Over the past five months, we’ve had to consider survival tactics on many fronts—from protecting ourselves and others from coronavirus exposure to shifting strategies and expectations for school and work. Our sense of normalcy has changed in nearly every way, and adaptation will remain important as society transitions back to its more regular routines.
“People often use the expression ‘ride the wave,’” says Moustafa Shafey, MD, board-certified psychiatrist and chief of psychiatry at CentraState. “We are in that wave right now—one unlike any that we have ever experienced. Be aware of it and take the ride with it, but don’t let the wave control you.”
That wave and the related uncertainty will continue as we return to work, school, and other relevant activities—a process that can’t be accomplished at full speed. Dr. Shafey provides these tips to maximize your mental health during this time:
Take your mental temperature. Each day brings new information and potentially new stressors. While it’s common to feel some anxiety based on what’s happening in the world, look for any significant changes in emotions you might be experiencing.
Get in touch with your feelings. When you’re upset, it’s OK to cry. Discussing your feelings with a trusted friend or loved one also can provide a therapeutic release. Holding in feelings can be compared to a balloon that keeps getting bigger—it eventually pops.
Take care of your physical health. Mental health and physical health go hand-in-hand, so when one is disrupted, the other tends to follow suit. Good nutrition, hygiene, and exercise are important components of mental well-being.
Focus on the present. Try re-centering yourself through practices like meditation or mindfulness, the ability to focus your awareness on the present moment. You can practice mindfulness in simple ways.
Rethink your priorities. Despite the challenges and sorrows many of us have experienced, we’ve also seen positives shine through, such as resiliency and stronger connections with family. Consider what matters most in your life, and hold tight to those values moving forward.
Know that help is always available. Talk to your physician or a mental health provider if you’re experiencing ongoing:
- Sleep disturbances
- Anger, anxiety, irritability, or restlessness
- Difficulty with relationships
- Physical symptoms like nausea or diarrhea
- Lack of interest in activities or difficulty handling downtime
“Every problem has a solution, and we can find those solutions by taking our time, tuning ourselves down, and riding the wave,” says Dr. Shafey. “Part of psychotherapy is letting people talk, listen, and come to realizations. When we really listen to ourselves, we’ll get the right answer.”
Learn more about Behavioral Health Services at CentraState at centrastate.com/behavioralhealth or 866-CENTRA7 (866-236-8727).
Help is just a phone call away with our 24-hour crisis hotline: 732-780-6023