The new norm of social distancing coupled with a possible loss of work and abnormal routines are tremendous pressures, both physically and mentally. Many of us feel pressure to continue to perform at the same level as before, but juggling work full-time remotely (or facing the financial uncertainty of unemployment) while simultaneously caring for family members can take its toll on one’s health. It’s more essential than ever before to practice self-care to help safeguard oneself against depression and anxiety.

Self care is always important, but in these times of uncertainty, it really is more important than ever. For many, the mental health effects of this period of isolation will last for weeks or even months but taking time now to be honest about your emotions and take care of them can help minimize those effects.

Check in with yourself: Take time to listen to what your body and mind need. Acknowledging feelings for the loss of normal activities can help us stay grounded and process the profound changes we are experiencing.

Make time to check out during the day and mediate or just relax. Acknowledge how you are feeling without judging yourself.

Keep eating healthy foods: Healthy eating habits can easily fall to the wayside during times like these. Increased physical and mental stress makes healthy eating crucial in supporting our immune system, which helps us staves off illness and recuperate faster if we get sick.

Stay active: You can still be active and practice safe social distancing guidelines. Going for a walk around the neighborhood, cleaning the house, or taking an online workout course helps keep your immune system strong and boosts endorphin levels in the brain.

For most people, now is not the time to jump headlong into a new exercise routine, or to pressure yourself into a new diet plan, but moving your body and taking care of it with healthy foods can have a profound positive effect on your mood.

Prioritize sleep: Sufficient sleep is essential for your physical and mental well-being. Try to stick to the regular sleep schedule you normally kept. This helps you maintain energy throughout the day and also gives a greater sense of normality to you and your family.

Stay connected: Find ways to connect with loved ones from a safe distance. Ask relatives if they would like to lead an online teaching course for your child once a week. Zoom and Skype family dinner nights with other families or relatives are also extremely popular.

Practice gratitude: Take a few moments each day to reflect on the things in your life that you are thankful for, like extra time with family, or a job that allows flexible work.

While it’s important to acknowledge this difficult time, it’s also important not to dwell too long on all that we have lost. Try writing down three things each day that you are grateful more to help shift your mindset.

If you or a family member are struggling with feelings of hopelessness, depression or anxiety UofL Health – Peace Hospital’s Assessment and Referral Center offers no-charge assessments at 502-451-3333 or 800-451-3637.

Or contact the 24-Hour Crisis and Information Center Line at 502-589-4313 or 800-221-0446.

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Article by: Amory Haley

Amory Haley is the director of Behavioral Health Services at UofL Health – Peace Hospital. Amory graduated with her master’s degree in social work from the University of Kentucky in 2001 and has continued to grow her experience and knowledge in this field working in a community mental health center, as a school-based therapist, with Peace Hospital for more than 14 years.

All posts by Amory Haley
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