Mental Health Tips to Try Right Now
“..there wasn’t anything one could do except wait and hope, wait and start being careful, be careful, and hope.” - Susan Sontag
The days are getting shorter, the leaves are changing to crimson reds and brilliant yellows, the air is getting crisper, and we’re all starting to wonder what life will be like this winter.
The pandemic isn’t even close to over; how do we keep hope alive this winter? For most people on this planet, last winter was traumatic. For some, it was as lonely as being Tom Hanks on a deserted island in Outcast. For others, it was filled with maddening days of chasing kids around the house while trying desperately to get even a few hours of work done virtually.
As someone who has struggled with a lifelong battle with seasonal depression and anxiety, I am planning ahead for the winter to make it as enjoyable as possible, no matter what happens.
These are some tips to start implementing into your routine to help you manage your mental health as COVID-19 continues.
Go Out in Public While You Still Can
We cannot predict the future. Things may shut down again as winter approaches. But all we can do is live in the “right now.” Right now, many places are open. Skip the chores, and visit places that will bring you joy. Take the time to live.
So what? Things are open, but COVID-19 is still out there. If you’re nervous about COVID-19, there are tons of public spaces that are outside. Visit local gardens and literally smell the flowers. There is colorful and aromatic fall foliage left to enjoy.
Visit an outdoor art exhibit, like Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. Take your time. There is no need to rush. Take it all in.
Have a free weekend? Take a fall road trip and do all the things. Have you ever gone apple picking? It’s the perfect activity for adults, kids, and social distancing. After you’ve gone home and washed your apples, take a bite and think about the flavor of a freshly picked apple.
If you’re low on money, like many people are during this difficult time, try becoming a member of your local library. Many libraries offer free passes to numerous attractions. My toddler and I have visited local zoos, gardens, museums, forts, and more all for free from the Lower Merion Library System.
Start taking Vitamin D3 Drops
There are a plethora of holistic things you can take that can help people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder.
Did you know that 41.6% of adults in the United States are vitamin D deficient? Talk to your doctor to learn if you’re one of them, and consider taking vitamin D drops.
The drops can easily be purchased online, and there’s no need to take another large, hard to swallow pill.
Implement this into your daily routine now. If you have kids, consider asking your pediatrician if they should take vitamin D drops as well. Adults aren’t the only ones who get weird when the dreaded time change hits.
By the way, when on earth are we going to get rid out this archaic time change? It’s not good for our health.
Drink Calming Magnesium Powder
Have you ever heard of using magnesium for anxiety? If not, it’s a game- changer.
A popular one to take is the “natural vitality calm” drink powder mix, but many others will do the trick as well. You just need to add a bit of warm water to the mix, and drink it once a day. It comes in numerous flavors and there is no pill-taking involve.
Another added bonus is, it also speeds up your metabolism.
Stock Up on Necessary Supplies to Avoid Anxiety Triggering Events
Who was an unlucky participant in the infamous toilet paper search in the first week of April? It happened to me once, and it will never happen again. The toilet paper is readily available in the stores. You don’t need to be a hoarder; just get a few extra packages ,so you don’t have to deal with any future mad rushes.
Grab any other essentials that will stress you out if things run out again. Items like Tylenol, hand sanitizer, flour, or whatever you need to make you feel comfortable.
We have the benefit of knowing what could happen, so prepare for it.
If you’re prepared, there will be no rushing to every store in town at all hours, mid-panic attack hastily searching for essentials. This is unnecessary. Prepare yourself.
There is nothing selfish about self-care. Self-care can make or break you during the most stressful of times.
Between COVID-19, the election, and whatever else is going on in life, everyone deserves self-care. Whether that means engaging in the guilty pleasure of binge-watching corny romantic comedies and having a seasonally-appropriate pumpkin beer or taking a bath and reading a fantasy novel that takes you far away from this challenging time, just do it.
Most importantly, don’t overthink it or ruin it for yourself by explaining it. Don’t talk about all the work you did all day and talk about why you deserve this. You deserve it. Everyone needs self-care; you don’t owe anyone an explanation for taking the time for self-care.
Get a Therapist
If you’ve always thought maybe you should get a therapist, now is the time. One of the most positive things to come out of COVID-19 in the United States is, insurance companies have realized the serious mental health consequences resulting from this tragic disaster. To provide access to mental health services, many companies have waived co-pays for now.
I have personally had months of entirely free therapy sessions. Many of the things I suggest in this article are a direct result of the helpful tips I have learned in therapy.
It’s the perfect time to get a therapist because it has never been easier to get to therapy. Simply log onto your computer in your coziest fall loungewear and, instant therapist. You have a virtual trained professional whose willing to guide you through this complicated life that we live for free. Why is everyone not taking advantage of this?
Everyone on this earth could use a therapist for something. And if you don’t need one urgently right now, that could easily change if we get locked down for months again. Might as well get ahead of the curve.
Form a Pod
If you’re a parent during COVID and you’re trying to work from home, forming a pod could be your saving grace.
The way many pods are functioning is that the families who participate agree to be “exclusive” with each other, especially if things get worse again. Parents can take turns working and supervising the children while they play or do school work.
Children get much-needed social interaction, and parents have others to share their highs and lows with. They say that raising children takes a village, and that is true. Parenting was never meant to be so isolating, and without school to turn to, parents are struggling. A pod gives parents an occasional break.
If you’re not a parent, but you’re someone who lives alone, a pod could work for you too. Consider being “exclusive” with a few others who you can trust.
We are social beings, and we were never meant to be locked in our houses alone for months.
Choose to Believe Things Will Get Better
I realize this sounds corny, but mindfulness has been proven by religion and science. The power of our beliefs is strong. If we believe things improve, and better yet, we believe that collectively, it will directly impact our lives.
If you’ve never practiced creative visualization, now is the time. Envision yourself and what you want to be doing in life. Imagine sitting on your favorite beach, surrounded by fellow smiling beachgoers armed with fluffy towels and drinks in hand. Or imagine yourself dressed in snow gear, pushing yourself over to a ski lift with your snowboard and your best friends in tow, ready to engage in a winter activity you missed out on last year.
We must believe that things will get better. That is one of the most essential pieces to keeping hope alive during COVID-19.
People have made it through trying events throughout history, and we will make it too. In the meantime, we just need to take it day by day, live in the now, and ride out this wave.
Sending love and light to anyone who needs it.
“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” Desmond Tutu