Picture this: It is December 31, 2019, at 11:59pm. You are most likely surrounded by the people you love, soaking up their presence for one last minute of the year. The ball is just about to drop to welcome the year 2020. It is the beginning of a new decade. For many, it was the start of a new chapter in their life, myself included. I was just accepted into graduate school the week prior. It finally felt like things were beginning to fall into place. Little did anyone know that 2020 was going to be a year of prolonged surprises.
I first heard of COVID-19 in March 2020. I was in Florida visiting a friend when a local individual passed away from complications of a little-known virus. This was the start of the pandemic for me. The next few months were surreal – it was like the world came to a complete halt. Schools closed, stores closed, restaurants closed, and we were quarantined at home for who knows how long. COVID-19 cases rose higher and higher – and life got a little sadder. So how do we manage our mental health when our physical health is being threatened?
I am sure you are tired of hearing it on repeat, but I also know you need the reminder: self-care. I had to find something I loved and immerse myself in it – just a little bit each day. Create a self-care plan for yourself for when you have some down time. Take a break when you need it. It is acceptable to press pause during a time that is uncertain and lonely. Reach out to your support network when you are struggling. Set time aside to decompress and reset yourself.
Some other ideas for self-care include journaling and mindfulness exercises, like deep breathing or muscle relaxations. If you are unfamiliar with these, the internet is a great place to start! YouTube has great videos on these topics and will even walk you through them, step by step. There are also multiple apps on your phone like CBT Thought Diary or Headspace to use at your convenience. It is important to hold yourself accountable for these practices and the benefits of using self-care every day!
It is important to recognize this is a difficult time for many, and no one has all the answers. You are not expected to have it all put together.
It is now December 31st, 2021, 11:59pm. You have learned new skills, like being able to adapt to the unknown. You are stronger than you were yesterday, and much stronger than two years ago on this very night. It has been a very difficult past couple years for everyone, but you have made it! Keep up the self-care, after all, there will be more rough roads ahead! If you want to learn more about how to maintain self-care and avoid pandemic burnout, join my colleagues for a virtual series “Self-Care for Pandemic Burnout” starting on February 8th.
If you or someone you know is struggling during this time, know there are plenty of resources available. Reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness. The following call lines are available:
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress hotline, 800-985-5990, or text TalkWithUs, https://www.samhsa.gov available 24/7
- National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-7233, https://www.thehotline.org/ available 24/7
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255, or call 911, https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ available 24/7
If you do not feel comfortable speaking to someone over the phone, the following text line is available:
- Crisis Text Line, Text HOME to 741741, https://www.crisistextline.org/ available 24/7