May is Mental Health Month
How are you feeling?
For many, this question is immediately followed by a response of “I’m okay.” But let's take a moment and really think about that. How are you feeling? Are you feeling tired, discouraged, or like something isn’t quite right, but you don’t really know how to describe it? In 2022 these feelings are something so many of us share in the continued wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Throughout the last two years, some of us have lost loved ones, jobs, stability, or freedoms that we were all used to having. For many (if not all) of us, life looks different than it did before Covid. Life feels different than it did before. The last two years have been filled with loss for so many of us in one way or another, and with loss comes grief, stress, depression, and anxiety. So, in honor of Mental Health Month, I want to talk about how we all can move forward towards health, wellness, and freedom from the mental setbacks we’ve experienced in the last few years.
The first step to improving your mental health is putting a name to what you’re feeling. This takes a bit of reflection and the ability, to be honest with yourself about what you’re feeling. If this is something you struggle to do on your own, you’re not alone! Therapy is truly for everyone, and you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) wait until you’re in a mental health crisis before you seek the support of a licensed therapist to help you learn new tools and techniques to get your mental health on track and keep it there.
Next, you need to give yourself space to feel those feelings without judgment. Often we get into the habit of shoving our feelings aside or feeling ashamed of ourselves for feeling the way we do. Or some of us attempt to numb our feelings with food, keeping busy, spending all our time on social media, or binging on Netflix. While none of these on their own is especially bad for you from time to time, if you’re using them to avoid dealing with your mental health, it will come back to bite you later. Did you know that emotions come and go like waves? In fact, according to brain scientist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, these waves of emotion only last about 90 seconds. She says, “When a person has a reaction to something in their environment, there’s a 90-second chemical process that happens; any remaining emotional response is just the person choosing to stay in that emotional loop.” What this means for you is that you should be giving yourself a few moments each day to feel whatever you’re feeling. If you’ve had a hard day at work that made you feel angry, frustrated, or sad, take 90 seconds to explore those feelings and then let them go. Giving yourself dedicated time each day to feel whatever you need to feel will establish a healthy outlet for those feelings and a way to choose to focus on the positive emotions instead of the negative.
Another essential part of mental wellness is establishing a good self-care routine. Finding a way to be compassionate with ourselves and work to meet our own needs is absolutely critical to good mental health. Self-care can come in so many forms. Rest is an essential part of any self-care routine. Most of us don’t get the proper rest that our bodies need to be healthy. So your first step in developing your self-care routine should be making sure that you are getting adequate rest. For most adults, it is recommended to get between 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Once you get your sleep schedule on track, you can start focusing on exploring other avenues of self-care, such as participating in new or well-loved hobbies, exploring your spirituality, being out in nature, and setting aside time for prayer, mantras, or meditation whichever you prefer.
Mental health is a struggle for so many people in 2022, and because of this, many of us are battling through the same storms. Because of this, it is more important than ever for all of us to find a community of support to help us through it. Community is essential for all of us because humans are naturally social beings who need each other to survive. The isolation of the last few years has been one of the most challenging things we’ve had to deal with throughout this pandemic. It’s more important than ever now, when the end of the pandemic seems to be in sight, that we establish or reestablish our connections within our community of people. Your community can consist of people close to you like family or friends and people who have a shared experience or interest. Despite all its flaws, social media has one major plus in its corner. Through social media, we can find community with those with whom we share commonalities all across the globe. Whether we find our people through videos on TikTok, a Facebook group, or following someone we admire on Instagram, we can find common ground with other people, making us feel a little less alone in the world.
If you’ve been struggling with your mental health, or even if you’ve been primarily ok but know you could be doing better, we can help. At Georgetown Counseling and Wellness, we are committed to providing a safe space for you to tell your story without judgment. Many of our therapists specialize in working within many different therapeutic modalities and with populations of all different ages, backgrounds, and beliefs. To speak to someone about beginning your journey towards healing with us, please call the number at the top of the page, or click the “make an appointment button,” and a member of our team will reach out to help you get started.