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Mental Health Awareness – The ‘new normal’

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May 2020 was recognized as ‘Mental Health Awareness’ Month, and there were various resources (including videos, virtual events and social media posts) published on the issue. Needless to say, these activities were  timely and relevant, given the impact of the current Covid-19 pandemic.

Covid-19 has no doubt highlighted people’s mental and emotional stresses experienced daily, for example, home-schooling, working from home, social distancing, increases in violence and sexual abuse within households, social uprising, poor leadership and among other things, are all common themes observed.

Let’s reflect for a minute, the vast amount of information we are processing per second. Coupled with this, is our ability to adjust to this ‘new normal’. The emotions evoked daily, I am sure, are overwhelming for many.

Acknowledging that we are all not ‘okay’ is definitely the first step in recognizing that this pandemic has affected the life of each individual, although on different levels. So let’s not take it for granted, that it has not impacted our overall mental health.

Life as we know it, has changed.

What does Mental Health Mean to You?

When we talk about mental health, it’s no longer about being ‘diagnosed’ or being ‘mad or crazy’, it’s really about how functional we feel as individuals to carry-out our daily tasks and the relationships we form and have with others.

A vast amount of information and resources are available about how we can better take care of our mental health, and as such, will enable us  to make empowered decisions for our lives.

As we try to figure out what our ‘new normal’ would be for the rest of the year and beyond, please do take note, that mental health will continue to be ‘the’ topic of discussion as we move forward. There is no way we will be able to live our lives within our truest potential, if we are not taking care of our mental health now and in the post Covid-19 era.

The New Normal

So as you sit and read this, I would like to leave these recommendations:

  1. Pay attention to your feelings. We have been taught to ignore or just ‘get over’ how you feel, but I am here to tell you, acknowledge them. Ask yourself – Why am I feeling this way? What is happening now that may be causing this? You must begin to probe why these feelings have surfaced.
  2. Don’t fear alone time, instead embrace it. If you actually get the opportunity to be by yourself, ensure that you make use of it. You can spend the time to set goals, practice self-care or just learn something new. The more I talk to people, especially women with children, it’s the more I realize that some people are deeply craving alone time.
  3. Don’t worry about pleasing everyone. This cannot be emphased enough. Recognize that trying to please others will continue to drain your energy and deplete your spirit.
  4. Give up the idea of being perfect. Please do know that your imperfections are not signs of inadequacies. I am strongly of the opinion that we should be teaching people that by having a good attitude is the first practical step to get them going on a task. In addition, know that everything does not have to be perfect before you start or change something. Just start and everything will begin to come together.
  5. Avoid people and situations that you find stressful and toxic. I know this may be hard for many people, but it’s so important that you try to maintain your peace of mind. If you find that this is difficult, then you at least need to set boundaries. Decide what these are, take action and be consistent in exercising them.
  6. Don’t give up on the first failure. By accepting the reality that you will at least fail at something, you allow yourself to start seeing the lessons in every failure.
  7. Don’t waste your energy on things that you are not able to control. By doing so, you will manage your stress and anxiety; and avoid feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.
  8. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Shame and guilt prevents you from healing and growth. Spending time to focus on the lessons will help you in the healing and growth process, not pity and self-loathing.

There are so many other things you can do to help improve and maintain your mental health such as practicing daily meditation, exercise and eating healthy.

Adjusting to the ‘new normal’ will create some level of discomfort in your life, and as such, your inner being will demand that you maintain ‘balance’ in order for it to fully function.

So take care of yourself.

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