So far, 2020 has thrown a lot at us. Between the coronavirus pandemic shutting down businesses, having to social distance from friends and family, and massive uncertainty surrounding jobs, money, housing, and more, it's likely all put a serious strain on your mental health.
"I think everyone feels the pressure of COVID-19," says the Rev. Caesar Rentie, vice president of pastoral care for Methodist Health System. "It's an extremely stressful time."
Most importantly, if you think you're experiencing anxiety or depression — or your diagnoses have intensified during this time — it's important to check in with your primary care provider.
Your PCP can help determine the medical causes and possible solutions for improving your mental health, and refer you to specialists if your situation warrants it.
That said, there are a few at-home remedies that can help lessen the emotional burden of right now:
From virtual school to Zoom business meetings, we're all trying to "see" each other like we used to. Today's technology makes it easy to reach out, and that shouldn't be confined to official appointments. FaceTime a family member, let your kids play online games with their friends, and watch a movie "together" through an online extension.
You can also take advantage of telehealth services and see your PCP from the comfort of your own home.
Methodist Health System hospitals handed out aromatherapy patches and inhalers to help soothe anxiety among its staff. Methodist Charlton and Methodist Dallas Medical Centers made space for specially designed rooms where employees could refresh and regroup.
"It's a place where people can find a bit of respite and get away for a bit while they're on these difficult shifts," Rev. Rentie says.
If frontline and essential workers are finding ways to prioritize their mental and physical well-being, so can you. Identify a positive reward for when you need to soothe yourself, whether it's running a relaxing bath, enjoying a cup of coffee and a book, or picking up a challenging new (at-home) hobby.
In troubled times, it helps to focus on what you can do for others. For some, this may mean safely volunteering or organizing supply drives. For others, it might be monetary contributions or buying specifically from local businesses to help them keep operating. For everyone, it can be words of support and kindness, especially if you think it might help someone who's enduring their own experience with mental health issues.
"We have seen a tremendous outpouring of support. It's just been amazing," says Joanna Bender, RN, BSN, surgical services education coordinator at Methodist Richardson Medical Center. "We've received everything from meals and snacks to scrubs, energy drinks, and thousands of masks. We are so grateful."
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