BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Taking a step back to focus on our mental health doesn’t come easy as we juggle our day-to-day lives during COVID-19. April is Stress Awareness Month, and with the year we’ve had, it is beyond necessary to spark the conversation about mental health.
“We have noticed new challenges. We have more people that are experiencing mental health concerns than really every before,” said Shannon Ragusa, Executive Director of Behavioral Health Services at Baton Rouge General said. “People are more comfortable talking about it I notice, but we still have a long way to go with that.”
Ragusa also said more people are not able to cope like they normally would as people learn new coping skills and ways to adapt to our new normal.
Open Health Care Clinic has five ways for you to thrive.
- Take care of yourself. When we become overwhelmed and stressed, it’s easy to forget about ourselves. We cannot function our best when we aren’t prioritizing our basic needs. Open Health Care Clinic said you should make sure that your most basic needs are met, like eating healthy meals, make sleep a priority, taking your medications and taking restroom breaks. You should have a plan for your children, pets and family to get the care that they need while you are away. Let your supervisor know if you feel overwhelmed and need a break. Also, keep your mind and body in good condition by taking care of yourself the same way you would take care of your favorite person.
- Take your time. When you’re anxious and in a crisis, you may feel rushed, and that’s when mistakes are made. Experts said it would be best if you slowed down. When your feelings get intense, stop what you’re doing and take a few deep breaths. Take in your surroundings using all five senses. What do you see? Hear? Smell? Taste? Feel? Take note that most times, there is no imminent physical threat. Your thoughts make you feel anxious. This grounding technique reminds your body that you are safe and helps reduce feelings of anxiety. Deep breathing exercises and meditation can also help bring things back into focus for you. There are apps and YouTube videos that can help guide you.
- Take back your routines. Routines help us feel in control and keep us anchored. Therefore, Open Health Care Clinic said we must try to keep some of our regular practices in place. Continue with your same grooming habits in the morning: brush your teeth and have a cup of tea. Facetime or have a Zoom meeting with the friend or family member that you usually visit on weekends. Even if it’s for a shorter time, at a different time, or done differently, maintain some sense of normalcy.
- Take time for things that you enjoy. In times like these, it is easy to overindulge in the news. Experts said to set boundaries and limit talk about COVID-19. You can say that you would prefer to talk about something else and limit time on social media. Get the information you need to keep you and your family safe and spend your time doing things you enjoy. You should also make time for your favorite television show, read a book, play a card game or board game. This is also a time to explore new hobbies.
- Take advantage of available support. When we are feeling stressed, OHCC said it can be easy to overindulge in vices: gambling, tobacco, caffeine, alcohol and food. Contact your trusted friends, family, and loved ones to discuss how you feel. Remember that this is hard, and you are doing the best that you can in uncharted territory. Counseling and support are also available virtually.
Learn more about Open Health here, or call them at (225) 655-6422. They’re also doing COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics.
There is also the National Suicide Prevention Hotline number, 800-273-8255, where trained counselors are available 24/7. All calls are confidential.
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