We’re bombarded with news stories every day, but the past few weeks may have been more upsetting than usual. Right now, you may still be reeling from the effects of the Coronavirus crisis. Isolation tends to make depression and anxiety worse. On top of this, images of police brutality and civil unrest have gripped the nation, leaving many people scared of the future. We are all living in unprecedented and stressful times. Have you been able to take care of your mental health?
Signs You Need a Break
You may have attended rallies or cheered people on at home, but the “bad news” may still be coming and affecting your mental health. Most of us have our phones set up to send us news alerts as they happen. You may also be using social media more often than usual to stave off loneliness.
Unfortunately, while getting news notifications may make you feel like you’re in control of the information you receive, you can also be bombarded with information that makes you feel bad. After all, there is much you’re powerless over.
When we’re watching the news, getting constant alerts on our phones, and learning about other stressful events, our body responds. This physical response to stress is a release of cortisol, the hormone that causes a “fight-or-flight” reaction. Our ancestors needed this hormone release to help them flee predators. In modern times, cortisone contributes to anxiety, anger, and physical responses, such as high blood pressure. Cortisol creates a burst of energy to help you run or fight. Even if you don’t react, the hormone itself can contribute to physical exhaustion and health issues.
Self-Care and Mental Health
If you have anxiety attacks, nightmares, trouble sleeping, or chronic fatigue, it’s time to try to reduce your stressors. To start, you may want to try some of the following:
- Tune out from the news. You may think it’s important to know what is going on in the world, but push notifications make things seem more urgent than they are. Turn them off on your devices, and set a specific time slot to catch up on the news, for only 30 minutes or so.
- Concentrate on the things you CAN do. That means taking care of yourself, first of all. You can choose to do something that makes your community better, such as volunteering, donating to worthy causes, or signing petitions.
- Take care of your physical health. Eat full meals around the same time every day, and take your meds at the same time every day.
- Get sleep. Set a specific time to go to bed, and turn off the lights at that hour no matter what. DON’T let yourself read devices in bed – that can signal to your body that it’s not the time for sleep.
- Exercise to reduce stress. Even just 15 minutes a day will release stress-reducing hormones. Try going for a short walk (wear a mask!) or climbing stairs in your apartment building.
- Ask for help. You may need to see a therapist or attend more 12-step meetings to get the support you need. You deserve to feel good!
- Find an outlet for your feelings. Journaling, painting, or dancing to your favorite music all will help you work through tough times.
Many people with mental health disorders need help at one time or another. Asking for it can is not always easy, but it’s a sign of strength. If you need help with mental health or drug and alcohol use, we’re here for you! You deserve to live your best life. Give us a call to learn more about our services at 949-245-9812 or click here to get in touch.