By Christine Schulz on Mon, May 10, 2021
During the past year, drastic changes across the globe have influenced how we live our daily lives. Many of us have had to adapt to working from home, have experienced the impact first hand on the front lines, and taken care of children no longer learning in a classroom. We've juggled all these changes while worrying about the safety of our family and friends, along with the increasing risks associated with the COVID-19 virus spreading at an alarming rate across the country.
Now, over a year later, as we slowly start to return to our way of life from before the pandemic, make no mistake, the mental health struggle has not yet ended. The fear and uncertainty the COVID-19 pandemic has instilled in us may create an increased risk of PTSD among employees returning to the office, or reduced social connectivity with others from being isolated for so long. Stress and anxiety levels will increase, meaning focus and productivity will decline.
As we enter Mental Health Awareness Month, it's time to shine some light through the darkness we've been experiencing over the past year. In the past, the mental health stigma has caused many to hide their struggles and suffer without help. When the world was turned upside down almost overnight, things changed. Celebrities and public figures began to speak out about their struggles, encouraging us not to be ashamed of ourselves. While more people have chosen to personally improve their mental health over the past year either through self-care programs or professional help, organizations are now beginning to focus on the importance of mental health and well-being among their workforce as well.
Learn to Thrive in a Post COVID-19 Environment
The COVID-19 pandemic will forever be a part of our lives, and will not soon be forgotten. For this reason, it's not as simple as accepting what happened and moving on. Now, we're presented with a new set of challenges from workplace safety to reintroducing social connectivity back into our lives when we've been shutting ourselves out for so long. Here are a few ways you can learn to thrive in a post-COVID-19 environment by focusing on your mental health.
Accepting and Adapting to a New Reality
We can't change the past, but we can help shape the future. We've all experienced the effects of COVID-19 on different personal levels, some more traumatic than others. In order to thrive in a post-COVID-19 world, learning how to understand and embrace emotions will become increasingly important. You might feel angry, frightened, or sad, and that's okay. Accepting your feelings will help you work through them.
Resilience is the ability to bounce back from difficult situations. Adapting to a new reality will come in different ways to different people, but it's important to believe in yourself and stay strong! Tune in to your positive feelings and you'll find yourself becoming more positive over time. Slowly start to socially connect with others again, and if you find your emotions are overwhelming and negatively affecting your mental health, try a deep breathing or meditation exercise to clear your mind.
Get Out of Thinking Traps
It's easy to fall into negative thinking patterns, seeking out the worst possibility in a potentially harmless situation. In fact, it's how our brains are wired. We tend to respond more radically to negative events than positive ones. When these thoughts surface, they can quickly spiral out of control, increasing levels of stress and anxiety as we over analyze the situation.
To get out of these thinking traps, you will need to learn how to reframe your thoughts with an exercise like Thought Tamer. Don't dwell on the negative, but ask yourself what positive could come out of the situation? Find ways to prove your negative thinking wrong, and give yourself the confidence that things can change for the better even if it doesn't feel that way at the moment.
Processing Big Changes
Change is a guaranteed part of life, and how we deal with it could greatly impact our mental health and well-being. Processing change will take some time, and extremely difficult situations could make us feel trapped and unable to move forward.
One of the most difficult parts of processing change is the feeling of helplessness it bestows upon us. But, if you focus on what you can control, you can learn to rise to the challenge. In these situations, it's important to stay positive and think about all the good around you, even the little things. Big changes will test your ability to handle stress and anxiety, and if not managed accordingly, could lead to serious concerns like depression or anxiety attacks. Use a self-care program like Total Brain to monitor and support your mental health during difficult times, and don't be afraid to ask for help if you feel you need it.
While you're learning to strengthen your own mental health, don't forget about those around you. They may be at different comfort levels when it comes to dealing with change, but that doesn't mean you can't help. Be respectful of their needs, and if you feel they may be struggling with a mental health condition, here are some ways you can offer your support.
Join us in sharing your story! Total Brain is launching a mission-driven campaign to break down the stigma associated with mental health called #thisisnormal. We are inviting you to share your personal stories and struggles maintaining your own mental health by posting a black and white selfie and the hashtag #thisisnormal. We'll make a $5 donation to One Mind for each of the first 1K people that participate.