Take time for your mental health


Colleen Chamberlain - Contributing columnist



It seems like a never-ending stream of news these days — coronavirus all day, all the time, with what seems like headline after headline sharing concern about the virus’ spread.

Stay at home orders, the need to take care of yourself, and social distancing that sometimes feels like social isolation. If you’ve got the news on at home 24/7, it’s enough to create anxiety about what else could lie ahead.

That’s why it’s so important to take care of your mental health right now.

We all deal with some level of anxiety every single day, from giving a speech to a large group to worrying about how our families are doing with school, work, and more. Job stress that now may have turned into jobless stress and financial concerns are at the forefront of our minds. That is why taking time for your mental health is so important!

In short, taking care of your mental well being can pay dividends whether you care for a family or live on your own.

So, what’s the best way to care for your mental health? There have been lots of suggestions over the past several weeks from professionals around the country. None is better than another, but I have some favorites:

Turn off the TV for a while. It’s good to be informed, for sure. But news and information on 24/7 doesn’t always help that much. Listen, read or watch some morning news, then take a break. Check back later in the day, if you have a need, but give your mind a break from the constant talk.

Practice calming yourself. There are lots of ways to do this, depending on how you like to relax. Yoga is one, or maybe looking at old pictures. You can also just breathe deeply or sit on the porch with your pet. Find what calms you.

Take up a hobby or engage in one you already love. It could be reading or crafts, or maybe writing or woodworking. Whatever you love to do, take some time to do something other than regular work or chores at home.

Get some physical activity. For me, that means a walk in the woods near my house. I like to experience nature and have a chance to clear my mind. If you like biking, take a ride. If you’re a plant or flower lover, why not start thinking about getting out and looking at what spring flowers you want to plant.

Listen to some music. It’s been said that music calms the savage beast, and nothing makes some people more beastly than constant news 24/7. Whatever your favorite music type, take a little time to play some and close your eyes for a bit.

Laugh! For all that we hear, watch and read in the news, it can be really therapeutic to laugh. Stream a comedy show that you loved as a kid, or watch a comedian’s special on Netflix (make sure it’s kid-friendly if your kids are also watching).

There are lots more ways to care for yourself. Take a look at our resources on our website at mhrbwcc.org, or search for them online. If you need information or things just get overwhelming, the crisis hotline is here for you, too, at (877) 695-6333.

Also, don’t forget the crisis text line. Just text “4hope” to 741741 to get started.

No matter what, we’ll get through this. If you need us, the board and the provider agencies we contract with to help you will always be right here.

Just reach out.

Take care and stay healthy!

Colleen Chamberlain is Executive Director of the Mental Health Recovery Board Serving Warren & Clinton Counties. She has worked in the mental health field for more than 30 years.

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Colleen Chamberlain

Contributing columnist