Striking a Balance for Good Mental Health Here on the Suncoast
Post pandemic, our world has shifted forever, and many are struggling to find a balance again. Yet, when COVID-19 began, we were not prepared as a world for the effects of quarantining, remote learning shuttered businesses, and a workforce dynamic that would never return to the normal routines we had prior to the pandemic’s beginning. So much change has seen an unhealthy decline in mental health concerns amongst all age groups alike. Many that had robust social lives traveled for fun and a living or simply worked outside the home navigated major transitions impacting them physically and mentally. Learning how to manage remote work, maybe new employment due to job loss, virtual learning, and separation from loved ones in other states has taken a toll. As one news story after another has shown, mental health has become a battle that not everyone is winning. As a new variant of COVID is making headlines, debates about going back to mask-wearing and vaccine efficacies wage on, we all need to remain focused on our mental health and helping any we can to maintain balance.
Simple things count
Remember doing the simple small things day over day for yourself or friends and family can contribute in big ways to mental health. When we say small, that does not mean that it is not important, as tiny details are the foundation for larger issues if not seen regularly. A small call to action daily to put time aside daily for you to stay healthy, and if able, reach out to others should be part of each of our routines. Here are a few great ideas to keep things moving in the right direction:
- EXERCISE – whether you are just taking a spin around the neighborhood, working on a full-blown home workout, or maybe getting out for a yoga class, some form of exercise daily is critical. When we get our blood pumping and our bodies moving, it is scientifically proven to promote better health. If you find the desire to sit and just let things pass, push through for a small walk, stretching session, or even housework to get the body warmed up again.
- MAKE THE CALL – even if travel right now is hard for a host of reasons, be sure to stay in touch with those that matter in your life. A simple reminder text, video call, or phone chat can make someone’s day. Human connection is critical to our well-being, and while this may have shifted dynamics in the last year, it is more important than ever to maintain those ties in any way possible.
- DO FOR OTHERS – if you can get out, volunteering to help others can be a great boost for your mental health. In addition to new connections with other volunteers, you feel a bigger connection to the world and community around you. Volunteering to help others helps focus outside of your concerns for a while and gives a sense of self-worth and caring that fuels our inner balance.
- FUEL THE BODY – Diet is critical to making our bodies feel better, keeping us moving, and overall giving us a sense of well-being. We are super fortunate to have many avenues to access fresh, clean, and unique food options here on the Suncoast. So whether you go to the store, deli, or shop yourself, order through a variety of service options, or make it at home, fueling our body with amazing foods can be a great way to keep us moving forward with a smile.
- ADOPT A PET – this is not a requirement, of course, as there may be reasons from allergies to your living situation that preclude a pet, but many find that adoption of a fur baby during these times is a great boost to mental wellness. The companionship of having someone to walk with, keep up a routine with, and general cuddle as needed has proven to reduce anxiety, loneliness and boost many of the body’s natural defenses against mental health concerns.
- GOALS PROVIDE DIRECTION – one of the best things about setting goals requires us to move forward toward them. Small steps for tomorrow, this year, and into the future give us an idea to continue to strive toward. Make, document, and always keep in front of you small goals that you are working towards. Of course, rewarding yourself for attaining goals can provide the desire needed to build to the next goal until you are amazed at what you can accomplish.
- STAY ALERT – this is critical in times of great stress, change and turmoil to remain alert to mental anguish or unease concerns. If you see signs of things going downhill for you, friends, or family, speak up. Again, early diagnosis of issues means a quicker response for positive outcomes. There sometimes are not overt outward signs of mental disease, which can make this tough to know when to act. Staying diligent in connections with friends, family, and the community allows us to build and participate in amazing support networks to help when a crisis arises.
As children return to school for a new year and navigate back from virtual learning, or parents return to offices, and others return to more “normal” routines, continue to work for balance. The news rallies on with bad story after bad story regarding pandemic, world situations, politics, and the state of the economy only together with a mind toward mental health can we successfully navigate the impacts of all of this. So, stay active, eat healthily, remain attuned to those we are in contact with, and work to maintain a balance no matter what that looks like in your life.
Should you feel that you require additional support, find a pastor, friend, neighbor, or even health care provider to ask questions regarding what you can do. Together we can rise above the challenges we are continuing to navigate, see fewer mental health crises in our immediate sphere of friends and family and work towards a brighter future for all of us. Should you feel that you need help.
Photos courtesy of Deposit Photos