Mental health decline in face of crisis

Updated: May 4

I’m not ok, and that’s ok…I think.

With the Coronavirus crisis in full swing, it’s inevitable that even the most with-it people will deal with anxiety, grief and possibly depression over the next couple of months. If you’ve been lucky enough in life and haven’t ever experienced it, you may be confused about what you’re feeling now.


You might be sad, bored, overwhelmed, anxious, teary, or all of the above. In general, you might just be tired and unmotivated, helpless, aimless.


Personally, I go up and down. I have days that I’m totally productive and inspired to do it all, and others where getting out of bed sucks all of my energy. Even small things defeat me. Today, my one year old ran around the house in a diaper for an hour before I could muster the energy to get her dressed. Ordinarily this is a project, but today, it’s just not possible. I put on makeup yesterday for the first time in two weeks, only to cry it off.


What are we dealing with here? Stress, anxiety, grief?

Are we grieving the loss of life the way it was just one month ago? Although this is "temporary", with the word "indefinitely" tossed about, it’s hard to know just how temporary this will be. Here we are, stuck on this roller coaster. We have no choice but to hang on for the ride, remembering to look for that horizon line.


This article is not meant to answer any questions. The point, rather is simply to say, ‘it’s ok’. It’s ok to have these thoughts and feelings. It’s fine to be totally in control one day, and lose your shit the next. You may wake up feeling like a ball of sunshine, and quickly decline as you remember what you’re facing. It’s ok! Beating yourself up for feeling this way only makes things worse.

If struggling with thoughts and emotions like this is relatively new to you, then I commend you for making it this far in life unscathed. For the other 99% of us, these may not be anything new, but may not have dealt with them properly in the past. I’d like to share a few of my go-to’s for addressing my feelings and pulling myself out of the funk.

What to do to get the happy juices flowing:

Walk the dog

Studies show that being physically active AND interacting with pets boost endorphins. Your furry friend is probably loving all of this new attention. Blissfully unaware. Take a note from them!


Talk to someone

Technology has made it possible to talk face to face with anyone on the planet. Yes, physical closeness is great, but virtual meetings can help shorten the distance and make you feel connected. Vent your frustrations to a trusted friend, but also understand that they’re likely worried about the same things. Remember to reciprocate and ask how they’re feeling!

Talking to a professional is also an option, and many therapists are able to do virtual sessions, just like I do my nutrition counseling sessions.


Write it out

A big outlet for me is data dumping. I simply sit somewhere quiet with a pen and paper to write out everything that’s in my head. It doesn’t have to make sense or have any particular flow. Don’t write for someone else, just for you. Don’t worry about things sounding wrong when you write them out. How it comes out is exactly how you feel. No need to sugar coat it. No judgement.


Rewrite the schedule

Things are not what they were. Stop trying to carry on like normal. With my daughter home, there is no time to work as I once did. This leads to feelings of frustration towards her, and that is TOTALLY unfair! Lower your expectations and make adjustments. I now block time out to get certain tasks done when I know she’ll be napping. A few days a week, I get up early to work.


Throwing out the schedule entirely probably isn’t a good idea. Continue waking up at the same time, showering, eating breakfast as normal. Sitting in your jammies with fuzzy teeth all day is not healthy.


Yoga

If you haven’t tried yoga, now may be a good time to start. Many local studios are doing virtual classes, which means you can practice from the comfort of our own home (and still support a local biz). Yoga has a twofold effect. You are getting blood flowing, working muscles and tendons, while releasing endorphins and tension fostered within the body. Exercise in general has the same effect, so if yoga really isn’t your thing, insert your favorite activities here.

Make a list

People always tell me how relaxed or unphased I am when things get stressful. I’m not sure why, but I appear calm, cool and collected when things get crazy. Those closest to me know that’s actually the opposite of the truth. I am very Type A, and when faced with something I can’t control, I freak out (enter Coronavirus).


I think this is a normal response, and it's quickly followed by this question:

What can I control in this situation?

I CAN make a to-do list of what needs to get done. I CAN make sure I have enough food to limit trips to the grocery store. I CAN write a new household budget to be aware of my finances. I find success in these things, and so I focus on those. The key is to make a big list, then pick a few things to implement each day. If you're struggling with meal planning, pick up a FREE copy of my 7-Day Dinner Guide!


Think in small increments

I’m easily overwhelmed thinking I will be stuck at home for at least the next month. At times, planning for the week or even the day feels like too much. Take a step back and plan out only the next hour, if you need to. Remember that it’s ok to be bored, for your kids to play on their own, to simply have down time.

What NOT to do:


Rely on drugs or alcohol

Altering your mind simply delays the process of working through your emotions. Try your best to not increase your use, as alcohol specificially is a mood suppressant, and will likely make your problems worse in time.


Stress eating

I love food, there’s no question about it. There are limits to how much the body needs for energy in one day, so try your best to limit eating simply because you’re bored or stressed. Keep your normal eating schedule, or adopt a new one.



If you aren’t sure how much you should eat, or when, let me help! Schedule a virtual meeting to discuss your energy needs and goals to maintain, gain or lose weight. Some simple meal planning can set you up with a plan for success.


Avoid problems

Avoiding small problems often leads to big problems. Big problems equal tons of unnecessary stress. Tackle small tasks in a timely manner to avoid big problems. Already in a pickle? Ask for help and face it with honesty and integrity. Holding on to stress because of stupid things is pointless, and is likely weakening your immune system.


Taking it out on others

This is a tough one, and if you’re like me, you snap at people on occasion (I can hear my husband’s eyes rolling…). Pushing people away makes you feel guilty, and even worse about your original problem. Plus, you’re effectively losing your support system by lashing out. Remember that your problems are likely not anyone else’s fault. There’s no need for blame.

Mental health is a moving target right now. Some may argue it always is, but with these awful things happening all around us, more and more people are suffering. Remember that it’s ok to have these emotions, and do what’s needed to process. Take it a moment at a time.


Wash your hands and stay safe. We will all be together again soon enough.



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