other like-minded individuals advocating for public health. The latter can assist you in feeling camaraderie with others through a common cause in a time where physical contact is dissuaded. Remember: knowledge and wisdom are your greatest defenses!
Everyone is expected to follow safety protocols in response to the novel coronavirus, and failing to do so can not only spell trouble for your physical health, but also your mental health. If your home is not stocked with food for several weeks to a month at a time, you lack adequate cleaning supplies, and have no personal protective equipment to keep yourself safe, your mental health may suffer due to the constant reinforcement of these safety measures. Feeling like you are not doing your best to preserve your health and your neighbors could lead to feelings of guilt. First, give yourself the compassion to understand that no one is always prepared to face crisis, especially not alone and solitary in their home. Then, pick yourself back up and make an emergency plan! Find out how you can help others financially or materially in these trying times. Write down a list of all emergency numbers, a mass grocery list, cleaning supply rations you must pick up with each venture outside. Staying prepared and having all you need in your own home will give you the sense of security you require to maintain your mental health, cut down on stress, and minimize fear of the future.
We especially want to reinforce how important it is to stay connected to those you love during these trying times. Whether you are quarantined with a big family, a roommate or partner, or just yourself, there are dozens of people you typically encounter that cannot show up in your everyday life right now. There are several ways to strengthen these relationships so that they remain unfettered through quarantine. Video and voice calling are some of the more popular (and safer!) methods of communication; in fact, Zoom, the video conferencing app, saw a more than 200% increase in stock gains since quarantine began. If staring at screens constantly isn’t your gig, try out writing letters to family and friends from far away. Send a care package with some treats and surprises along with the letter to show them how much you care. Another option is to schedule socially distanced picnics and nature hikes with friends so long as you remain a minimum of 6 feet away from each other. Set up two picnic blankets on opposite sides of a park and chat from afar! It definitely will not be the same feeling of connectedness as usual, but you will at least get to see a friend you wouldn’t otherwise under these conditions, plus social media will love to see your creative ways to stay socially distanced! Do not try these methods of connection if you are not confident in your ability to remain a minimum of six feet away from others without making any contact. Do not attempt this inside.