Recently, I was having a conversation with some friends and the common feeling was that of mental and emotional fatigue. The past year has been filled with stress and anxiety. People are tired and overwhelmed. Daily, we are bombarded with bad news and more bad news. One year into this pandemic, the commonly recurring phrase is “tired”. Tired of not being able to do all the things we all previously took for granted. Tired of “social distancing” – a phrase that wasn’t even in our vocabulary a year ago. Tired of hearing about death and sorrow. Tired of lockdowns or partial lockdowns. Tired of masks. Tired, tired, tired. The thought that popped into my head was, it is okay to not be okay.
These are uncertain times and life as we know it has changed and continues to change. It’s natural to feel some anxiety. It’s reasonable if you are feeling somewhat stressed. So please give yourself some grace in those moments. Know that you are not alone and this too shall pass. We don’t yet know exactly when, but we will come out on the other side of this one day. So please protect your mental health. Here are 5 things that might help you:
- Gratitude – I have found that gratitude is one of the greatest tools for counteracting negative emotions. Why? Because once you start to identify things in your life that you are grateful for, more and more things come to mind. It is very hard to think about things that are wrong when you are counting your blessings. In all honesty, no matter how bad things are, as long as there is life there is hope. So, once you feel the negative emotions rising, start listing the things for which you are grateful.
- Carve Out Some “Me Time” – Another helpful thing to do is to find some quiet time for yourself every day. Even if you can only find 15 minutes, take that time for yourself to do something just for you. Tell everyone around that you are unavailable during that time. Use the time to do something that you enjoy. Maybe you can use the time to go outside and get some fresh air and exercise. Just being outside, especially on a sunny day, can do wonders for your mood.
- Take a “Communications Vacation”– Manage your media and communications intake. The constant barrage of messages, emails, videos and other electronic media will cause you stress. It is okay if you need to disconnect for a while. Just isolate yourself from it all. Turn off the phones, the TV, the computer etc. and spend some time without any form of media. You are under no obligation to respond to every call, e-mail, text etc. immediately. I always say that just because someone reaches out to you doesn’t mean it is a convenient time for you. So, pace yourself, take your time and respond when you are ready.
- Find Your Tribe – Your feelings are valid and if you need an outlet, seek out people with whom you can talk about them. Don’t keep them bottled up. Find your tribe and share your feelings with them. Having a few trusted confidants, who will listen to and encourage you without judgement is golden. It is cathartic to be able to express yourself freely. Once you do, the burden becomes a little lighter. Your situation may not change but being able to say how you feel about it will definitely help.
- Pray & Meditate – Last but by no means least, pray and meditate. I find that listening to worship music soothes my soul like nothing else. In an atmosphere of worship, you feel God’s presence and it prepares your heart for prayer. Prayer has the power to change things. If you are not a believer you can still spend time in quiet reflection, while listening to music that you find calming. Music can be very effective in shifting your mood.
I hope these few suggestions will help you if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed these days. Let me know what you are doing to protect your mental health. Remember to breathe, long deep breaths. It is okay if you are not okay.