by Kerrie Meyler
This column was hard to write. So much is changing, and so quickly, which makes it challenging to write something that can still be pertinent by the time this week’s newspaper is published.
What is offered is some thoughts that might help keep you mentally healthy. While some of these topics have been previously covered, recycling can be useful!
• Absorb reliable information about the coronavirus crisis, but avoid doing so obsessively. Take a break from it altogether when a sense of anxiety creeps in. Realize that as more test kits become available, by definition the number of identified cases will go up. It’s easy to go into panic mode, and harder to get out of it.
• As with any news item, make common sense choices regarding the sources of information.
• Fitness activities (even solitary) keeps you in a routine that helps make things feel normal. It may not be the same as what you’re accustomed to, but it can help keep you healthy. Consider jogging, bicycling, walking, using a treadmill, exercise bike, or other equipment you might have at home. Practice yoga or Tai Chi by yourself – you won’t have the group experience, but you can get the meditative and physical benefits.
• Stress relief is a recognized major benefit of an exercise habit. Exercise can help calm you – and that’s especially important right now. Less stress translates to less anxiety.
• Mental focus (on form for instance) can provide a meditative benefit, helping you to feel less stressed or overwhelmed.
• Exercise in moderation, but do so to a point of feeling a sense of accomplishment, which has a carryover impact on the other aspects of daily life. Particularly now, with so much of what we are familiar with being restricted, attaining a sense of accomplishment can be essential to mental health.
• Even applying the six foot separation advised for social distancing, small group activities (say 2-5 people) whether done outdoors or indoors are possible to attain the obvious benefits of keeping us in touch with each other. We are social creatures; determine the amount of interaction that you feel safe doing, and with the people that you feel safe with.
• Awareness that worry is worthless for what’s beyond our control should provide some measure of calm. Worrying causes stress, without removing the cause of what’s bothering you.
• Take a deep breath. Dig deep to find what helps you relax, if not escape. For some it’s reading, for others it is music, videos, painting, or quilting. Make it a point to take care of yourself mentally.
Don’t get crazy. And of course, wash your hands.
My deepest thanks to my friend Ben Wiley for inspiring me to write this content.