Stay home, stay healthy: Taking care of mental health
The coronavirus pandemic has affected the daily lives of individuals around the globe, and many are only now understanding the full scope of how these changes have affected them personally. Due to the nature of this event, many are focused on safeguarding their physical health. What is often being neglected and overlooked, even outside of a crisis, is mental health. Communicate the following tips your tribal employees to ensure that in their efforts to “stay home, stay healthy”, they are also taking care of mental health as well.
Ways to take care of mental health
Socializing during social distancing
Stay-at-home orders and other social distancing measures have left a great number of people in isolation from friends and loved ones on an unprecedented scale. As humans are extremely social creatures, this isolation can be very damaging to mental health and relationships, especially for those who were struggling in these areas before the pandemic hit.
Fortunately, this is the era of distance communication. Never before in history have there been so many ways to connect to people across vast distances. Encourage your tribal employees to reach out to their friends and loved ones during this time. While nothing can replace the benefits of in-person social interaction, any of the following methods are great ways to reduce the effects of isolation:
- Video messaging
- Audio calls
- Instant messaging and email
- Handwritten cards and letters
The possibilities are endless. Even a simple handwritten note can be an excellent physical reminder to someone that they are not alone. Making an effort to connect, even briefly, can be a great way to take care of mental health, both in themselves as well as others.
Back to basics
It is generally agreed that nutrition, fitness, and sleep are the building blocks of good health. While we want to emphasize taking care of mental health, there’s no denying that physical health also plays a role; the better you feel physically, the better your chances of feeling well mentally. Encourage tribal employees to prioritize these three areas in their daily routines so they can feel their best.
Don’t hide your feelings
Many people tend to ignore their deeper emotions. While this tactic is tempting, it can actually cause more harm than good in the long run. Unaddressed feelings build up and create additional mental pressure, and right now everyone has enough on their minds without these added burdens. Remind your employees that whatever they are feeling right now – stress, anxiety, fear, loneliness – is all valid and should not be ignored. Chances are, many other people they know are also feeling the same way. Fortunately, one of the simplest and most effective way of addressing feelings is by talking them out with another person.
No news is good news
Information is more readily available than ever before. However much of what’s being circulated currently is either conflicting or designed to play upon people’s emotions. While there’s no shortage of material to choose from, identifying what is actually relevant can be difficult. To combat these effects, try identifying several trusted news sources and then limiting interaction with those sources to a certain window of the day. Implementing parameters on news consumption can have a significant positive effect on mental health. You’ll spend less time worrying over the latest breaking news and more time focusing on your planned daily activities.
Don’t worry – be happy
Now is a great time to revisit an old hobby or pick up something new. The current social climate is filled with fear and uncertainty. Intentionally making time for things that bring you happiness can give you just the boost you need to wade through all the other challenges and negative emotions you are currently facing.
In addition, daily self-care is another excellent mental health practice. Stressed after a long day? Take a relaxing bath. Feeling anxious? Plan some time to meditate, perform a smudging ceremony or turn on some soothing music. Pursuing healthy avenues to relieve tension and stress are great ways to bolster your mental health.
Stick to a routine
It’s a fact: COVID-19 has affected everyone’s daily routine in some way or another. Since humans are creatures of habit, it can be difficult to adapt to these changes. Though things may be different now, consider creating a new routine that most closely resembles your normal one, such as going to bed and waking up at the same times, taking meals as usual, and so on. It can be difficult to adapt to a new normal, but sticking to old routines can help be a touchstone to overcome those challenges. By contrast, this time can also be an opportunity to create healthier habits, such as going to bed earlier, exercising more regularly, and eating well. Whatever the case, once you find a routine that works, stick to it!
Train your brain
Charlotte Brontë famously wrote in her novel, Jane Eyre:
“It is vain to say that human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it.”
For those stuck at home or who have curtailed or suspended other normal activities, these words are likely ringing true. Pursuing creative challenges can help keep your mind sharp and lift your mood. Try mastering new skills, either big or small, or start integrating mental games into your routine, such as Sudoku, memorizing poetry, or anything else that piques your curiosity. Experiencing a few small “wins,” such as finishing a crossword or solving a math problem, can bring you a daily boost of confidence, satisfaction, and accomplishment, all of which are excellent ways to take care of mental health.
Mental wellness is just as important as physical wellness. Too often this subject gets overlooked as we go about business as usual, but it becomes even more critical in times of crisis and uncertainty. Take a moment to remind your tribal employees about the importance of taking care of mental health. For more information, please contact your broker or tribal risk manager, Mark Sherwood, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay healthy, stay safe!
Inspiration from this article was taken from the article “Mental Wellbeing While Staying at Home”. Be sure to regularly check the CDC and your local health district for more information and recommendations as well.